Flying Ants

Flying Ants

A highly effective pattern that's a snap to tie

  • By: A. K. Best
A quick and easy dryfly pattern for most fly tiers is an ant. The two colors you'll need are black and cinnamon in sizes from 22 to 14. Every serious fly fisher/fly tier should carry a selection of ants in their fly box at the first sign of new leaves on trees and bushes. The tender leaves attract aphids that leave sweet droppings that ants love to sip. It's also a signal that there will soon be a flying ant fall-and you'd better have some matching flies with you because, as much as trout love to eat ants, they seem to go nuts over flying ants.

I say ants are "quick and easy" because there are only two pieces of material and just three parts to the fly. The best wing material I have found for flying ants is that strip of waffle-like imprint next to the closure strip on a Glad Lock bag. Cut this portion from the bag, remove the ends, cut the remainder into strips with widths equal to the gap of the hook you're using, and you have winging material that can be seen at a distance of 20 to 40 feet. All those little square indentations in the plastic reflect light and the curved wing traps a little bubble of air.

Hook: Your favorite dryfly hook, size 22--14
Thread: Black ant: Black 6/0 or 8/0; Cinnamon ant: Tan 6/0 or 8/0
Body: Black ant: Very fine black dryfly dubbing; Cinnamon ant: Very fine tan dryfly dubbing with a little pinch of orange mixed in
Hackle: Black ant: Black dryfly hackle; Cinnamon ant: Light brown or dark ginger dryfly hackle
Wing: Strip of plastic bag
Head: Tiny ball of dubbing

1) Attach the tying thread one hook eye space behind the eye and tightly cover the entire hook shank slightly into the bend.

2) Begin firmly applying very tiny pinches of dubbing to the thread and wind the dubbing forward to just above the hook point. Do not go beyond the hook point!

3) Wind to the rear and forward several times to create the familiar teardrop-shaped rear portion of the body of an ant.

4) Trim a sized hackle and tie it onto the hook one hook eye space in front of the shoulder of the body with the shiny side down.

5) Take two or three turns of hackle, tie it off on top of the hook and clip off the tip and all the hackle from the top of the fly.

6) Cut one end of a strip of plastic bag into an arrow shape and tie it onto the top of the hook. The point of the arrow should be just behind the hook eye.

7) Clip the strip off one hook gap space beyond the bend and trim off the corners.

8) Firmly apply a very tiny pinch of dubbing to the thread and wind the dubbing to create the head of the ant. The diameter of the head should be about the same size as the hook eye.

Note: Try to maintain a slight space between the rear of the hackle and front of the body as well as between the dubbed head and the front of the hackle.