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by Bob Banfelder

Picking up from where we left off last month, here are the materials you will need to tie a deadly winged wet-fly foam ant:

Hook: Mustad-Octopus Beak 1/0
Thread: Danville's Flat Waxed Nylon ~ black
Body: 2 mm-thick foam strip ~ 3/8" wide ~ cinnamon or dark brown (6" length is easier with which to work). I'll show the finished fly in both colors.
Underbody: Peacock Herl
Legs: Deer Hair ~ dyed black from bucktail or natural deer hair from the belly. I'll show the finished fly in both leg materials.
Wings: Pair of Lady Amherst Pheasant tippet feathers [left and a right, approximately 10 mm wide]
Head Cement: Hard-as-Hull or 2-part 5-minute epoxy

Note: Sheets of 2 mm foam to form the body of the fly are readily found in four popular colors that produce well in both salt and fresh water: cinnamon, dark brown, gray, and black. I picked up 12" x 18" sheets at Michaels craft store in Riverhead, New York. You can find many materials used for fly tying in craft stores at a fraction of the price found in specialty fly shops.

The Mustad-Octopus Beak 1/0 hook lends itself well to angling in the suds. Although the body of the fly is primarily constructed of foam, the weight of the hook (7.6 grains), in addition to the fly-tying materials, will steadily take the artificial down into the water column. If I want to create a dry-fly version, I simply add a second strip atop the first; more on that pattern later (tomorrow Part Three). In a step-by-step recipe, we'll be tying a wet-fly winged-ant pattern. Ready?

Step 1: Wrap a thread base starting behind the eye of the hook to a point almost halfway around the bend. Come back up with the thread to the top of the bend, thread perpendicular to the hook's barb.

Step 2: Tie in the foam strip at the top of the bend, foam strip facing toward the rear of the hook. Wrap foam down securely to this mid-point section in the bend.

Bicycle handlebar Sky Street light Cloud Wood

One strip of 3/8th" wide 2 mm foam.

Street light Bicycle handlebar Sky Bicycle part Bicycle tire

Foam wrapped to halfway point along bend of hook.

Step 3: Tie in a strand of peacock herl then wrap thread forward to the top of the bend. Wrap peacock herl to this point, being very careful not to apply to much tension or the delicate strand will break. Lock in the strand with secure thread wraps and trim.

Step 4: Bring the foam forward, just over the section of peacock herl. Wrap foam down securely. Cut off excess foam and secure with several tight wraps. Tie off. We have created the ant's abdomen. [The ant's external body is separated into three main parts: head, thorax, and abdomen.]

Water Gesture Material property Bicycle part Bicycle handlebar

Peacock herl forming underbelly.

Step 5: Now, we need a separate piece of foam to form the head of the ant. Tie in the second strip ¼" behind the eye of the hook (material facing rearward), wrapping while covering the foam securely as before to a point where it practically joins the first foam strip. Bring the thread behind the strip and continue wrapping to form a 1/16th" gap.

Step 6: Within the gap, tie in one wing on one side of the body (two loose wraps then tighten); tie in the second wing on the other side of the body [both wings facing inboard and upright]; trim stems. Bring thread forward of the foam.

Sky Bird Beak Hood Water

Segmented bodies of foam.

Step 7: Next, take a small bunch of deer hair (little less than the thickness of a wooden matchstick), placing it directly in front of the foam strip (tips facing upward; i.e., butt ends down). Tie in and wrap the hairs securely atop the hook shank. Separate the deer hair evenly with your dubbing needle (bodkin). Gently pull the foam strip forward between the hair to a point 1/8th" behind the eye of the hook, wrap securely then trim excess foam. Secure with several tight, contiguous wraps, working the thread to a point directly behind the eye of the hook.

Bird Sky Street light Water Beak

Attaching legs and forming the head of the ant.

Step 8: Gently bend and push down the two sections of deer hair along each side of the body to form the legs. Cut the hair evenly at a length equal to the distance between hook shank and point.

Bird Sky Street light Water Beak

Deadly Foam-Bodied Wet-Fly Winged Ant Pattern (natural deer hair from belly to form legs).

Step 9: Apply a dot of Hard-as-Hull head cement or a two-part 5-minute epoxy to the thread head.

Arthropod Automotive lighting Insect Metal Parasite

Front view of the winged cinnamon wet-fly foam ant (dyed deer hair from bucktail to form legs). Last month's Part I showed profile and underbody.

Note: Selecting the softer deer hair from its belly, rather than from the tail (bucktail), will allow you to pinch and crush the hollow hairs to form claw-like legs of the insect. If you wish to present a more authentic representation referencing the anatomy of an ant, underscoring six legs and two antennas, have at it. I don't believe it makes a difference as the predator fish is simply looking at a satisfying snack/meal and is not that selective me thinks. I exaggerate the number of legs so as to lend attention to the artificial. Occasionally, I do the same regarding antennae.

Tomorrow I'll cover a dry-fly recipe for the deadly winged ant.

Stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder

Award-Winning Crime Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
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