Fly Patterns - Cutter's Perfect Ant

                    Cutter's Perfect Ant



Standard dry fly hook, sizes 10-16 (I like Tiemco’s 900BL; Ralph Cutter suggests the Tiemco 9300, which is a slightly heavier hook because he likes the fly to submerge slightly)


Black 8/0 or smaller


Black Antron


Same as body


Black deer hair (over the abdomen only)

Wing post:

Butts of the black deer hair


Brown dry fly hackle (good saddle works well)


Ralph and Lisa Cutter, who live in Nevada City, California, are the owners of the California School of Fly Fishing. They have traveled extensively, and have accumulated a vast amount of information about fishing in the Sierra and the foothills. They recently produced, after years of underwater research, a startlingly informative DVD called “Bugs of the Underworld.” I purchased a copy as soon as it hit the market. It’s a video that every fly fisher should make a point of viewing. Ralph has also authored the Sierra Trout Guide (first and second editions), and a fine little book bearing the title Fish Food. I highly recommend Fish Food as a primer on the important bugs that inhabit the waters we frequent. I have read it numerous times myself, and have found it well written, informative, humorous and interesting.

Ralph concludes that ants — principally Carpenter Ants — are a major staple in a trout’s diet. He tried various ant patterns and found them unsatisfactory, finally settling on a specific pattern of his own design. Apparently it worked well — hence the name “Perfect Ant.”


Personally, I enjoy fishing ants in small streams, especially where there are downed streamside trees —great ant habitat. The Perfect Ant is a dry fly, but if it sinks it will still be effective since trout can’t resist a properly presented ant. If your ant does sink, let the cast fish out, keep the drift drag-free, and watch your leader closely for any indication of a strike.


Tying Instructions

1.  Smash the hook barb; if you are using the “BL” type hooks, this is already done. Cover the hook with thread back to the bend (just above the back of the barb).


2.   At that same point, tie in a small bunch of black deer hair by the tips (you will end up clipping the post anyway)



3.  At the same point, begin dubbing the abdomen into the shape of a ball, covering the rear half of the hook.


4. Bring the deer hair over the top of  the abdomen and tie it down at mid-shank, directly in front of the abdomen.





5.  Pull the deer hair upward and take about 6 or 7 wraps of thread around its base, so that it stands up vertically. This forms the post for the hackle.


6. Tie in a dry-fly quality neck or saddle hackle of the appropriate size. It should be tied down securely both in front of and behind the post.



7.  Grab the hackle with your hackle pliers and take three wraps of hackle around the post; tie the feather off in front of the post.


8.  Dub the thorax of the bug in front of the wing post. You will need to pull the post and hackle rearward to do this. The thorax should be smaller than the abdomen (that’s the way an ant’s body is shaped).


9. Whip finish and apply a small drop of super glue to the head, and on the underside of the hook where the post was tied in.


10. Trim the post down so that it sticks up past the hackle slightly. This will keep the fly from being top-heavy and out of balance. Add a tiny drop of super glue to the top of the post.


Tying Tips


1.     In step 6, mention is made of a hackle of “appropriate size.”  In dry fly parlance, this means a hackle with barbules that are about 1.5 times the size of the hook gap.


2.     Why use only 3 wraps of hackle? This fly is not meant to float high and dry; rather, it needs to be down in the film, even partially submerged. That’s the way that ants appear to the trout.


Remember to tie sparsely, and…..See ya on the creek (which is where I was today).


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