Category Archives: Terrestrials

Jake’s Gulp Beetle – 01/17/2023

Jake’s Gulp Beetle 01/17/2023 Photo Album

For some reason my success with the beetle has waned in the last several years, and this circumstance may be attributable to my tendency to favor a hippie stomper over the beetle. If fish refuse the hippie stomper, my next succession in downsizing is the beetle. My post of 01/16/2021 provides quite a bit of background on the beetle and my application to fishing situations.

Angled for More Depth

When I counted my supply of beetles in sizes 10 – 14, I concluded that I was adequately stocked, but I uncovered five foam and deer hair beetles that were damaged and unraveling. I stripped these down the the bare hook and supplemented my backup supply with five refurbished flies. I suspect that I will once again find myself in a situation where the beetle delivers on its promise, and 2023 could be the year.

Batch of Five

Sunk Ant – 01/03/2023

Sunk Ant 01/03/2023 Photo Album

I set a goal last winter to use sunk ants even more than in the past, and I actually followed through on this pledge during the 2022 season. I experimented with them on some large rivers during higher flows, and they were not extremely productive. However, when I knotted one to my line in a dry/dropper arrangement and tossed it to likely trout holding spots on small mountain streams, there was no mistaking the love affair between trout and ants. The sunk ant performed in admirable fashion.

Zoomed on a Black Sunk Ant

As one would expect, I lost a few along the way, and increased usage translated to more lost flies. I counted my stock of carry over ants, and I decided to replenish my inventory with size 14 and size 16 black sunk ants. I followed the pattern demonstrated by Kelly Galloup in his excellent YouTube video, although I substituted a black plastic bead for the rear bump instead of winding thread forever. Even Kelly remarks on the mind numbing exercise of forming the rear bump with thread. The feature of this fly that I admire the most is the method that he demonstrates to form the legs. If you are interested in tying some of these, definitely check out his video. Also, if you are interested in learning more about my experience with the sunk ant check out my post of 01/22/2022.

Lots of Ants

Fat Albert – 02/06/2022

Fat Albert 02/06/2022 Photo Album

In a previous post on the fat Albert or pool toy hopper a reader asked me what the difference was, and I was forced to acknowledge that they are very similar. Both contain three layers of foam and both possess rubber legs. The pool toy hopper displays more materials for the rear wing, but this is probably a minimal difference from the trout’s vantage point. I got stuck in the routine of tying mainly fat Alberts in size 6 with yellow bodies; whereas, I tie pool toy hoppers in size 8 with tan bodies. Who knows? If I tied smaller fat Alberts with tan bodies, I might discover that it produces during hopper season as well as a pool toy hopper.


My post of 02/04/2021 provides the key links to a materials table and anecdotes regarding my usage and introduction to the fat Albert. I tend to use this fly as an indicator in the early season prior to run off, and I also default to it quite often during the edge fishing time frame, when the rivers are blasting downstream at a rapid pace and leaving only the ten feet along the bank as a target area for casting. The large foam body is highly visible and very buoyant, and these attributes are conducive to its role as an indicator fly.

Opposite Side

I tie mine primarily with a yellow underbody beneath a layer of yellow foam, and I am convinced that the fly gets consumed as a golden stonefly adult in addition to a hopper with a yellow body. This may explain its productivity during the early season and during late June and early July, as these time frames coincide with golden stonefly activity.

Fat Albert Cluster

For 2022 I refurbished two with missing legs and made an additional three from scratch to up my fat Albert inventory to a sufficient level for the upcoming season.

Pool Toy Hopper – 02/04/2022

Pool Toy Hopper 02/04/2022 Photo Album

The pool toy hopper is another Andrew Grillos creation that I have grown to love. This is my favorite grasshopper imitation and a frequent occupant of the surface position on a dry/dropper configuration. I also tie fat Alberts, Charlie boy hoppers, and hopper Juans, but the pool toy is consistently my top producer. The fat Albert spends a lot of time on my line, because it is even more visible than the pool toy, but during hopper season the pool toy outperforms the fat Albert in terms of eats on on the surface.

Nine Damaged Pool Toy Hoppers

My post of 01/31/2021 provides a comprehensive update on all things related to the pool toy hopper with links to a materials table and directions to a source for tying instructions.

Brand New Pool Toy Hopper

I inspected the canister that I maintain with damaged and unraveling flies, and I discovered nine pool toy hoppers. This is an indication of my frequent reliance on this productive fly. These flies were missing front and back legs, and I was able to refurbish them without stripping them down to the bare hook. In addition to nine repaired flies, I made three new ones. I have reduced my tying of pool toys to tan bodies with tan underwings in size 8. Bring on the hopper hatch in 2022.

