Head To The Smokies

By Ronnie Parris

Hey folks, the heat is here and it’s gonna’ be around for a while. You can pile up in front of your air conditioner or hit the pool to get a little relief, or you can do what I like to do and grab your fly rod and wading boots and hit the Creek. We’re fortunate to be living in the middle of the best fly fishing in the state. No matter whether you like to work a streamer in the Tuck or Little Tennessee, or float a dry fly back in the park or one of our many national forest streams for wild Brooke, Rainbow, and Brown Trout, it’s gonna’ be cool and relaxing. My favorite is the dry fly fishing and this is the perfect time for it. Lots of bug activity with good early morning hatches and steady fishing till dark. There’s absolutely no better eating fish than a wild caught trout cooked right on the stream with a big pan full of fried taters.

Usually this time of year the trout aren’t real picky on what fly pattern – I think in part because of all the different insects falling into their dining area. With ants, spiders and all sorts of flying insects at their disposal, it’s no wonder they don’t turn down most dries so long as they’re presented right. That’s usually what makes the difference. You can’t slap the water with it and expect to get many hits. Probably what saves more fish from being caught than any other thing is drag, which is simply letting your line get pulled by the current in an unnatural manner. There are 2 ways to prevent this: the first is to strip line to keep too much slack from sinking or you can do what I prefer and shorten your cast and simply raise your rod as the fly floats back to you to keep from getting to much slack. This is my preference but whatever works for you is fine. Hook sets have to be immediate or the trout will spit your fly.

If you’re just getting into fly fishing and don’t want to spend a lot of money, Temple Fork makes a great low cost but very good feeling rod. On most of our creeks, I would suggest the signature series 7 to 8 ft, 3 weight rod; it has great feel and the short rod works well in the overgrown tree canopies. If I were picking just 4 dry flies, I’d go with a Royal Wolf, Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, or a stimulator.

Probably the best fly tier in the state lives and sells his flies right here; his name is James Connor. He’s a native North Carolina fisherman who can hook you up with what you will need as far as the flies are concerned. As I said before, these are probably the best eating fish your gonna’ find but they can be easily overfished, so only take what you’re gonna’ eat and try to release the rest without touching them if possible. I usually keep a pair nippers on my vest and just use them to hold the fly at an angle opposite the way it went in and a gentle shake will send the trout back in the water, no worse for wear. Stay safe and as always, take a kid fishing!

Ronnie Parris is owner and head guide of Smoky Mountain Outdoors Unlimited-Fontana Lake Fishing Guides, headquartered in Bryson City, N.C., heart of the Great Smoky Mountains www.smounlimited.com; (828) 488-9711.