View Full Version : Just the Basics:Flie selection for Smokies

01-10-2008, 01:25 PM
Ok, i'm new to the game but a pretty good fly tyer/tier TIE ER. Man that doesn't look right.

Anyway, I know this has probably been beaten to death but I can't find a thread on it so could someone just give me the short list of flies that I should try to have in my box come spring!

Right now i'm concentrating on:

Elk Hair Caddis
Some nymphs

What I need to know are what size and colors I should concentrate on and any that I might have missed! I fish the Elk down here in South Tenn but I know the bugs can be different up smokies way. Any help is already appreciated!!

God Bless

Jack M.
01-10-2008, 02:43 PM
You are definitely missing the Yellow and/or Orange Stimulators in size 16 and 14. Great on their own and great to suspend nymphs from.

01-10-2008, 02:47 PM

Your list is a good starting point. I'm sure there will be some folks reply here with a lot more knowledge and experience than me. I'm guessing there will be some mention of Quill Gordons and Blue Quills if your talking early spring. I don't really have any experience in the park in early spring, but it seems like I can always catch a few fish with the following list:


Parachute Adams sz. 12-18
Stimulators: sz. 12-16


Tellicos, Prince and Pheasant Tails sz. 12-18

This is a very small list, but I like to try and carry one small fly box with not tons of choices. The more simple I keep it the better I usually do. I do always make sure I have a few big nymphs like a Helgramite in size 4-6 to toss in the deeper holes.

Now lets see what the folks that know a lot more than me have to say.


David Knapp
01-10-2008, 02:51 PM
I catch a majority of my fish in the park on the following nymphs/wet flies...

Tellico nymphs #10-#14
BHPT #12-#22
GRHE #12-#20 (really like these in the smaller sizes)
Prince nymph #10-#14
Copper Johns #12-#18 (mainly #14)
Perhaps a few softhackles as well...

Any of the above can be tied with or without a bead depending on what your preference is...

01-10-2008, 02:54 PM
I can't believe I left out the GRHE. That is definitely in my box as well.

01-10-2008, 02:55 PM
I'm soaking all of this up guys! Thanks so much!!!

01-10-2008, 02:56 PM
scflyfisher: You from S.C. ? I grew up in N.C. but spent half my life (it feels like) fishing and hunting in S.C.

01-10-2008, 02:59 PM
Upstate S.C.

Not born and raised, just for the past 9 years. I haven't done any hunting in S.C. I do a little trout fishing in S.C. and some bass fishing in my parents pond, but most of my fishing is western N.C and east TN.

01-10-2008, 03:28 PM
This is an area where you can definitely go overboard if you are not careful. We all seem to want to buy/tie more and more different patterns. The truth is and you might think this is boring news, but you really don't need much in the smokies. Here's my list:

March: Quill Gordon: Match it with an Adams or any Wullff style grayish fly.
some early black or brown stone for nymphs or a BH prince.
April: If the Gordon's, are done switch to a Sulphur for lower elevation streams. Any yellowish may fly will work.
Late April and into May: Sulphurs and Yellow Sally's; Use a Yellow Stimulator or Yelow EHC. Yellow Palmers will also work. You can basically match both the Little Yellow Stone and Sulphurs with the same pattern. All you need to do is to alter the size of the fly.

May until October: Yellow Stimulator, or an EHC yellow, or Yellow Palmer is all you need until late October when you can begin switching to Orange stimulators, or palmers, or EHC.

Very Simple as you can see. Nothing fancy and you don't need to fiddle around with tons of different flies. If you like to study your fly box I'll fish my Yellow Stimi.

For nymphs you can go with Princes, GRHE and such in different color and size . Pheasant tails seem to work well also.

You can also swing some softh hackles such as Partridge and Yellow but I rather do them on a tailwater.

My two cents.

