Thanks for all the help and advice. I love those strike indicators too! So much better than a ball of yarn. Thats interesting about the tippet size. I normally use 5x because every time I use the 6x, its all wind knots and breaking off fish when I set the hook quickly. I think I'm gonna try the fluorocarbon. Its pretty expensive, but is it worth the price? The method you describe for fishing the slow waters at an angle is what I normally try to do. In the faster water, mending normally becomes a problem for me which is probably just my technique issues. One benefit I have found to fishing straight upstream is I can let my line pass and load in the current behind me and cast forward from there. It definitely minimizes the tangles and I can normally get the same distance as I would normal casting a 3 piece rig.
PS: Im from south knoxville, but live out west now. I know the other Michael Jenkins your talking about from halls though; I used to play baseball with him when I was younger and then sports against him in high school