It is nice to tie/fish size 10’s than size 16-20’s. I have to admit, I spent a good many years tying/fishing, with some success, patterns in the size 10-12 range, particularly nymphs. The thought of tying on a size 18 anything and fishing it with confidence did not/could not compute.
A perfect example of small, functional, easy to tie nymphs by Jens Slettvoll
But, finally, I had a couple encounters with trout, bigger than anything I had ever hooked, on size 18 flies and I started to consider it as an option. I specifically started tying more wets/nymphs/flymphs in 16/18’s and having success. I have yet to venture into the size 20’s with any confidence.
Pay some attention to small hook’s gape size (go bigger), your thread size (8/0 minimum or smaller to 14/0), magnification devices and less material/bulk on the hook. Of course, basic to all this small fly stuff is studying the insect life of the waters you fish. Study the hatches and learn the probably size of a BWO nymph, a Callibaetis nymph, a PMD nymph, a Golden Stone nymph etc.
Sorry, I cannot attribute this to me and I cannot recall who originally took the photo. Could be my son or off the net. Either way…that small nymph and a commensurate tie should be/must be part of the arsenal. Maybe not a size 24 hook, but at least tied small on a size 18 hook?
The smaller Pheasant Tail Nymph (PTN) and the smaller bead head Chironomid (upper left) have been easy to tie and productive small nymph/pupa patterns to fish with. I would suggest simplistic, small patterns as an option and then pay attention to presentation/location and fish with confidence on rivers and lakes.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be
satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”