Re: Thinking of giving it a try.
It took me a while get on a tailwater - there was that intimidation factor what with all the stories of people getting hit with high water unsuspectedly and all the stories of how "technical" of water it is.
But checking the tva site is a good place to start and keep up with it by phone before you head out - sometimes it changes (especially with a weather system change and rain is in the forecast) and ruin your plans. Only a couple of times have I been surprised with the water coming up with out warning. It pays to have an exit route on hand, though you'd rarely need to use it, its nice to have an idea where you'd go if the water should rise unexpectedly...
That being said, I fish the Clinch mostly and the South Holston when I can. I'm a wader though I have a buddy with a drifter and thats a different part of our sport all together.
When I see 1 generator for than an hour, its usually not wading time unless you can hit areas down stream before the water reaches there and then jump higher when the water comes down after it stops generating. Sometimes there are frequent 1 hour , 1 generator "pulses" with alternating non generation periods - that really only affects ya if you are right near the dam. the effects are minimal down stream, but the fish know and can cause hatches and feeding.
On the Clinch, it takes about an hour on 1 generator to fill the wier pool and gives an 1.5 - 2hr window to before it hits Millers Island a popular wading spot - and a good 6 hours before gettin down to the 66bridge...but if I know 2 generators are coming, I give myself a 30 min slot @ Millers and 4hrs to the bridge. Knowing the drain times can help you get to low water and plan you day better, but remember - it takes much more time to get to wade water after the flow stops.
As for bugs, I don't claim to be an expert on tailwaters - though I've put my time in on the Clinch and i can tell you the majority of the stuff you'll need to use is in the 18 - 32 range with 20/22 a good place to start with the midges and black flies. Scuds and sowbugs are a staple, I tie mine in a 20...in the spring, sulphurs provide some meat in 14,16...South holston the same, but throw in blue wing olives in the winter and the sulphurs are prime all summer long.
Something else to remember - when the waters low, these fish tend to stack up in deeper pockets, but don't pass up the ankle deep stuff - you'd be surpised what lurks in the small white watered seems...
I know others have much more info and probably better - just my two sence worth.
May you find a rise in every puddle... - WATERBORN