I was doing some tying yesterday. Although it wasn't terribly productive (fly count wise), I learned something. I learned that some materials and patterns should not be tied on smaller hooks. I was trying to tie this fly on a #22.
Getting the proportions right and avoiding crowding the eye seemed impossible. The combo of CDC and foam, just wasn't working out. I tied a couple on a #18, and it became much less frustrating.
So, I'm curious. Are there any types of flies that you will only tie on a minimum size hook? Also, I have heard that there is some debate about whether the really small hooks are even important for catching fish. Any thoughts?
There are so many things to take into consideration, like thread size, hackle size, synthetic materials that don't compress well. Its something that just takes a bit of time and practice to nail down. When I tie flies under 18 in size they tend to get more and more simple. I'm talking thread body, CDC, maybe some deer hair, rabbits foot a little antron but small light and simple. Check out small fly funk at blog spot dot com there are some SBS's and materials list. Its a good starting point.
WT and Flytire have given excellent advice! One thing I will mention, as you said, moving up to a size 18 made things much easier. One thing I have found to help is to tie the flies on a size larger than you plan on using, to get the feel of the proportions until you get everything down, then step down a size and you will find it is easier. Another approach is to tie a size 22 fly on a size 20 hook. When I'm tying flies below a size 20 I'm mainly tying midges or something simple like Kayo recommended, a Griffith Gnat. Also, take extra precaution to minimize your thread wraps, it seems obvious but on the small stuff it is critical, believe me we all struggle with that aspect of tying. Best of luck and keep at it, it will get easier with practice and like Flytire said "use a magnifying lamp to see the small stuff better" it really does help with the small stuff.
Awesome. Thanks for the suggestions. I'll pick up some finer thread next time I'm at the shop and I'm definitely going to simplify my patterns. Sounds like a common challenge and practice is the best approach. So, I'll keep at it.
Does anybody have suggestions on a magnifying glass? I am pretty fond of my light, so I don't know if I need a light/magnifying glass combo. But if it is the best option I'm down. I have had a chinsey one before that I wasn't too happy with, so can anybody recommend a quality magnification device?
Small flies are required on some heavily pressured areas, especially tail waters.
The good thing about this situation is that large trout in these waters have to feed constantly to get eat the biomass that they require. So although the flies are small, the opportunities are great.
Use thin thread, and minimal wraps and simple patterns. Also, for small patterns, the hook eye is perceived by the fish as part of the body. The hook eye becomes larger compared to the hook shank as hooks get smaller. Therefore, a natural midge pupa that is the length of a 22 hook, would require a size 24 hook to match it because the fish incorporates the eye of the hook into the pattern.
Another strategy is to tie a double pattern. For example, when fishing trico spinners, tie two trico spinner on the same hook. Trico spinners falls are often heavy and during such spinner falls, the fish are used to taking several spinners on a single rise. The double spinner allows you to tie a two spinners on single larger and stronger hook to get more hook ups and also to put more pressure on the fish.
"A Double Trico Spinner pattern will help the angler by not just allowing the use of a bigger gapped hook, but also allow the angler to minimize the micro drag challenge as the fly will have a heavier placement in the meniscus of the water surface."