Early Spring Fly Patterns For Fishing The Smokies by Byron Begley
Very soon you are going to be standing next to a Smokies stream, it will be warm and you will see the first Spring hatches. Maybe trout will be rising and taking the adults right off the surface of the water. There may be riseforms moving down the current and you will see fish swimming up in the water column to feed. Bugs will be flying all around you. They will be dancing on the water or trying to fly away from the surface film. This will make you very happy. You have waited all winter for this day. Finally it has come.
You see that the trout are taking Quill Gordons. You thought that might be the case so you have one tied on. You carefully get into position without spooking the fish. The fly has been dressed and you pull off a few feet of line and make your first cast. “Did I bring my new fishing license?” “Yep.” Your fly drifts down the current, by some round rocks and over a deeper run. In a split second your fly has been taken by a trout. The hook is set and the fight is on. Soon you land your first Smokies trout caught on a dry fly in 2009. You slip him back into the water and smile. This is a good day.
This is not a dream. You are awake. It is time. Maybe today or maybe next week but it’s going to happen soon like it does every year.
The experts say that when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees and stays there for three days the Quill Gordons will hatch. Then if the water gets cold again they will keep hatching. Once they start they don’t stop. The smaller Blue Quills will be hatching too. You might have some Blue Wing Olives on the water along with Caddis and Stoneflies.
Up in the higher elevations it is not Spring yet. Those streams will come alive in a week or two. The water is colder in the high elevation streams. The hatches will gradually move up there. Early on the action is below Elkmont, on the Middle Prong of the Little River, the West Prong and Abrams Creek.
You might find that even though the adult mayflies and caddis are on the surface, the trout are not taking them. It could be that the water has cooled and the fish are not very active. But, you may solve that problem by dropping a nymph off your dry fly. I would try a Pheasant Tail (without a bead) or a Quill Gordon Wet Fly. The trout could be taking emergers below the surface.
The first hatches will be:
Blue Wing Olives (#18-#20) There are many BWO imitations but I like the parachute version because they are easy to see.
Black Stoneflies (#12-#16) A Prince Nymph will work for this fly.
Black Caddis (#16-#18) A very small black Elk Hair Caddis will work for this one.
Blue Quill (#16-#18) Any Blue Quill pattern or a Parachute Adams will work.
Quill Gordon (#12-#14) Use a Quill Gordon Pattern for the dry and wet as a dropper.
Brown Stoneflies (#12-#14) These should hatch a little later. Brown Elk Hair Caddis will work for these.
So, get ready. We will be. I can’t wait.
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