“That’s about as big as a fish that big gets”

i have no idea who the author of that quote is but it fits this fish and it’s story quite well.

smallest fish for the last couple of years over on a fly fishing forum we’d been doing an annual challenge on who will post the biggest, ugliest, deadest (found dead, not killed by the angler), prettiest and just about anything ‘est’ fish you care to post. two years ago i had won the ‘smallest’ category and had gotten a really nice Rio 4wt LT line as prize. cool. the fish was a cute baby yellow perch but catching it was a bycatch whilst trying to catch something a lot bigger.

sl 'smallest contest

now, last year i decided to turn things around and tried to catch the smallest fish i could but this time on purpose and this turned out to be the hardest fishing challenge i’ve had so far… i was living in Sweden at the time and this little creature and all it’s billions of sisters and brothers are extremely abundant in any lake and there’s millions of lakes in Sweden. probably more. (i don’t know what species it is. someone once told me what it is in swedish but that of course, like anything else in swedish, is impossible to remember… )
anyway, the hard part was actually hooking up to the fish. getting strikes was very easy and just a matter of plopping the fly near a pier. most of the time i could see dozens of them fight for it. the problem was the shape of the fish’s mouth and how regular hooks designed for ‘trout-type’ fish where incompatible so it meant reshaping the smallest flies i have with tweezers until i could find the right shape. i can easily state that it took several hundreds, maybe thousands of strikes before i finally hooked this one fish. it took three months.

the fish was approximately 55mm/2.16inches long and the fly was a size 30 chironomid rusty-red nymph made by my great friend Andy Baird.
even though it was the smallest fish of the year’s contest i didn’t win anything but that’s ok, the prize was a pretty lame, dorky looking cap…
this experience was a very interesting one and i’m glad i did it. it is however a ‘been there, done that ‘ affair and i’m quite certain i won’t be doing this again and will stick to targeting bigger fish, they’re a lot easier to catch.

Andy & Al’s Trico

in a world where seemingly having everything in XXXL makes one the top-dog, sometimes it pays off to have the smallest one around !

A cult following is something to which few insects can lay claim, but the tinyTricorythodes mayflies certainly qualify. Their widespread, reliable, heavy hatches draw impressive rises of ultra-selective trout which demand the most of a technical dry-fly angler’s skills.

It is surprising that such a great hatch took so long to come to the attention of fly fishermen. The Tricos were first introduced to anglers in a 1969 Outdoor Life article by Vincent Marinaro, who misidentified them as Caenis. By the early 1970s the identification had been corrected but Swisher and Richards still wrote in Selective Trout,”Few anglers are familiar with these extremely small but important mayflies.” The next wave of publications boosted Tricorythodes to its current fame. I suspect their early dismissal was due in part to tackle limitations; anglers in the 1950s had no means to effectively tie and present size 22-28 flies”
(click the pic for more info on this little cutie)

here’s Andy Baird‘s size 28 version inspired by Al Miller’s Trico seen on the tying video at the bottom of the article.
not only is this pattern a sure success when these tiny insects are out and about, it’s an easy tie and one i’d most definitely recommend as a first mini pattern for those who have been reluctant to tie so small.
when learning to tie the smaller flies, general advice has it to start off tying the same pattern two, even three sizes bigger and as the mojo sets in and results get good, go one size smaller at a time till we get to the required size. this pattern will very easily make a very good midge imitation so the bigger flies won’t go to waste ! anyhow, this is a very interesting exercise that makes one a better tier and it helps break away the “that’s way too small for me” attitude.
just might make a nice winter project for those who are into winter projects… 😉


video via Tightline Productions

click Andy’s pic for the materials list and while your at it be sure to check out his great blog Small Fly Funk. enjoy !

the BIG and the NERVOUS Cobra Contest- sixth entry

by Andy Baird, Norther Ireland

“Still the best at an estimated 45cm… and taken on 7X & a #26 dun imitation.
Witness? Yeah man, Marc Fauvet took the picture ! “


yes, it’s true and it’ll hang over my head like a dark-stormy cloud forever. i took those pics and several more of this very special moment and managed to screw up every single one of them
there’s even a little film of the beast, i’ll share that and other blurry images of this extremely beautiful Irish brown trout soon.

continued thoughts on fly design: the micro-clouser

over the past several years a lot of my streamer tying has been influenced by larger freshwater predator or salt water patterns. in a similar manner as my great friend Andy Baird is obsessed with tying micro flies for trout, i’ve found great success on all sorts of fresh and saltwater fish by toning down the sizes of a lot of my streamers. adapting different materials while keeping the same basic construction influence and design elements of the classics can give astonishing results. it also gives the satisfaction of having tweaked someone else’s design while honoring their work.

here’s a little variant of Bob Clouser’s ultra-famous Clouser Minnow. with a total length of 2cm, the hook is a size 18 Hayabusa caddis pupae barbless, the dumbbell lead eyes are replaced by two tiny bead-chains and dark and light olive marabou replace the usual deer hair. when fished with varying retrieves, the result is a fly that can look like either a mini fish, a damsel nymph or other nymph. i’ve also had several takes as it was falling through the water column on it’s own.
it’s swim is very seductive so maybe it’s perceived as just something sexy that’s too good to resist. contrary to deer hair the marabou fibers wiggle back and forth like crazy, just like little fish and damsel nymphs do when they’re out for a stroll or trying to get to a safe area. the turbulence created by the bead chain eyes augments the wiggle effect.