Bionic Ant

Bionic Ant
My favorite summer-time fishing technique is to float rivers from a Fly Craft or Hyde drift boat and accurately cast ants to weary, bank-hugging Trout.  Until about 10 years ago I largely overlooked the importance of ants and beetles for summertime Trout.  Sure, I fished a lot of cicadas in early summer, hoppers late summer and even threw the odd cricket pattern but I rarely fished ants.  I've since learned what I was missing!  I find this to be true of most of my fly fishing friends and fly shop customers.  Generally speaking, we seek out hatches and otherwise nymph or toss streamers during non-hatch periods.  While all of that is fun (and can be very productive), I relish the opportunity to fish dry flies, and large ants have become my summertime go-to dries.

Getting an ant pattern that is buoyant, easy to see, and fish approved wasn't easy.  There are several patterns out there that check one of  those boxes, maybe two, but rarely all three.  The Bionic Ant has become my go-to terrestrial, and really, my go-to dry fly during non-hatch periods and often during major hatches!  Sure, the Bionic is basically an oversized sailor ant pattern with a few extra materials, but the biggest change for me regarding this pattern is its size.  Previously, I fished size 16 and smaller ant patterns.  Not any more.  Other than a few experiences with European Grayling, I don't really fish ants smaller than a 14 (Grayling have small mouths compared to Trout and although they'll gladly attempt to eat a large Bionic Ant, they rarely get it in their mouth well enough to hook them).  Anyway, my point is that I recommend you try fishing ants much larger than you'd think.  I mostly use size 10 & 12.  With a foam body, white top for visibility, small legs for movement and silhouette this pattern gets attention.  Add a nice brown, or my favorite, coachman brown, hackle to the center and you have a buoyant, visible, fish catching fly.  One final tying tip, use oversize hackle and trim it flat on the bottom.  See the video for more info.

Don't overthink this.  Remove the "hatch-matching" thoughts from your fishy brain.  Go big, be accurate with your casts, fish near overhanging brush, or along grassy banks and make sure you get a nice "plop" with your delivery of the fly.  Most important, make sure the fly is drifting free of drag.  Combine that formula with a river or stream full of Trout and you'll see why the Bionic Ant has replaced standard dry fly patterns in my fly box.

Or tie your own...

Material List
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Black Version:                                              
Hook: TMC 100B Dry Fly Hook, Black Nickel - 12
Hook (option): Gamakatsu R18-B Multi-Purpose Hook - 12
Hook (option): TMC 100 Dry Fly Hook - 12 - 25 Pack
Thread: UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier - Black
Body (#10, #12): Foam Ant Bodies - Black - X-Large
Body (#12, #14): Foam Ant Bodies - Black - Large
Legs (optional): Daddy Long Legs - Black
Wing: Para Post Wing Material - Brown Caddis
Wing Option: EP Trigger Point Int'l Fibers - Cinnamon Caddis

Purple Version                                         
Hook: TMC 100B Dry Fly Hook, Black Nickel - 12
Hook (option): Gamakatsu R18-B Multi-Purpose Hook - 12
Hook (option): TMC 100 Dry Fly Hook - 12 - 25 Pack
Thread: 8/0 UNI-Thread Waxed Midge - Purple
Body: Bionic Foam Blocks - Purple
Body Cutters: Gunville Foam Booby & Body Cutter Set
Legs (optional): Daddy Long Legs - Purple
Wing: Para Post Wing Material - White
Wing Option: EP Trigger Point Int'l Fibers - White

Purple Saddle Hackle

Other tools from the tutorial:
Umpqua Dreamstream Hackle Plier
Loon Ergo Hackle Plier

If we're out of the Ant bodies, you can also cut your own (especially the custom Purple color!):