Foam Caterpillar - step-by-step

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Foam Caterpillar
Originator: Paul Whillock

Hook: Stimulator ot Natural Bend, #6-10
Thread: Gudebrod 8/0, yellow
Body: 2mm fly-tying foam, yellow
Legs: Ultra Chenille, yellow
"Finishing touch": Permanent markers


(Full-size pictures on click.)

Step 1
Foam Caterpillar - Step 1

This is a Stimulator hook, designed particularly for the Stimulator pattern. It has a long and smooth hook bend that straightens out a bit up on the hook shank, instead of continue all the way to the eye like on a Natural Bend. A Natural Bend or a straight streamer hook will also both work for this pattern. It doesn’t have to sit in the vise yet though. Some preparation is still to be done.


Step 2
Foam Caterpillar - Step 2

Cut a fairly long strip of foam, ca 5mm wide. 3-4x the length of the body is usually enough to make it easy to work with when it’s on the hook. (To get it straight and even, a sharp knife and a ruler can be to prefer in front of the fly-tying scissors.)


Step 3
Foam Caterpillar - Step 3

Fold the strip at its center point, squeeze it a little and cut the corners of the doubled part in a 45 degree angle. Note that this is mainly for rounding edges, so don’t cut too much.


Step 4
Foam Caterpillar - Step 4

Stick the hook point through the strip, in the middle of the crease that was created when squeezing it. To first create a hole with a needle makes it easier to both get the hole perpendicular and to avoid taring the foam up with the barb.


Step 5
Foam Caterpillar - Step 5
Mount the hook in the vise with the foam hanging freely.


Step 6
Foam Caterpillar - Step 6

Tie in the thread and wrap it a couple of centimetres down the hook. Return to a point around 5mm from the start of the hook eye.


Step 7
Foam Caterpillar - Step 7

Cut two pieces of Ultra Chenille.


Step 8
Foam Caterpillar - Step 8

Tie in the chenille pieces perpendicular to the hook shank with 5-6 mm’s between the tie-in points.


Step 9
Foam Caterpillar - Step 9

Wrap the thread down the shank all the way to the foam. Turn back again and leave it hanging about 3-4 mm’s from the foam.


Step 10
Foam Caterpillar - Step 10

Fold both foam pieces forward, one above the hook shank and one under it and make a loose thread wrap around them both.


Step 11
Foam Caterpillar - Step 11

Keep the foam centered on the hook and tighten the thread. Secure with another couple of wraps straight on top of the first. There we have finished the first segment of the caterpillar body.


Step 12
Foam Caterpillar - Step 12

Separate the foam pieces and bend them backwards. Let the thread pass in between them exactly at their meeting point.


Step 13
Foam Caterpillar - Step 13

Wrap the thread up the hook shank to the point where the next segment is to be tied in.


Step 14
Foam Caterpillar - Step 14

Create the second segment just the same way as you did the first. Fold together, a loose wrap, center, tighten and secure…


Step 15
Foam Caterpillar - Step 15

Second segment finished…


Step 16
Foam Caterpillar - Step 16

Create a third and a fourth and when you reach the leg pairs, simply pass the chenille with the thread and tie the foam down on the other side. Really nothing different from the other segments.


Step 17
Foam Caterpillar - Step 17

Cover the next leg pair the same way as the first and secure about 3mm behind the hook eye (not immediately behind it). Pass the thread in between the surplus pieces and make a whip-finish on the bare hook shank.


Step 18
Foam Caterpillar - Step 18

Instead of making things harder by cut the foam close to the thread, to be able to cover the entire surplus and also risking that the foam slips out (it has happened to me more than once), we will use these waste ends to create a head. Cut the pieces just behind the hook eye and round off the edges. There’s our little head… and the foam is still secure.


Step 19
Foam Caterpillar - Step 19

Cut the chenille strands to desired leg length.


Step 20
Foam Caterpillar - Step 20

Take the fly from the vise and let the leg pairs quickly pass through the flame of a cigarette lighter. The chenille strands burn quickly so do it rather too fast than too slow and repeat if first time wasn’t enough to give them the desired tapered shape. It can be worth trying on a couple of loose strands before doing it, just to get the feel of it… or even prepare the legs before doing the fly. When the legs have reached the desired shape, burn the tips (one at a time) to small “balls” by moving them close to the flame. These tips quickly burst into flame, so be prepared from the start to blow out BOTH flames.



Technically, its obvious silhouette will probably make it ready to be fished already after burning the legs. But with a couple of waterproof markers we can make it look a little neater.
That was his basic form of it. But there are caterpillars in a variety of colours and shapes, so continue to experiment with both colours and additional materials




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