Rog 1
01-10-2008, 04:24 PM
When I could see them my year round go to fly used to be a Ginger Quill in 12-16...have caught trout on these from mid april through september....another tried and true is a tellico nymph....once the weather warms up another favorite is a leadwing coachman wet fly.....late summer and early October I have fished for a week using nothing but an EHC in yellow or brown....during the summer months a large terrestrial can make the fish crazy, especially in larger runs where there is some vegetation around....and then again there are times when there is nothing in my box they want anything to do with...why they call it fishing.

Gerry Romer
01-10-2008, 04:38 PM
One quick addition. In early spring you might also want to try a March brown wet fly swung across and down. Size 14 - 20. Pretty good in the park.


01-10-2008, 05:00 PM
uhhh, hello, did everyone forget BWOs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

01-10-2008, 05:05 PM

I didn't really, but I have never fished real good on a hatch in the park for BWO's. If I see BWO's I have had okay success with a nymph. I'm probably missing out on BWO's but they are not much of an event for high altitude fishing. Down low I guess it's a different matter. I guess I'm giving you half rigth. LOL.

We missed you at FFF the other day.

01-10-2008, 06:30 PM
I second what most people are saying on this thread - a few basic patterns, fished correctly, will produce in the park. While I haven't been fishing the park for very long, I have found the various Adams parachute patterns to be the "go-to" fly...first the standard, then the yellows as the year wears on. I would also add a similar, Wulff-type pattern for the early Spring - the Mr Rapidan, which was originally designed to imitate Quill Gordons, although I was catching brookies on it over Thanksgiving. With its yellow posts, it's a bit easier to see in choppy water than other patterns.

As for nymphs, I love just about any form of a Prince.

Anyway, I have a lot of confidence in those flies, which means I'm paying attention when I fish, expecting a strike at any time.

01-10-2008, 07:04 PM
I'm creating a file from your comments (i'm a geek, forgive me) and I agree that simpler is better! In the military I told new guys to take all they thought they might need. When they got back get rid of everything they didn't need (except obvious stuff like first aid and ammo) and eventually you'll end up with the basics!!!

01-10-2008, 07:30 PM
Don't forget the Green Weenie and Barbie doll weenie. Purist may scoff but they have saved many a trip.

01-10-2008, 07:36 PM
creating a file...... this leads me to something I've thought about before.

attn Byron: I've always thought it would be a good idea to have a fly pattern archive on this site. a sort of online library of fly patterns. it's something that we could all contribute to, and could access anytime. for each fly, people could also post a comment, tying tips, fishing methods, observations, etc.

Hans, sorry I couldn't make it, I wanted to be there. I only work 3 nights a weeks. tuesday is one of them. please continue to keep us informed as to what's going on, as I will be interested in joining and could possibly still help out w/ cleanups and what not.

Gerry Romer
01-10-2008, 07:44 PM
creating a file...... this leads me to something I've thought about before.

attn Byron: I've always thought it would be a good idea to have a fly pattern archive on this site. a sort of online library of fly patterns. it's something that we could all contribute to, and could access anytime. for each fly, people could also post a comment, tying tips, fishing methods, observations, etc.

Shameless plug here! :cool:

If any of you haven't yet, I would highly recommend spending some time with Byron's online catalog. He and Daniel have done an outstanding job there -- particularly with their fly section. Daniel has done considerable research here and the fly listings are quite informative. The photography is excellent (as usual) and I must confess, I've used it from time to time to get a really good look at a bug I wanted to try my hand at tying without having to go out and buy another book of fly patterns.

I agree it would be really cool to have a fly tying archive complete with photos and recipes... maybe an extension of the new photo board?? But in the meantime, you can learn a lot from the online catalog.

Not that any of us would ever want to make your life harder or anything...:rolleyes:


01-10-2008, 11:11 PM
From first of May when I started FF through October, I caught 95% of all the trout landed in the park on a PA (mostly #16, yellow in summer and standard on into the fall) and a yellow stimulator. As has been discussed in several threads, finding a relatively small selection of flies that you have confidence will land fish is worth more than the largest selection you can carry. I've tried a number of different patterns and keep coming back to PA. I'm working hard on beginning to use nymphs since November and will be trying it some more tomorrow.

