Fly of the Month: The Sinking Ant

Sinking Ant

by Pat Neuner, Wapsi Product Development Manager

Having grown up trout fishing on the east coast I have grown to love fishing with terrestrials.  One of my favorite terrestrial patterns has been the sinking ant.  While it may not be as exciting a fly pattern as a fully dressed hopper it has accounted for a large number of caught trout for me over the years, in trout waters all over the world.

One of the best things about the sinking ant is that anyone can tie it.  Even a brand new fly tyer can crank one out and expect to catch fish on it.   Trout see a lot of natural ants during the warm months of the year and when available they eat a lot of them.  Although sinking ant patterns have been around for a very long time, many of us have forgotten how productive a fly pattern they can be.

A sinking ant can be fished a variety of ways:  they can be fished dead drift in the surface film, cast down and across the stream like you would a traditional wet fly, or they can be fished with lead on the leader much like a nymph.  One of my favorite techniques is swinging the fly down and across the current under bank side logs and undercuts.    Fishing the fly as a dropper underneath a hopper or beetle pattern can also be very effective.  Here’s how I like to tie the fly:

 

 

 

 

Any dry fly or curved nymph hook can be used but my preference is a curved nymph hook. I’ve chosen a Lightning Strike SE5 (Scud Emerger) hook in size 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For this fly I’ve chosen Wapsi UTC140 denier nylon thread in both red and black.  I will use red for the rear hump of the ant and black for the front hump.  To tie the rear hump start the thread opposite the point of the hook as shown at left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrap the thread as flat as you can and try to form an “ant-like” rear hump.  It is not necessary to add a lot of thread wraps just enough to simulate a hump.  Now whip finish and cut your thread.

 

 

 

 

 

Now there are a lot of options to this step:  If you want the fly to have a large, bulbous abdomen you can coat the thread with a small amount of 5-minute epoxy or a UV cure resin such as Bug Bond.  If you prefer a slender appearance then use head cement.  For this fly I’ve chosen Wapsi Gloss Coat, an acrylic head cement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are using a rotating vise then you can rotate the fly as the epoxy or head cement dries. This will help form the body of the fly.  If you are not using a rotating vise you can put the hook into the jaws of forceps and rotate it in the same manner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now start the black thread behind the hook eye and wrap a smaller hump on the front 1/3rd of the hook shank as shown at left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover the front hump with epoxy or cement as you did the abdomen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the front hump has dried tie in a black neck hackle by the tip as shown.  This will make the legs of the fly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make about 2-3 wraps of the hackle around the hook depending upon the size of the fly.  For a size 16 two wraps is about right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now trim off the excess hackle and the fly is ready to be whip finished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the finished fly.  It may not be beautiful in the fly tying vise but trout think it is beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a photo of the fly when wet.  Super easy to tie and very productive.  Don’t forget to try a wet ant this summer.