The explosion in small fly fishing Stateside has been in response to the increasingly picky feeding behaviour of trout on heavily fished water. And yet this approach is taking off in the UK, possibly in the absence of absolute necessity. If you ever tied and/or fished small flies (say, #18 and smaller) it isn't hard to understand why. There is a magical charm when fishing at this scale.
On most typical days, a decent presentation of a #14 or #12 and possibly a #10 Adams parachute will catch trout on the waters I fish. Flies of this size are easy to tie, easy to tie to tippet and a lot easier to see on the water. And yet, I only ever fish #18 and smaller, with all the extra hassle that goes with scaling down.
The following are this season's fish fetchers, each with a track record of success...
Flashback PTN on #20 Fulling Mill Super Midge can be fished alone or trailing a surface dry NZ-style.
Foam beetle on #19 TMC 102Y, deadly fished in high summer under overgrown bankside vegetation. Gink the peacock herl underside and this will float all day, aided by closed-cell foam body. Krystalflash legs provide an additional trigger point.
Biot-bodies parachute on #21 TMC 102Y. The variations of this pattern are almost infinite by changing body, thorax, hackle and wingpost. I have tied a few all white with grey thorax to imitate small moths at sundown. Watch out for airborn bats at dusk.
Biot-bodied tiny knlinkhammer on #22 TMC 200R, this seasons go-to fly.