A few summers ago, our interns were complaining that they weren’t catching as many brook trout as they thought they should from a local freestone stream. I suggested that they try adding a Fur Ant as a dropper off the Stimulators and Wulffs they’d been using. They came back to the office very pleased with the results. From the landlocked salmon of northern Maine to the cutthroats of Yellowstone National Park, fish everywhere seem to love ants, in my experience. (My older brother, who was forced to eat ants in military survival school, says they’re actually kind of sweet.)
There are plenty of ant patterns out there, but it’s tough to beat the classic Fur Ant, and author and blogger Matt Grobert makes tying the fly seem ridiculously easy in this classic video from Tightline Productions. Who would think that a couple of dubbing balls and some hackle could fool so many fish? Because the fly can be hard to see on the water, trailing it behind another dry is a great tactic.
Hook: 1X-fine dry-fly hook (here a TMC100), sizes 16-20.
Thread: Black, 6/0 or 140-denier.
Body segments: Black and brown Australian possum dubbing, mixed.
Hackle: Dark dun or black hackle, trimmed top and bottom.
2 thoughts on “Video: How to Tie the Fur Ant”
I did a very unscientific experiment a couple weeks ago on the Battenkill. There are a couple of spots where the trout seem to rise all day to who knows what. So I got above the fish at three different times of the day and stood there with a little dip net to collect what was in the drift. I anticipated seeing a lot of terrestrials – ants and such.
While this was just a brief snapshot on a random day I was very surprised to find that after about an hour of collecting in total between the three locations (9:30 am, 2 pm and again at 5 pm) I collected a grand total of one ant! Of course that is not to say that ants are not effective. Or that there were not others in the drift. But I expected to see a lot more.
There were two bugs that DID stand out. One was a very small crane fly “spinner” for lack of a better term that could be imitated with a # 22 sulpher colored fly with wings tied back at about a 60 degree angle and the other was a # 22 rusty spinner.
The next morning I went out to fish briefly and spotted one of the “mechanical trout” as a friend calls them was rising with regularity. The morning # 18 BWO hatch had not yet started and this section does not have an abundance of tricos. Having collected all the flies I had the day before I decided on a rusty spinner and sure enough on the first cast I got a nice little brookie. Then another.
I guess the moral of the story, if there is one … is that a small rusty spinner would be a good searching pattern since the trout seem to see these on a pretty regular basis. Not that I would use this on one of the tumbling brookie streams but for the bigger rivers ….
I fish the Upper Delaware system and there are a number of pools where those “mechanical trout” rise on what seems like a permanent basis. I call it the perpetual, *TDS hatch. These (usually) small wild brown trout are maddening to fish to. Thanks for the film study, interesting but not surprising.
*Tiny Dead Sh!t