Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2  .  Green Sedges (Caddis)
3.    Cinnamon Caddis (mostly Abrams Creek)
4.    Little Sister Caddis (mostly Abrams Creek)
5.    LIght Cahills
6.    Sulphurs
7.    Little Yellow Stoneflies
8.    Little Green Stoneflies
9.   Golden Stoneflies
10.  Slate Drakes
11.  Streamers (Sculpin, Minnows)
12.  Inch Worms
13.  Grasshoppers
14.  Ants
15.  Beetles

Flying Ants Can Be An Important Terrestrial Insect
For some reason, I had never really paid any attention to flying ants until a few
years ago when Angie and I were fishing with the one and only Mr. Tom Mann. In
case your not familiar with Tom, he is the originator of the famous Jelly Worm along
with numerous other bass and saltwater fishing lures that has sold not in the
millions, but billions, number wise. He is also founded the Humminbird line of
fishfinders, fishing hall of fame member, along with many other honors. We were
producing a series of DVD on his bass fishing secrets which ended early due to
hearth problems. We were a long ways up a creek at Lake Eufaula where Tom was
sneaking up on a huge alligator hid in the water lilies to scare Angie when all of a
sudden, the boat was crawling with flying ants that just fell out of the sky. I jumped
and must have spooked the big gator who make such a wake it rocked the boat.
Bugs don't scare Angie and she began to pick them up and video them in her hand.

After all the laughing and commotion ended, The next thing I noticed was the water
around the boat began to boil with bass and bream eating the flying ants which
were fluttering on the surface of the water. Tom, who always has a very different
and sometimes funny reaction to anything to do with nature, said in his part Indian
dialect, "them dang ole ants are gona turn the fish on James". I said, "well maybe
the little bass Tom, but that's not what we need". He instantly replied, "they turn the
big ones on too". He continued saying "when the brim, southern for bream, get to
feeding on the ants, the big bass get to feeding on the brim because the brim get
excited about all the food on the surface and lose their caution". It wasn't but just a
few seconds before we all three noticed a huge boil a few feet away that obviously
didn't come from a small fish. Tom had already changed his lure to a bream colored
lure of his won design (he never fished anything but lures he designed) and within
a few minutes had a six pound bass up to the boat on it.

I know that story has little to do with trout fishing, but it was the first time I can ever
remember noticing fish feeding on flying ants, although I'm sure I had seen that
before without realizing what was happening. Even so, I still stayed in the dark
about flying ants when it came to fly fishing for trout - that is, up until Angie and I
were fishing Yellowstone National Park one late August day. We were scanning the
smooth water of the Lewis River looking for migrating brown trout when the same
thing happened. All of a sudden, the water was covered with flying ants. It only took
me a split second  to realize I had goofed by not having any imitations of flying ants.
We did manage to catch a trout or two on a regular ant pattern, but nothing like we
could have done on a good imitation of the ones with wings. The reason I know is
that a few days later, the same thing happened on Slough Creek. That time I was
prepared with flying ant imitations and we caught cutthroats about as fast as we
could hook, land and release them.

Now, you would think that would be enough for me to have them with me at other
locations in late Summer and early Fall. It wasn't until a year or maybe two years
after that, when we were fishing the Oconaluftee River in Great Smoky Mountains
National Park, that I realized that I had goofed the second time. It was also during
late Summer and although it wasn't quite obvious why at first, fish were striking the
surface and we were not hooking any of them. I changed flies about ten times
thinking I had figured it out when a flying ant lit on Angie's shoulder. As soon as she
said "flying ants", I changed to a flying ant imitation and caught about a dozen trout
and by the way, they were mostly all brown trout.  It wasn't easy to spot the ants
drifting on the fast water. We were an hour late figuring out what was going on.

Now, to be perfectly honest, as best I can remember, we have only found a flying
ant fall taking place in the Smokies on two other occasions. We caught trout on
both of those occasions. When and if it happens, if you have a good imitation of a
flying ant, I believe you will always catch trout, although I realize this is pure
speculation on my part. I'll put it this way. If you don't have a decent imitation of the
flying ant, It won't take but one time for you to witness a fall of flying ants for you to
realize you goofed.

This is the "Perfect Fly" flying ant.

Perfect Fly Ant Flies

2011 James Marsh