nothing new said the ant

nothing new said the ant

t.z. | Friday, 9 February 2018

Geez ... have you seen this new pattern? So incredible innovative. Never seen anything like this before .... he shouts convinced that all the other insect or prey imitation of the yesterday will not work.

This enthusiastic reaction is nice and a good motivation for each creative person to keep going, but - that the bystander has not seen a certain technique before does not automatically indicate that this was not done before, maybe even without the knowledge of the person having found a certain technique or trick for himself. We all have rather similar hands and use rather similar materials to imitate very similar flies or fish or other prey.

Of course like everybody else making and creating things, I had my own experience with this phenomenon. I remember two cases very well. I almost thought I had "invented" a new technique, or even pattern. Foolish you say? Yes, most definitely.

This article is a few years old but I had to dig it out as it is still relevant, or maybe even mor relevant than before. The crafty art of attaching fluff to a hook is quite ancient, like many other craftsmanship involving natural materials. However though - the fly fishing community seems to be plagued  by the impeccable desire to create something „new“ and give it again another name. I personally have my objections against this phenomenon. I think it puts novice fly fishers off and makes flyfishing & flytying look more complicated than it actually is. 

I personally like to see myself as a part of a tradition of craftsmen. And sometimes one can feel this when „inventing“ a way of doing something or coming up with a pattern which has been there before.  

"Deer Hair Ant"

The fly … you will now start to understand the title of the article - is an ant imitation made with black deer hair. 

In 2010 I was tying at the Villmarksmesse (Outdoor show) in Hamar, Norway. I had a good chat with the CFO of the „Hedmarks Fluefiskeforening“ (cool club by the way) about flies and legs. Legs on flies and of course legs in general. 

Just before, somebody had given me a patch of black deer hair. So while we talked I was thinking about making an ant. Ants are big trout food in the still-waters in Norway. The most used ones are simple but very effective constructions made with small foam cylinders. However, I wanted to do something with the deer hair and played around with that patch I just got. 

The result was a quite realistic looking fly. Just a bit of deer hair and some dubbing was needed. The tying is über simple. Maybe even Paul manages to tie it and catches a Gurami on it. That would be fantastic.

Yessss, me thought - I have invented a fly pattern. I will be famous, have loads of money and all the women too. Then my other halv of my tiny brain kicked in and I thought I should see whether someone has seen such a fly before. Sure neough, after having posted this question on various forums the answer was on the table. In 1965 or so, someone had 

published the exact same pattern in an american fishing magazine.

I felt very proud … I thought in the same lines as another fisherman before.

Isn´t that cool? I think so.


picture by Al Pyke 

Thomas Züllich, or - “t.z.” as most call him - is a German flyfisher & flytier living in Norway. His flydressing is based on old traditions as well as very modern and innovative methods of creating flies. 

Thomas is the author of "Fly Tying - Modern Classics for Trout and Grayling which is availbale on iTunes -

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