View Full Version : Introduction/Advice

milligan trout degree
07-02-2007, 12:29 AM
Hey, Im new to the site and new to fly-fishing altogether. My name's Ben, and I've been fly-fishing only twice now, both with the same outcome. zero fish. I spent the first day on the Holston since its closest to my house, and the next day about an hour along the gravel road at tremont, and and hour or so under the bridge at the elkmont campground. i started throwing a black ant at tremont, and got really excited when on the first cast i noticed a fish strike it. i almost panicked, my heart began thumping, and adrenaline was flying. it didnt take long though to realize it was just some small minnows coming up and messing with my mind. so besides that, i had no real hits at tremont. i also used a parachute adams at tremont, but i had no activity on that. later at elkmont, i just happened to notice a few fish swimming and rising around the bridge. i could tell that they were feeding on some very small insects sitting on the surface of the water. im no expert at all, and im still learning a lot about flys, but i assumed i needed a small midge to have a good shot at catching a trout. i had nothing on the adams, or yellow stimulator, but did have one fish grab the ant and begin to run, but i didnt get a hook set and lost that fish. so im still looking for my first fish.

im planning on another trip to the smokies on tuesday evening after work. i'll probably be back at tremont again. will it be too crowded to fish? what if i drove to the end of the gravel road and fished down the river from there? is this a good idea? should i hike up the trail a little ways? are there any suggested flies i should use. i plan on buying some prince nymphs, and green weenies for my next trip considering everything i threw today was a dry fly. I'm gonna try to visit LRO, though im not sure where its at. Ive been to townsend a few times, but dont remember seeing it. thanks for any advice ahead of time. i'll let you know when i finally get that first fish. i can already tell im not think of anything else until i do.

07-02-2007, 06:49 AM
Hi Milligan!

Welcome to fly fishing! I went fly fishing a lot of times before I caught a trout. After about a year or so, I got to where I expected to catch fish every time out (even though we all get "skunked" from time to time). Things you can do to help become a better fly fisherman are: take some classes or clinics to become a better flycaster and to understand how and where to find feeding trout. LRO offers these throughout the year and they are valuable. Also, read everything you can get your hands on. There is a ton of good info out there. Practice makes perfect (actually, perfect practice makes perfect) so take what you learn from those who teach and work on it.
As far as setting the hook, I would suggest that in addition to continuing to fish the streams you mention, try hitting a pond of bluegills and getting used to your rod setting the hook with them. It is not exactly the same as fishing for trout, but bluegills hitting surface poppers is great fun and practice together. They fry up really nice, too.

One last thing: don't get so frustrated that you forgget where you are. When you are astream you are partaking of one of God's great gifts...these beautiful mountains and all of the wildlife and splendor that go along with them. On those days when I catch nothing, I still drive home with much lower blood pressure than when I left the house. I try to take one or more of my sons with me, and time out here with one you love is priceless. Take someone with you.

Again, welcome to the best sport in the world! Good luck!


07-02-2007, 08:49 AM
Other than taking classes (highly recommended) you may also want to hire a guide for a day just to see how he/she does it and spend the day asking a bunch of questions. Asking the questions and learning from the guide is really more important than catching a bunch of fish on the guided trip. If you learn how to do it you won't need the guide next time. Of course, the guide is not going to teach you everything he/she knows, but you'll get enough info that you can put the rest together.

Also remember, trout are just fish. If you can catch fish in other waters, all you have to learn is what makes a trout different than a bass or pike or whatever else it is you fish for and take advantage of those differences.

I'm by no means an expert trout fisherman. In fact, I'm a complete newbie but I did hire a guide this summer and was catching fish after that solo. I do spend a lot of hours fly fishing for smallmouth bass, bream, and largemouth bass. Once I figured out how trout feed differently from bass, catching trout isn't really all that different. The main exception being the beauty of the mountains.


07-02-2007, 10:02 AM

I would have to agree with the prvious post about a guide. I went with a guide in the smokies very early in my career, and man did it have a positive effect on my ability to catch trout on my own in the park. Here are probably the two best things I learned from my guide trip:

#1- You can catch trout on very short casts. I couldn't believe it when my guide tied on a nymph and indicator and had me catching trout within 10 feet of where I was standing. To do this you have to approach the water correctly, however it was much more simple than I thought it could be. I probably catch more trout with a nymph and only about a foot of fly line hanging out of the tip of my rod, than all other techniques that I fish.

#2- When I went with my guide, there were times where I asked him to fish just so that I could watch. Watching him cast and mend line to get a good drift improved my casting exponentially. Some guides might not be willing to do this since your paying them to fish, but I was there to learn and I learned more by watching him than fishing myself. It would have been worth every penny if all I got to do was watch him.

Short casts and good drifts. Get good at those 2 things and you might be surprised with the results.


Rog 1
07-02-2007, 11:18 AM
The last post is right on target....in my early years I spent a lot of time fishing with my grandfather in the mountains....on the days that we fished I am sure I spent more time watching him than I did fishing.....just from watching him work a piece of water I learned how to approach the water, where to fish and to practice patience....another resource out there is to introduce yourself to just about anyone on the water when you have a chance and to explain you are new to the sport....more likely than not you will get some great advice and even pick up a new fly or two to try....and remember, pass this information along once you keep catching fish since there will always be someone else out there that is newer than you to the sport....good luck.

07-02-2007, 05:04 PM
Hey Milligan, welcome!

I fish the Holston a lot as I live out there too. If you'd like to hook up and fish it one day, just let me know. My favorite time to go is about 5 or 6 o' clock on a weekday but they've been releasing a lot of water lately. Like from 2 to 10pm, things like that. I have better access on the weekdays too. I like to fish the Smokies on weekdays too. Tremont's a fave.

