Midges 'n' Micros: the pursuit of the ultimate in ultralight fly fishing. Size 32 hooks, 10X tippets, wispy rods. For the truly obsessed.
Not too long ago, Coach* told me I should try to get some Tiemco 518 size 32 hooks from my Japanese supplier. He said midge fishermen have been looking for them ever since the US distributor stopped importing them. He said they'd be a natural fit in my fly fishing and micro fishing business and might start a whole new craze - Fly Fishing for Micro Fish. I should state right up front that I am not (or rather, was not) a midge fisherman. I do fish for micros, though, those species that when fully grown do not reach a pound in weight.
(*I call him Coach because he coached his granddaughter in a local fishing contest. She won the prizes for the largest fish and for the smallest fish.)
We were fishing for satinfin shiners at the time and the bead head size 20s we were using were a bit too big for them. I've had my best luck fly fishing for micro fish with the Daiichi 1100 size 26, but at times even they have been too big. I had heard of the size 32 flies, but not being a midge fisherman, I didn't know they weren't available. Also, I've always carried Daiichi hooks, not Tiemco.
Coach is wise (if you find a wise coach, listen to him). The Tiemco 518 size 32 is not available in the US, but is in Japan. I import lots of stuff from Japan - stuff not otherwise available in the US. Within a few weeks I had Tiemco 518 #32 hooks in stock, along with the Varivas 2300 Ultra Midge #30 for good measure. It didn't take long after that before I had one in the vise. I just had to try it.
With good light, a good magnifying glass, midge jaws and thin thread, tying on the size 32 hooks wasn't too bad. If you are at all obsessed with details, it can actually be quite enjoyable. My first few flies were not of a quality I'm willing to show the world (I can't imagine why so many people proudly publish photos of their first fly). I am willing to show them to the fish, though. Tomorrow.
Have you ever been at a doorway (whether metaphorical or actual) and gotten a shiver and an uneasy feeling that there is, was or ought to be a sign reading "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here"? That's how I feel about tomorrow's adventure.
It would be much safer if I don't catch anything. If I do, and especially if I catch quite a few, I fear I may also catch an obsession. I have been drawn to fishing for small fish for quite some time (since I was about 5). Small flies, though, haven't hooked me. The 26s didn't, even though I've caught more than a few fish fish with them. The tanago hooks didn't, even though I've caught fish with them as well. There's always been this mystical size 32 hook that kept what I was using, small as it was, within the realm of the reasonable.
That is about to change.
People climb Mt. Everest not because it is a tall mountain. They climb it because it is the tallest mountain. The Tiemco 518 #32 is the smallest hook in production. The 10X Varivas tippet is the thinnest tippet (or at least, the thinnest I've found). I'll fish the softest rods I have. If the combination works I could become truly obsessed with the smallest, thinnest, softest.
The Tiemco 518 #32 hooks are no longer available. The next smallest I have found are the Varivas 2300 Ultra Midge #30.
It appears that Varivas has discontinued their fly hooks. As of this writing 12/28/2023, Varivas USA still has a few sizes of the 2300 in stock, but the Varivas site in Japan lists no fly hooks at all.
The Gamakatsu C12BM comes in a size 30, but the down eye closes off the gape too much in my opinion. Personally, I would choose a Teimco 5488 if you want a short shanked hook or a Daiichi 1110 if you want a longer shanked dry fly hook. Both have straight eyes, so the gape is not compromised, but both come no smaller than a size 26.