The Fur Ant may well be the “Rodney Dangerfield” of flies in that it just doesn’t get a lot of respect. But when tied small and executed to perfection, like this size 20 by Matt Grobert, it’s one of the deadliest fly patterns ever devised.
Matt picks up a size 20 TMC 100 dry fly hook and secures it in his tying vise. He then loads a bobbin with a spool of black 6/0 Danville for your benefit, as he prefers olive, even on ants.
Start your thread on the hook shank, leaving some space behind the eye and take wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag.
Both the front and back segments of the ant’s body are created with a mix of black and brown Australian possum. Dub a very thin noodle on your tying thread and start building up a small front segment. We’ll explain the rationale for doing this segment first in a minute.
Get hold of another slightly larger pinch of dubbing and, again, create a thin noodle on your tying thread. But this time, make it a little longer than you did for the front segment. Start taking wraps to build up a rear segment that’s just a bit larger. Doing the front segment first gives you a basis for size comparison. So, if you say, added too much, like here, simply strip off the excess and keep wrapping. Advance your thread to halfway between the two segments.
Select an appropriately sized dark dun hackle feather, yes, you can use black if you like. Pull it free from the skin. Break or snip the lower webby portion of the feather off and then strip away about 1/8” of fibers from either side of the stem. Lay the stem against the near side of the hook and take diagonal thread wraps in the order shown here to secure the feather at a 90 degree angle to the shank. Then take wraps to firmly anchor the stem. You should end up with the shiny or front side of the feather facing forward. Get hold of the feather’s tip with hackle pliers and start taking wraps around the hook shank, one immediately in front of the other, 2 or 3 wraps should be plenty. Anchor the feather on the underside of the hook with a couple of firm thread wraps and then reach in with the tips of your tying scissors and snip the excess off close.
Do a 3 or 4 turn whip finish behind the front segment which makes things look neater than doing it in back of the hook eye. You can then snip or cut your tying thread free. Finally trim the fibers from both the top and bottom so you’re left with 2 little outriggers to represent legs and help float the fly in the surface film.
One of my favorite Rodney Dangerfield lines, “Last time I saw a mouth like that it had a hook in it!” seems oddly appropriate here.