Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

Should Have Gone To Specksavers

I spent a very instructive evening with Charles Jardine on Monday. He was the guest tier at the Canterbury Fly Dressers Guild get together and now I am suffering the consequences because I am trying to emulate him by tying flies I can hardly see. My immediate reaction is that if I can’t see them what chance do the fish have? Charles is quite adamant that not only can the fish see them they can tell a well tied one (his) from one of mine. He also claims that the smaller the fly the less likely the fish is to reject it. This goes against all my fishing philosophy. My attitude is that no-one would pass a fiver on the pavement. Same with fish, stick a bait in front of them and they will take it. The trouble is they don’t do they. Oh no, put a nice black buzzer on their nose and they either run a mile, ignore it, or worse still, come and have a look and turn disdainfully away. Bloody fish.

However Charles is knocking on a partially open door. I fished earlier this week for three hours, two and a half of which saw me chucking every fly in the box to no avail. I finally decided to put a very small (by my previous standards) gold head GRHE nymph on and just let it do its own thing in the slight ripple. I missed the first take out of pure surprise, hit and landed the second and lost a third in some weeds. I had finally found the method but run out of time. I will have then next time ‘cos I now have some even smaller flies to confound them with.

How small is small? My previous small was a 14 or maybe a 16, I am now tying 18’s and 20’s and still have several sizes to go before I get to Charles size but I will either have to get a magnifying glass or some strong glasses before I attempt them, oh, and some finer silk and finer wire and finer materials, smaller beads, not to mention smaller hooks.

I wish I had taken a camera to the tying evening. All the flies Charles tied were exquisite (of course) but the stand out fly was a minute Shipman that was perfectly proportioned and clean. I can’t tie a good-looking Shipman on a hook I can see let alone one I can’t.


December 9, 2011 - Posted by | Fly Fishing, Fly tying, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized | , ,


  1. Mike,
    My mentor, one Mike Roden, has got me on the same road some time ago. I may be trying to teach Gran to suck eggs as the saying goes but I found that Argos do a cheap desk light/magnifier combination, and I have found that it improves the results down to size 20 and 22. What I have more trouble with is sourcing hooks of that size, most of the main catalogues only go downd to 18’s.

    Comment by nirogers | December 10, 2011 | Reply

  2. Mike,
    Forgot to mention the other problem you get with the small fly syndrome is once you have tied them you have still to get them on the tipet.

    Comment by nirogers | December 10, 2011 | Reply

  3. Hi Ni,
    I have to carry glasses to get the line through the eye as it is but I am hoping to get a pair of bi-focal Haber shades for Christmas to save me the hassle of trying to find them whenever I change a fly. I will have a look in Argus for the light, thanks. Give my regards to Mr Roden when you next see him.


    Comment by Mike Heritage | December 10, 2011 | Reply

  4. Lakeland normally have hooks in stock down to 20s and 22s and Varivas do midge hooks down to dust sizes. I had some Knapek barbless 20s and 22s from Celtic Flycraft too but they’re only advertising to 16 now.

    Comment by stoatstail50 | December 12, 2011 | Reply

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