Zoomed In

Chernobyl Ant – 02/01/2022

Chernobyl Ant 02/01/2022 Photo Album

In spite of the surge in popularity of the chubby Chernobyl, I continue to value and stock the classic Chernobyl ant. I have very little to add to my writings of 01/23/2021, so I refer you to that comprehensive report.

Counting Chernobyl Ants

As was the case then, I counted my supply and determined that I possess more than adequate quantities of size 8 and 10 Chernobyl ants. I passed on tying more and moved on to the next foam attractor on my list.

Sunk Ant – 01/21/2022

Sunk Ant 01/21/2022 Photo Album

If you visit my post of 12/21/2020, you will discover that I added sunken ants to my arsenal of trout chasing flies during the winter of 2020-21. The aforementioned post contains a materials table and points the reader to an online video by Kelly Galloup that provides the tying steps for his sunk ant. The brief report also explains why I adopted sunken ants, and they now represent a significant weapon in my search for wild trout.

Size 16 Sunk Ant

I made five size 16 and five size 14 ants last winter, and after I counted my remaining supply, I decided to increment my inventory by another five of each size. During the 2021 season I enjoyed continued success with my sunken ants. They seem to be particularly productive on small high mountain streams, and this seems logical, since trees and bushes tend to be closer to the water, and this in turn suggests a high probability of the ever present ants tumbling into the creek. I recall days on Clear Creek, South Boulder Creek and Lake Creek where the sunk ant was popular with the local stream residents.

5 14’s and 5 16’s

My goal for 2022 is to utilize the sunk ant even more, and in doing so I plan to test it in larger rivers and in all seasons. Ants seem to exist in spring, summer and fall; so why should they not catch fish in all three seasons? I plan to find out.

Fat Albert – 02/04/2021

Fat Albert 02/04/2021 Photo Album

As is my custom during the cold winter months, I visited my fly storage containers and counted my supply of fat Alberts. I was pleased to discover that I possessed adequate quantities of size 8 fat Alberts with yellow bodies, so I quickly moved on to the next pattern on my schedule of flies to tie. I tend to use the fat Albert quite a bit in the early season, and I missed the latter half of April and most of May during 2021 due to my recovery from heart surgery. This perhaps explains the lack of shrinkage in my inventory of this popular fly.

Plenty of Fat Alberts in Stock

Click on the link to my post of 12/30/2019 for additional information about the fat Albert. The brief report provides a materials table and several links  that describe my introduction to this popular fly. In addition there is a link that takes you to a post that describes some of the successful usages of the yellow fat Albert. Hopefully I will be on the western rivers early during 2021, and the fat Albert will bounce along the currents and attract attention from hungry trout.

Pool Toy Hopper – 01/31/2021

Pool Toy Hopper 01/31/2021 Photo Album

The pool toy hopper designed by Andrew Grillos has evolved into my favorite hopper imitation. I tie them mostly on a size 8 Tiemco 5262 or equivalent. Andrew recommends the heavier hook to serve as a keel that allows the fly to always land right side up, and that seems to hold true for me. A reader of this blog asked me to explain the difference between the pool toy hopper and a fat Albert, and I was forced to admit that there is not much to separate them. Nonetheless, I tend to favor the pool toy hopper during the summer months when natural grasshoppers are most prevalent. The fat Albert is my favorite top fly on dry/dropper rigs in the pre-runoff season and during July, as the river flows subside to fishable levels. I tie most of my pool toy hoppers with a tan body and a tan foam underlayer; whereas, I tend to use yellow for the body of the fat Albert. Perhaps body color is the simple explanation for why one fly seems to outperform the other during the various seasons of the fishing year.

Bringing It Closer

Check out my post of 01/13/2020 for links to a materials table, and a link that describes my introduction to the fly.  I have a scanned copy of fly tying steps from Southwestern Fly Fishing that I can email, if a reader would like to tie some of these hopper patterns. Just let me know in the comments. I experienced one of my best pool toy hopper days in quite awhile on 09/18/2020, and I was very pleased to be able to fish the buoyant foam hopper solo for much of my time on the North Fork of the White River. The pool toy hopper is extremely buoyant and easy to track, and I took advantage of these features on the September day in the Flattops.

