Worshiping At The Altar Of The Small Fly

Worshiping At The Alter Of The Small Fly

Today is the longest day of the year, this usually heralds the start of the more tricky conditions as far as fishing on both rivers and stillwaters are concerned, i.e. low water levels and spooky fish. (Digression - We used to live in Wiltshire and I remember fishing early one mid-summer morning near to Avebury when I had to dodge drunken druids laid in the river - but that's another story! ).

But, there's no need to make sacrifices for your fishing - see what I did there. In this missive, I'm going to give you what is, hopefully, a good grounding on how to approach these conditions, and that is by using - small flies.

P.S. This email is going to be quite long, so you might want to grab a brew before you start reading!

I've no doubt that we've all seen swarms of midges above the surface of the water - especially when there are sunlit pools. Low water levels and spooky fish means using small flies. Some rivers are not as full of nutrients as others, it’s these rivers which tend to fish better using smaller flies, due in part to the fact the river cannot sustain the production of the larger species. In these rivers trout can still flourish, they just alter the way they feed. Instead of selectively taking insects as and when they please (as insects are in abundance on the more nutrient rich rivers), the trout in less rich rivers are opportunistic feeders.

This is where the small, imitative fly is king.

In essence:

small flies = light tippet longer leaders = softer rods

The remainder of this email will take the above and hopefully shed a little light on each.

Small Flies

When you encounter low water it's time to turn to the smaller flies in your box - when I say small, I am referring to flies which are size 18 and smaller.

It is the one piece of tackle that the fish sees and makes their decision on to eat or not. The most important part of a fly is without doubt the hook, even more so when we are using very small hooks. It is important when choosing small flies to look at the gape of the hook (i.e., the distance between the hook point and the body of the hook), make sure that the tied fly still has plenty of room between the body and the hook point, if there is hardly any room between the body of the fly and the point it will make it very difficult to hook a fish. Generally, the hooks which are sized at 18 and smaller all are ‘wide gape’.

Often, the reason small flies are dismissed by anglers is that they have trouble seeing them, there are a few remedies for this:

  • For most dry fly angling it is not a necessity to actually see the fly, generally you will have a rough idea of where the fly is, if you see a rise, just lift into it – 9 times out of 10 it will be to your fly!
  • If you do want to know where your fly is, either use a small fly with a hi-vis sighter post, or use the ‘Double Dry’ technique, where you use a visible dry fly and then tie a smaller dry fly from the eye of the hook on a long dropper – just like the klink n dink method, but using 2 dry flies.

Having a selection of small flies (both nymphs and dries) is essential when fishing through the latter part of June and into early August. We've got you covered with all the popular patterns in our New Midge Selection:

Our Midge Selection contains 8 patterns (4 dries & 4 nymphs - 2 of each in a size 18) - click on the image or button to view close-up images and details of the flies.

Light Tippet

Because these hooks are really small - with small eyes, your standard tippet might not thread through the eye - you will need something that is less than 0.10mm in diameter. But don't worry, we have you covered - with a SPECIAL OFFER FOR TODAY ONLY:

*** The first 20 orders of our Midge Selection will also receive a FREE spool of Varivas 10X (1.2lb) tippet - not something you would ordinarily buy (if you could even find it) ***

Our Midge Selection is available in one of two varieties:

  • The Midge Selection on its own - for only £20; or
  • The Midge Selection including a Slim Silicone Fly Box - for only £25

Yes, you did read that right, that's 16 midge imitations, a spool of 10X tippet and a silicone fly box for only £25.

TOP TIP: When trying to thread your tippet to a small fly, try cutting the tippet at a 45-degree angle, it makes it much easier to get the tippet into the eye of the hook.

Longer Leaders

If you downloaded our copy of the Small Fly Manifesto (which we emailed you yesterday, there's also a copy available at the end of this email), then you will have already have seen the leader recipes for various long & light setups to tie yourself. Here's the best one for fishing really small flies:

To the 6X at the end of the above, just add in a couple of feet of the 10X tippet and you're good to go.

However you decide to create your leader, the one thing above anything else which will increase your catch rate is the length! When fishing small flies, on low rivers you need to make your leader as long as you can possibly get away with. This is what has given rise to the new style Front-Heavy Tapered leaders in the longer lengths – 11ft to 16ft. It is not uncommon for hardly any fly line to be outside of the rod tip and just the leader is cast.

Softer Actioned Rods

When fishing with light tippet, you need a rod which has a much softer action than your regular carbon rod, this is how you can land much bigger fish on really light tippet. You need to ensure that your whole system - fly, tippet, line & rod - work in harmony. Just try landing a small fish on a medium-fast carbon rod with a thin tippet (anything smaller than 7X) and you will appreciate the finesse of a softer actioned rod.  

You need a rod which will cushion every movement of the fish and protect your light tippet. This is where glass rods come into their own, especially on the small to medium-sized rivers where you are not casting to the horizon. One of the best in the business is the Redington Butterstick:

It may look like it's straight out of the 1970's, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves to slow it down and just enjoy being out on the water. The ButterStick from Redington does just that. Built using T-Glass construction on the Redington Heritage Taper, the ButterStick is a slow-action glass rod that will delicately present a fly in the tightest of places and protect the lightest of tippets.

Fishing with small flies generally happens at close range, choose a rod you are comfortable with using very short casts – sometimes a softer rod is much more accurate and sensitive on short casts. Softer rods are also much better for playing fish on lighter tippets – something which most rod manufacturers don’t explain, they are more than willing to tell you how far you can cast with one, but not how well it plays a fish! If you’ve never tried a glass rod, they have an ideal action for fishing small flies.

We've done a bit of a deal with the UK suppliers of these stunning rods and can offer them to you for today only @ £249.99 - which includes free delivery. We currently have these in stock from 2wt to 5wt (in lengths 6' to 8') - we've only a couple of each though, so you may have to be quick off the mark.

Softer Carbon Rods

If you love your carbon, but still want something a little softer, then we still have a couple of the stunning Vision Hero's available for today only at the discounted price of £169.99.

We have both:

  • Little Hero - 7'0" 3wt - Today Only Special Offer £169.99
  • Dry Hero - 8'0" 4wt - Today Only Special Offer £169.99

Being a hero on the water doesn't mean you have to break the bank. These affordable fly rods have features for beginners and serious competition anglers alike, bringing a new level of performance to the entry-level category.

The Small Fly Manifesto

For those of you who missed our free download of the Small Fly Manifesto - which gives you the low down on leaders and tactics to use when fishing small flies - you can grab yours by clicking either the image or button below.



Get out there and have some fun with small flies.