On The Fly: Fishing with confidence | AspenTimes.com

On The Fly: Fishing with confidence

Kirk Webb
On The Fly

Of all the rivers, creeks, lakes and ponds that I’ve fished over the summer, one constant continues to emerge; my new go-to fly, a black foam flying ant. What’s funny is that this is not a new or revolutionary fly pattern. I’ve carried them in my fly boxes for years, but it’s never been one of my confidence flies. Fishing with confidence can often trump having the “right” fly. As the saying goes, the wrong fly in the right spot is still better than the right fly in the wrong spot.

Many of my favorite flies were shown to me by other anglers. My fishing partner, Travis Lyons, fishes the flying ant religiously. Over the course of our summer angling together, one of us always seems to do better than the other on any given day. On one particular day, while fishing a high-country lake together, Travis took me to school. While I was changing flies every 10 minutes in search of “the one” magical fly that works for that day, Travis was reeling in fish after fish. Too proud and stubborn to ask the proverbial, “What are they biting on?” I continued to struggle and suffer for the next hour while he landed several quality fish. It’s a nice feeling when you’ve finally figured out that missing piece of the puzzle and can kick your good friends butt out on the water, but it’s a complete blow to your ego when you’re on the flip side of that coin. Finally, I ate a piece of humble pie and asked him the inevitable question. He cringed a sly grin, knowing that today was his day, and handed me one of his flies du jour; a size 16, black flying ant. As you can probably guess, my catch rate then went up exponentially.

Since that day earlier this summer, I’ve had several good days since fishing “his” ant. It’s a superb pattern on the Fryingpan River during September when the fish have seen thousands upon thousands of artificial green drakes, pale morning duns and blue wing olives. I also find the flying ant to fish well on the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers when fished near the banks on breezy days. I’ve come to like the flying version, with its white wings, over the standard version due to its high visibility.

My most memorable day of fishing flying ants came about a month ago while fishing a lake in Utah for carp. I could see the mouths of hundreds of carp poking through the water’s surface (what we call tubers) inhaling flying ants by the thousands. At times, so many ants were flying around that it created a mini-tornado of sorts appearing over the lake. Flying ants must taste good, as the fish certainly seem to have an affinity for them. Give them a try this September. They very well might become one of your go-to flies. I now have an entire row in my fly box dedicated to them.

This column is provided weekly by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.