Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Little Short Horned Sedges
3. American March Browns
4. Cinnamon Sedges (Caddisflies) (Abrams Creek)
5. Green Sedges (Caddisflies)
6. Little Sister Caddisflies (Abrams Creek)
7. Eastern Pale Evening Duns
9. Little Yellow Stoneflies -Yellow Sallies
10. Eastern Green Drakes (Abrams Creek)
11. Giant Stoneflies
12. Light Cahills
13. Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
New "Muskie/Pike" Perfect Fly:
We have added a new fly to our Muskie and Pike flies I call the "Perch Baitfish". In
addition to what we show as muskie and pike flies, many of the saltwater and bass
flies will also work for these species of fish; however, the four (4) we call muskie and
pike flies were specifically designed for them.
Perch are the most common baitfish for these species of northern gamefish. By the
way, these flies also work great for smallmouth bass in streams and lakes that have
perch which is most all of them in the north, midwest and some western streams and
lakes. They come tied on a big 3/0 hook. Perfect Fly Perch Baitfish
Due to the amount of email and even telephone calls I received yesterday about this
article, I am leaving it up for awhile.
Having Trouble Catching Trout? Fishing Bad; Fishing Good, Fishing
Okay - Really? Maybe you need to read this a few times.
Even I am occasionally guilty of saying the fishing is good, bad, etc. I guess I hear
the phase so often I say it without thinking. I usually say the fishing is easy, or the
fishing is tough, or something like that, rather than it's bad. Actually, there really
isn't such a thing as the fishing is good or the fishing is bad in the sense
the phase is commonly used.
Fishing is done by people called anglers. They can do a good job of fishing or a
very poor job of fishing. Does anyone out there actually think the trout feed
one day and not the next, or they feed for a week or two, and not for the
next week or two. That can happen when the water temperature is almost freezing
and it warms up a little into the low forties, but that is really about the only time it
happens. It sure doesn't happen during the springtime.
Most of the time the trout eat about the same amount of food day in and
day out. Of course that varies throughout the year with the season, water temps
and the trout's metabolism. To say the trout were feeding or eating last week, and
this week they aren't; or even to say that they were really feeding last week and this
week they are feeding very lightly; just isn't true. What an angler really means is the
trout were easier to catch at one time and not the other time.
The bottom line to this is anglers blame the fish when it's the angler, not the fish.
Fish don't feed heavily and then just stop eating without extremely drastic
changes in conditions. As I just said above they don't just stop eating. They
eat all year. They may slow down when the water gets very cold, or is depleted of
oxygen when it gets too warm, but that's all there is too it. The problem lies in the
methods, strategies and techniques used by the angler. This just isn't true of
trout and fly fishing. This same thing is true of all fishing, salt and fresh water.
Of course, it's much easier for the trout to acquire the food they eat when a hatch is
occurring. The insects are usually sitting ducks during a hatch or very easy for the
trout to pick off. That makes it appear to an angler that the trout are feeding one
day and not the next. The hatches also makes it easier for anglers to catch
them on the typical, remedial methods used by most Smoky Mountain
anglers. Even then, they catch trout ONLY IF they are feeding in the fast water
of the runs and riffles.
If the trout are feeding in the calm pockets; in the holes on the bottom where the
current is slow; or in the many large pools in the streams, the average angler
fishing the Smokies will catch few trout, if any. Under these conditions when
they fail to catch trout, they always blame the trout. In fact, most anglers fishing the
Smokies completely avoid the pools. The reason is they lack the skills to
successfully fish the slower, clear water. Another reason is the generic
flies they use usually don't fool the trout in the slow moving water because
the trout can get a good look at the poor imitations of the real insects. This
exact thing I'm writing about is also exactly what distinguishes a truly good angler
from one that isn't.
When lots of money is on the line in bass, walleye, and various saltwater fishing
tournaments, it's always the same guys that take the checks home, not every time,
of course, but on the average. Amazingly the results is almost even more consistent
than professional golf tournaments. There aren't any real professional fly fishing
trout tournaments (thank goodness), but if there were, it would have the same
results. Some guys would always manage to catch trout, when others reached deep
into their bags of excuses after failing to catch them. This situation is always when
the good anglers stand out and distinguish themselves from the mediocre ones.
When fishing is easy, it tends to level out and everyone catches fish. When
it seems tough, only the ones that actually know what they are doing
I'll put it this way. The average, or typical Smoky Mountain angler, generally fishes
using some very simple plans and procedures. They use these same strategies
and methods over and over regardless of the conditions and regardless of
what the trout are feeding on. Oh, they may change from a nymph to a dry fly, or
they may try to double their odds by fishing a tandem rig, but basically, they cast
generic nymphs or dry flies upstream in the fast water runs and riffles.
When conditions are optimal, the water levels, temperatures, etc., are excellent,
and the trout are feeding on insects in the fast water, they usually catch some
trout and sometimes a good many of them. Under these conditions the anglers
really feel like they have everything down pat. They will tell you that the fishing
is very good.
Actually, their occasional success is part of the problem they aren't
consistent. They think their success was because the trout were feeding and of
course, they were. However,when they don't catch them, they think it was due to the
trout not feeding and that almost always isn't the case. Poor trout - they must live a
sad life - going hungry most of the time. They must really have their ups and downs,
eating lots of food one day and starving the next day, or eating one week and not
As soon as the trout change the food they are eating, the area of the streams and
time they feed, most anglers fail to catch very many of them. They blame the
trout, the water, the tubers, the imaginary anglers fishing ahead of them,
and a thousand things other than the real truth. They really just don't know
what they are doing.
