I can't help but get the feeling that I'm fishing too often with flies that are too large. I started fly fishing about three years ago, and the first rod I bought was a 7wt, I'd heard 5's and 6's were good all rounders, but I had visions of trophy fish skating over my eyes. Likewise when I looked through the fly cases at the local fly shop I didn't even pause to look at midges or chironomids. I immediately bought a bunch of fancy looking streamers, bait fish style flies, huge terrestrials, attractors, poppers. With very little knowledge of what I even wanted to fish, and even less knowledge of how to select flies for different fishing scenarios, I reasoned, big fish like big snacks. Now I did end up catching some decent fish, top water bass and pike, one or two large brookies, and occasionally an over ambitious trout would bite off more than it could chew but my success rates were very low. It took me a while to realize that, for rivers I fished most often and their residents brook trout, I was way over gunned.
Now a few years later things have totally changed. My go to rod is a 4wt, and I have way more success with it when brook trout fishing. I discovered that there are perhaps a few myths out there about the size of your rod....
1. you can't catch a big fish on a light rod... In fact, after landing aggressive walleye over 15" on my 4wt, I realized that the weight of the rod has a lot more to do with how it handles the line, and the size of the flies, than it does with the size of the fish. Handled properly, my fast action 4wt rod has no problem fighting with those medium sized fish at all.
2. to catch a big fish you need big bait.... sure a little 6" brook trout is less likely to take a stab at your size 6 hook than an 18", but that doesn't mean that the 18" doesn't spend most of its day snacking on many of the same tiny morsels that the 6" does.
SO.. to the point. Although I've learned a lot since I started, and I fish smaller flies than I did before, I still find tying on flies with some doubt, is this too big?! The majority of my flies are in the 14-10 range, some 16's, some 8's... but nothing in 18's or 20's.
My question is this... when fishing for resident brook trout, what sizes are you most often fishing? Can someone speak with experience on selecting fly sizes? And also, can anyone speak with experience about larger fish taking small flies?