Tying the Chernobyl Ant

I’m not sure about the rest of the West, but here in Utah (and up in Wyoming as well) hopper season is finally arriving.

We had an outrageously wet spring in Utah, and the hoppers are finally being forced the river’s edge as the last of summer’s green plants are only thriving there.

That’s where the Chernobyl Any comes into play. I’ve used quite a few hopper patterns –  the J-Dave’s, Al’s Hair Hopper, Fat Boy, Double-Decker, and various other foam monstrosities – but I keep coming back to this incredibly simple pattern.

I’ve long been a fan of Tight Line’s tying videos, as they’re succinct, detailed, and give anglers great instruction on useful patterns that actually work. Any angler knows the vast majority of flies tied are done so to catch the fisherman as much as the fish.

Now, just as a show of proof to the efficacy of the Chernobyl, if you have yet to fish one: last Saturday, I took a trip to a river I’ve fished countless times. I know it’s middle stretch – the most inaccessible area, and consequently home to the biggest fish – like the back of my hand, but I haven’t paid the lower stretch much attention.

So on a whim, I geared up and fished the lowest part of this river. I tried a caddis-pheasant tail combo for a few minutes and didn’t get so much as a look.

Then I decided, ah what the hell, let’s try a hopper.

Out came the Chernobyl.

I kid you not, on the first cast, I hooked a fish. This one, to be exact.



Ignore the tape on my arm – I got poison ivy the day before.

It wasn’t the biggest fish I caught that day, but to get one on the first cast? It was awesome. I fished for a few hours and had fish chasing the Chernobyl 10 feet downstream just to smack it. The biggest fish I caught was a cutthroat topping out at maybe 14 inches, but I had a blast and that’s the whole point of fishing in the first place.

So the next time you head out, tie some Chernobyl Ants up, and if your usual isn’t working, tie one on. You’ll be surprised how effective this simple pattern truly is.

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Spencer is a fly fishing writer and novelist from Utah. His newest novel, Learning to Fly, is available for sale on Amazon. Spencer is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, a regular contributor to Hatch Magazine, and the author of the Trout Bum column for the Standard-Examiner. Connect with him on Twitter @Spencer_Durrant or on Facebook @spencerdurrantauthor. 

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