How small ...

From Halford's early dries to the Catskill dry and everything else that floats on the surface.
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How small ...

Post by Eperous »

... a dry fly do you tie and fish? This thread was prompted by comments of St. Froid in another post on fly boxes.

I'll tie a "traditional hackled" pattern down to a #20, like this Dorato Hare's Ear... it's one of my favorite dry-fly patterns for hard-to-catch surface feeding trout...
Sd1-#20 DHE.JPG
Sd1-#20 DHE.JPG (385.11 KiB) Viewed 1597 times
... but, on most of my small stuff I like to use CDC, the flies are very easy to tie. I use these in still pools, flats, and soft runs. I have a stigma and glaucoma in one eye, and most times wear glasses for comfortable reading. That said, typically I do NOT have a problem locating the tiny CDC puff-wing on the water's surface. Come late season, October and November the BWO's grow small and dark. My favorite CDC's for these two months are #22 and #24 Slant-wing Mahogany CDC's like below...
Sd2-#24 Slant wing cdc.JPG
Sd2-#24 Slant wing cdc.JPG (449.46 KiB) Viewed 1597 times
Last November one chilly day, as I stood in the head of Cairns Pool, it came alive with trout globbing up miniscule Olives... when I eventually attached a #22 to 7X tippet, I caught several browns 14" to 17"+...
17+ in 22 SW CDC Bwo.JPG
17+ in 22 SW CDC Bwo.JPG (173.74 KiB) Viewed 1597 times
But, I tie smaller stuff, on 30's and 32's. I don't fish these that often, in fact hardly at all. The hard part for me is NOT finding my fly on the water, put running a tippet through the eye of the hook. Last time I tried, it took a solid 20 minutes to do so.
Sd3-#30's.JPG (487.85 KiB) Viewed 1597 times
Over the years I've had some good fishing with tiny dry flies. I can recall a few browns up to 19" on 24's, 16" on 28's, and 12" to 14" on 30's and smaller.
Sd4-collection of small stuff.JPG
Sd4-collection of small stuff.JPG (462.13 KiB) Viewed 1597 times

The late Catskill Bill Kelly once told me that he used to tie a size 24 body/fly on a #20 hook, to avoid dealing with tiny hooks. I think wide gap, offset barbs has made a big difference in recent years. My favorite hooks are TMC 2487 and Daiichi 1130's. For the real, real tiny stuff I've used TMC 518 and TMC 2488's, but not that much recently.


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Re: How small ...

Post by narcodog »

In the past I would tye 30 and 32's and those were for a particular stream. Now I tye down to 22's for BWO's and Trico's.
Ed if you look at the C&F threaders they will help tying those buggers on. I pre-load them with the flies and then just tye them on.

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Re: How small ...

Post by St.Froid »

I am in awe of you folks who can live in that tiny fly world. I can tie #18's and be perfectly happy with the results. It's when I start to wander down that #20-something rabbit hole that I get in trouble. I have these hands that normally wear a 2xl glove and a life spent working around cattle has left my fingers dry, cracked, and rougher than 50 grit sandpaper. Half the material destined for the fly winds up stuck in the cracks of my skin.

When I try and fish that small I usually wind up using a Davy knot simply because it's the easiest knot these fingers can tie on something that small. One of the nice things about this board is that it brings things up, like this, that, if you're serious about trying to break the cycle of dependency on #16 soft hackles, you can find the impetus to move out of your comfort zone in these cyber pages.

Material proportion and thread control are just the first two bad habits that visit me when I try and tie small...

Jerry G
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Re: How small ...

Post by Jerry G »

Great thread and an eye opener to the potential of small. The Davy knot has become a regular for me and I need to remind myself to change when going to larger flies.

Regards, Jerry

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Re: How small ...

Post by Bishthefish1 »

Over here I regularly tie and fish # 18 & 20s (traditional hackled, parachutes / klinks & F-Flies). I have also tied # 22 IOBOs but struggled to see them on my stream! I tried putting a larger fly on a dropper as a sighter but the set up just didn't feel 'right'!
'Most anglers spend their lives making rules for trout,
and trout spend theirs breaking them'
- George Aston

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Re: How small ...

Post by tie2fish »

Size #22 midge emergers like these is as small as I tie/fish ...
Size #22 Midge Emergers.jpg
Size #22 Midge Emergers.jpg (210.56 KiB) Viewed 1537 times

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Re: How small ...

Post by ewpeper »

I used to tie and fish 24s and 28s, but it's a losing battle with my 75 year old eyes. I still use a fair number of 22s in the late season for the Pseudocloeon olives.

A mountain is a fact -- a trout is a moment of beauty known only to men who seek them.
Al McClane in his Introduction to The Practical Fly Fisherman . . . often erroneously attributed to Arnold Gingrich

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Re: How small ...

Post by walt »

I'm with Eric on this. I used to tie and fish much smaller, and I still own a lot of smaller flies, but if they won't take a #22 on 7x with a good float over their nose it is time to have a beer while watching young guys catch them on 28's. I now drop more flies in the water than I get tied on if trying to fish tiny stuff, and this is all supposed to be fun-right?

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Re: How small ...

Post by gt05254 »

Since I've only fished for atlantic salmon these past few years, I get to say that the smallest dry fly I fished is a little Bomber, tied on a size 10 hook. Especially a good thing since neither my hands nor my eyes would allow me to tie anything on much smaller. And it's nice not to have to go below 6lb. tippet!



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Re: How small ...

Post by Eperous »

Gary, I remember reading an article by Lee Wulff years ago, where Wulff wrote about catching an Atlantic Salmon on a size 28 dry fly I believe... if memory serves me correctly, the 28 was a trailer fly behind a much bigger fly--- which might have been a Bomber??? :?:

I thought that was some nutty achievement, but I believe Wulff once may have graced the cover of the Orvis catalog advocating for the Orvis Superfine line of small cane rods... that cover ad impressed me as my first bamboo rod was a 6 1/2 foot Superfine... back then I fished small Garden State streams maybe 30 feet across, so the rod was fine... it sort of got lost when I tried using it to fish the Esopus Creek in the Catskills... :(

I guess it's fair to say that Lee Wulff pushed the boundaries of fishing, doing things few others did, like jumping off bridges in a set of waders. :o


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