My perspective of Fly Tying and Fly Fishing


Pete Seeger and Nymphing?

Pete Seeger

Im not an expert in American Folk, but I know Pete Seeger once said,“Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.”

After  the fly fishing show earlier this year (and around the same time as my last post) a friend refered me to a book he just read “Dynamic Nymphing”. Little did I know, this book has become the backdrop of a season of intense education and little experience… In fact, at this point in the year I can count on two hands how many times I’ve actually gone out to fish!

As much as I would rather be soaking up experience over education, I cant complain after reading George Daniel’s book. Its given me an entirely different look into the sport! I’ve gone from making my own flies to building my own leaders! Aside from saving money, the most valuable source of information is applying the correct leader to the right situation. The trout in North Carolina are not as particular to fly selection as they are elsewhere, so instead of “matching the hatch” presentation is key, therefore matching the leader to the right situation can make or break your trip… and since trips are at a minimum right now, I cant afford to come back home empty-handed!

Between now and next weekend I hope to test a few of the leaders I’ve made on a local river. Raleigh is obviously too far from a cold stream, however, we have sunfish who are more than happy to snack on small nymphs and will be the subjects to my experiments!




2012 FLY FISHING SHOW and more…

Many things have happen since my last post. For one, the 2012 Fly Fishing Show is coming into town and the local fly fishing group needed some help planning for the event. The club is a very “informal” and requires no dues… Since moving down from Michigan, I’ve found a lot of good friends from the group and I’ve attached a photo show of a few of the trips we’ve shared.


The other project I’ve been busy with, was a recent application to a conservation grant offered by the Federation of Fly Fishers. If awarded we’ll be able to help restore a local river and increase interest in Fly Fishing.

With the club projects, the holidays that rushed in, a recent move to a new address and more work responsibilities, I left 2011 with empty fly boxes that require some attention! However, a good friend, whose a professor at NCSU, improved my Entomology collection. I’ll use this collection to improve a few patterns that will target specific streams. Entomology and more on the next post!

Three Musketeers of Fall Fly Fishing

Halloween is over and Thanksgiving is tomorrow! We indulge in a feast of candy and meat, as do the trout! During this time of the year the fish are either spawning or finished spawning and will need to load themselves with food before winter comes in full force. Below are three flies that have worked magic for me during a recent trip to the smokies and should work around your neck of the woods.


  • Hook: TMC 9395 #2-12
  • Body: Pearl Chenille (Root Beer)
  • Thread 6/0  (rust orange)
  • Eyes: Bead Chain
  • Back: Bucktail (brown, bleach, or black)
  • Tail: Marabou (olive)

This fly is my own creation. I wanted something with a lot of action that could be used in a variety of water conditions and the end result was this. I like to think of it a cross between a woolly bugger and clouser minnow. I’ve made a few dozen orders to friends that have had a lot of success with it bass fishing, which I would use white body/tail, and either a chartreuse, blue, or pink bucktail back. The trout seem to like it just as much as the bass, with the color scheme above. Eventually, I’ll find time to get a camera with decent zoom, but you’re not missing much, the fly isnt all that pretty looking! What matters most is the fish love the action and its easy to tie!

San Juan Worm
  • Hook: TMC 3769 (8-14)
  • Body: Pink Chenille (or red )
  • Thread: 6/0 (pink)

I can’t think of an easier fly to tie than the San Juan Worm or one that is most effective. I like fishing mine under a strike indicator and prefer size 14. I feel like the hook size is just right at 14 and anything bigger than 12 could spook fish (but it’s just an opinion). It’s also effective to have a fly above the San Juan Worm, catch the attention of the fish, leaving the San Juan as a trailer fly that’s pretty difficult to pass up!

Chenille Fly 
  • Hook: TMC 3769 (10-14)
  • Body: Pearl Chenille (copper,root beer, olive )
  • Thread: 6/0 (black)

It might be a theme showcasing simple flies on a camera with poor zoom, but this is another must have in your fly box! It’s good for an attractor fly but great on stocked fish. Many anglers fishing stocked fish overlook the most important fact… these fish weren’t raised on eating aquatic insects! Anything that can resemble a fish pellet is your best bet… with the “Chenille Fly” it not only does this, but I feel like it also resembles a cased caddis (which is good for those wild fish). This too is fished under an indicator (with a split shot above) and as the San Juan Worm, I would use the high stick method fishing this.

Its coming to that time of the year were I have to start filling up the fly boxes again, but are patterns that I would use above the San Juan Worm and would work well for attracting both wild and stocked trout! 


Tips and Tricks: High Sticking

Common sense will tell you that if you havent seen a rise, the fish are feeding below.

If it wasnt for a friend explaining the importance of high sticking, I would’ve left a lot of difficult rivers skunked. High sticking is a technique that provides an angler with the opportunity for total line control,  giving your fly more of a natural presentation as it drifts by.  

To use this technique, reading water is just as important as tying on the fly. The technique can be fished in swift, deep, or breaking water (behind logs, boulders, eddies…) and works best with a strike indicator. Its often overlooked by beginners new to fly fishing, however, the advantage of not having to cast far (just a short flop 15 ft upstream) and strikes are easily detected allow for a prime opportunity to land a fish. Most beginners will also overlook their entry and most likely land right on top of the fish or spoke them. With high sticking you’ll be right on top of the fish, so worst case scenario if you dont catch anything at least you’ll be able to watch them!


Dave (example above) is not using the high stick technique, however, he is reading the water and fishing at the end of a run.

