Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little)
2. Cream Cahills
3. Little Yellow Stoneflies (Little Summer Stones)
4. Slate Drakes
5. Little Green Stoneflies
6. Mahogany Duns
Most available/ Other types of food:
7. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
8. Inch Worm (moth larva)
Fly Fishing Strategies - Which Fly To Use - The Coming Week
First, Some Random Thoughts:
I'm running late with this article. I normally do it on Tuesdays but I wanted to cover some of the
basics of how I go about arriving at the strategies I suggest each week. I hope the articles I have
written for then past two days has cleared up some of the questions some of you may have.
According to our site statics, anywhere from about 450 up to 950 read this daily article. That's why
I continue to write it. It averages about 800 per day. It is higher in the Spring and lower during the
late Fall and early Winter. The number of people, or I should say, the number of computers, that
display the article page is much higher on weekdays than weekends. It's right the opposite of what
many would think. The fishing strategies articles always seems to get a higher number of viewers
than the normal articles but that's probably more of a matter of it being done on Tuesdays than the
titles of the articles. As long as that many people read what I write, I consider it well worth doing.
Our Perfect Fly website gets many times those numbers of viewers. It and our fly fishing DVD site is
also where most of the income we receive from fly fishing comes from. However, it's also obvious
some of the orders we receive are the indirect results of anglers who view our Smoky Mountain
and Yellowstone sites. We have also noticed that some of our orders are obviously a direct result
of the strategy articles because they coincide exactly with the flies I recommend for the Smokies at
the time the orders come in. That's another thing that makes it worthwhile, and I don't mean that
from a sells standpoint, I mean it from the standpoint that anglers are taking me seriously. Although
it brings a certain satisfaction, it also always brings about a specific thought pattern of concern. I
instantly think, "I hope this person understands the flies they just ordered aren't the sole solution to
catching trout in the Smokies". The fact they are following my advice brings about a certain risk.
Let me explain.
Since the flies are all specific imitations of certain insects in various stages of their life, it's
important that they are presented to coincide with the behavior of the real insects. By that I mean,
fished at the right times of day, under the right conditions and presented in the right type of water
(areas of the streams). If they aren't, the odds of them working isn't any better than many of the
Some anglers order the flies thinking they have found the magic solution to catching trout and fail
to read the information we provide on the site about when, where and how the specific fly should
be presented. For example, I talked to one angler the other day who was using one of our mayfly
spinner patterns during the middle of the day. He had no idea what a spinner was and when, where
and how the fly should be fished. He commented the fly didn't work very well. I was surprised that
he was able to catch anything on it. In the fast pocket water, I'm sure the fly would catch a few
trout every once in a while because like any of the generic flies, the trout often just get a short
glimpse of it and take it for something that quick glimpse reveals. However, anyone would have a
difficult time fishing a spent wing spinner pattern in fast pocket water because keeping track of the
fly would be almost impossible. The spent wing (flat) spinners are designed to float flush in the
surface skim in the slow to moderate water at the ends of pools, riffles and runs. In other words,
there's always a lurking fear that some of the anglers purchasing our flies shortcut the learning
process and fish them in the wrong places at the wrong time. That's why I strive to always point out
the importance of presentation.
Strategy For This Coming Week
I found last year's article pointed out stream and weather conditions that are amazingly similar to
what's taking place right now in the Smokies. The temperatures are almost identical. The stream
flows and levels are almost the same, low that is. The hatches and the most plentiful and available
insects are exactly the same as last year. There's even a hurricane (currently tropical storm
predicted to become a hurricane) lurking in the Caribbean. Last year, Irene was the threat people
were concerned about but contrary to what was thought at the time, it didn't bring the rain to the
Smokies that we expected and needed.
LAST YEAR'S ARTICLE THIS SAME TIME PERIOD:
The insects that may hatch and terrestrials that are plentiful along the streams of the
Smokies haven't changed from last week. As of today, the conditions of the streams
haven't changed. The streams are all low and the weather is remaining hot during the
day. Temperatures at Gatlinburg will range from a high of 85 to 90 with lows down to
59 but averaging in the mid 60's. There's an excellent chance the low water
situation is going to change drastically within the next few days. Irene is
currently on a course that will bring plenty of rain to the Smokies. In fact, it could bring
too much rain in too short of a time span to the Smokies. It could also stay out in the
Atlantic and bring little rain. Strategies for fishing four to seven days from now
may change drastically based on the course Irene takes.
