View Full Version : Winter Fly Patterns

01-10-2006, 06:25 PM
I would like to start off by saying that I am somewhat of a novice when it comes to fly fishing so bear with me. I have taken several fly fishing trips to the smokies the last few years with some good friends. We usually fish between the spring months through late fall. Every year my enthusiasm for fly fishing seems to grow as I am learning more with each trip I take. We took our first winter trip last weekend, and I will have to be honest...It was tough. We fished Abrams Creek all weekend since it tends to stay a little warmer in the winter months. Friday it seemed that we caught the tale end of some good fishing. Although we didn't get started until late friday afternoon, we managed to catch 3 trout before dark. Saturday was another story with only a few bites early in the morning. After that we didn't get any bites. Sunday was beautiful and we caught one rainbow right after we got started. After that we seemed to struggle. I was wondering if anyone may have some helpful information on some good winter patterns. Also, just wondering how well others may have done this past weekend. Thanks!!

01-10-2006, 06:36 PM
In reference to my post, we were fishing the upper portion of Abrams Creek the last day of our trip. The water was really slow, and the trout spooked rather easily. It seemed like pretty tough fishing.

David Knapp
01-10-2006, 07:02 PM
In the winter the fish are generally going to be sitting on the bottom, so be thinking nymphs. I usually do best in the larger holes in winter. Remeber to take it slowly, sometimes it takes several drifts through the same spot to get the fish to take. I usually can catch a couple on smaller GRHE nymphs and also larger nymphs like a Prince. Check out the fishing report on the LRO website. It shows how good Abrams can be if you hit it just right when it is a little warmer. Also, if you don't feel very proficient fishing nymphs, consider hiring a guide to help you out on the learning curve. I fished with Walter Babb from LRO a few years ago and learned more in a few hours with a true professional and great fisherman than I had learned in several years on my own. All that said, fishing in the winter can be tough!

David Knapp

01-10-2006, 11:32 PM
Hey, thanks a lot for the info!! It may very well pay off to get a guide one time...Thanks again!

01-11-2006, 01:07 AM
hey bama - where are you from?

i live in athens.

i would love to head up to the GSM sometime when you need a buddy.

01-11-2006, 09:17 AM
I fished Abrams Creek yesterday with a friend. We caught 10 fish between 2:30 and dark, the largest was a 15" rainbow caught on a number 18 Pheasant Tail nymph tied as a dropper. I was also using a number 16 Royal Wuff that got a lot of activity but mostly from very small fish. The water temperature was 51 degrees. I also learned from a less than friendly park ranger that you are to be in your car by dark ready to exit the cove.

01-11-2006, 10:07 AM
This is my first post after being a long time lurker on the old Little River message board. I was bamaflyguy's fishing partner this past weekend. I guess I'll add my own report for our trip. We had some pretty good luck on Friday and early Saturday using large hare's ears. Strangely, we had our best luck in pocket water. I don't quite feel efficient at fishing the large pools. I'm either not getting my nymphs to the bottom or I'm spooking the fish. After the snow quit and the sun came out Saturday, seems like the fish shut off (I usually blame the weather or some other cosmic force when I can't catch a fish). We couldn't buy a bite even though quite a few bwos were on the water. Tried nymphs, wets, and bwo dries. Sunday we decided to fish the spring creek portion of Abrams, knowing it would be tough but figuring it would be good experience. We tried a lot of downstream presentations with long drifts to help avoid spooking fish. Caught a really nice rainbow (12" or so) on a pheasant tail. After that, we had trouble not spooking the fish. We had a great time. We camped at the campground in Cades Cove in the snow and managed to not freeze to death.

We've been flyfishing on occasion for the last five years or so. We had only been fishing for trout 4 or 5 times a year, but this year we've vowed to go much more often and also to begin some serious warmwater fly fishing.

Both bamaflyguy and myself are from the Huntsville area and would be glad to take some trips together. Keep in touch and we'll plan something.


01-11-2006, 10:20 AM

Sounds like you guys had some pretty good luck yesterday. I guess the warming warmer water had the fish biting a little better. We tried a Pheasant Tail over the weekend and only managed a few fish. I think the snow melt and colder water played a part in that. I did find the park ranger info a little amusing....That could be some really useful info to know. I will definitely be in my vehicle by dark from now on. I have only been confronted by a park ranger once in my many trips to the smokies. It started out as a random license check. He seemed to be somewhat friendly....although...he did accuse me of using my beanie weenie's for bait (even though they were in my pack along with a fork and some crackers). And I was momentarily frisked to check for fish in my fly vest. Other than that no problems...


