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How to Make the Flying Ant Fishing Fly This next pattern is called the flying ant. Several years ago, I was fishing at a small pond up in Michigan one evening about 7 o’clock and all of a sudden an ant hatch came off and the bluegill absolutely were gorging himself on the flying ants that I had nothing in my fly box to equate to that pattern. So I tried everything in the fly box and those fish would not take any of my flies. They only would take the flying ants. So I said I’m going to have to come up with the flying ant pattern. Well I didn’t do anything about it and then about 6, 8 months later, there was a fly tying competition and fly fishing and fly tying the English publication and there were 2 divisions and this was a fly I tied for the created division and fortunately it won first place. Debbie White told me later we took the fly out and fished it for trout and it did better than any of the other flies that had been submitted for the competition which made me feel really good since I hadn’t been fishing at the time. But I tied it as a creative fly rather than the fishing fly but it turns out that it is a very, very good fly and it does work for the bluegill. I’m going to start out again with some 10/0 Gudebrod thread. Beginning about a third of the way back on the shank and the hook I’m using is a Mike Weaver Arrow Point Barbless Hook, slightly shorter shank. It’s about a 1-inch short shank, has a very long throat at it and it is barbless, size 12. We’re going to put on, again we’re going to use Microfibbets for the tail and back up to about the middle of the shank. I use 4 microfibbets, cut off the microfibbets and make the, I would make the tail even a little longer than the hook on this pattern. Because it’s a fairly short shank and gives a little better support. Same technique, roll the material right up on top, keep the bobbin close to the hook shank, keep the thread flat. Wrap to the end of the shank, bring the thread under the tails, draw it up, make a single wrap, bring the tails up to divide them in two. Bring the thread between the tails and around. Go through the tails divide them in two then come up the near side in between. Now for dubbing, I’m going to use a product called Rob McLean’s Velveteen Dry Fly Dubbing. This is a fairly new product. Rob won’t tell me what the material is but my good friend Dan Brown, the creator of the Skipper, who is a furrier, looked at it and he thinks it’s across between chinchilla and rabbit. Has that’s what no guard hairs in it and it is the easiest dubbing I’ve ever used for actual of the dubbing technique and for putting on a narrow amount of dubbing. Works better than beaver or rabbit or anything else I’ve ever used. This go between the tails again, start building the body up as you come forward. You can see how easy that goes on and you can see how thin the noodle of dubbing you can put on. It’s better to put the dubbing on thin to make more wraps than to try to put the dubbing on heavy and make fewer wraps. Now when I get toward the center of the hook, just past the center of this hook, I want to taper the dubbing down just a little bit. So I’m going to put some cut wings on this pattern very similar to the skipper but it’s going to be upright and it will be a different material. The material we’re going to use is called Flashback. It’s some kind of a translucent material. I’m not sure I’ll buy it from my suppliers and what I do with it to get this winkly effect is put up between a manila folder and iron it for about seconds at medium heat. And it will create this real ripply effect so that it gives the wing more strength and also reflects light much better. And fold it, like you would any other material to cut to use a coupling, you fold it in half, lay it onto the eraser and again make sure that the edge of the cutting tool was slightly off to hold. Come in and cut the wings out and speaking of this wing cutter, I have used the imported wing cutters and found they’re not very good. The biggest problem is the depth of the cutting surface or cutting depth is not sufficient. This work extremely well, you can see how deep they are, you can see the depth of the material. They are razor sharp, as long as you hold it or use it on the eraser, there isn’t a problem with them dulling. I’ve use these for quite some time. And here is our cut wing and a translucency and the sparkle in the water especially if there’s sun. It’s a bright day, it will flash. Now this is another case where if you want to, you can come in on the bottom of this wing and take and just cut off just a fraction of that fold. Just at that corner. I think it’s a good idea to do with this particular fly. Alright now, bring the wings in, bring them under the hook shank and up over the dubbing so the wings are actually resting on the dubbing. Take the thread, wrap back just a little bit on to those wings, split them and come between and around, come between and around. Now at this point, I’m just going to take a whip finish tool and I’m going to take this 10/0 thread off and I’m going to put on 8/0 Gudebrod which is a little bit heavier thread but still a very fine thread. Put a thread based down, you can see these wings what they look like. If you want to make them split a little bit more, just take some more dubbing. Come in, divide that and just between legs and that’ll push those wings apart in addition to covering underneath. Now I’m going to come back and bind that over the dubbing with a thread in front of the wings. I’m going to better look at that. I’m going to take a Hoffman Dry Fly Hackle, Whiting Hackle; this is a size 12 saddle, Black Saddle, these are just wonderful to work with. The barb count on these hackles is incredible. The stems are nice and thin and that entire hackle, you could probably tie at least, 6 or 8, maybe even 10 flies with that 1 hackle of this type. Now the side, which side do you put forward well I don’t think it makes a whole lot of difference. In this case, I’m only using 1 hackle. I’m going to put this shiny side with the top side of the feather toward the hook eye, lay it underneath the hook, and catch it. Grab forward, make sure there’s a little bit of space between your tying point and where the first barb begins. So that when you begin to wrap the barbs, it will wrap up out in a 90-degree angle to the hook shank. Stroke those barbs back. Leave a little space for your head right behind the eye and this is a point that I’ve stressed to my students all the time. Make sure that you leave head space to build the head because as every tier knows, who’s ever tied a fly, anybody who’s ever tied a fly knows that crowding the head is a problem. So you have to deliberately leave space for that head and don’t put anything in that space except the head. And this thread being so fine it takes a little bit of time to build up the head but I think that’s an advantage rather than a disadvantage because you can control exactly the same amount of the size of the head and the shape of the head with finer threads. Here is the flying ant. Now you could modify this fly if you wanted to. You could take the wings and lay it on top of the hook, rather than put it underneath. So they lay down in this fashion. If you wanted to change the form of the fly because many flying ants will actually have a down wing when they’re’ sitting on the water, they’re not up, they’re down. What this fly does is give a little silhouette and a little bit more vision to the fly, to the fish when it’s sitting on top of the surface.