Notice there's six aquatic insects that are capable of hatching at any time. As of
yesterday, judging the situation during the short time spans I spent in the Smokies the
past two days, I didn't see much evidence of anything other than Little BWOs
hatching. Keep in mind that the only insects that haven't hatched this year that are
not listed above and are of any size in their nymphal stage are Great Brown Autumn
Sedges, Blue-winged Olives, and another species of Little Yellow Stonefly. Most of the
others are eggs or tiny, tiny nymphs or larvae. There are plenty of one-year old
Golden Stonefly nymphs and one and two year old, Giant Black Stonefly nymphs in
the streams, but they stay well hidden under rocks on the bottom of the stream, and
are not easy for the trout to acquire. Of those aquatic insects that haven't hatched
that are listed above, all but the BWOs, Slate Drakes and the Mahogany Duns are
clingers. They stay well hidden until they begin to hatch. In other words, at the
current time, there's more BWO and Slate Drake nymphs (both swimmers)
and Mahogany Dun (crawler) nymphs available for the trout to eat than
Some of you may think there are more terrestrial insects than aquatic insects that's
available for the trout to eat at the current time. That's absolutely not true. Unless
there's strong wind or heavy rain, the numbers are not even close to being
comparable. There's far more aquatic insects in the streams available for the trout to
eat than there are terrestrial insects.
This isn't to say the trout won't take imitations of terrestrial insects. I am just pointing
out what's most available and what will provide you the highest odds of success. In
terms of catching more trout, your odds are still higher fishing imitations of (1) the
small BWO nymphs, hook size 18 and 20, (2) Mahogany Dun nymphs and (3) Slate
Drake nymphs. These nymphs are in the water in plentiful quantities and are
the easiest source of food for the trout to acquire; however, if one of the other
aquatic insects begin to hatch in any given stream and at any given time, imitations of
the appropriate stage of life of that insect will provide your highest odds.
For those of you that are not that very familiar with the insects, the reason for this is
that when any of the aquatic insect begins to hatch, they become very subject to
being eaten by trout. They become completely exposed and very obvious to the trout.
For example, the Little Yellow Quills ((clinger nymphs) could start hatching within the
next couple of weeks and if and when they do, they will have to come out from under
their normal hiding places under the rocks on the bottom of the fast water and move
to slower water. They will become very obvious and very exposed to the trout. When
they rise to the surface to emerge they become easy pickings for the trout. That will
be what the trout will focus on and imitations of them will bring you the highest odds of
The bottom line strategy to this is fish imitations of the nymphs listed above, BWO
nymphs still being the top choice, until you see evidence of an aquatic insect
hatching. If you do, swap to an imitation of the appropriate stage of life of the hatch.
As mentioned in the last three weeks of strategy articles, go to terrestrial imitations
anytime during or just after it has been very windy, or there has been enough rain to
wash terrestrials such as ants and beetles into the streams. Also, as mentioned in
previous articles, you may want to fish a streamer imitation of a baitfish, minnow or
sculpin very early in the day, or anytime the water becomes dingy from rainwater.
Following this strategy will bring you the highest possible odds of success.
Again, as mentioned in the last strategy articles, you can still catch some trout using
dry flies and terrestrial imitations dry and wet, but if you want to catch more trout, follow
the strategy I just outlined. It may not seem all that exciting and you may want to fish a dry
fly more than this strategy would offer, but it is your best way to go about catching
I don't see anything in last year's strategy article above that's warrants changing for this coming
weeks strategy. If you follow the above suggestions, I think you will experience the highest possible
odds of catching trout.
My friend Cris will be here tonight. The two of us, and hopefully my new friend Breck Davis, will get
an opportunity to challenge the trout. As of right now, I'm not sure if we will be fishing in the park or
some other waters we may try. I'm waiting to see what they want to do for the next couple of days.
Chris will be back again next week for three days of fishing. He got a very short time in on some
water near his home in New York last weekend but that's the only fishing he has been able to do
since before this time about a year ago when he was headed to Afghanistan. I'm as excited about
him getting to fish as any trip I can remember getting excited about during the past few years.
Chris has a new custom built Walter Babb's bamboo fly rod and is excited about trying it out.
I'm also looking forward to making a few cast with it. I say a few because I'll be afraid I will hit a limb
with it or skin it up some way. That aren't low priced fly rods. They are probably a great investment
as well as they are beautiful fly rods. Breck also has one on order but will have to wait. He's on
Walter's continuous waiting list.
Mr. Babbs was one of the first local anglers from the Smokies I had the opportunity to met when I
first started fishing the Smokies. Although I haven't seen him in a few years, I doubt there has been
a week pass that I haven't heard his name mentioned. He is a true legend around here and is as
highly respected for his knowledge of fly fishing as anyone. I'm willing to bet his rods are just as
good as his excellent reputation.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh