Finally the weather has changed and it’s actually November, not October 42, 43, or 44th. October weather continued into early November and I decided it was still October; hence the reasoning for changing my October calendar to include dates of 42, 43, and 44. There was even a smattering of snow last Saturday when I got up. It’s finally time for small flies to imitate the bugs hatching on the river. Fall is definitely over.
In fact, snow is forecast for later this week!
I decided to tie up a couple of the midge patterns I found on Youtube from Tightline Productions – Matt’s Midge and Peg’s Midge and give them a try on my local river.
#24 Midge Patterns
Half dozen flies on a penny
If you aren’t familiar with Tightline Productions, be sure to check them out on Youtube. My favorite fly tying videos on Youtube are from Tightline Productions, Davie McPhail, and the old videos from Shane Stalcup provided by Netknots.
For many years, I shied away from tying smaller flies, but the more flies I tie, it seems like size 20 flies are no big deal. My wife heard me years ago say “If I need flies size 20 and smaller, I’ll buy them!” I recall being very adamant with that statement. Well, that has changed.
So after watching the videos from Tightline Productions and knowing November weather is really here, I decided to tie up a couple of their midge patterns. I looked at my hook supply and found a box of #24. I was up for the challenge!
Here is a #24 Matt’s Midge.
And the #24 Peg’s Midge.
The secret to tying small flies is to start with a hook size you are comfortable with and tie up 1/2 dozen or even a dozen of them to get into the right rhythm and proportions and then go progressively smaller with your hooks.
The other secret is most small flies use very few materials. In fact, many midge patterns use thread for the body. How simple is that?
And speaking of thread, pick up a spool smaller than the 8/0 you probably have on the tying desk. You’ll be amazed how strong Veevus 12/0 or even 16/0 thread is. Smaller diameter thread will not build up bulk on those small flies.
Another trick is to find a hook that uses an oversized eye so you can actually thread tippet materials through the eye! You might give the Daiichi 1100 down-eye hook a try. Besides it’s oversized eye, the hook utilizes a wide gape as well to help with extra hooking power for sizes 16 – 24.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t say how effective the Improved Sparkle Dun BWO fly has been in sizes 18 – 20.
I started filling the provider box this week with these Improved Sparkle Duns.
Here is another variation utilizing CDC for the wing rather than deer hair.
For more information about midges in general and other effective fly patterns, here is a link to my Midges post.
For more information about these mayflies, be sure to read my Blue Wing Olives post.
I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!
I’m interested in t#’s 22, 24, 26 … My question is where does one find them?
Most online places just get down to, on a good day, 22. The finding of a supply
source is the biggest problem I’ve had in going small.
Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions.
Thanks for your comment…email sent.
John, you might also consider the Daiichi 1110 which is a straight eye allowing a more open gape. Another that I like is the Daiichi 1640 which is 1x short, straight eye, and offset as well as a bit more stout than the 1110. I regret that the 1640 is that it is only produced down to #20, but for baetis and midges that would normally be tied on a #22, it is my go-to hook.
Thanks for your comment. I wanted to challenge myself and tie with the smallest hooks I had…OK, I did have a handful of #32, but I thought the #24 Dai Riki in the drawer would work. I’m moving to the Daiichi hooks…really like them for the most part. VERY sharp. I’ve been experimenting with 1100, 1100, 1180, 1280 and 1310. Trying to find comparable hooks to match the TMC 206 and hoped their 1140 would work. I tie #18 – 20 BWO Sparkle Duns on them and really like that hook. The 1140 in #18 (their largest size) is a 20 or 22 and they don’t work for what I’m after. Thought their 1250 might work and received them today (along with over 400 more Daiichi hooks), but after looking at them I have my doubts. I’ll tie a couple to see how they float…and their smallest is #18.