Been fishing ant imitations a lot more this year than I have in the past, & that’s working out pretty well. Considering ants are present & available anywhere you go in trout country, spring through fall, & the fact that trout love to eat them, it doesn’t serve to overlook the wee ant as an important trout stream insect – probably, day-in, day-out, ants are the most important terrestrial to imitate.
The large #6-#8 carpenter ants that fall on my home water spring & early summer are an essential hatch in the Northwest, & I tie hackled imitations to fish for them. Yet, smaller species are falling on the stream from spring into autumn, & I’ve lately come to prefer these #14-#18 models tied hackle-less, which, I think, offers a better ant profile.
Ants struggle & sink, becoming available to trout throughout the water column. For me, the imitations work best fished wet, dead-drifted in or under the surface film. Here’s a design that’s been working well.
Hook: #14-#18 dryfly hook
Thread: black; or combinations of brown & orange UNI or other monochord
Body: thread, wound to suggest the ant shape – coat with head cement (I use Hard-As-Nails for these)
Legs: tying thread (no stiffening agent)
Wing (optional): brownish-gray CDC