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Tiger fly
01-10-2007, 01:39 PM
Hey guys!

I'm new to the sport of ff and i'm eager to learn as much as i can about the sport! I went fishing this weekend in GSMNP. How blessed we are to have such a beautiful place and less than an hour drive from my house! I stopped by the store the other day and a young guy there was VERY helpful to my girlfriend and I! I can't believe I can't remember his name. I did have a question for anyone willing to answer. What does the standing cow meter mean? I'm guessing that's a weather thing.

David Knapp
01-10-2007, 02:00 PM
Welcome aboard!

Byron Begley
01-10-2007, 02:27 PM
Tiger Fly,

Welcome to the board, and you are right we are lucky to have such a beautiful place to fish right in our back yard. And, thanks for coming into our store.

There's an old saying, "If the cows are standing the fishing will be good, if they are laying down it will be slow".

A few months ago I was writing the Fishing Report, the fishing that day was excellent and I noted that all the cows in the field across the road from the shop were standing or running around. Well, the folks here on the message board jumped all over it. They posted pictures of cows, cows holding a board that said "eat mor trout" and all kinds of funny stuff. You can dig back through the posts and find it. I was urged to make the Townsend Herd part of the fishing report. So, every morning I look through some field glasses from our fire escape and I count the cattle and note how many are laying down. The percentage you see is a calculation of those in the total herd that are standing. So, if the number is high the fishing will be good and if it's low it will be slow. It's all in fun and I just keep doing it. I start my day every morning driving into the National Park to take the water temperature, read the flow gauge then come back to the store and count the cattle. It's become a routine that I guess I'll be burdened with for the rest of my life. I hope so!


01-10-2007, 03:42 PM
Tiger Fly,
Welcome aboard, I think I am going to get a good laugh each time someone asks about the Cow Standing Factor.....:)

Hope we run into each other in the mountains sometime..


Tiger fly
01-10-2007, 05:15 PM
Ok, good. I'm having enough trouble with casting, knots, etc. to worry about how many cows are standing in a field. ;D That's a relief.

Also, what is high sticking? I read about that in a post on the main forum about how people approach streams.

Tiger fly
01-10-2007, 05:16 PM
Terrific website and forum btw! :)

01-10-2007, 06:04 PM
Tiger Fly,

This should help,
By Mark Williams- an article that I read recently

Have you ever watched a fly fisherman angling from atop a boulder, holding his rod high, moving it from side to side like a maestro's baton, then sling his presentation back upstream only to conduct it downstream again? You must have wondered, what in the world he is doing? I can answer your question: That angler is catching more trout than you are.

I am a dry fly kind of guy. I like fishing pocket water pools the size of a washtub with big attractor dry flies and watching a trout shoot from the depths to wreak carnage on the offering.

But catching trout is more important to me than maintaining my dry-fly-purist ethic, so I too occasionally hop atop a boulder and conduct a water symphony. It's called high-stick nymphing, and if you fish swift streams with multiple currents, plunge pools, or long deep runs where the fish stay deep, it's something you need to learn.

High-stick nymphing gives you greater control of the fly, reduced drag, more sensitivity to strikes, quicker hook-setting, the ability to move the fly through the trout's strike zone, and gets you close to the action.

You're standing on big boulders on a medium-sized stream casting dry flies to the glassy pools of the pocket water. Occasionally, you induce a trout to shoot up from the depths to take your offering. But to catch more trout in this swift, multi-current water, you need to get flies down deep to where the trout are holding.

Simple but Deadly

The techniques of high-stick nymphing are simple but deadly. You need to sneak up on the trout, hold your rod high, and maintain total line control throughout the drift. I have taken complete flyfishing beginners on a river several times, taught them how to high-stick nymph, and each caught trout in solid numbers all day long. Some veterans say this is an art, and when you watch a true artist who knows how to read underwater, it is. But even us 'paint-by-numbers' anglers can paint a pretty picture with this technique.

Conducting the trout

Trout in these swift streams hold under foamy, deep, or broken water, and cannot easily spot an angler even at close range. Since they can barely see you, it makes dry-fly fishing on this kind of water iffy at best.

The key to success is to reach the fish where they are holding and to present the fly in a natural manner. To do this, the fly needs to be moving at the same speed as the current where the trout lie, with as little drag as possible.

Most of the time, this means effecting a dead-drift presentation (moving the fly at the same rate of the current), but during caddis hatches, it can mean you'll need to use a downstream-and-across-and-up presentation (called the Leisenring Lift). In highstick nymphing, anglers will need to control excess slack by moving the rod to the side as your fly floats downstream. Place the line under your index finger of your rod hand quickly and strip in line immediately.

Walking the Dog

I liken high-stick nymphing to 'walking the dog' with a yo-yo. You keep the end of the string high enough so that the yo-yo walks along the ground. The same holds true for high-sticking, but you vary the height of your hand depending on the terrain. Keep the line somewhat taut and the rod held at a 45-degree angle as you guide the nymph from an upstream cast through a downstream drift, constantly adjusting the tension, depth and speed to match the current.

For my high-sticking, I use weighted flies on 4X to 6X leader on a floating line. Some anglers swear that the lighter the line, the less resistance from the current and the more efficient the drift. I do believe flyfishers should always get by with the thinnest diameter leader they can, but in foamy, pocket water, I often like the thicker tippet to help absorb the punishment it takes from hard strikes and bumping rocks and carrying the extra weight (with splitshot and heavier flies).

I like beadhead flies because they get down deep when they hit the water on my upstream cast. Many anglers like weighted flies, flies tied with metal wraps to add more weight to the fly. Another technique is to fish with two flies (for example a nymph and an emerger with weights on your leader). Two things here: One, it's not as much a cast as it is a sling, fling, lob, or flip with weighted flies.

Two, the trout tend to take the fly just after you upstream fling, so you need depth and line control. When you are controlling your rod tip, mending line and keeping the fly where you want it, anglers often look like they are symphony conductors moving the baton up and down, back and forth.

Control Your Line

Most beginners will miss strikes because they aren't controlling the line from start to finish. They should fish with their rod-hand forefinger held tautly on the line to ensure good line control.

For the more advanced, make sure to strip in loose line with your line hand as it moves through the air on your upstream cast (fling, sling, lob, etc.). Move the rod from side to side to control excess slack.

During your forward cast, eyeball the amount of line you need to mend. Then, in what will become second nature, pull in slack with your left hand and abruptly stop your forward cast, driving the fly into the water and removing most of the slack, allowing you to control the drift.

When performed properly this is a deadly technique.

David Knapp
01-10-2007, 07:19 PM
Tiger Fly, in addition to reading all you can about high sticking, I would recommend fishing with someone that can show you how to do it as well. One of LRO's guides would be ideal. Several years ago I spent a half day with Walter Babb and probably took years off of the learning curve. As the excellent article posted above states, those that are proficient high stick nymph fisherman will be the ones generally catching most of the fish, at least in the Smokies....

01-10-2007, 11:49 PM

Hello and welcome...I'm pretty new to fly-fishing for trout myself, even though I've been fishing all my life. It's definitely different and unique, which is probably why it fascinates me so. There is a lot of good information on this board, provided by a lot of good, experienced fishermen. I know just reading the posts has helped me.