The Realistic Ant
By Jerry Schrader
The Realstic Ant, history
I developed this pattern from the idea that I got from one of those little ant kits that
had a block of etha-foam that was pre punched with cylinders for making ant bodies. I
found that the cylinders in the kit were not of the correct diameter and experimented with
a rotary leather hole punch. I then obtained a block of ethafoam to create cylinders of
that are 5/32 x ½ inches for this pattern. The foam is available from many fly-tying
sources under the name Fly Foam. Use a ballpoint refill to push the plugs out of the
block. Pulling them stretches the foam. This fly is best fished dry, and was developed for
the gin clear water of the catch and release stretch of the Swift River in Ma. (I use
Wilson's fly float and squeeze the ant body between my fingers to saturate the foam with
floatant.) The trout in this water have all received doctorate degrees in fly fishing and
have each been caught and released countless times by some really expert fishermen. These
trout have been known to count the wraps on a whip finish to see if they contained the
correct number (5).
When my ant is fished as a dry, I am loath to apply the cement that will make this fly
indestructible, as the added weight affects flotation. But if you don't mind the added
weight, it also fishes well wet, and will be accompanied by many rapid fish flashes if
allowed to sink. I have watched a brown trout follow this ant for ten yards as it floated
in the film of the Swift. While he pursued the floating fly he examined circled around it
for 300 degrees, never more than 3 inches away. After it finally passed inspection, he
casually sipped in the fly, only to discover to his dismay, that he had been once again
duped! At the set of the hook, he exploded on the surface peeling off many yards of line,
upsetting the pool and several other fishermen who were convinced that I must be using
The Recipe for the Realistic Ant.
Tiemco #102y size 19 this special hook was developed as a caddis fly hook.
It has a wide gap and is down eye, 1x fine and black which helps to hide it in this
pattern. It is available from Feather Craft.
Danville's Flymaster 60 black
5/32 X ½ inch cylinder of Black ethafoam
heavy monocord knotted for joints.
Place the hook in the vise and wrap the thread to the middle of the bend of the hook.
Cut a 45-degree angle at the base of the foam cylinder (to reduce bulk) and tie in this
end to the hook cylinder extending rearward.
Now wrap the thread forward to the middle of the straight part of the hook and bend the
cylinder of foam forward and wrap the thread over the foam and make a few tight wraps to
form the abdomen of the ant.
Wrap the thread forward a few turns under the foam then wrap over the foam to form the
thorax and head of the ant.
Wind the thread back toward the rear of the hook to the beginning of the thorax at the
Now make a pair of legs by making two over hand knots approx 3/32 apart in a piece of
heavy monocord about 3 or 4 inches in length with the natural curl left. Use the natural
curl of the mono cord to help form the loops for this simplest of knots. A small pair of
right angle tweezers is invaluable for this task. Do not lock the knots too tightly as it
will straighten the monocord instead of the producing the intended right angle bend. You
will end up with a tight U of monocord with a knot at the two corners.
Trim this pair of legs to about ¾ inch and tie them in at the front of the abdomen at
the first segment. Cross tie to hold them in place and use the tweezers to adjust the
Wrap the thread forward to the front segment and tie in the front pair. Bring the pair
of legs together and trim to the correct length, approximately one body length. Don't
worry if they don't sit perfectly, it won't really matter when fishing.
Knotting the legs can be maddening, and I never do it the same twice. I like to leave
the legs a little long as I think that it increases the bugginess of the fly.