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Fly fishing with ants:

The summertime trout smorgasboard

So why do trout relish ants so much? Many forms of this question have been posed to me quite often of late. Perhaps they get tuned into ants because they are so prevalent during the summer months. Perhaps they like the acidic flavor of ants? How do I know that ants are acidic? Well, let me tell you that I have no personal experience with that one but have read reports where others have actually resorted to taste testing of ants. Why? Because they love their sport.

Every serious fly fisherman will carry various ant patterns in their fly box at all times and will use them often. There are even times when trout will snub a substantial may fly hatch for these juicy, acidic ants.

Ant patterns can be used effectively from April through October and sometimes even into November in some areas but the best time to use ants is typically from May through September when they are the most active in searching for food and/or mating. You can use ants any time during the day but the best time is mid-morning or after, when the ground has warmed and the ants kick it into high gear.

If you are fishing slow moving, clear water, you may want to use smaller ant patterns especially if your foe seems to be very selective. If you see trout rising to your ant pattern and then turning away, that is an indication that they are interested but a little unsure. Try using a smaller size…one size at a time until you find the right size. Of course “the right size” will be defined by the size you’re using when you get your first take.

When fishing these smaller sizes, don’t be afraid to tie in a post as a visual aid. Posts should be kept fairly small so that the trout cannot see it from underneath. Posts are usually made from calf tail, antron or other similar, high floating material in white.

On the other hand, if you are fishing swift, choppy water, when the trout need to make a split second decision or miss a meal, you may need to use a large pattern like a carpenter ant in a size 12 or 14.

Also, don’t forget about flying ants. Flying ants are tied exactly the same as the standard patterns only with wings tied in using either antron yarn or hackle tips. You can fish flying ants any time during the day even if you don’t see any naturals out. The key again is to find the right size.

Live ants in North America range in sizes between about 1/8” to the large carpenter ants about 3/4”. So make sure to carry ant patterns from size 12 to size 22 or 24. You’ll also want to carry different styles of ant patterns and even some smaller sizes (size 18 and smaller) in cinnamon, red and even brown.

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