Mart's Parachute Ant

Published May 9th 2008

During the warmer months of the year, they are just about anywhere... Ants.


Ready for summer! - A bunch of Mart\'s ants ready to take on summer trout
Ready for summer!
Early in the season flying ants swarm, and many are blown onto the water. Others are carried uphill by warm air currents and drop into higher streams or lakes, which is called ‘upslope blow-ins'.

Later in summer ants will be on leaves and in branches of streamside vegetation, looking for food. They live in dead trees by the streams, and lots of them drop into the water. In these ants trout and grayling have a constant supply of food all season round.

So whatever hatches, or if no hatch comes off at all, or if you're fishing in the heat of a summer day... an ant is a useful thing to carry.

Many ant patterns are made of foam. They look great, and are fast and easy to tie, too. The problem with these foam ants, however, is that they float quite high. Real ants don't. They only float for a brief moment and then slowly sink. Enter the parachute ant: a low-riding parachute ant with a submerged body and a post of poly yarn and two strands of pearl Crystal Flash for visibility.

Mart's Parachute Ant
TypeDry fly
Martin Westbeek
Year of origin
Target species
Arctic char
Brown trout

HookTMC 102Y, #17
ThreadHyperfine, brown (or black) or any other fine, strong thread
PostWhite poly yarn
FlashOne strand of pearl Crystal Flash
Abdomen and headBrown (or black, or cinnamon) Superfine Dubbing
WaistThread wraps
HackleWhiting Saddle, brown, grizzly dyed brown (or black)
MarkerFelt tip, brown, black or cinnamon

Tying instructions
Click on the images for more detailed tying instructions

1 - start poly yarn - Start the thread at the midpoint of the hook shank. Tie in a length of poly yarn (diameter not exceeding the outside diameter of the hook eye) extending over the bend. Stop right above the barb.
1 - start poly yarn
2 - Abdomen and flash - Basically, an ant body consists of three very distinct parts: the abdomen, a very thin waist and a head that\'s slightly smaller than the abdomen. Dub the abdomen in the shape of a rugby ball. The size of the abdomen is about 1,5 times the distance from the barb to the hook point of a TMC 102Y hook. This will give you enough room for the tiny waist. Tie in one strand of pearl Crystal Flash immediately in front of the abdomen.
2 - Abdomen and flash
3 - Fold yarn - Fold the poly yarn over the abdomen, Humpy style, and tie down with a few wraps.
3 - Fold yarn
4 - Waist - Color the poly with a waterproof felt tip marker, pull the poly and the strands of Crystal Flash forward, and wrap the waist.
4 - Waist
5 - prepare for hackle - Stop the waist about 2 mm shy of the hook eye, make a couple of wraps in front of the post to stand it up. Select a saddle hackle and strip off some of the barbs. The length of the stripped quill should equal the distance from the hook eye to the post, plus the height of the head, plus the height of the parachute.
5 - prepare for hackle
6 - Tie in the hackle - Tie in the hackle right behind the hook eye, and wrap back towards the post.
6 - Tie in the hackle
7 - Wrap the hackle - Wrap the hackle up against the post, and wrap down again.
7 - Wrap the hackle
8 - Dub the head - Dub the head behind and in front of the post. It\'s a little smaller than the abdomen. Leave the thread in front of the parachute post, at your side of the fly.
8 - Dub the head
9 - Wrap the hackle - Hackle the parachute down to the thorax/head. Because you\'re hackling around a small diameter post you may want to make 5 to 7 wraps. Or less, if you want the ant to sink (more on that later).
9 - Wrap the hackle
10 - Finish the fly - Pull the hackle down, and make three to four thread wraps around the post to tie off the hackle. Try not to trap too many barbs, so keep your thread wraps below the lowest barbs. Clip the hackle. 
You could make a whip finish around the parachute post, but on a small hook like this #17 this is fiddly - to me anyway. That\'s why I use a reversed whip finish (making turns towards me) behind the eye. This prevents the thread being pulled under the dubbed head.
Clip off the post to desired length. Put a tiny drop of CA glue on the whip finish, on the post where the parachute hackle starts, and on the tie-off point of the hackle, and you\'re done!
10 - Finish the fly

Drowned Ant
Sometimes trout seem to prefer an ant that fishes deeper. In that case, or if you come to a deep spot where you just know that there should be a fish down there, simply modify the fly. Clip off most of the parachute post, put a split shot on the tippet, some 30 cm from the fly, and see what happens. Works like a charm in riffles, too.

Good fishing!

User comments
From: Ted Theisen · loosvissertje·at·  Link
Submitted July 17th 2011

Thank you Martin.
For the one you gave me last Flyfair!
I keep it in my special display cabin.
I am tying a few of them today for my next Norway trip.
Late summer in Norway last year they caught a lot of Grayling for me

greetz Ted

From: Nomad · nomad·at·  Link
Submitted May 11th 2008

I'm gonna try this one too. Looks catchie.

From: hans · hansfrumau·at·  Link
Submitted May 11th 2008

Nice piece of work, Mart
I'll try to tie some of them this holliday..!

Comment to an image
From: martinwestbeek · martinwestbeek·at·  Link
Submitted May 31st 2008

Behind the eye. If you tie off the hackle against the post in a clockwise direction, and then make a normal whip finish behind the eye, your thread will be pulled under the head/thorax. When you make a reversed whip finish you don't have that problem.

Comment to an image
From: Dennis · Flicaster·at·  Link
Submitted May 23rd 2008

Nice ant.
I am not following the part about the whip finish. Do you whip arround the post or next to the eye?

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