Chernobyl Ant – 02/12/2017

Chernobyl Ant 02/12/2017 Photo Album

When I counted my supply of black Chernobyl ants the other day, I discovered that I possessed 28 size 8 or 10 flies, and twelve size 6 versions. This quantity is actually fairly close to my desired beginning inventory, so I merely produced two additional size 8’s and three more size 6’s. The high number of remaining Chernobyl’s is indicative of my tendency to migrate away from the popular black foam attractor toward the fat Albert in the spring and summer season and toward Jake’s gulp beetle in the fall.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Size 6 Top View” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2584.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

During the previous season I discovered that the size 8 and 10 ants did not easily support two beadhead nymphs, so I tied fifteen size 6 versions. This solved the problem of a sinking top fly, but the fish seemed to avoid the larger foam ant, and consequently I opted more frequently for a large buoyant fat Albert. The fat Albert did a superior job of supporting two size 14 beadhead nymphs, but it also surprised me with its fish attracting capability.

Late in the season even the smaller Chernobyls generated refusals. I concluded that the fish were drawn toward terrestrials on the surface, but they were discouraged from gulping due to the abnormally large size. I adjusted to this circumstance by choosing a size 10 or 12 Jake’s gulp beetle, and the fish awarded this move with a solid thumbs up.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Foam, Chenille and Rubber Legs Do the Job” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2588.JPG” image_size=”2048×2048″ ]

In summary the fat Albert and Jake’s gulp beetle appropriated fishing time from the Chernobyl ant. Despite this turn of events, I continue to value the Chernboyl ant as a key weapon in my fly fishing arsenal. During my long history with this fly I refined it to the point where I am satisfied with its durability and performance. One critical modification was attaching the foam on the downside of the bend, and then folding it over the top to prevent spinning around the shank. Last year I began utilizing heavier hooks such as a Tiemco 5262 or equivalent. The extra weight served as a keel that enabled the fly to land in the desired position most of the time. Long legs seemed to contribute to the foam ant landing upside down, so I now limit the rubber leg extension to one body segment in length. The pinching effect of the thread tended to pull the legs in, so that they extended in a tight parallel manner at ninety degrees from the body. I disliked this look, so I began making narrowly spaced thread wraps around the body to attach the leg material. Given this history of refinement I do not expect to abandon the Chernboyl ant anytime soon.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Three Size 6 and Two Size 8″ type=”image” alt=”IMG_2587.JPG” image_size=”2048×2048″ ]

2 thoughts on “Chernobyl Ant – 02/12/2017

  1. Dave,

    I enjoy your posts. The Chernobyl Ant is my favorite lead fly for Clear Creek for sure and I appreciate you turning me on to it. I have found that I have a lot more success on Clear Creek (less refusals) scaling the fly down to size 14 and even size 16 hooks. I use two pieces of foam for my fly to support droppers (like a prince nymph or hare’s ear or both). This is the example that I base this upon:
    The video uses chenille with a segmented under belly to anchor the foam against the hook and prevent it from twisting. I have seen videos of Charlie Craven using a thin piece of foam to accomplish the same thing. This technique might better hold your droppers since it uses two pieces of foam? Just a suggestion of course.

    I will be trying some jake’s gulp beetles this summer based upon your success. Thanks again.

    Matt K

    • Matt – Thanks for following my blog and your kind words. Also thanks for sending the link to the alternative method of tying the Chernobyl ant. Perhaps I’ll give it a try, although I am relatively happy with the single layer of foam approach since I began tying it down at the bend and folding back over. I do like the idea, however, of adding a second layer on the size 8 and 10 versions to add buoyancy for supporting a pair of size 14 beadhead nymphs. I am glad to hear you do well on Clear Creek with the Chernobyl. Definitely give the beetle a try on Clear Creek in the fall. I had days when the fish just smashed it. Also for awhile I was catching them by casting across the stream to the far side, and then allowing them to drift downstream. I have no explanation for why this was effective for a period of time. The strip of foam idea is also a good one. I tie Charlie boy hoppers, and Craven uses that strip of foam technique in those, so I should have translated that to the Chernobyl!

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