The Bug died screaming, make sure you imitate that

carpenter_ant If fly tying wasn’t such a mood based hobby your flies would be twice as good. A big order of tiny, upthrust, and gossamer locks the poor tyer into a mayfly mindset and when a big black ant is up next – being a “slab” of protein completely out of place on water, the result is tiny, gossamer, and neat …

… which has no parallel when imitating a drowning Chuck Roast.

Knowing my coworkers will be demanding ants by lunch hour, and armed with a half dozen photos from yesterday – whose details are still fresh, I eyeballed a couple of the larger catalogs and noticed every ant was an upright aquatic insect … none were tied as a dead bug, and fewer yet were tied screaming in terror.

The Gods had smiled ever so briefly, and while it may be five or six seasons before I need them again, I learned my lesson.

First of all terrestrial insects don’t ride the surface upright like mayflies. Most of them are dead, the rest are struggling to free a big terrestrial wing from the water’s surface and will expire on their back or curled on their side, and there’s nothing neat and orderly about it.

Wings aren’t gossamer as they’d get in the way. They’re stubby thick affairs that once dampened lose most of their aerodynamic qualities, trapping the insect in whatever position was first contact.

Fish (bless them) are entirely unsophisticated when the equivalent of a Virginia Ham is struggling on the surface, and it’s likely that color and size is all that’s needed.

… and something that allows you to see that flush-in-the-film imitation so you’ll know when to strike.

Not pretty, nor is it meant to be

I dubbed the traditional ant profile using black deer hair, which left fibers poking in every direction looking like big black legs. I slapped some brown and black permanent marker on the lettuce bag from the trash, posted some closed cell foam upright and wound a brown-dyed grizzly hackle around it to add a bit more brownish tint to the overall fly.

Those wings will flop onto the surface and stick as the saran is so light it won’t hold its tied-in shape.

Curled and dead

Contrast the dead ants with the live picture at the top. Orderly and shipshape versus cold and curled – wings splayed. This was the look of the wet insect we fished over Sunday.

Surely, if a large Adams was all it took to fool the fish we’re splitting hairs, yet if you’re taking the trouble to imitate something lose the live bug bias and get disjoint and nasty.

Coifed and combed is for that sweet smelling fellow with the droopy backcast, and was never meant for the bait …

6 thoughts on “The Bug died screaming, make sure you imitate that”

  1. At what point, dare I ask, does that flying junkpile of creativity upset the aerodynamics of the smooth,lengthy and accurate cast ? Or is that a factor ?

  2. So far it has no effect. Deer hair is light and doesn’t absorb much water, the saran wrap vegetable bag wings aren’t rigid enough to hold their shape when cast, so the fly performs well under use.

    It’s size makes it noticable on fine tippet (#10 hook) but testing on the Brownwater Downstream Ballistic Range was a “Pass.”

    Of course anything floats in toxic waste.

  3. I was with you right up to the closed cell foam then I reached for the styling gel and hairdryer. If it were clipped closer and inked possibly my sense of fashion would be satisfied.

  4. Meathead Older Bro,

    Your first instinct will be to help yourself to a fistful – then I’ll hear some high pitched whine about how “t’ain’t fair as you can’t see them …”

    I added the white for you – as naturally the psychic bond I have with my own creations alerts me when they’s ett .

  5. Impressive carpenter ant impersonator! But, I like the ad selection as well! How do you do that? Is it PFM?

  6. Uhh, the sharper-eyed among your readers (or perhaps the merely sober) can’t help but notice you’re using bacon for wings, not synthetic, qualifying this as bait.

    Have you no sense of shame?

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