01-11-2008, 11:30 AM
I have been tying a lot of Blue Wing olives sizes 14-20 with different color bodies and some with parachutes. Elk hair caddis with the same sizes and different threads. You should see get the new book that Roger Lowe put out on his favorite Smokey Mtn fly patterns. I got this right after Christmas and havn't put it down yet. It is about $20 and well worth it.

01-11-2008, 11:51 AM
I have no idea how they can tell, but I swear that fish only take flies that the caster has confidence in. Perhaps they see the look on our faces and decide if we're committed to the fly, they'll be committed!

My guess is that presentation and size are the most important characteristics to catching trout in the park. They have to be so opportunistic in their feeding, due to the lack of sustaining foods that if it looks like something they can eat and acts like something that might be alive they'll take it. I know I might be able to catch more fish at certain times, but by sticking with a PA (in yellow for the summer and grey all other times), Yellow Stimi and EHC for dries and a Tellico or Pheasant Tail for nymphs I should catch fish.

Worry more about presentation and have confidence in your fly...the fish can sense it!

01-11-2008, 12:03 PM
I LOVE the catalog and scour it every chance I get (I sit in front of a computer for about half my day) but there are so many in so many colors and slight variations in pattern that I worry about ending up not having THE FLY of the day!

BUT, I already see an easily to follow pattern to yalls recommendations!

Hey, what's a "PA"

01-11-2008, 12:06 PM
See, it works. I went to the catalog and figured out it's probably "Parachute Adams" no?

01-11-2008, 12:50 PM
Sorry for the acronyms. PA is, indeed, Parachute Adams.

01-14-2008, 09:34 AM
green weenie 14-16
yellow weenie 14-16
para adams 16-18
yellow stimulators 14-18
red copper john 14-18

01-14-2008, 06:04 PM
Okay I am new to some of the flies evidently what are the EHC's, and sulphers you guys keep referring to? I cant seem to find a pattern anywhere for that. Thanks

01-14-2008, 06:21 PM
EHC elk hair caddis

Ok, gotta see about these "weenies". Tell a man how you would fish one of these!!

01-14-2008, 06:28 PM
EHCs are Elk Hair Caddis and you should be able to find lots of sites that have tying recipes and instructions. http://littleriveroutfitters.com/store/product.php?productid=17344&cat=0&page=1

Here is a description of sulphurs I picked up from the web:
"The Sulphur / Sulfur (hatch) is the Eastern USA equivalent of the Western Pale Evening Dun. Regardless of whether you are trying to match the Sulphur Ephemerella invaria or the slightly smaller Ephemerella dorothea, the descriptions of these mayflies are similar. There are a number of species of Sulphur, but they all have yellowish, yellowish green or orange/yellow bodies. They all hatch in the evening or occasionally during mid-day hours on a cloudy day. It's typically an evening hatch, beginning anywhere from 7 to 7:30 p.m. and lasting to dark."

LRO has them on their website:

Weenies are fished liked nymphs (for the most part). Some folks swear by them. The "Barbie bug" is a pink weenie, as well

01-14-2008, 06:34 PM
Thank you so very much, I hate feeling like an idiot, but Im still going by the whole name of the flies since I am fairly new at this.

Gerry Romer
01-14-2008, 07:18 PM
"...They all hatch in the evening or occasionally during mid-day hours on a cloudy day. It's typically an evening hatch, beginning anywhere from 7 to 7:30 p.m. and lasting to dark."

And, of course, the obvious exception to this particular rule would be the South Holston where they seem to hatch 24/7/365 :biggrin:


01-14-2008, 08:00 PM
The infamous green weenie, never to be overlooked in the summer and fall. I know a lot of people have success with them all the time, but I seem to have better success with them in summer and fall. Some folks swear by the pink ones, but I just don't have as much confidence in the pink compared to the green. Fish'em with floatant near the surface, dropped off a dry or with some split shot on the bottom. The fly just seems to work no matter where it is in the water column. When an inch worm falls off a tree it floats for a little bit, then I'm guessing the longer it is in the water the farther it falls in the water column until hitting bottom, but I'm guessing the real ones rarely make it that far before being eaten.

