You guys should see my wife fishing a dry fly. She recites the Gettyburg's Address, takes a nap, and still won't lift the rod. It's kind of funny, actually.
She's good with nymphs for some reason, however.......
Pulling a #24 hook out of a fish's mouth should be fairly easy. The smallest I fish with is a #20, with #18's accounting for 90% of my #16 and smaller flies. I suppose rod action could play a part in this equation, with faster rods lifting more line faster. Yatahey's comments about fishing upstream match my experience, but I do fish downstream when required.
EDIT: Mojo posted rod action comments while I was typing.
Sounds like my experience, and it's tough to pull hooks out of a fish's mouth with a nice bamboo rod. I have a fast 5wt rod that does well with streamers, but have never used it for dry flies.