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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is foggy and 70 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I drove to work at 7:30 am and was surprised again at the traffic on the roads.  This is a holiday weekend.  Businesses who cater to visitors are getting ready for business.  This has been a good year for tourism here.

Little River’s flow is lower than I’ve seen all year.  But, it is still flowing higher than normal.  Currently, flow is 98 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.61 feet on the gauge. Median flow for this date is 89 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:40 am is 68 degrees.  The high water temperature yesterday just below the confluence of the three prongs of Little River was 70 degrees.

Fishing is good in the Great Smoky Mountains.  I have heard some amazing reports from anglers this week.  The water is low right now as it should be.  So, stealth is important.  You don’t want the trout to see you.  Blend in with the forest.  Many seasoned anglers are doing very well using a dry and dropper combination.  The dry fly could be a beetle, Stimulator, Parachute Adams, Neversink Caddis or some other typical light colored Summer pattern.  Many fishermen are using a Green Weenie or bead head nymph as the dropper.  I would use 6X tippet.

You should plan on hiking up some smaller backcountry streams this weekend to avoid swimmers and tubers.  They will be mostly concentrated on the larger major rivers in the Smokies.  The small streams are fishing very well.  Higher elevation brook trout streams are fishing well too.  You might encounter some low water today and maybe tomorrow so be prepared to move if necessary.

Rain is expected this weekend.  The National Weather Service puts the odds at 40% on Saturday, 60% on Sunday and 60% on Monday.  When the odds are what we see now, it usually rains.  Actually, we could use some rain.  I have not said that more than once or twice this year.

Temperatures are predicted to be much cooler next week with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the 50’s.  After Monday, the chance for more rain drops to almost zero.

This weekend kicks off the Fall tourist season in the Smokies.  What we will see now, except on weekends, are the older adults, those who don’t have children in school.  We will see more visiting anglers.  Many local fishermen switch gears to hunting for deer, bear, wild boar and small game.  Due to that, we will notice less fishermen on the lakes and rivers.  Labor day also signals the tapering off of pleasure boating.  There should be fewer boats on the lakes.

Here, we have slow Saturdays when University of Tennessee has home football games.  We’ve been in business 19 years.  It’s always been that way.

We will begin our fly tying classes in November.  And we’ll have free fly tying demonstrations on Saturdays during the late fall and Winter.  The colder months are fly tying months.

We have a written and drawn-up plan to re-model and re-arrange our store.  The most important move will be taking the rod department downstairs (which we have done) and moving the fly tying department upstairs.  Our goal is to offer the most popular fly tying materials and stock deeper in those items.  We know what sells best because our point-of-sale computer system gives us the information we need.

We believe a fly tying department is important to our business.  You don’t see many large fly tying departments in fly shops and there are many reasons for that.  Our department will have 700 square feet of space allocated to it.  That’s large in our business.  Some fly shops do what we do and place high importance on fly tying.

One reason you don’t see lots of space allocated to fly tying in stores is due to the revenue generated per square foot.  Fly tying materials take up a lot of wall space for the amount of sales in the department. For instance, materials do 1/10th the amount of dollars per square foot as flies.  Materials generate about 1/6th the amount of business per square foot as all other departments combined.

Not all customers buy fly tying materials.  Have you noticed we ring up sales under your name?  There is a reason for that.  We can run reports and determine what percentage of  our customers buy from a specific department.  We know, using data going back to 1998 that only 3 out of 10 people who shop here buy something from the fly tying department.  I would imagine that number represents what other stores in our industry experience. 

A fly tying department is very labor intensive.  I can spend up to two consecutive days ordering and receiving merchandise for the fly tying department during a week.  These orders contain hundreds of items that cost 75 cents or more.  It takes the same amount of time to order and receive a fly rod or pair of waders as it does to do the same thing with a package of dubbing.

So, why do we stock fly tying materials in our store? Why not replace the space and inventory dollars with something more lucrative?  The reason is, “we are a fly tying shop and always have been”.  It is an important part of our business model.  It attracts customers to our store.  We tie flies too.  We are going to be stocking less products that don’t sell well, and more products that do.  We think we can eliminate or greatly reduce the problem of running out of something important.  That’s our goal.

We all hope you have a great holiday weekend and thank you for being here with us.  We will be open of course, all weekend.

Byron Begley
August 30, 2013

Respond to: byron@littleriveroutfitters.com


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