I put this together for another reason, but I thought some of you might find it interesting. This is my first attempt at a fly tying "how to".Cupboard Ant Fly Pattern
Black ants covered the shoreline, my feet, and pretty much everything else along the Big Thompson River in Rocky Mountain National Park one day this summer. Even a bass fisherman like me could match the hatch that day. The Cupboard Ant was the perfect choice and produced my first Greenback Cutthroat trout.
This pattern is from Schweitzer’s book “A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park” on page 205. The body of this fly is made from foam shelf liner material. The “antenna” look is created by slowly pulling the foam “pillows’ apart. OK, the antennas look cool, but do they really make any difference? Well, they did that day. I mangled one of the antenna while re-tying and the fish stopped biting until I fixed the error. They would not eat an ant with one antenna. The key to fishing this ant pattern was to drift it as close to the shoreline’s rocks and vegetation as possible for an aggressive strike. The fly needed to be within 6 inches of the rocks or fish ignored the fly. Cupboard Ant
Hook: Standard dry fly hook size 14 to 16
Body: Two “pillow” segments from shelf lining; pull apart to create antennas
Legs: Black or other dark hackle
Thread: 70 denier color to match the foam
Photo 1: Detail of shelf liner material used:
Photo 2: View of the “antenna” affect that is created when the shelf liner is pulled slowly apart:
Tying Step 1: Start the thread and leave a gap behind the hook eye. Be careful not to crowd the eye with this pattern. Wrap 3 or so layers of thread along the hook shank in wide spaced wraps to create a good thread base. Several layers of wide spaced thread is one of secrets to keeping foam bodies from spinning around a hook shank by providing something for the foam to grip.
Tie in the hackle about 2 eye lengths back from the hook eye. (Note: Red thread was used for contrast in the photos, but I usually use matching thread to foam color.)
Tying Step 2: Center two of the foam “pillows” over the hackle tie in point and tie in being cautious not to crush the pillow sections of the foam. Wrap the hackle around this point 2 to 3 times in touching wraps. Tie off the hackle at this point between the foam sections.
Lift the front foam “pillow” and whip finish the thread directly to the hook shank. (Note: Whip finish knots seem to hold better when tied directly to the hook without a layer of foam between the thread and hook. When I do whip finish over foam, I always glue that knot.)
Here’s the finished fly. I added a piece of white Antron yard to the top for better visibility of the fly on the water. This yarn is tied in after the hackle in the same location. This fly seems to float and fish better when the body and hackle are tied away from the hook eye. The picture shows how large the gap is between the eye and the hackle tie in point.
The Cupboard Ant is a simple, durable pattern that catches fish.