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View Full Version : How simple is it to fish our tailwaters?


waterwolf
08-24-2010, 09:10 AM
While floating the Clinch Saturday we had a discussion about just how painfully simple it is to consistently catch fish and lots of fish on our tailwaters; Clinch and Holston.

I hadn't really thought about it much, but literally one fly will work everyday of the year, and work as well as or better then anything else for us. I don't mean one fly in different sizes, but one fly in one size. Granted I am referring to low water conditions, but that is when most of us fish the Clinch and especially the Holston.

Over the years I have fished everything under the sun, but it always comes back to one fly. The others work, and many work well, but it amazes me that it really doesn't matter what is going on a single fly works no questions asked. While the other stuff has its time and place, and works some times and other times not at all or very poorly.

What is even more surprising is that depth fished never changes. We have always fished the exact same depth no matter which stretch of river or river we are on.

It seems a little silly that a single fly rigged at a standard depth works on two rivers, 365 days a year. Odd as it may be, I guess trout fishing can actually be that simple.

Anyone else agree with this, or does everyone else jump all over the place using different flies? Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with different flies, and different techniques, but just for discussions sake it is interesting that one fly can do everything.

white95v6
08-24-2010, 09:17 AM
i don't know much about flyfishing. but i throw the same lure on the caney and the elk everytime i float them. and always do very well.

buzzmcmanus
08-24-2010, 09:29 AM
I really struggled when I first started fishing the Clinch. Then i went back and searched some Clinch topics on this forum and started fishing that 1 little fly as you suggest on some of your posts, and it really is that simple. However, I do drop it off an EHC fly, because to me, catching one fish on that dry fly makes the whole trip. All the flies in my Clinch box could fit inside a thimble.

br549
08-24-2010, 09:33 AM
Braggert...It is true...many pheasants have died because of those two tailwaters. However, it was fun several years ago when we got the big sulphur hatches...tying on the compardun or the cdc emerger and catching some large fish.

Steve Wright
08-24-2010, 10:03 AM
While floating the Clinch Saturday we had a discussion about just how painfully simple it is to consistently catch fish and lots of fish on our tailwaters; Clinch and Holston.

I hadn't really thought about it much, but literally one fly will work everyday of the year, and work as well as or better then anything else for us. I don't mean one fly in different sizes, but one fly in one size. Granted I am referring to low water conditions, but that is when most of us fish the Clinch and especially the Holston.

Over the years I have fished everything under the sun, but it always comes back to one fly. The others work, and many work well, but it amazes me that it really doesn't matter what is going on a single fly works no questions asked. While the other stuff has its time and place, and works some times and other times not at all or very poorly.

What is even more surprising is that depth fished never changes. We have always fished the exact same depth no matter which stretch of river or river we are on.

It seems a little silly that a single fly rigged at a standard depth works on two rivers, 365 days a year. Odd as it may be, I guess trout fishing can actually be that simple.

Anyone else agree with this, or does everyone else jump all over the place using different flies? Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with different flies, and different techniques, but just for discussions sake it is interesting that one fly can do everything.

What fly & depth are you talking about........

gmreeves
08-24-2010, 10:06 AM
Ah, the true question. Finding out the fly and depth is all part of the journey.

txbrown
08-24-2010, 10:11 AM
I find the same thing on the Caney. I have 1 basic size midge #16 but fish #12 or #18 from time to time. Color varies with water condition. I sometimes fish other flies just because I enjoy fishing that way (swinging softhackles for example). I will also experiment with other flies when the fishing is good to see what else might work.

I have also found that 5-6 basic flies will also work for the mountains too.

crappiecrazy
08-24-2010, 12:23 PM
Very encouraging thread for a beginner like myself! Thanks!

CC

Rodonthefly
08-24-2010, 01:40 PM
Over the years, i have come to relize the same. Thanks to the help and advice of Jim. Grant it, i have a couple different midge patterns I still like to fish, but for the most part give me that one fly tied on a size 16 scud hook if i can only take one pattern with me.

DBKSTONE2
08-24-2010, 02:50 PM
I fish the Caney quite a bit and I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. I have been humbled on occasion there but normally catch fish. Some days are better than others. Sunday was a very good example of this. I have been tying my own flies for a while and have experimented with scads of variations of the simple zebra midge. In this trial and error process I have boiled the results down to a couple of color/material choices. My success rate went up dramatically. Until days like Sunday. I started this experimentation to get away from what so many people were throwing on the Caney. I think the fish had got to the point they could actually spell "Zebra Midge" and identify individual manufacturers. So I relegated the traditional pattern to the unused portion of the box. Sunday I tried about every creation/variation of the midge pattern I had ever tied and If I had a vise with me I would of tied a few new creations. I spent 4.5 hours with only 3 fish to my name. Not a good day to say the least on numbers. On the walk out I stopped and put on the old pattern just as a "why not I've tried everything else" thought and then it was FISH ON. I caught 18 fish in 45 minutes. They would settle for nothing less than a true zebra midge. SILVER BEAD, BLACK THREAD, SILVER WIRE, SIZE 20. No exchanges! No substitutions. PERIOD!!!

I would bet 100 bucks they will go back to ignoring the pattern next week. But I guess it proves one thing : FISH CAN BE FISH!

