The late summer arrival of flying ants in their hundreds can herald some really exciting fly fishing on all waters. It’s usually only a short burst of a few days, when you’ll see them everywhere. Match anglers curse them, because the silver fish get preoccupied with these clumsy fliers: even more reason to break out the fly rod! Even if you miss the annual carnage however, flying ant patterns can still be excellent. Roach and rudd, in particular, will take an ant copy as eagerly as any small terrestrial.
Why a foam body? It might be a little more fuss to cut and secure on the hook, but the foam body results in hassle free fishing. Even after several fish, the fly still floats- and “retirement” usually only beckons when the fly has lost both wings. Practise makes perfect with this one- but do keep to a small size. A barbless 18 dry fly hook is perfect. Fish it on a light set up with a low diameter of 2-3lbs for roach and rudd, or go stronger for chub and larger species. Even your local carp pool could be littered with flying ants for a couple of days in high summer, so be ready with some suitable flies.
1. Run some fine black thread in touching turns down the hook shank.
2. Carefully trim a small hourglass shaped body from flat foam, holding against the hook to get a rough idea of size. Razor sharp, fine tipped scissors are a big help with this job.
3. Secure the body to the hook at the midpoint in your foam shape, so that the body protrudes a little past the back of the hook.
4. Now avoid the body for a few turns, taking the thread around just the hook shank before catching the foam again to form the next segment. Bind the front of the body tight down against the hook as shown.
5. Now it’s time to cut a small pair of wings. This is easiest to achieve by doubling over your winging material first, so that by cutting one roughly diamond shaped wing, you get a pair as one piece.
6. Tie in the wing with ‘wraps of thread forming an “X” shape across the back to secure. If you do this a little lighter at first, you can always tease the wings into position, before making tighter wraps.
7. Add just a tiny pinch of black dubbing to the thread and cover the middle of the wings.
8. Now catch in some grizzle cock. Look for a section with short fibres. Make four turns of this before securing.
9. Trim off the hackle, whip finish and add a spot of varnish. The fly is ready.
* And if this seems too much of a fuss, Turrall produce their own flying ant patterns, two of which are included in the “Roach and Rudd” fly selection pack HERE.