The Woolwich Observer

Tiny flies can be made to pay big dividends

- Not-So-Great Outdoorsma­n

This year, while sitting at my fly-tying bench, I was faced with a disconcert­ing fact. Some of the flies I am tying are too small for me to use. This, and the call of a weak bladder after you put on your waders, are issues that every ageing fly angler must eventually face.

I can still tie tiny flies because I wear a magnifying glasses at the bench. But, on the water, unless I take those ridiculous magnifiers with me, there’s no way I could thread the line through the eye of the hook.

Having said that, I will continue to tie tiny flies. Not out of vanity, mind you. But rather to gain a tactical advantage when fishing with my similarly aged angling pals. That’s what friends do.

I will have a special box filled with tiny flies in my fishing vest. It shouldn’t take up too much space. And when I start catching trout to the point where my buddies ask me what I’m using, I will yell something like, “Prince nymph. Come on over I have plenty!”

There is no fly angler in the world who can resist a free fly – especially one that is catching fish.

But when they finally wade across the stream to get to those free flies, the trap will be sprung. I will offer up my box of tiny flies and pull out a Prince nymph that is a miniature version of the one I am currently using, which they will never see.

I should explain that fishing hooks are sized using a system in which the larger the number the smaller the hook. So, I’d probably hand them a fly in size 18 initially, which is one size smaller than anything I could tie on.

The practical advantage is that it would take them forever to tie this tiny fly on, if they even could. And while they are doing that, I would be catching enough fish to tilt the biggest and most fish bets heavily in my favour.

The less obvious advantage is purely psychologi­cal. Without saying a word, I would convince them that I have the eyes of a hawk – which would definitely pay huge dividends. For instance, if I wanted someone’s fishing spot, I would simply look way half a kilometre downstream and yell, “Holy cow! Did you see that huge trout roll?”

This and “lunch is on me” are the two sentences that no trout angler has ever ignored. Having got their attention, I would then yell “Whoa! Did you see it roll again in the run by the big boulder?”

There’s no way any of my pals are going to say they didn’t.

And soon, they will slowly slip off to steal the spot, leaving me with a variety of options and them with a mythical fish.

Of course, it could backfire. Maybe one of those guys might be able to tie on a size 18, for all I know. If that’s the case, I’ll use the size 20 next time, until I have found the limits of their dexterity and eyesight.

Eventually, I’ll get to the point where I am handing them a tiny piece of lint and calling it a size 24 dry fly. Won’t that be a sight for sore eyes.

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