By the way, if you make it to LRO, get some Bead Head Pheasant Tails, #16-12. I pick up almost all fish on the Holston on these. Also a few Tan Elk hair Caddis never hurt, although I almost never get a rise (despite amazing boilage) I'm always hopeful.

07-02-2007, 08:05 PM
Once again, Welcome Milligan,

I, too am a newbie to fly fishing. I started out in late March with a great class at LRO including a half day in the class room and in the back yard casting at hoola-hoops and a half day in the stream up above Tremont. Just that one day of instruction has proven to be invaluable. From the first time out solo after that class, I have been catching fish except for one mid-day skunking. Mending line and setting the hook are two of the toughest things particularly for those (like me) who spent years with spinning rigs and rooster tails.

I have found repitition is the only cure for two things: (1) my lagging technique; and (2) this fever that I caught from my first time on the stream with a fly rod. Dang, that feels good!

Best of luck!

milligan trout degree
07-02-2007, 09:55 PM
thanks for all the welcome, and advice. I've been looking into taking a class at LRO, actually, I looked up some information about them last night online. The only problem is, im a college student and i have to set a budget for myself. I've already spent a bit now on fly fishing, but im sure a lesson is soon to come. I also didnt mention in my last post, but im in college within ten minutes of the watauga, so for 8 months of the year, most of my fishing will be done in northeast tn, and perhaps some of NC. so taking a lesson there is also and option.

im headed up to the smokies tomorrow evening after work for another go at my first trout on a fly. even if i come up short, it'll be nice to enjoy the river and the time tothink about nothing but finding fish in a small river. i bought some nymphs today and plan on getting some green weenies at LRO tomorrow evening. i'll let you know how my trip turns out. wish me luck. and thanks again for the advice.

07-02-2007, 10:18 PM

Your on the right track with going to LRO tomm. and getting some green weenies. I feel like that cam increase your chances of catching your first trout. That fly is great with no weight, or with some extra split shot to get it down on the bottom. Green weenies, prince nymphs, pheasant tails and tellicos is about all I am throwing these days. I like dry fly fishing, but I catch better numbers and quality with nymphs, so thats mostly what I use.

One last thing. When you fish a nymph, as you get toward the end of your drift, raise your rod tip very slowly, almost as slow as you can. I have been catching a lot of fish just as my nymph comes off the bottom. It was driving the brookies in N.C. wild on saturday. Be sure and let us know how your trip goes.


Gerry Romer
07-02-2007, 10:19 PM
See if you can't hook up with Mr. Hugh Hartsell. You can reach him through this board or through his website. While I haven't had the pleasure of either meeting him or fishing with him, his reputation as a guide and teacher is unsurpassed. I do know that he is extremely knowledgeable about all trout streams in East Tennessee - SoHo, Watauga, Holston, Greenbrier, and all of the park on the TN side and some of the NC side. A few weeks back I posted a question about Deer Creek in Roan Mountain State Park. His reply was the most informative of all the replies I got - and his reply indicated a personal familiarity with Deer Creek. I know a few folk who have taken his half day class/trip on nymphing and they all speak very highly of him. Just might fit within your budget, too.

07-02-2007, 11:42 PM
Save a couple hundred bucks and hook up with Mr Hartsell on the South Holston this fall for a half day and some extra flies. I did it and its made a huge difference in how I fish. I don't get the fish counts that I was getting before, but I could. Now its just a different experience and I have certainly been catching much bigger fish. He taught me how to learn more on each trip, not just log hours. I'm much better, and trust me I have tons I still need to improve on. The more I think about it, the more I want to get out there with him again!

milligan trout degree
07-02-2007, 11:52 PM
scfly, i also bought some prince nymphs and pheasant tails, and i plan on doing more nymph fishing.

gerry, thanks for the advice about hugh, i'll see if i can get in touch with him for a lesson on the soho. how did you like deer creek? i'd like to get to doe river around roan mountain when i get back that way in august. have you fished that stream any?

07-03-2007, 09:53 AM
Hire a guide for a float trip on a tailwater, then hire a guide for the park. You will discover the similarities and the differences of the techniques necessary for success. I know, that's a lot of $$$ but it's worth every penny if you are serious about fly fishing. Your knowledge base will increase by years.

Remember, they call it fishing not catching. Practice effectively all you can in the yard. Also, when you have free time, practice your knots. On the water is not the time to try and develop your knot skills, that's when you develop your technique.

Good luck and welcome to the most expensive and rewarding sickness of your life.

milligan trout degree
07-03-2007, 11:35 PM
So it looks like a guide is something im gonna have to invest in. or atleast it seems like a good idea to invest in it, and since i plan on spending a lot of time fly fishing, i should spend the extra dollar for a lesson.

i made a trip to the middle prong today. i stopped by LRO on the way up and met a couple of the staff. unfortunately, i was so excited about getting to the river after working all day, i didnt get any names. i do know they were super nice people, and made some pretty good detective moves to figure out who i was. if either of you read this, feel free to say hi, im sure i'll be back in before long.

i also thought i'd let you know that i caught my first fish on a fly today. actually, i caught two. both being chubs (atleast thats what i figured), but im still in the hunt for my first trout on a fly. i'll be in florida wednesday-friday or saturday, but i'll be back in the mountains early next week.

07-04-2007, 07:57 AM
You might want to check with Randy Ratliff on the board here also. I have fished with him, good guide, knows the South Holston and Watauga well.