An Ant for the Green and Provo Rivers

By Tom Nokes, Troutsmen Enterprises

One June, while on a sales trip to the corner of the state, I arranged my schedule to end up on the Green River. The cicada hatch had never really happened and most of the fishermen were bemoaning the poor fishing.

I had fished Thursday and Friday evening and had not done well. I caught a few fish, but each on a different pattern. Saturday, I arrived at Little Hole late morning, around 11 a.m. While walking down the trail, the answer to "How's fishing," was the same, and always preceded by a mumble. It had not been good.

Just around the corner from Little Hole, well below the catwalk shoal, I could see fish, and every so often one would rise and lazily take something from the surface. I started with a black beetle, then a foam ant, then a blue damsel, and caught three or four, but still nothing consistent with why we go to the Green.

The wind had been blowing hard and as near as I could tell each gust would blow ants from the cliffs and trees onto the river. Around 1 p.m. I went back to the truck to tie an ant that was the right size and color.

I normally carry around 300 flies, and never seem to have the right one for the job.

This little pattern is the one that came to mind first. The white wing was added so that it was easier to see on the water. After finishing six or eight, I was properly armed.

There were three other people walking ahead of me on the trail, and I told them what had been happening and about the pattern. When we got to the flat I had been fishing, they waded in, spreading out along the entire length. This put me much closer to the cliff. No matter, there were enough fish for all, and after my fourth fish in 20 minutes, I was alone.

One exceptionally strong rainbow even let me check the knot on my backing with his first upstream run. His second run took another 20 yards and ended with two spectacular somersaults close to the opposite bank. Several people were kind enough to sit down behind me and cheer me on, or laugh at the idiot who couldn't land a 19-inch rainbow in less than five minutes. I quickly revived the fish and let him slip back into the shallows where he had been undisturbed for quite a while. The fishermen on the shore borrowed a fly and went on their way.

I didn't do much else with the pattern until a couple of weeks ago. Something black with wings bit me while walking down to fish on the Provo River. So, the natural match was this little ant. My first cast was short and, as always, close to the bank. Nothing. . . On the third cast I lost sight of the fly because of what looked like a small ripple. I lifted the rod to begin another cast and a nice brown came out of the water to spit the fly back to me.

That evening chalked up to another great three hours thanks to this pattern. I hope it will do the same for you.

Hook: Daiichi 1180 or standard Dry Fly
Size: 18-22
Thread: Red 8/0
Body: Black foam cut to size
Wing: Turkey flat
Hackle: Black

Step 1: Cut a small piece of foam about the same length as the hook, and about 1/8 inch in diameter. Attach tying thread and tie down the foam out the center of the hook. Form a small collar approximately 1/4 the hook length, making the foam section in front smaller than the rear.

Step 2: (optional) Tie in a small section of a white turkey flat for a wing. Wing should end at the back of the rear foam section.

Step 3: Tie in a hackle one size larger than the hook size and wrap it around, being careful to leave some collar space showing between the body and head sections of foam. Tie the hackle off and whip finish on the collar. Cement wraps. You may want to trim the hackle from the bottom so the fly sits lower in the water.

Keep on fishing . . .