Fishing the South Holston Tailwater - Black Flies - Part Two:
I have read where the black flies are most plentiful near the dam. That may be true
but I can also verify that they are very plentiful all the way down to Bluff City. One
day Angie and I were taking stream samples using a kick net looking for certain
species of caddisflies when a guy from Virginia (that is all I remember) walked up.
He looked at our screen of various insects and quickly said "this is a black fly larvae
and this is a black fly pupa". That is the first time I had ever paid any attention to
black flies. I have his name somewhere and I also have closeup video of the black
fly larvae and pupae somewhere, but I cannot find it for some reason. I guess it is
because I have hundreds of hours of digital video closeups of insects and didn't
identify it as such. Anyway, I asked if he fished imitations of them. He quickly pulled
out a fly box with only black fly larva, pupa and adult imitations. I was amazed. He
not only fished them, he had a fly box dedicated to them.
That was where and how I learned to fish the black fly imitations. He gave me some
of the flies, all of which he had tied, and proceeded to show me the details of how
you fish the larva imitation. I lost all he gave me the next trip I made.
Since then I have caught many trout, including one brown over twenty inches, on
the closest thing I could find to his flies.
Fish the larva imitation on a 6X or 7X, tippet with a leader at least ten foot long. Do
not use a strike indicator. Just tie the single, hook size 20 or smaller imitation on the
end of the tippet. Add a tiny split shot about six inches above the fly depending on
the current. Assuming the stream can be waded, wade out facing downstream. You
should be able to easily see the shallow and deep water trenches running almost
parallel with the river.
Cast the fly downstream and slightly across to where it will swing only a few feet and
end up in a deeper trench, not on top of the shallower bottom. You will need to
mend the line a couple of quick times. Slowly feed out some line out allowing the fly
to reach the bottom. Hold on and the fly will soon come back to the surface due to
the current. Repeat this process over and over carefully watching your leader. If it
twitches, jumps or moves sideways or does anything weird, set the hook. The key is
to get the fly near or on the bottom in the deeper water downstream a good ways
(far enough that the trout want see you) and watch your leader. The exact distance
you cast, and exactly how much you swing the fly and other details depend on the
water and current. Don't waste any time allowing the fly to reach the same spot.
Keep moving a step at a time downstream each cast. This will place your fly in a
different area each time. If a trout is there, and you haven't spooked it, you will most
likely get a take.
By the way, this type of downstream presentation is the same type of presentation
you should use in many other scenarios on the South Holston.
Copyright 2008 James Marsh