Although cinnamon ants, both winged and unwinged, can totally ruin a late summer picnic, trout absolutely love ‘em. Here’s a super simple, quick-to-tie pattern that floats well and is fairly easy to see, even with smaller sizes.
For a hook, I like a Dai-Riki #305 in a size 18. As always, EZ hackle pliers make handling small hooks like these much easier. Begin by mashing the barb and getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise.
For thread, I’ve loaded a bobbin with a spool of burnt orange UTC 70 Denier, but plain brown will work just fine. Start your thread on the hook shank leaving an eye-length space behind the eye and take wraps rearward until you’re about halfway down the shank. You can then snip or break off the tag. Return your thread to the initial tie-in point.
The body of the fly is made from small diameter, cylindrical soft foam that’s most commonly used to create parachute posts. Orange is a close match for the color of a Cinnamon Ant and very visible on the water’s surface. Place one end of the foam cylinder on top of the hook shank so it extends to the front edge of the hook eye. Secure it with a single wrap of tying thread and then start making open spiral wraps rearward to about the hook point. Once the foam’s secured, wrap forward, all the way back up to the initial tie-in point. Snip the foam off so it extends a little ways beyond the hook bend and is nearly twice as long as the front segment.
For a wing, I’m going to use white polypropylene floating yarn but Antron, Zelon or a host of other wing materials will also work. Snip a card-width segment free and then pull just a few fibers off of it, maybe 20 at most. Lay the midpoint of this fiber bundle on top of the hook shank at the tie-in point and take a wrap or two of tying thread to secure it. Pull the front half of the clump back to double it over and take thread wraps rearward all the way back to the start of the rear foam segment. Snip the material off so it’s slightly longer than the foam, try to do it a little more gracefully than I did here.
Brown hackle is used to imitate the legs of the fly and to help it float. You can go with a hackle from a standard dry fly neck or a longer saddle hackle. I prefer the latter, particularly when I’m tying this fly in significant numbers. It’s always a good idea to check the barbule size with an accurate hackle gauge. This one’s a near perfect size 18.
With the shiny or front side of the feather facing you, pull down an 1/8 inch or so of fibers and then snip them off, leaving a small triangular-shaped tie-in anchor. Place the anchor against the near side of the hook and take thread wraps to secure it all the way up to the initial tie-in point. Get hold of the hackle and begin making touching wraps forward. If the feather has been tied in correctly, you should notice the barbules pointing ever-so-slightly rearward. Continue wrapping all the way up to the rear of the front foam segment. Once there, secure the hackle with 2 or 3 tight turns of tying thread. Then reach in with the tips of your tying scissors and snip the excess off close.
Pull the foam head and hackle rearward to expose the hook eye and take a thread wrap or two around just the hook shank. Pick up your whip finish tool and do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish behind the eye. After making sure the knot is seated really well, snip or cut your tying thread free. You can leave the Cinnamon Flying Ant like this, but I prefer to cut off the bottom hackle fibers so the fly rides low on the surface of the water.
If you’re worried about the orange foam being a bit too bright, give the undersides of both segments a swipe with a brown permanent marker. I usually just leave the foam as is and trout don’t seem to care. Once you get rolling, you can tie a whole bunch of these little guys in fairly short order.