[Editor’s note: A friend of mine who describes himself as “the world’s worst tier” asked me if I could suggest any good summertime patterns that won’t leave him cursing at his vise. This one jumped to mind immediately. Not only does it require little skill to tie (I make it without the legs), but it catches all kinds of fish.]
Ants are among the most important summertime fly patterns for both trout and panfish. When the sun is high and nothing is rising, oftentimes a Black or Cinnamon Ant can save the day. One of the great things about this fly is that you can fish it in all kinds of water–from flat eddies to riffles to bankside runs. Plus, it often works even when it has been sunk by the current or rough water.
But my favorite place to fish an ant is in the mountain freestone streams near my house, where wild brookies are almost always looking up for a tasty morsel floating by. There are tons of ants on the banks and in the bushes along these streams, which means that the fish are accustomed to seeing (and eating) these nutritious insects. I’ll often fish a black ant as a dropper behind a grasshopper or attractor dry fly. The splat! of the larger fly hitting the water gets a fish’s attention, and then they can’t resist the temptation of a “helpless” ant.
This pattern–tied here by Curtis Fry of Orem, Utah–is easy to tie and features a hi-vis foam indicator on top, which makes the fly easier to see on the water. So next time your hatch-matching comes to naught, tie on one of these ants and prepare for a strike.
Hook: TMC 200R, sizes 10 through 16.
Thread: Black UTC GSP, 50 denier.
Body: Black round foam.
Thorax: Grizzly or black hackle.
Legs: Speckled Centipede Legs or other rubber legs.
Indicator: Orange foam.