This is certainly not a pattern to be used every day of the season but, when it is needed, you will be very glad to have a couple of flying ant imitations nestling in the corner of the fly-box.
Like a number of terrestrial insects which can appear on the water’s surface in large numbers, the flying ant has a nasty habit of inducing trout to become completely preoccupied. So, when there is a large fall of these insects, it is important to have a good imitation ready to hand.
Prime time to see this phenomenon is on a hot lazy afternoon when there is hardly a breath of wind. This is when the winged males and females, which have been raised by the colony’s worker ants to start new populations, take to the air. They are not strong fliers and many fall on to the water’s surface and quickly become trapped.
Typical of fish feeding on terrestrials, the trout will take station right under the surface gulping in mouthfuls of ants rather than picking them off as individuals.
This fur-bodied imitation is one of the best as it sits right in the surface film just like a real drowning ant. Here it is tied in fiery brown to imitate the red ant but it may equally be tied with a black body to imitate species of that colour.
Hook Size 14-16 down-eyed dry-fly
Thread Brown Abdomen Fiery brown
seal’s fur Wing Blue dun hen hackle tips
Hackle Brown cock hackle Thorax Fiery
brown seal’s fur
1. Fix the hook in the vice and run the tying thread down the shank to the bend. Apply a light coating of flytyer’s wax to the thread.
2. Take a pinch of fiery brown seal’s fur and dub it on to the tying thread to form a thin rope. Begin to wind on the dubbed fur at the bend.
3. Wind on the dubbing until it has reached halfway along the hook shank. Then, wind the fur back over itself to create a pronounced ant-like abdomen.
4. Select two blue dun cock hackles. These should be small and of equal size but may be either natural or dyed.
5. Strip the fibres from the stems of both feathers to leave two small points of equal size.
6. Place the hackle tips together so that their tips are level and they curve away from one another. Position them just in front of the dubbed abdomen.
7. With the hackle-points in the correct position, secure with further thread turns. Folding the stems back first will prevent the feathers from falling out.
8. Select a brown cock hackle with fibre-length approximately oneand- a-half times that of the hook gape. Catch it in by its base at the front of the wings.
9. Take hold of the hackle tip with hackle pliers and wind on three full turns.
10. Secure the hackle tip with thread before removing the excess with scissors.
11. Take a second, smaller pinch of the fiery brown fur and dub it on to the thread. Wind it right up to the eye to form the ant’s thorax and head.
12. With the tying thread at th eye, simply cast it off with a whip finish.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
The Flying Ant will work on any river or stream though they appear to be taken more often in smooth glides and slower stretches than in fast or broken water.
W H E N
During late summer, from July through into early September when the winged ants leave their nests.
H O W
The pattern is usually fished singly on a floating line and a tapered leader. Accurate casting is important because, when trout are preoccupied with feeding on ants, they will rarely deviate from their position in order to intercept an artificial.
T Y I N G T I P
Unlike ordinary dry-fly patterns where the hackle point wings are tied in an upright position, those on the Red Flying Ant should be tied to sit low over the body and spread out to the sides.