Sometimes its fun to experiment with fishing terrestrials down on the bottom that were made to float. It may take a lot of split shot to get them there, but you might just be surprised by the bite you get.

I spent years fishing hoppers, beetles, ants etc. on the surface. One day I was fishing and it was like the light bulb went off in my head and I wondered "why do I think these flies have to be fished on the surface to work?". Just because a lot of them are made to float doesn't mean a trout won't eat them below the surface.

I'm only sharing this b/c I spent several years thinking dries were only for surface fishing. I've never considered myself a dumb person, but I felt pretty stupid when I came to this realization.

Try tying a green weenie sometime with the felt off a tennis ball. My experience this past year suggests that the trout like it pretty well.


01-14-2008, 09:43 PM

The famous tennis ball weenie does seem to work wonders. You could start marketing it and it could be famous. I mean we have all these different variations of flies with someone's name in front of it, why not matt's tennis ball weenie????


01-14-2008, 10:49 PM
the MTBW and BHMTBW. Someday when I have a fly named after me, I want it to have the longest acronym of all the flies. I want people to rack their brains trying to figure it out only to say "all he did was wrap tennis ball felt around a hook, this guy is the worst fly tier in the world".

01-15-2008, 02:32 PM
A fly called "tennis ball weenie"? I'm a little afraid of flies that I can't mention at work ;-) HA

Can someone describe how they're tied? I've looked in the catalog and was wondering what size is most popular before I ordered!!

Pockets out

Brian Griffing
01-15-2008, 03:47 PM
Ahhh, the good old MSMWTBFGIW. Matt's Smoky Mountain Wilson Tennis Ball Felt Green Inch Worm. Not only would it have the longest name, but probably the only one with two "W"s.

Gerry Romer
01-15-2008, 04:18 PM
the MTBW and BHMTBW. Someday when I have a fly named after me, I want it to have the longest acronym of all the flies. I want people to rack their brains trying to figure it out only to say "all he did was wrap tennis ball felt around a hook, this guy is the worst fly tier in the world".

That would be the world renowned:


01-16-2008, 05:40 AM
See, the idea is catching on already, i told you it's a good idea! I can see you on the cover of Fly Tyer Magazine as tyer of the year. Hey, it could happen, the MSMWTBFGIW could really catch fire.


01-16-2008, 10:16 AM
The fly that is taking the world by storm.

I give you the MSMWTBFGIW.


01-16-2008, 10:43 AM
Matt, I must say that you have perfected that fly since the first it's first inception. The first time you brought that thing out to use it, it resembled just tennis ball on a hook, but now it's so much more.

You never know, you may want to contact byron and see if he would be interested in carrying some MSMWTBFGIW's.......

I really hope someone got some useful information out of this thread before it turned into this, haha.


01-16-2008, 10:46 AM

I agree. I really hope highpockets got was he was looking for out of this before the thread got hijacked by the MSMWTBFGIW discussion.

My apologies highpockets.

01-16-2008, 12:12 PM
I have now spent more time than I ever thought I would trying to think about where my boys could have put all the dogs tennis balls.

I don't see this as a hijack, just a "digging into the details of a certain pattern". In this case a pattern that I affectionately call "acronym"!

I just realized that I spelled "fly" wrong in the thread title. I was tired!


p.s. Now someone show me how to tie a weenie

Gerry Romer
01-16-2008, 03:52 PM
Here's a link to a tutorial on tying the infamous "green weenie". Good close-up camera work and instructions. There are a few other good patterns at this sits so you might want to poke around.


Be sure to scroll all the way thru to see the traditional weenie. This tutorial is for the bead head green weenie, but there's a pic at the bottom showing the non-beadhead version. I like this guy's site because he also gives you a brief history and rationale behind each fly.