One reason for this is that many anglers have been taught that way by a bunch of
old codgers who think they know what they are doing and think they know what the
trout are doing when they really don't. For example, many of them that proclaim to
be experts at it will tell you that it doesn't matter what insects are in the water or
hatching. They will tell you that knowing the behavior of the various insects isn't
necessary for fishing the Smokies. The same guys usually boast that they have
been fishing the Smokies for forty or fifty years. I know some that only fish a few
times a year that boast about the length of time they have been fishing. I'll usually
keep quite and think "that's a long time to go using the same old fish aren't bitting
excuse". In fact, it is easier to make the same mistakes over than it is to do
things right over and over. If you ask them a few simple questions about what
the trout eat, you will quickly discover that most all of them know very little about the
insects and other food the trout eat, much less how to go about imitating a particular
insect's behavior. Not any of them have gone to the effort to actually learn much
about the insects and other trout food. However, they certainly seem to know
the importance of something they know very little about - the food the trout
They will tell you that all you need are some Adams and Hare's Ear Nymphs. Even
then, if you will notice, their own fly boxes will have a little of everything in them
because they use the trial and error method of fishing. When the trout are feeding
in the fast water of the runs and riffles they are correct. The Adams and the Hare's
Ear Nymphs usually work quite well. When the trout aren't feeding in the fast water,
This is where most angler's problems lie. The trout in the park don't always
feed in the fast current. In fact, they only feed there part of the time. Day in and
day out, they only feed there a relatively small percentage of the time. It
depends on the insects or other foods they are eating. Most of the time, the
insects and other foods avoid the fast water. Only a few of the hatching
aquatic insects get caught up in the fast current long enough for the trout to eat
them before they depart the water. That occurs mostly in the Spring when most of
the clinger (fast water dwelling) mayflies and stoneflies hatch. That's when anglers
can catch them fairly easy, using the age old traditional, one track trail and error
methods that rely solely on the trout not being able to get a good look at the fly. The
age old methods of catching trout in the Smokies work great when this is happening.
When it isn't, they don't work. That's exactly when anglers begin to complain
that the fishing isn't good. I guess that's when the trout are supposed to be on a
diet or worse, starving not eating at all. You're probably already starting to hear the
fishing isn't all that great or that it has slowed down a lot. Do you actually think
the trout drastically change the amount of food they consume from day to
day during the month of May?
It isn't just that the old timers teach the methods that only work at certain times. I
know some guides that fit the same description. I know some that don't know one
insect from another, much less how to imitate them. I know some that use the same
excuses I'm writing about over and over - the fishing isn't or is good right now. About
the only real value of having one of these so called "guides" is that you probably
won't get lost. You would be better off getting a GPS.
Most of the local fly shop owners and employees preach the same way to go about
fishing in the Smokies. If you will check closely, some of them never actually fish in
the Smokies. Some have salesman that know about as much about insects as any
twelve year old kid could learn in a weeks time. Many of them would sell you a Slate
Drake dun. In fact, I know of that happening, even though a Slate Drake dun
never gets in the water. The problem is, the sales people don't know that and
obviously, neither does the manufacturers that, by the way, have their flies tied in
Malaysia and Indonesia. Most all flies sold by fly shops are tied in counties in dire
economic shape by people that don't know a mayfly from a horsefly. Rainy Flies will
tell you their flies were designed by a long list of anglers, some well known. They
really push that marketing strategy. Do you think they actually tie the flies Rainy
sells? Next time you buy some in a fly shop, ask them where they were tied.
The truth of the matter is that in the Smokies, there's a lot of Davy Crocket age
methods and strategies being taught over and over. Some doing the teaching still
eat some of the trout they catch. Even the few books about the fishing the
Smokies teach the same methods that are only effective part of the time.
Some will even go so far as to tell you that if you can catch trout in the Smokies, you
can catch trout anywhere in the Nation. That's about the most outright, completely
false statement I can think of off hand, but that is another subject.
You will also hear that the trout in the Smokies are different than the trout in other
areas of the country. Well, in some unimportant respects that may be true, but the
essence of that statement is completely false. There isn't anything different, or
extremely unique for that matter, about the trout in the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park. They are basically the same as the trout in all the other small
mountain freestone streams in the East and West. The Ph can vary some and that
can increase of decrease the fish and food and effect the size of the trout, but that
is about the only thing different.
Anglers generally think that fishing in the West is very different. That really isn't true
either. If it's a small headwater stream in the Northern, Central, Southern Rockies or
the Cascades, there's very little difference, if any. I know that for a fact because I
have probably fished as many of them, or at least close to as many trout streams in
the Nation as any person living.
Rainbow trout are rainbow trout. Small, mountain fast water streams are small fast
water streams. Where the stream is matters little The species of trout varies
some. The West has native cutthroats in many of its headwater streams instead of
native brook trout that are in the Smokies. The trout in the small headwater streams
of the West usually react the exact same way. If they don't get a good look at your
fly, and they usually don't, you can catch them on standard generic flies as long as
the trout are feeding in the fast water. Just like in the Smokies, when they don't
feed in the fast water, the poor imitations don't work. It can be easy to catch
them some days, and not easy some days unless you change strategies, methods
and locations within the stream. It would be very difficult to tell if you were fishing in
the headwaters of Little Blackfoot Creek in Montana, or the upper Little River if it
were not for the different types of trees.
If you want to learn to consistently catch trout in the Smokies, you better
learn something about what the trout eat, when and where they eat it and
how to imitate it. Otherwise, you will find yourself taking about how good the
fishing is one day and how bad it is the next, even during the month of May when
trout are feeding every day.