Fly Fishing Ants on Lake Taneycomo

Reports From The Field - Flys

May 14, 2014

Taneycomo – Sunday 5/4/2014

I had a chance to fish with Lisa on Sunday. The conditions were right for a great day of fishing ants at Lake Taneycomo. We had a good wind chop and it’s that time of the year when the bugs start coming around.  I wanted to see if they were out yet. Taney isn’t a “dry fly” river in the sense that we have true hatches. I think I’ve seen only one mayfly hatch, but it is short lived and only happens in a few spots on the river. One thing that does happen is we have extremely good terrestrial fishing. It gets overlooked because we are a midge fishery for the most part along with scud’s, sow bugs and sculpins.  Cracklebacks are one fly that gets fished more commonly as a dry and so does the big ugly from time to time. I don’t read or hear too many people promoting the beetle or ant bite. I don’t think I let the cat out of the bag or anything, but hopefully I will convince more people to get out and fish on the top.

There really isn’t anything better than seeing that take on the surface. I think that is what keeps fly fisherman coming back for more. I would rather do this style of fishing than look at   indicators, but there’s times when you have to resort to other presentations depending on the seasons. I’ve kept this bite under my hat for a long time, however new content is good for the website. The reason I built this site was for education and that’s what I plan to do. We want to give back to the sport and get more people hooked on fly fishing because it truly is a great sport.
The bite really doesn’t get going until the afternoon. The wind has everything to do with getting these fish to react to the presentation. Dead calm water seems to be a down fall when playing the dry fly game on Lake Taneycomo. I did write an article called wind is your friend and if you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend you do so. In this case, wind plays the same roll with making your fly look more “lively” on the surface which in return triggers the hits.

 

What kind of water do you look for?

I’ve fished the ant several ways, but the two that work the best is fishing them in shallow water, and the other way is to create the frenzy by making several casts in deeper water to get them to finally react to it. These trout don’t really look up most the time unless they have a reason to.   When we have a big cicada hatch, then you have to resort to shallow water to force them to look up. It has everything to do with skinny water so they do see it when you are dead drifting. When you have shallow water then I think they see the silhouette of the pattern and it’s hard for the fish not to see it.

One thing I look for is trout tailing in shallow water, kind of like bone fish. They are digging in the moss eating scuds, sow bugs and planeria worms, but when they are concentrated in the shallow water then they are game to eat dries as well. When I fish these in deep water it’s kind of tricky. You really have to know a few things about presentation to get them to start looking up. I’m sure a lot of us fly fishers have done the bluegill thing and it’s the same thing. You get one hit and then all the sudden you are getting one every cast. It’s kind of like you ringing the dinner bell. It’s like you chumed them up in a way that they are thinking why one fish is eating and what do you have for me. The other thing you have to do is do a little twitching with the ant. I either wiggle my rod when the line is tight or a few little strips to entice the hit.

 

How do you rig for this setup?

Use a 9 foot leader that ends in 5x and then add about 2-3 feet of 6x tippet. Only use a foam strip and don’t suck the ant down in the water column. The ant is small and it’s really hard to see.  Use foam that has a white or chartreuse tip on the cylinder foam. I like to tie my post a little longer than what you see on the store bought ones. That way you can cast them further away and still have a reference point on what to look for. I think the hardest thing about this bite is when or how you set when they take it. Most of the time, they will take it real slow.  Every once in a while they will hit it so hard they miss it and it’s really hard to set on a strike like that. On the ones that they do take it subtle, you need to actually let them take it down and then lift the rod. One thing to remember when setting on a take like this is don’t put a lot of follow through with the hook set. The “Bill Dance” bass set won’t do it.

 

Crackleback’s

Just a little note for those who fish crackleback’s as dries. This is another fly that can be a lot of fun fished as a dry. I wanted to let you know that these flies will sink if you try to twitch or strip line to make the bug more “live like”. The key is to grease your leader with some sort of fly floatant. That way you can skate it across the water and that my friends is what triggers explosive hits.  I learned this from no other than Tom Roger’s. He is one of the best dry fly fishers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and fishing with. He will always go down as one of the best White River fly fishing guides in my book.  I’ve learned a great deal from this guy and hopefully I’ll be able to share some of what I learned with some of my clients.

If you would like to know more about fishing dry flies on Lake Taneycomo and how they work well during certain times of the year you can send me a email directly to flytiehunt@hotmail.com if you are interested in booking a guide trip. Feel free to visit us on Facebook, If you really liked this article, +1 above – check us out at +flysandguides (Google+) or send us a tweet with a question or just to say hi. Check out the Fly of the Month!

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