Terry Drinkwine Outdoors!

Fly Fishing, Grouse Hunting and Fine Bird Dogs Spoken Here!

Don’t Overlook Small Flies!


A lot of people are getting into fish. Thant’s a good thing. Some are pretty good size and that’s a good thing too. But regardless of how big the fish are, for me, I get absolutely thrilled when I can fool one into taking a pattern I tied and presented in such a way, well ….he took it.

Fishing for trout this time of year pretty much revolves around night fishing with big flies – Hex patterns – for big browns. I’m in for that. But just as fun and perhaps requiring more patience and stealth, is fishing for trout earlier in the day when there are few or sparse hatches, and enticing a brookie to rise to a BWO, Borcher, Adams or midge of some sort. And if in a size 18 or smaller, well once you’ve put in the obligatory 15 minutes to tie it on, it’s all good from there on ….so long as you’re patient and resolved to present it in a way that makes you invisible.

Small tippets are required for small flies. If the knot is bigger than the head of the fly, the tippet is too big. If the flies twirls into a knot when you cast over and over again, it’s too small and limp. Tippet size is more important than just being able to hold a fish, it has to match the fly or you might as well put on hardware.

There is an old saying …”Big flies for big fish,” but don’t be fooled into thinking small flies don’t produce big fish. A tiny Griffith’s gnat can reach out and grab a nice brown if skittered across the water like a caddis. On the San Juan River in New Mexico, if you use anything bigger than a size 24, you’re apt to end up with a sore arm and nothing to show for it. Tricos are another example of fish-go-getters.

Soon hoppers will be out and there are a couple of patterns I like: one is the Letort Hopper and the other is Joe’s Hopper. Neither are overly difficult to tie and both can be tied with sewing basket material. There is even a pattern for a worm …though I’m too much of a snob to tie or try it.

It’s all good …see you on the water.


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