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  1. #1

    Default Smaller hooks, what not to tie on them


    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?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Smaller hooks, what not to tie on them

    About the only thing I tie on a 22 is the Griffith Gnat Dry fly. Used to catch 20" rainbows at the San Juan NM.

    Griffiths Gnat Dry Fly

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Norwich, CT
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Smaller hooks, what not to tie on them

    dont believe everything you hear!

    small flies catch BIG fish

    use finer materials and threads

    minimize thread wraps. 312 wraps of thread is not necessary to tie on or hold most materials

    use a magnifying lamp to see the small stuff better

    if you fish the south platte near deckers and the san juan you know the smaller is better!
    Poor quality materials and tools are destined to discourage beginner tiers and cause greater expense when the time comes to replace them.


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  5. #4

    Default Re: Smaller hooks, what not to tie on them

    Small has it's place and time. I would rather fish something bigger but have used 32's on the Elk River in West Virginia. Size 28 midge pupa are also a staple on that river.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Akron Ohio (don't let that fool you)

    Default Re: Smaller hooks, what not to tie on them

    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.
    Oh I live to be the ruler of life not a slave

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Pinedale, WY
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Smaller hooks, what not to tie on them

    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.

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  9. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Myrtle Grove, NC

    Default Re: Smaller hooks, what not to tie on them

    I'll go down to #24, but at that point I'm just using 8/0-14/0 thread and maybe a pinch of antron or ostrich herl for hackle.

    #24 curved hook
    8/0 iron grey thread
    2 wraps dark brown or black ostrich herl.

    Makes an awesome snow midge that seems to get more bites around here in winter than anything else.

    Instagram page @tblom77

  10. #8

    Default Re: Smaller hooks, what not to tie on them

    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?

  11. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Broomfield, Co
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Smaller hooks, what not to tie on them

    I actually tie tons of little midges on 22 & 24. One of the main guys I fish with has a theory that seems to work. Big rivers / small flies.....small rivers/big flies

    I obviously don't tie PT or hares ears but it tie

    On 22' I have tied

    Deep blue poison tung
    Disco midge
    Green thing
    Tailwater tiny
    Rainbow warrior
    Winter warrior
    Tons of mercury midges with various microtube bodies

    The no name midge

    And this one I can't remember what you all called them
    "The fish you're gonna find up here, you're gonna find; Rainbow,Cuttbow,CuttBrowns,Brownbows,RainBrowns,
    CuttyRainbrowns, Pike ,Perch"

    "Snap it" Hank Patterson

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  13. #10

    Default Re: Smaller hooks, what not to tie on them

    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."

    Fishing the Trico Hatch

    Trico Double pattern

    Here's a pattern from the trout Shop in Craig, Montana on the Missouri below Holter Dam. They get massive trico spinner falls. For big trout on tiny flies, they use a double pattern.



    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

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