I recently had the pleasure of meeting Ken Walrath at the International Fly Tying Symposium in Somerset, New Jersey. I was really taken by his "Crazy Ant" and he was gracious enough to send me detailed instructions as well as several flies and a selection of materials. It’s super easy to tie, floats like a cork and is incredibly realistic.
For a hook, I’m going to use a Dai-Riki #305 in size 16. For thread, black UTC 70 Ultra thread.
Get your thread started at about the halfway point on the hook shank and take a few wraps before breaking or snipping off the tag. Then take wraps rearward to about the barb and forward to just behind the hook eye. This provides a thread base to which you’ll attach the body of the ant.
The entire body of the ant is constructed of foam drawer liner that’s available nearly everywhere. You do have to be careful not to get the checkerboard kind as on the left, this won’t work. Find the stuff that looks like the material on the right. Orient the material as shown here, and cut a single row of the small foam nubbins. Get a grip on the foam and separate two of the bulges. You should end up with neat little antenna-looking things like so. Skip over the 2 bumps that will become the body of the fly and separate them from the rest of the strip. And that’s all there is to it.
Center the body on top of the hook shank and take a few wraps of tying thread between the two bumps. Make sure the body stays positioned on top of the hook shank. Place a small drop of Zap-a-gap on a scrap piece of paper. Rotate the fly so it’s bottom faces up and then, with your bodkin, scoop some of the adhesive and apply it to the thread wraps. Rotate the fly back to it’s upright position.
For a wing, that also acts as an indicator, snip a sparse one inch long piece of either Antron or Zelon free from the hank. Fold the segment around your tying thread, then lift it up and draw it down with your tying thread. Take a few wraps to position the wing at the leading edge of the rear bump. You can then snip the material off to form a short little wing.
Grizzly hackle is used to form the ant’s legs and better float the fly. The hackle should be sized the same as a dry fly, so here a 16. Snip the lowest barbules off to give your thread a little grip during tie-in. Next place the stem against the near side of the hook and take a few wraps to secure it. You can then make 2 or 3 adjacent wraps of hackle, it doesn’t need much. Secure your hackle with a few tight wraps of tying thread and snip the remainder off close.
Get hold of your whip finish tool and do a 5 or 6 turn whip finish before snipping or cutting the thread off close. And there you have it. I’m really looking forward to giving these a try once the weather warms. Many stores have the material in different colors or you can simply get the white stuff which takes color quite well. Thanks Ken for this really neat little pattern.