Ahaaa! fly sizes

jwbowen

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I think the most enlightening thing I have learned about fly
fishing is the fact that, as I got older and my eyesight less
than optimal, I could fish a 12 or 14 size fly. For years I fished
less dry flies and more nymphing and hopper droppers because
I could no longer see the 16's in faster moving water. I am a
bit reclusive when it comes to my trips and usually pick up tricks
and education from reading. It is easy fall into a trap when following
general rules about fly fishing. Hatch charts and "match the hatch"
overviews.

I share this for the people in a similar situation. It was such an
"Aha!" realization. Really not sure why I didnt realize this sooner.
 

bumble54

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I too find 14's about the smallest I can see to tie or tie on the leader without spending an inordinate amount of time trying to thread the line through the eye. Last Wednesday I spent 20 minutes tying a size 18 gnat on in an attempt to catch some very fussy carp, the trout weren't playing ball that day either. Big eye hooks perhaps?, does anyone actually make them in smaller sizes?.
 

boisker

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Having put it off for a while, the season before last I bought some magnifiers that clip on the peak of my cap.... so much easier, I can tie on size 24’s again :)
I too find 14's about the smallest I can see to tie or tie on the leader without spending an inordinate amount of time trying to thread the line through the eye. Last Wednesday I spent 20 minutes tying a size 18 gnat on in an attempt to catch some very fussy carp, the trout weren't playing ball that day either. Big eye hooks perhaps?, does anyone actually make them in smaller sizes?.
 

bumble54

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Having put it off for a while, the season before last I bought some magnifiers that clip on the peak of my cap.... so much easier, I can tie on size 24’s again :)
Tried them but the ones I bought are cumbersome and don't fit my hat very well as the brim sags. Going to try magnifying specs just for putting the fly on.
 

silver creek

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I think there are two vision issues being discussed. I am not an opthamologist but nevertheless, here is my opinion.

The OP's post is about the fact that his ability to see small flies on the water is getting worse. This is worrisome since it suggests to me something different from the second issue which is the ability to thread small flies due to the loss of visual accommodation.

The loss of accommodation as we age is NORMAL and is due to the loss of the ability change the shape of our lens. We can correct for that with reading glasses and magnifiers. Almost everyone over 45 yo will begin to hold their books and newspapers further away from our eyes until we realize our arms seemed to have gotten shorter!


Seeing small flies on the water is NOT a problem of accommodation. It won't be corrected by reading glasses. I suggest a visit to an opthamologist since it suggests a loss of vision. It suggests to me a general loss of vision such as cataracts, or a disease than can affect vision such as diabetes.
 

trev

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What ^^^^he said. Two entirely different problems. I have loss of accommodation and cataracts and magnifiers won't help wit the distance sight.
A white wing post might help with seeing the fly on the water.
 
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tcorfey

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One thing that helps with not being able to see a size 16 or smaller on the water is to use a larger dry like a 12 as the lead fly this gives you a reference point to the smaller fly, besides the fact that it can also get eaten, when you mend it is more likely the first big fly will move while the smaller second fly stays in a dead drift. Especially helpful when the sun gets low and you get excessive glare on the water. Leave about 3'-4' of tippet between the big fly and the second smaller fly. It is a bit harder to cast but everything has a trade off.
 

silver creek

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^^^^^

Excellent suggestion. I do this when fishing flies like spinners or ants that are hard to see in any water. When the "indicator" fly starts to drag, recast because the small lfy is also probably dragging.
 

boisker

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Just to clarify. I wasn’t suggesting magnifiers for spotting flies at distance, that was purely a response to Bumbles post about tying on a size 18 fly.
 

jwbowen

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I can see the 16 in pocket water. Fast moving water with riffles and glare makes the 16 hard to see. Can most 56 year olds see a 16 in mountain freestones?
 

bumble54

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I agree. totally different issue than seeing flies on the water.
True, but I can't see them on the water either. My optician has told me I do have cataracts and may need treatment for them in future, most day's it is like looking through a black lace curtain and in low light conditions I need a fly with a bright hackle/wing to be able to see it at all.
 

LePetomane

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I can see a size 16 on the water at a reasonable distance. I use mostly parachute patterns with a white post. At 65 I consider myself pretty fortunate as I take no meds. I'm told I have early cataracts. As soon as they become symptomatic I will deal with them. I don't want to wait until I'm miserable because I can't see.
 

silver creek

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True, but I can't see them on the water either. My optician has told me I do have cataracts and may need treatment for them in future, most day's it is like looking through a black lace curtain and in low light conditions I need a fly with a bright hackle/wing to be able to see it at all.
With all due respect, I hope you have also consulted with an opthamologist about your cataracts.
 

bumble54

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With all due respect, I hope you have also consulted with an opthamologist about your cataracts.
Not yet, here in the UK I have to pay for such and as I am on a small private pension at the moment and don't qualify for NHS help until next year, i would need to go private and I simply cannot afford it at the moment.
 

JoJer

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A couple of adjustments I've made due to my vision problems: When I tie dries, I add red/orange hot spots to everything, right on top and not too tall. You can also add tiny bits of Biostrike putty to the last knot above the fly, choice of colors now yellow, pink, orange. If the fish are looking up for dries/emergers, they often hit anything red/orange and it puts them down.
 

trev

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White or bright yellow is much easier for me to see than orange or red, added in like a wing or wing post, white polypro yarn is convenient.
 

el jefe

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I think it's hard to see small flies on the water no matter what. In and out of shadows, bubbles in the foam line, drifting around rocks, the fly going under and coming up and it goes through little surface boils, debris on the water, all contribute to the difficulty in seeing the flies. So I cheat...when there is a rise in the area of my fly, I set.
 
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