Historically I resort to an ant pattern when a gust of wind initiates a flurry of surface rises, or a feeding fish rejects several of my fly offerings but continues to feed. In the latter case it is very gratifying to dupe a reluctant feeder with a small black ant riding low in the film. Both of these scenarios are described nicely in my 02/03/2016 parachute ant post, and this was the last time I tied a batch of ants.
During the past summer I experienced several days on South Boulder Creek, when a parachute black ant became a very effective searching dry fly. The most prominent example is 10/17/2017. In this instance the trouts’ posture toward beetles was very tentative; however, they sipped my black ant with utter confidence. On a visit to South Boulder Creek on 09/21/2018 the black ant provided a preview of its later season effectiveness, as it yielded the first four trout of the day.
Naturally the increased deployment of parachute ants resulted in a higher rate of depletion due to break offs, snags, and unraveling flies. My elevated level of confidence in the ant pattern suggested, that I would opt to knot it on my line with increased frequency, so I counted my holdings. I learned that my various storage boxes contained sixteen parachute black ants that complied with my exacting standards, so I decided to augment the supply by fourteen to thirty. I searched for and found my 01/11/2012 post, where I created a materials table and documented the excellent tying steps demonstrated by Tom Baltz at the Fly Fishing Show. I modified these instructions for one change. I now tie off the hackle and whip finish against the wing post rather than around the hook shank. This method traps far fewer hackle fibers. I also suggest using a finer thread such as 8/0 to avoid excessive build up in the waist area.
I searched through all my damaged fly containers and uncovered eleven that were unraveling or poorly tied. Over the years I came to believe that a narrow waist between two well defined bumps is a triggering characteristic when casting an ant. I stripped quite a few ants from the hook that did meet my higher standards. The fourteen flies that I tied originated from unraveling flies, or flies that I deemed unacceptable for my exacting ant specifications.