Foam is awesome, and after a little bit of practice, surprisingly easy to tie with. Foam imitations of cicadas, beetles and grasshoppers work a treat on our North Queensland freshwater targets, and provide a nice alternative to other foam patterns such as the traditional gurglers and poppers.
These patterns are successfully worked either using a dead-drift, or with slow strips, just fast enough to creat a bow-wave on the water's surface. The spangled perch pictured above travelled over 3 metres to eat the hopper in its gob!
Step-by step instructions for various patterns can be found on a myriad of websites, and the end result is really only limited by your imagination. The below is a step-by step of just one way to tie a cicada, I think best results will be achieved if you spend a little bit of time checking out the insects so you match the colours, though this is not imperative.
Lay a base of thread, and tie in a strip of foam, between 5mm and 10mm diamater, and about 2 to 3 times the length of the hook shank.
Either tie in some dubbing (pictured is possum dry fly dubbing) or some chenille of your choice (orange, pink, red and olive are good alternatives). Wrap forward to about 5mm from the hook eye, leaving enough room to tie in the foam, a wing, more dubbing / chenille, and legs.
Bring the foam forward to form the carapace and tie in.
Tie in more chenille or dubbing (only 1 or 2 wraps), and then a set of legs on either side of the pattern. Prior to this it is also a good idea to tie in about a dozen to two dozen short strands of flash material for the a wing.
Some completed flies
A range of colours and materials, with and without wings.