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Coldwater Fly Fishing Trout, Salmon, Steelhead, etc...

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Old 04-25-2012, 06:52 PM
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Default convince me that small flies work

When I got serious about fly fishing, it was in Western Wyoming. I fished with big ugly bugs, and never tried to fish with anything small. Now that I am back in SD, I have learned that small is the way to go. I did not have any small flies, so i ordered a bunch of midges and other nymphs in size 16-20. I had also never used weight on my line in order to get down deeper. I need reassurance that smaller is the way to go when things get tough. Pictures would be great.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:59 PM
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Default Re: convince me that small flies work

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Originally Posted by SdDryFly View Post
When I got serious about fly fishing, it was in Western Wyoming. I fished with big ugly bugs, and never tried to fish with anything small. Now that I am back in SD, I have learned that small is the way to go. I did not have any small flies, so i ordered a bunch of midges and other nymphs in size 16-20. I had also never used weight on my line in order to get down deeper. I need reassurance that smaller is the way to go when things get tough. Pictures would be great.
I'm not sure about smaller being the way to go "when things get tough". I usually switch to streamers big ugly nymphs and wets. I only fish the 18-24 stuff when that is the "hatch de jour", then you are silly not to. I've fished when fish were feeding on size 22 yellow midge nymphs...it isn't my favorite thing to do, but if I would have refused I would have missed out on a boatload of fish. I don't have any pics, but I can testify...big fish eat tiny flies...ALL THE TIME! I think rainbows moreso than browns and brook trout which seem to me much more carnivorous when they hit the 12-14" mark.
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:20 PM
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Default Re: convince me that small flies work

I've found that fishing tailwaters, especially those that have a lot of anglers, that fishing size 18-24 flies is the way to go, but then there are an abundance of midges in tailwaters and the trout get conditioned to eating small stuff. On the San Juan it is pretty common to be using size 22 to 26 midge patterns. I'm not sure where you are fishing, but next time your on the water, take some time to turn over some rocks and see what size the nymphs are. You might also try using an aquarium net to see what is floating in the water, that will give you some idea of the size of insect that the fish are eating. Another option is to get a stomach pump and check what the trout are eating the next time your on the water.
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:23 PM
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Default Re: convince me that small flies work

It's been stated any number of ways on this forum, but one thing that I've learned is that most of a trout's diet is brown, and less than a half-inch long.....
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:36 PM
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Default Re: convince me that small flies work

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Originally Posted by fire instructor View Post
It's been stated any number of ways on this forum, but one thing that I've learned is that most of a trout's diet is brown, and less than a half-inch long.....
I believe this to be dead ringer true for trout under 12" in the places I fish. It is my experience out here east of the Mississippi that the big browns and big brookies don't eat the small stuff as often. I could be wrong, but this is my experience. However, I've caught several big rainbows on very small nymphs but these are mostly stockers out east. Maybe someone has a different theory on this...I'd like to hear of different opinions.
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:51 PM
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Default Re: convince me that small flies work

Size 32 spinners and size 28 midges are regulars on the Elk river in West Virginia
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:01 PM
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Default Re: convince me that small flies work

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Size 32 spinners and size 28 midges are regulars on the Elk river in West Virginia
Sorry...I'll pass. I don't fish with any flies that are smaller than wind-knot in 7X!
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:23 PM
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Default Re: convince me that small flies work

Out here in CA....we fish ALOT of small flies. Several high pressured rivers out here demand it. Midges in 18-20 are staples in my personal bag. I run alot of dry dropers with a small 20 midge under a 14 dry. As far a weight goes.....I fish the upper Sacramento...that place with teach you to fish with weight for sure...it demands you are banging the bottom up there. One other thing.....there is nothing like landing a 18 to 20 inch brown, after hooking it on a little tiny midge...good experience is all I can say.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:31 PM
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Default Re: convince me that small flies work

It all depends on a river's ecology, the time of year, water temperature, angling pressure and so on.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:52 PM
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Default Re: convince me that small flies work

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Originally Posted by mcnerney View Post
I've found that fishing tailwaters, especially those that have a lot of anglers, that fishing size 18-24 flies is the way to go...
Amen!

Besides, how else are you gonna join the 20-20 club if you don't fish tiny?
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