Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
2. Little Winter Stoneflies
3. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
When I first started fishing the Smokies, I was told by the locals that the hi-stickin method of
nymph fishing was developed in the Smokies. Until recently, I really never thought about it. It
made sense because it's a method that's obviously used for fishing fast, pocket water with the
primary objective of keeping the fly line out of the water. It's certainly a highly effective method to
use in the Smokies.
I have written a few articles over the past few years outlining the details of how you go about it
and thought this might be a good time to write some more on the subject. If and when the water
levels drop, it will probably become the best method to use at this time of the year. Right now, the
larger streams are still too high to safely wade and with the approaching low pressure system, it
doesn't appear the situation is going to change. There may be a window of opportunity today, but
most likely, the streams will be on the rise again soon. There is a 100% chance of rain tonight.
Where it was developed and who developed it didn't seem important to me then and really
doesn't now, but in researching the history of hi-stickin using Mr. Google, I found it interesting
that several others have attempted to stake a claim on the origination of the Hi-Stickin method of
The first thing that popped up was an article by a guide on the upper Sacramento River in
California. According to Wayne Eng, who was quoting Jim Gade, high stickin was first used by the
Native Americans. According to him, it was made popular by Ted Fay, a local fly fishing legend on
the Sacramento River. At least Mr. Eng does a very good job of explaining the technique in this
The next thing that caught my attention was an article that outlined the difference in the Czech
method or European method of nymphing and high stickin. I have noticed the two methods are
constantly being compared to each other with some claiming that high stickin was just a variation
of the European method. I don't buy that at all. They are two completely different types of fishing
methods in almost every respect you can compare them. This guy does a pretty good job of
explaining the difference.
Mr. Eng isn't the only one claiming hi-stickin was at least partly developed on the Sacramento
River. Craig Ballenger also does a good job of explaining it. Quoting him, "The high-stick
technique, otherwise know as short lining, has been around for so long that its beginnings are
rather misty. Where it developed is open to some debate, though Dunsmuir, California and the
Upper Sacramento River which flows through that town maintains a strong historical argument
dating well back into the nineteenth century." Here is that article.
I can't come up with the title of the book at the present time, but out of the hundreds of books I
have on fly fishing, I can remember Joe Brooks outlining the method about as well as anyone. I
remember reading where he perfected the hi-stickin method on the streams of Yellowstone,
including the Madison River. Some of the Smoky Mountain locals call it "Dredging" and from what
I remember, Joe Brooks dredged the Yellowstone Streams with heavier tackle than anyone uses
in the Smokies. This method doesn't go over very well in Yellowstone Country, the dry fly capital
of the World. It's largely ignored there, but not by yours truly. It has saved the day many times for
me in all the pocket water streams of Yellowstone, including the Madison River tailwater. By the
way, this is getting off the subject, but locals there hate the forty mile riffle being called a tailwater.
I have read national magazine articles calling it a freestone stream. I guess the guy that wrote the
article for Fly Fisherman Magazine just missed seeing Hebgen Dam. Anyway, some credit Joe
Brooks with developing Hi-stickin.
This guy also does a decent job of explaining hi-stickin, but read what he has to say about it's
origination: Quoting him, "THE HIGH-STICK METHOD, which many refer to as pocket-water
nymphing because you're fishing at very close range in rough, tumbling water, is one of the most
productive types of nymphing. High-sticking originated centuries ago as a method of dapping dry
flies into pocket-water."
Scroll down on the article and you will see Hi-Sticking as well as some other fly fishing methods.
It's getting to where even a fisherman can't lie without getting caught. Mr. Google is
telling on everybody. Mr. Google is outright detrimental to those that are "legends in their own
mind". Al Gore messed the World up when he invented the Internet.
I have an idea that no one knows where Hi-stickin originated. I was doing something almost
identical to it before anyone told me I was high stickin. I'll bet one of my ancestors from England,
invented it, maybe my great, great, great grandfather Marsh. According to my aunt, who spent a
great deal of money to find out, he was dethroned as a Lord for cock fighting and sent to America
as a prisoner. He could have been the one that came up with it. "Lets just call it Marsh
Copyright 2012 James Marsh