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Soft Hackle Fly

This Softhackle Fly is a great imitation to use as a dropper in the Spring or fish them in pairs without a dry.


Stoneflies are found in most Smokies Streams. They range in sizes from #16 Little Yellow Stones to huge giant Golden Stones.

Stone Fly Imitation

This Stimulator makes an excellent adult stonefly imitation. They can be tied in colors and sizes to match what you see on the water.

Troth Elk Hair Caddis

The Troth Elk Hair Caddis is another great dry fly to use in the Smokies. Tie them in several sizes and colors.

T T Caddis Fly

The Blackburn Two Tone Caddis.


Spring Trout Fishing
Gary M. McCown


By the time you read this it will be warm or at least warmer.

The first day of spring is March 20th.  I hate March worse than  winter.  It is usually all rain, mud and wind.

Give me April and fishing without lead.

The first weekend of March last year, my first fly fishing trip to the Park was on West Prong which actually holds some 10 inch rainbows that are difficult to catch except in spring high water on dry flies.  I think I caught several up to 7 inches and missed a couple that were better.  Trophies to me in that stream. 

Then I made a 5 foot jump that my 62 year old knee did not recover from until December.   Just because I still feel sixteen on the inside does not mean the outside agrees.

I’ve healed now but fishing still stunk in my opinion last year because it rained every day but one and we made up for three years of drought.  Both the Park and the Clinch remained mostly unfishable until it was too hot to care.

Thankfully, I had a so-so year fly fishing for large and smallmouth bass on Watts Bar, plus a good year of gar fishing on Watts Bar and Chickamauga.  I lost the biggest gar ever on one big ten foot high tarpon like jump.  I think it would have gone 60 inches and been on my wall but it was a rodeo catch:  “Off in less than 8 seconds”.

I digress.  Beside all my moaning about last year, I remain optimistic about 2010.  We have plenty of water to make for a potentially banner year in the Park.

It is dry fly time.  No more ducking lead and chunking streamers that is probably our version of steelhead fishing. The fish of a thousand casts.

All that ranting aside, I figure most of you know how to catch trout in the spring.

I will share a few of my favorite techniques.  Even though 90% of you could probably teach me a few things.

Pick your own favorite fly but keep in mind that a yellow body with some Antron mixed in for sparkle is the magic body color in the spring.

I don’t care if is a mayfly, stonefly or caddis imitation.  Make the body yellow.  My favorite is a Blackburn two-tone poly wing caddis.  It is unsinkable.  Pull it under and it will pop right back up.  Try that in front of a sighted fish!

My second choice is a Blackburn peacock body coachman 2x long dropper.  A generic anything green bug.  Also poly wing and unsinkable.

However, if you can stay late, fish a pair of Nemes style size 12-14 soft hackle wet flies DOWNSTREAM for the last hour before dark on some big long flat pools on Little River anywhere below Elkmont and above The Sinks.  Very few fish wet flies here.  It works.

I always fish two flies.  It is legal and doubles are fun!

Be very observant. Watch what is hatching.  Don’t be stuck on one thing.  It could be mayflies, caddis or stoneflies and it could change on the next pool or in the next hour.

If it rains go back to a nymph and a wet fly dropper and keep fishing.  These times can be magic.  The browns come out.

Wade carefully.   Wear green or hunting camouflage.  Blend into the background.  Anything white is spooking fish.  Be a trout hunter as well as a trout fisherman.  Stay low.  Hide behind rocks and trees.

Pick a mile of water this year and fish it ten times in April and May.  You will be a much better fisherman next year on the same water and you will also learn to read any water better.

I have talked about winter and spring trout fishing.  I will write about summer and fall (my favorite) later.  Plus, I will talk about lake fishing for bass next time.  Gar fishing July-September is still awesome.  Midge fishing on the Clinch: the secret is orange.

Tight lines and stay tuned for the next episode.

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