Fishing a warm water stream in New Jersey, I started out catching a few bluegills and rock bass, a smallmouth and lots of green sunfish and redbreast sunfish before I finally saw some micros. A school of minnows of some kind swam past and were milling around in the shallows.
I discovered that if you are going to fly fish for minnows, you should use the lightest line you can possibly cast. I'd gotten my first hint of that a few weeks ago when I caught a blacknose dace while fishing for brookies. I was using a size 1.2 line and it was light enough to register the strike of a 2 1/2" fish.
On Sunday (Sep. 1), I was using a size 2 line and 6X tippet, and the minnows just went crazy for the knot at the end of my line where the tippet was attached. Every cast, they would repeatedly try to eat the knot at the end of my line. Also, the line was just heavy enough and just long enough, and the fly was small enough, and the water calm enough that I couldn't keep the end of the line off the surface. And as soon as it hit the surface, the water almost boiled around it.
I switched from a size 2 line to a 4# test fluorocarbon
spinning line, which is about size 1.5, and deviated from my normal
tippet to line attachment (figure 8 knot at the end of the line and tippet tied around the line then snugged up against the figure 8 knot). Instead, I
tied the tippet directly to the line with a double surgeon's knot. The
resulting knot was much smaller (and wasn't bright orange) so it didn't
attract much attention. As light as the 4# fluorocarbon is, with a relatively short 9' line and good casting form, it actually casts relatively well.
I had a spool of 9X tippet that I'd bought at a fly tying demonstration a bit over a year ago, and I threw it into my backpack to use with the small flies in case I saw any micros. Unfortunately, I found out that there was only about a foot and a half of tippet left on the spool so I had to use 6X, which looks way too thick for a size 26 fly.
It seems creek chubs aren't all that leader shy. Maybe not many fish are leader shy when you use 6X tippet, but compared to the size of the fly it still seems too thick.
In addition to the pheasant tail nymph, I also tried a size 26 killer bug tied with some of the Blue Fly Yarn. It seems creek chubs like blue.
I also found that if I cast a small fly into the middle of the school
of minnows, one of them would hit it immediately. I didn't even have to wait for
the line to register the tap. I ended up catching quite a few, and not
all of them were creek chubs. Some were either spotfin or satinfin
shiners. My photos weren't quite clear enough to get a positive ID, but based on the number of rays on the anal fin, the fish I chose to photograph seems more likely to be a satinfin shiner. Either one is a new species for me.
We then drove to a different spot on the stream and found different fish. As soon as we got there, I saw some micros in the shallows. They did not swim away as I approached, and almost lined up like small sunfish, as if asking if I was going to feed them.
It turns out they were banded killifish, another new species.The vertical bands are the fish. The spots are parasites. There were lots of the banded killifish and I caught several in each of a few different locations on the stream.
The last fish of the day was another new species, a spottail shiner. It was also caught by casting into a small school of the shiners and immediately "setting the hook" before any indication whatsoever of a strike. The fish are unbelievably fast and attacked anything that fell into the water and was small enough for them to take.
The red bait is something that was recommended to me as very effective on small sunfish. It turns out to be pretty effective on at least some micros as well. I am trying to work out a deal to carry it here on the site but it hasn't yet been finalized.
Most of the micros I caught that day were caught with the Kiyotaki 24, which I package as the rod in the Kid's Tenkara kit, and which may end up being the rod packaged in a Micro Fishing Starter Kit as well. At 7'10" it is considerably longer than the tanago rods used in Japan, but most of the micro fishing we do here in the US is not at all like the tanago fishing done in Japan. The rod is also quite a bit shorter than the 10' length recommended by microfishing.com, but I used the rod to cast rather than fish directly under the rod tip - that is except for the killifish, which were not at all intimidated by my presence. I did not feel the rod was too short, and at least for the creek chubs, satinfin and spottail shiners, precise bait (or fly) placement was of no importance whatsoever. As soon as the fly or bait hit the water, they came to it - quickly.