Fly and Photos by Loren Williams

I'm not going to try and explain about the exciting cicada when Penn State's very own Greg Hoover has written an excellent article on the subject. Since Greg also fishes I find his words to be particularly relevant. Below is a citation from the article. Under that is a link to the article itself.


"The periodical cicada is a native North American species. It is the longest-lived insect in North America. No other insect in North America generates as much interest and curiosity as do periodical cicadas when they make their sudden, springtime emergence. They are widely distributed over the eastern half of the United States and occur nowhere else in the world.

Periodical cicadas are commonly called or referred to as "17-year locusts." Early American colonists had never seen periodical cicadas. They were familiar with the biblical story of locust plagues in Egypt and Palestine, but were not sure what kind of insect was being described. When the cicadas appeared by the millions, some of these early colonists thought a "locust plague" had come upon them. Some American Indians thought their periodic appearance had an evil significance. The confusion between cicadas and locusts exists today in that cicadas are commonly called locusts. The term "locust" is correctly applied only to certain species of grasshoppers.

There are six species of periodical cicadas, three with a 17-year cycle and three with a 13-year cycle. The three species in each life-cycle group are distinctive in size, color, and song. The 17-year cicadas are generally northern, and the 13-year cicadas southern with considerable overlap in their distribution. In fact, both life-cycle types may occur in the same forest.

For convenience of reference, each "brood" has been designated by a Roman numeral. The numerals I through XVII are assigned to the 17-year broods, and XVIII through XXX to the 13-year broods. The numbering of the 17-year broods began with the 1893 brood which was designated as Brood I. In 1909, Brood XVII appeared, and in 1910, Brood I appeared again. There are at least 13 broods of 17-year cicadas and five broods of 13-year cicadas. "

-Greg Hoover, Sr. Extension Associate
Revised November 2003

Periodical Cicada Article (Greg Hoover, PSU)


The pattern described is my take on some of the more appealing cicada patterns I have seen and used. As typical, I try to make my patterns as simple as possible and still do the job. With cicadas, there are a number of triggers I feel one should try to mimic. First is the obvious stout, robust profile. Cicadas are shorter than most people think, and very broad. I do feel too much emphasis is placed on imitating the coloration of the abdomen. As you will see, I prefer to focus on the profile. Second, cicadas are cumbersome and will certainly make a disturbance when they hit the water. The pattern must be built so that it will "splat" resoundingly. Too much fluff will slow it's descent. Third, cicadas have oversized, and very apparent wings. They need to be included. The trick then is to sum these all into a pattern that will float, catch fish, and not require an epoch at the vise.

I think this pattern suits the bill.


Hook: 2XL Dry Fly Hook, #10
Black 3mm fly foam
Rusty Orange Antron Yarn
Over Body:
Black 3mm Fly Foam
Pearl Krystal Flash
Thorax: Rusty Orange Antron Yarn
Black 3 mm Fly Foam
Orange Centipede Legs

Click photos to enlarge!

Place your barbless 2XL #10 dry fly hook in the vise.

Lay a base of thread back to the rear of the shank. Then cut a slip of foam roughly equal to 1.25 to 1.5 times the hook gap.

Trim the foam to a point about as long as the hook shank.

Obtain some brush-on super glue.

Brush on a layer of glue over the thread base. This will secure the foam to the hook and prevent the fly from spinning around the shank.

Place the foam point on the hook shank and bind it forward then back with open tight thread wraps. We are trying to protect the integrity of the foam to assist with floatation, if you bind it with too many wraps it will not float.

Select and 8-inch section of thin rusty orange antron.

Secure it to the underbody, stopping the thread at about the 2/3 mark.

Wrap the antron forward to the thread...

...back to the bend...

...and forward to the thread again. Secure it with a few tight thread wraps and let it hang.

Fold the foam forward and allow it to cup around the sides as shown.

Bind it down to the hook with thread wraps forward to the eye, then back again. Be sure the wraps are tight and it's OK to add some super glue underneath for security.

Wrap the remaining antron forward...

Then back to the 2/3 mark where it is secured with thread.

Clip the excess.

Select a healthy dollop of pearl Krystal Flash.

Secure the strands, with one end facing rearward, the other forward, to the far side of the thorax right at the rear edge of the antron band. 3 or 4 tight wraps will suffice.

Next, fold the forward-facing tips to the rear on the near side of the thorax.

Secure them in position with several thread wraps.

Clip the wings to be a good bit longer than the body.

Fold the foam to the rear, again allowing it to cup slightly around the sides.

Secure the foam with several very tight thread wraps.

Clip the excess foam short, leaving enough to be pleasing to the eye and to act to keep the wings spend.

Obtain some orange Centipede Legs.

Remove one strand and secure it to the far side of the fly as shown, directly atop the thread band used to secure the foam and wings.

Clip the legs to length.

Repeat on the near side with the remaining length of rubber.

Whip finish at the same location.

Cement the thread band well (I use the same super glue) and you have the finished product!

Bottom view showing the optional banding with a permanent marker.