Fly Tying Recipe:
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Hook: Daiichi 1160 #12-20
Thread: Veevus 14/0 Red
Body: 3mm Black Foam
Abdomen: Mahogany Superfine Dubbing
Legs: Black Super Floss
Wings: Polypropylene Macramé Yarn, smoke, rust, and gold mixed, topped with UV Blue Ripple Ice Fiber
Indicator: Pink Razor Foam
Hackle: Brown Rooster Neck or Saddle
Thorax: Mahogany Superfine Dubbing
A good fisherman is patient. I’ve said those words to my guiding clients as well as my kids 1,000 times. Some of the best fishing lessons I’ve ever learned, and some of the best fishing tricks I have ever pulled out of my hat, have stemmed from slowing down, finding a good perch, watching, and waiting. The power of observation reveals all . . . sometimes it’s a fish rising subtly in a tiny cutout on the far bank, and sometimes just sitting there in the bushes reveals some bug activity that you may not have noticed in your rush to hurry up and have a good time. I’m finally old enough to be the “old bull” from that funny story, and I’ve learned that patience pays off.
It was during one of these summertime bank-sitting sessions that I first started to notice the variety of different terrestrial insects along a trout stream. While we all know about ants and beetles, and never pass up a chance to fish a hopper, there seem to be about 8 million other little critters along your favorite stretch of river that hardly ever get noticed.
Bees, wasps, and other winged insects are all over the place and often end up in the water, too. Trout don’t discriminate, and patterns tied to generally imitate terrestrials have proved to be a pretty valuable tool for me over the years.
I experimented with several patterns, both new and old, for several years before finally dialing in the Fat Angie. I wanted something that was buoyant, easy to see, and durable, but not something too specific and locked into a single insect type.
As I have mentioned many times before, I often use photos or samples of the insects I am trying to duplicate when I develop a new pattern, and I really try to imitate their most prominent features. One of the most conspicuous features of many of these random terrestrials is the wasplike waist, and the distinct gap between body segments. Close examination revealed that these bugs—ants are included in this gigantically sweeping generalization—often float low in the water with their butts below the surface. Because they are terrestrials, they are not at all comfortable in the water, and they look bedraggled and ragged when they find themselves adrift.
The legs were easy, durable Super Floss tied in over a slender waist. The wings started as thin, cut-to-shape slips of Gen2 Medallion Sheeting, but in practice they didn’t add much visibility or flotation to the fly. In recent years I have been using braided polypropylene macramé yarn more and more as a wing material on my flies, as it is waterproof and extremely buoyant. The crinkled texture of the braided material creates a lot of surface area, and the material is easy to see and maintain on the water.
I often brush and mix colors of this yarn to create a color cast and variegation to the wings, likely a matter of considerable indifference to the fish, but it makes me feel good, so . . . I have that going for me. I top the wing with a few strands of UV Blue Ripple Ice Fiber for both visibility and sparkle. The addition of a small, pink, foam hot spot makes the dark patterns easier to find on the water.
With this thought in mind I opted for the Daiichi 1167 Klinkhammer hook as a chassis for my new bug to set the pattern low in the surface, and dangle the back end through the surface film. This hook is sticky sharp and comes in a beautiful black finish that pairs well with darker flies.
Once the hook was decided, I went straight to my foam stash and started building. The body of the Fat Angie is made from 3mm foam, with the abdominal portion accentuated with a robust ball of superfine dubbing.
Finished off with a densely palmered hackle collar over a dubbed thorax, the Fat Angie is just enough of a whole bunch of different pattern profiles to work consistently. I tie Fat Angies in sizes 12 to 18, but use the 14 and 16 the most. While that may sound a little big, I urge you to try it. I have seen plenty of oversized terrestrials drifting along the edges, and the trout have also. While black is the most obvious color choice, I also tie them in tan, olive, purple, and red, and fish them with excellent results.
The overall construction of this pattern hits all my needs for a fly like this. It’s more than buoyant enough to float a beadhead dropper, it’s easy to see on the water, easy to tie, and uses commonly available materials. I have to admit I love the prospect of catching trout on something other folks haven’t even heard or thought of . . . but that’s just me. I never said I was a saint.