Defining Small, Medium, and Large Flies?

jjcm

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Sometimes flies, be them dries, nymphs, or streamers, are described with these adjectives. Small, medium, or large. I have a feeling that hook size plays a role in categorizing flies into one of them. And when looking at different flies, it seems like something that is perceivable – one fly looks to be “medium,” for example, and another one “small.” Wondering if these sizes are definable or have been defined?
 

bigjim5589

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It's a great question, but I doubt that you'll find a lot of agreement as to definitive sizes that those terms will always apply. Everyone who fly fishes will have their own definition of what sizes they include in each category. It will very much depend on how a person fishes & for what species. For example, someone who generally only fishes the blue line streams in Western NC for trout, will define sizes differently than someone who's fishing the NJ or NY coastal Atlantic areas for Striped Bass. There's going to be overlapping sizes too.

For my fishing, which is primarily for bass & Striped Bass, I consider flies in the size 8 range and smaller as "small", but to me that's not set in stone either. Large flies to me are primarily any over 6" in length, for those fish species, so the actual hooks sizes can vary. But, a 2" streamer on a size 4 hook I might also consider as small, based on comparison to what I consider as large.

I'm sure others have their own ideas of how they choose to define fly sizing and based on how they choose to fish & the fish species that they target. Those terms may be generally descriptive, but really don't have precise meaning.
 

silver creek

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Sometimes flies, be them dries, nymphs, or streamers, are described with these adjectives. Small, medium, or large. I have a feeling that hook size plays a role in categorizing flies into one of them. And when looking at different flies, it seems like something that is perceivable – one fly looks to be “medium,” for example, and another one “small.” Wondering if these sizes are definable or have been defined?
For me, the definition of small, medium and large flies is related to two factors. The first is the type of water and fish species that we are targeting. The second is the the diameter of the tippet and fly line that is required to cast the flies targeting that species. So the flies can be categorized by the minimum rod/line size that is needed to cast the flies for that species.

For example, for targeting trout, if a 6 or 7 wt rod is required to cast the fly, it is in the large category. If it can be cast easily with a 4 or 5 wt. rod. but not so easily with a 3 or 2 wt rod it would be in the medium category. If the fly can be cast with a 3 or 2 wt rod, is is in the small category.

For me, the above is one method of describing "small, medium, or large" flies.
 

trev

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Since the first 10-12 years I fly fished for trout I used an 8 1/2' 9wt rod for everything down to #24 up to 5'' streamers and I have never in almost five decades used a 4wt or smaller rod, identifying a fly size with a rod/line size doesn't work well for me.

What bigjim5589 said about not getting a consensus fits. Small, medium, or large are meaningless in describing anything just as they are meaningless as shirt sizes, a medium in one brand/color/style might be the same size as an extra large in another brand/color/style. It's like the saying "it fit's like a glove", no one ever bought a pair of gloves over the counter that fit at all, they are too big in one area and too small in another, or in general just too small every where except that one finger that's twice as long as yours.

To start with relative sizes only work within a type of fly, trout fly, bass fly, tarpon fly, etc or dry fly, wet fly, streamer fly, etc. As an example a very large trout dry fly might be similar in size to a relatively small bass dry fly and smaller than a small trout streamer.
To establish S, M, L sizes across all flies used would make almost all dry flies small; bass topwaters and trout streamers medium; salt water streamers and articulated flies large or something like that and would not be very descriptive.

To me medium is the size most commonly used within a type (dry,wet,etc) for a species, with small being smaller than that norm and large being bigger than that norm, and you'd have to know what those norms are to know what the relative size means.
It's better communication to simply say a #16 Adams or a #2 Woolly Bugger and skip the indeterminate adjectives, it gives both size and type of fly. .
 

fossumsj

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My definitions vary, but are generally based on difficuLtd to cast.
large = heavy lead dumbElle
medium = bead chain and small lead dumbbells
small = no weight
or by hook size
large => 2/0
small =< 6
medium = the rest

or for poppers
large => 0:75” diameter

lots of definition and lots of fly rod sizes. A large fly when I had a hard time casting outside my shadow was a size 4 deceiver On an 8 wt. I have a different definition today.
 

LePetomane

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For me a large fly (dry) is a size 12 or larger. Size 14 and 16 constitute a medium sized fly and anything size 18 and under is a small fly. The same applies for nymphs and soft hackles.

A few weeks ago I took a good sized fish that had a nymph on its lip that had to be a size 22. How someone can even tie that on is beyond me. It has to be difficult to remove.

I generally don’t fish anything smaller than size 18 and I think my eyes are pretty good.
 

philly

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I think it depends on what you fish for, since I fish for a variety of fish. My definitions may vary.
Large- size 1/0 to 6/0(warm water and salt water)
Medium- size 1 to size 8( warm water, salt water, trout, starting with size 4)
Small- size 10 to 16( warm water pan fish and trout)
Very Small- size 18 to 22( warm water pan fish and trout)
Tiny- size 24 to 28 (trout)
Ridiculously tiny- size 30 and 32(trout)
I don't tie smaller than size 20 these days. Not doing as much trout fishing. In all the years I've been tying, I've tied two size 32 flies for trout fishing. I lost both of them in one day....., to sunfish. They were faster than the trout to the fly. I couldn't see the fly to get it out. Just cut the tippet and wished them a case of indigestion as I tossed them back.
 

proheli

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For many things, S,M and Large are not specific enough descriptors to helpfully cover the whole spectrum of a subject. What if mens shoes only came in 3 sizes, small, medium and Large. What if glasses only came in 3 prescription strengths. What if planes only came in sizes, 2 seaters, 100 seaters and 400 seaters. What if girls only came in 3 heights, 2' tall, 4' tall and 7'tall. Small, Medium and Large only works when ordering chocolate milkshakes. You have to narrow and hopefully define your scope more if you want just 3 sizes to be of any descriptive value at all. At the other end of the spectrum we don't really need 28 sizes of French Fries to choose from. Oh wait, maybe we do. Some guys really like fries.
 
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