Back in 2004 I came up with this flying ant pattern while sitting at the vice in my house outside West Yellowstone. Back then, I lived on Denny Creek and my tying bench overlooked a meadow filled of three foot tall sage and high priced breeder bulls, and the southern end Gallatin Range in Yellowstone was the backdrop. The vista alone was inspiring, and at times I found myself not tying flies at all, but staring out the picture window loosing myself to ideas I can’t remember. Back then, I tied most of the flies in my boxes; tying in the morning before guide trips or in the evening to alter a fly from the day’s testing. This fly came out of those days living on Denny Creek.
Flying Ants are often the unsung heroes of dry fly fishing on many of our big Western rivers. When all of the glamorous hatches have ended for the season, the venerable ant and it’s towering mating flights keep trout looking to the surface during the dog days of summer. BSA veteran guide Steve Hoovler (aka Hoovie) loves flying ant season on the Madison River as it extends the dry fly fishing through August and into mid-September. Hoovie, and many area guides, have long fished Rowan Nyman’s deadly Royal Wulff Cripple with great success during ant activity. Just as Nyman’s fly was an effective variation of a time-tested pattern, Hoovie’s Ant takes the Royal Wulff Cripple and fine tunes it into a striking ant imitation. With its highly visible widow’s web wing, this fly excels on area rivers like the Madison, Henry’s Fork and Yellowstone. Stillwater fisherman should be sure to have a few too as it’s been highly effective at fooling selective gulpers on Hebgen Lake.
At some point during the summer of 2005, while living at Howard Creek Ranch, I came up with this ant pattern out of necessity. I needed a pattern that not only anglers in my boat could see but could also float a nymph from time to time. The dubbing balls covered by foam and then dressed with the Widow’s Web wing make this pattern a perfect choice. I have fished this fly all over Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and South America; it works everywhere.