BlueRaiderFan
08-24-2010, 02:56 PM
At times on the Caney, they only seem to want a scud as well...weird fish on the Caney. Depths change as well depending on the season. I have found that a person has to be prepared to try different things on the Caney Fork. It would help if there were prolific hatches. I have seen one HUGE BWO hatch last fall though. Then again, I don't go that often, so I may miss some of them.

waterwolf
08-24-2010, 03:06 PM
Braggert...It is true...many pheasants have died because of those two tailwaters. However, it was fun several years ago when we got the big sulphur hatches...tying on the compardun or the cdc emerger and catching some large fish.
There are still monster sulphur hatches, there was a great hatch just this past Sunday. The last 2 summers have produced some of the longest and largest sulphur hatches. I used to like the dry fly stuff, but anymore I am too lazy to mess with them even during the largest hatches.

Ah, the true question. Finding out the fly and depth is all part of the journey.

I honestly wonder if the exact fly even matters, in other words, anything smallish and dark would work day in and day out. Depth, well that is sort of a personal preference.

I was really trying to keep things general, that our tailwaters are very simple when it comes to fly selection and overall rig. What is complicated or can be is where to put that "rig", and presentation as a whole. JMO

DBKSTONE2
08-24-2010, 04:31 PM
I was really trying to keep things general, that our tailwaters are very simple when it comes to fly selection and overall rig. What is complicated or can be is where to put that "rig", and presentation as a whole. JMO

Sorry Wolf. It was just a little hold over from Sunday's frustration. I get your point. Because at the end of the day. Almost all of those "bugs" were the same relative size, profile, and general color range. I would hate to think what would happen if they went from hitting size 20-22 to say a size 8-10 stone fly.:biggrin: You could not tie together every bug I have in my Caney fly box and come up with the weight or size of one of those flies. Thank God for relative consistency.:rolleyes:

psnapp
08-24-2010, 06:17 PM
After lots of experimentation (which I still plan to do since I like to try to build a "better mouse trap"), I'm finding that there is a base pattern and size that will work on most days. I still have not gotten it down to a single fly on the Clinch, but I think it is possible to fish a single pattern in one size and catch fish most days ... I have a friend who relies on a couple patterns on the Clinch day in and day out, but he does vary the sizes.

WW -- like you mentioned in your last post, knowing where to put it and how you present it have a lot to do with the success of any pattern. JMO

milligan trout degree
08-24-2010, 06:57 PM
In reality, you could take a box full of size 16 pheasant tails and catch trout anywhere you go. But what fun comes from having a box of only size 16 pheasant tails? :smile:

2weightfavorite
08-24-2010, 10:27 PM
It seems to me the clinch is incredibly easy to fish. Same fly day in day out. You do have to present it well of course, however with some minor mending, and the occasional down stream drift, even that is pretty easy. I like the holston because while the same fly always works so do alot of other patterns. And it seems like I catch alot of fish on the swing on the holston, not so mouch however on the clinch..

waterwolf
08-24-2010, 10:36 PM
In reality, you could take a box full of size 16 pheasant tails and catch trout anywhere you go. But what fun comes from having a box of only size 16 pheasant tails? :smile:
Alot of fun for me, it makes life simple. To each their own however.
It seems to me the clinch is incredibly easy to fish. Same fly day in day out. You do have to present it well of course, however with some minor mending, and the occasional down stream drift, even that is pretty easy. I like the holston because while the same fly always works so do alot of other patterns. And it seems like I catch alot of fish on the swing on the holston, not so mouch however on the clinch..

Agreed, especially on the CLinch, generally speaking the fishing is usually the same day after day, the only variable which plays a major role is water level. There is varying degrees of low, some of which are less desirable and more challenging then others.

I use the exact same fly and depth on the Holston, but with the varied insect life and stocking regime more flair can be used in techniques and patterns IMO.

MarkHansen
08-25-2010, 12:08 AM
Clinch for low water: I have not found one special go-to setup, but I have not fished the water as much as most of this message board:

BHPT 16/18 (all different color heads)
BHPT 16/18 (all with a black bead)
Zebra Midges 18/20/22 (red or black)

br549
08-26-2010, 11:06 AM
Hey WW...I don't remember there being monster hatches this late in the year in the past. Has the later hatching sulphur become more prevalent. I remember the S. Holston always had a nice summer hatch but the Clinch seemed to wind down by early summer. I too have become too lazy to switch from a nymph to a dry.

As far as fly selection, less is better for me. I'm the same in saltwater, smallmouth, and crappie fishing.

waterwolf
08-26-2010, 02:10 PM
Hey WW...I don't remember there being monster hatches this late in the year in the past. Has the later hatching sulphur become more prevalent. I remember the S. Holston always had a nice summer hatch but the Clinch seemed to wind down by early summer. I too have become too lazy to switch from a nymph to a dry.

As far as fly selection, less is better for me. I'm the same in saltwater, smallmouth, and crappie fishing.
I have never seen them hatch this late, and it kind of started 2 years ago, but now has really become more pronounced. I can only assume as it gets going it will continue unless we have another silt ditch created which wipes them out again. Ever since the didymo showed up the sulphurs have roared back, and are better then they have ever been. Of course, I don't fish with dries, but the nymphs sure do make fishing easier and the fish healthier.

If you look on this board, you can find threads where folks were claiming the hatch was done earlier this year because of flooding. That certainly did not happen, thankfully. I was worried the silt from no generation would have an impact but TVA flushed the system in enough time.

psnapp
09-15-2010, 06:48 PM
Lots of experimenting with midge / nymph patterns on the Clinch from March thru September. Just took a look back over my notes, and a couple of midge patterns (small and dark) and a basic 16-18 PT ended up kickin butt over the others. Life is getting simpler for me!