Southernboy, you've gotten a lot of good advice so far. In my opinion, the best advice is to go by LRO. I'm from east central MS and made my 1st FF expedition to the Smokies in 2004. I usually go up to GSMNP 3-4 times a year and fish both sides of the park. No matter which side of the park I'm on, I always make it a point to go by LRO. You will not find a better group of people in my book. They are always friendly, helpful but not pushy, will answer all your questions, and do their best to put you on fish. It's the kind of place I always leave wishing I had more money to spend.... And no, I'm not related to anyone at LRO. Just giving credit when I think it's due.
I usually fish an 8'6" 5wt. Orvis Henry's Fork rod on all but the smallest streams. I use a 7' 4wt Orvis rod when I hike in to the blue lines.....