I think my buddy answered your question about where we are from. We definitely need to get together sometime. Keep in touch...

The Preacher
01-11-2006, 12:24 PM
I lived in Athens for 20 years. *I worked for TVA at Browns Ferry and then became pastor of the Elkton Road Baptist Church. *Sure wish I had some catfish and BBQ from down there right now! I now live in Townsend, TN.

01-11-2006, 12:57 PM
My fiance's father worked at Brown's Ferry for years, John Meeks. Thought you might know him. And yes, we do have IMHO the best BBQ and fried catfish down here, but the trout fishing is a little lacking as compared to Townsend. Tough choice but today I'd take the trout as I sit here typing in my cubicle.


01-11-2006, 01:05 PM
Hey Preacher,

You might be missing out on our Catfish and BBQ, but you sure have it good living that close to some awesome trout fishing. I would be happy to trade with you sometimes....today being one of them. It's real hard keeping your mind on work when you enjoy being outside as much as I do. Especially trout fishing!! I have to admit though....I do enjoy the good food we have down here. It is rather convenient to have it around. Good luck fishing and God Bless you!


01-11-2006, 07:52 PM
I have done alot of fishing in the smokies in the winter, and no matter what the temp. or weather the fish will hit. The thing is that you have to find what they like, as I read from another post that they stay on the bottom, and that is so true. When I go in the winter it's takes no thought I'm putting a nymph on with something shinny; like a bead or wire. My Favorite is a Haire's ear nymph, and I also will use a Brassie.

01-12-2006, 10:41 AM
Yes, for me, in the winter, I start with a BH tellico here in East Tenn., and I also agree with the "shiney" or flash, I prefer gold or brass over copper, just a preference, although I tie a olive wooly bugger with a copper wire that is one of my favorites.

The Principal
01-12-2006, 11:02 AM
Hey you Alabama guys, I am from Cherokee County half way between Gadsden
and Rome Ga. Cedar Bluff Alabama. My cuz and I fish the mountains 6 or 7
times a year. Give us a yell when you are heading up there. We usually camp at
Elkmont. More centrally located.

01-12-2006, 03:09 PM
Wow...seems like Alabama has some really avid trout fans!! Hopefully us Huntsvillians will also get to know some of you guys who live closer to home. We try to take as many trips as we can to the smokies every year. We plan to go even more this year. It is never near enough though.....Good luck!

01-12-2006, 05:33 PM
I will fish a nymph and get it on the bottom as fast as possible in the winter.

A lot of times I will put a lead split shot about a foot above my nymph or I will fish a double rig and fish a large stone fly or weighted nymph with a small nymph trailing behind it. That way it gets down on the bottom faster.

Petey 8-)

01-14-2006, 11:41 AM
Regarding the poll, I use a soft hackle which is neither a nymph or a streamer. As pointed out in earlier posts I make certain the soft hackle is deep by adding split shot.


01-23-2006, 05:42 PM
I assume you are the same guy who is on the other boars as bamafly? Anyway this is Hans and I still would like to fish with you on Abrams. I usually begin up there the last week of February. Let me know when you are in the area?

01-24-2006, 11:47 AM
My first trip to Gatlinburg landed me ZERO fish!! The next trip I got a guide who showed me how to fish that area. I was actually doing a LOT of things wrong. He showed the importance of being quiet and taking my time to locate the fish before I ever made a cast. I think I made a single cast after about 5-10minutes of close watching.

Getting a guide is worth EVERY penny!! I learned about using a dry fly with a dropper and the proper technique to score fish. Now that my casting has improved I want to learn some more advanced techniques. It was amazing all the little things I picked up from my guide. I would not stop at just getting a guide once either. Because different conditions require different presentations. The day I went the sun came out and he showed me the perfect approach for those conditions. Now I want to learn the best ways to nymph fish. I am even thinking about getting guides when I go bass fishing on new lakes. Getting a guide is not cheap by all means but the knowledge you take home for future outings is invaluable.