Tan Pool Toy Hoppers Complete

I tied eight new pool toy hoppers to replenish my supply for the upcoming 2021 season. I adopted the practice of dabbing a bead of super glue to the rear leg knots to prevent slippage and unwinding. In addition I cranked out a few versions with a tan ice dub body. The tan ice dub body chubby Chernobyl has yielded some surprisingly solid results in a dry/dropper arrangement, so I thought I would give the sparkling body color a try with a pool toy hopper. Stay tuned for a report on the results of this experiment.

Another Underside View

Jake’s Gulp Beetle – 01/16/2021

Jake’s Gulp Beetle 01/16/2021 Photo Album

There are 800,000 species of beetles in the world, so it makes sense that a significant number meet their demise in a body of water. Every fly fisherman should have a supply of beetles. My go to beetle pattern is a Jake’s gulp beetle. It is constructed from foam and very easy to tie.

A Size 14 Jake’s Gulp Beetle

To learn more about Jake’s gulp beetle click on this link to my post during January a year ago.  This account provides a materials table as well as a couple links that describe my introduction to Jake’s gulp beetle, and the conditions that prompt me to pluck one from my fly box. I’ve had several days in September, when this style of beetle literally brought up a trout in nearly every hole, where I plunked it.

A New Batch of Six Size 14’s

Unfortunately this is not always the case, and during recent years refusals have also been a significant part of the beetle experience. For this reason I approached my vise to construct six additional size 14 beetles. Previously my supply consisted of mostly size 10’s and 12’s. Hopefully when I observe future rejections, I can pluck a smaller size from my box and realize success.

Sunk Ant – 12/21/2020

Sunk Ant 12/21/2020 Photo Album 

For years I read magazine articles about the effectiveness of sunken terrestrials, and the insect at the top of the subsurface list was generally the ever present ant. Think about it. Ants are everywhere, and they travel in armies, and inevitably they fall or get blown into the water. Once in the water they are highly vulnerable, and assuredly many give up the fight and drown. Because they are small and narrow, they are not buoyant, so dunkings are probably frequent happenstance among the ant colonies. Unlike large terrestrials such as grasshoppers and crickets, ants are tiny and difficult to observe, even when they remain struggling on the surface. Consider the number of ants that float past an angler on every fishing trip that go undetected.

Other Side

On rare occasions I experimented with a sunken ant during my many forays to western rivers, but I never enjoyed quick success. On 08/27/2020, however, the game changed. I knotted a hard bodied ant to my line a foot or so below a visible surface fly, and during an hour of fishing at the end of the day, the ant accounted for seven gorgeous cutthroat trout. Eventually I broke off the ant, and I was certain that it was the only remaining fly of that type in my storage boxes. Eventually I uncovered another one in my back up plastic bin, but I yearned for a larger supply for the upcoming season.

HookSize 14 or 16 dry fly hook
Thread6/0 Black
Rear BumpLead wire or Black Bead
LegsMottled pheasant feather
Front BumpThread and black bead

Just before Christmas I sat down at my vise to remedy the absence of sunken ants in my fly inventory. I initiated a search online for sunken ants and stumbled across a tying video on YouTube by Kelly Galloup of streamer creation fame. I viewed the video, and I liked the simplicity of it, so settled on the sunk ant as my subsurface ant fly of choice. Kelly repeatedly stressed that simply tying an ant by forming two lacquered bumps with thread with a couple twists of black hackle was a killer pattern, but he offered his with slight modifications as an alternative. For my first size 16 ants I mostly followed his instructions, but I utilized a nickel bead behind the eye rather than a black bead, since I did not possess black in the necessary size. Before I started my thread, I wrapped three twists of lead wire to form a base for the rear bump. Otherwise it was the same pattern, as the one demonstrated by Kelly. I covered the lead wire with a massive quantity of wraps of black thread, and then I moved to the front of the hook. I attached the pheasant feather by the tip and built a smaller front bump behind the nickel bead and then folded the feather forward to create legs and a narrow shell on top of the front bump.

Two Black Beads Used

For the size 14 ant I slid two black beads on the hook. I began my thread at the bend of the hook behind the rear bead and built a dam that tapered to the top of the bead. I completed a whip finish and then reattached the thread and built up a tapered front section in front of the rear bead. The remainder of the fly was the same as a size 16, except that I had a black bead for the front that fit the larger hook. When I was done I applied lacquer to the front bump, but I utilized UV resin to coat the larger rear bump. Kelly does not favor the look of UV resin on his ant bumps and is perfectly happy with thread wraps soaked in head cement, but I liked the epoxy look for my rear bump.

Thread, Pheasant Feather and UV Resin

I made five size 16 and five size 14 sunk ants, and hopefully this will be an adequate supply for the 2021 season. If not, it means that I have discovered a new killer fly for my fly fishing future.