Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  At 6:13 am, the temperature is 72 degrees.  Today’s high will be in the high 80’s.  We have a slight chance for rain today, but a much higher chance tomorrow.


Little River is flowing at 164 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.74 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 125 cfs.  The water temperature is 69.4 degrees, below the “Y” at the Townsend entrance.


Stream flows are very good for this time of year.  A wet June, and frequent afternoon thunderstorms, have resulted in saturated soil and higher than normal flows in the streams.  That trend should continue.  Water temperatures in the low elevations are warm.

Fishing is best in the higher elevations streams where the water is cooler.

Dry flies or nymphs will produce for you.  We are recommending terrestrial patterns such as beetles and ants.  A Yellow Neversink Caddis is a good choice too.  Still, Green or Pink Weenies are recommended.

During the Summer months, aquatic insect activity is much lower than Spring.  The food source for trout in our streams, switch to a mixture of terrestrials and aquatic insects, during the Summer and Fall.


Norris and Cherokee dams will be generating almost all day.


The tailwaters have been fishing very well for smallmouth bass.  The topwater bite is on.  Guide Josh Pfeiffer has been busy floating clients down our local tailwaters, and his success rate is high.  He knows what he is doing.  Some of the best days I’ve had, fishing with Josh, were in August. 

Fishing with Josh or with anyone in a drift boat is especially exciting, because you are often sight fishing.  You see the bass before you cast.  You watch the bass rise and take your popper or foam fly.  That can’t be beat! CLICK HERE to visit Josh's website.


I love fishing with poppers, for bass and bluegill.  Summer is popper season, though poppers also work well in Spring and Fall.  Poppers take me back to my childhood.  I remember evenings, during the Summers, when I would grab my fly rod and some poppers, then walk to a farm pond.  As the sun began to set, bluegill and bass were waiting, for me to show.  I hope they had as much fun as I did.  I practiced catch and release in the early 60’s and I bent down the barbs on my hooks.  That was not a normal practice back then.  Most people kept what they caught.  I wanted to catch them again.

Several years ago, I learned to make poppers from foam cylinders.  I still do that today, though not every year.  When I make poppers, I make many, enough to last one or two years.

You can CLICK HERE to view a tutorial I wrote in 2009.  Since then, I have eliminated many of the steps.  I don’t cup the face anymore.  I don’t coat the body with epoxy.  I try to keep it simple.  These poppers work well and they are very durable.


Yesterday, I wrote a long detailed explanation on fluorocarbon and monofilament leaders and tippet for our website.  What I wrote was slanted toward smallmouth bass fishing but most of the content applies to fly fishing for all species.  Maybe you know more about the subject than I do.  Or maybe you don’t.

I use monofilament leaders and tippet when I’m fishing using topwater flies.  On the other hand, I use fluorocarbon when fly fishing with sinking flies, like streamers or nymphs.  Below are my thoughts on the pros and cons of both.

Fluorocarbon is dense.  The molecules are packed tightly in this material.  As a result, this material offers more abrasion resistance than monofilament.

Fluorocarbon is supposedly less likely to be seen by fish.  The theory is, you can use a larger diameter tippet, with a higher breaking strength, without the fish noticing your leader and tippet.  Many anglers use fluorocarbon tippet in very clear water.

The down side is, fluorocarbon is expensive.  Additionally, due to the material’s density, it tends to sink faster.  I prefer to use monofilament when fishing with top water flies.  One gripe I have with fluorocarbon is, when I pull the fly off the water to make a cast, the leader has sunk, pulling the fly under water temporarily.  Sometimes I snag something when that happens.  In shallow streams, the leader can drift under a rock.  Now, that is frustrating.

Experts say, monofilament is a better material for tying knots.  Those knots supposedly don’t slip as easily as they do when you use fluorocarbon. I can’t verify that. I have knots slip using both materials when I’m not careful.

Monofilament stretches more than fluorocarbon.  Stretching can be good or bad.  When trying to set a hook in a big fish with a large hook, I don’t want the leader to stretch.  I think fluorocarbon gives me a better hook set. This is especially true when fishing for saltwater species.

Scientists have determined that monofilament absorbs water over time, causing the material to weaken.  Again, I can’t verify that.  I break fish off on both and I hate when that happens.

So, to keep things simple for me, and to eliminate trying to make decisions while enjoying myself fishing, I use monofilament for top water fishing, and fluorocarbon for fishing with flies that sink. My 6 weight bass rod always has a mono leader.  My 7 always has fluorocarbon.  I don’t take the time to switch leaders, if I decide to use a top water fly on the 7 weight or vise versa.  I would rather be fishing.

Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.

Byron Begley
July 22, 2015

Respond to:

Home - Contact Us - About Us - Fishing Report - Online Catalog - Message Board - Sitemap