Shown below is Philip (a new angler to fly fishing) who is applying the high stick approach… he also read the water correctly and is allowing the fly to settle in a decent size pool/run, where a few fish were holding up at…


Although the rod tip was not level with the water, this was a huge improvement to someone new to fly fishing and it can present an opportunity to catch what we all came out to the mountains for…Also notice that he doesnt have to worry about casting far at all. 15ft upstream is a small waterfall… and with a small toss at the waterfall and the current will take care of the rest. This will allow for a dead drift and natural presentation that is ideal when fishing spooky fish like the ones on the Davidson.

The video below is a favorite of mine. Not only will this demonstrate the high stick technique, but I havent seen someone attack the water like that before. He only has two videos, but check out the awesome caddis he ties. I’ve tried it and it definitely works!

Davidson River part 2

The Davidson River is a great place for someone to take in the scenery and wet the line a bit…
however, if that’s all you’re looking to accomplish, try not to curse the fish gods if you dont catch anything! The Davidson is a river fished by the thousands and the fish have seen it all…
with that said, this river is listed in TU top 100 trout streams for a reason…

All it takes is a little time and patience…

These fish were found in water like the one Dave is fishing below…

in a deep pool like the one Mike is fishing…

and an angler from the club hired a guide and found a nice pool in water like this!

Next to casting your fly, reading the water is the most important thing you’ll need to know. Even though this river has left many anglers skunked or feel like they were on a page of “Where’s Waldo”, I’ll have a few techniques and flies on my next post which might help out. Remember, in the end practice makes perfect!


Davidson River part 1


Its that time of the year…

To get out and…

If I could sum up this past weekends trip in one word, it would be the same as how I would describe the summer… “HOT”!!!
No way was going to be caught dead fishing anywhere in July and August. Temps were holding steady at 100 or above. No sense in fishing as the trout are not as near active as you would like to see them and you risk the fact that if they stay out of water for too long, they might end up dead moments later. Cooler temps towards the end of September allowed for great fishing and an awesome display of colors. Higher elevations started the fall foliage earlier in the, providing a special treat for those patient anglers.
This past weekend a group of local fly fishers headed to the Davidson River for a weekend of fishing. Most of the group was new to fly fishing and a lot of respect goes out to all of them. Not an easy river to fish by any means, everyone caught a fish and everyone improved their game.
One particular angler valued the trip not in the amount of fish he caught, but the time he invested to learn the sport. The literature, videos, podcast, and decisions he made on his own was finally put to use. This is what makes the sport what it is… mono e mono.
This perspective goes a long ways… sure it shows a lot about his character, but it also shows that you can have all the gear and information in the world, but if you dont put in the time, its no good for anyone.

Voodoo Dolls and Bye-Bye Barbie

Im learning quickly that even though snow isnt much of a factor fly fishing in NC, the heat will put you out of commission!


With temps averaging over 100 degrees for almost 2 months, one would think they are stuck in a sweat lodge… The smell of a campfire, persperation dripping from your forhead, long car rides with Jim Morrison tunes playing in the background… Suddingly intuition, insights, and a re-emergance of the soul can allow the patient angler a chance to restock, reevaluate, and refuel his inner fly box.

Suddenly… a sign appears out of nowhere… and it spoke to me…


“We have more important things to do the be used as fly tying material!”

Basically the idea of using doll hair came from two different thoughts.

1. The teenage girls stealing hackles from our fly shops to be used for hair extensions, played with dolls at some point in their life (maybe they still do… I dont know). Payback is a B****!  What more could a fly tier ask for to get sweet revenge on little old Barbie!

2. I was watching an old episode of Curb your Enthusiasm

I cant make a trip to the mountains every weekend. With this heat, it wouldnt be worth it. The trout arent as active during the hot weather, water is low, and taking the fish out of the water could do a lot of harm… so it leaves me with fishing locally. Sunfish, Blue Gill, Bass, are fun… but its old after a while. Fishing for Gar is a different experience then any other fishing.

The concept of catching car is pretty simple… tie a fly that will get tangled in its teeth.  These guys carry rows of teeth along its long narrow bill. Because of the Gars unique features, catching them on a hook is pretty difficult. Long strains of nylon hair allow for a fly to mimic a minnow and long enough to get caught up in a Gars mouth (thats what she said).

Now im sure Peta would be more upset with this tactic of fishing more so than your average teen beauty. However, its no different then catching any other fish using a hook. Catch & Release along respect to the fish can turn into a great day of fishing!

Remember to watch your fingers when removing your fly. We recently picked up a new camera so Im hoping I can get close ups of some of the flies I’ve been tying, including the new “Bye-Bye Barbie” fly I’ve tied for gar.

Orvis Access Review

Being from Detroit, I couldnt skim by without having some sort of automotive reference on a rod review.

Anyone that enjoys American Muscle Cars, understands that opinions vary just as much as the quality and performance. The thing that has and will always make Muscle Cars tick, it what they symbolize. Like muscle cars, anglers have a chance to choose from a wide selection of companies (both American and foreign-made) and like any car you purchase it has to feel just right.

For me the Orvis Access felt right…

 Like the American Muscle Car, ingenuity and innovation were the building blocks behind the construction of the Orvis Access.

Orvis uses the same cutting edge technology found in the construction of their Hydros and Helios. A system of applying epoxy based resin and thermoplastics, you end up with an extremely light rod, which actually makes the Access and Helios the lightest rods in the Market.

Yellowstone Angler recently conducted a test on 14 different 5wt rods. They measured everything from overall weight, line weight, warranty, to price. To get a full detailed review on the Orvis Access I would suggest checking out there website. Below are the final results of their testing…

In regards to swing weight (casting) Yellowstone Angler has a lot of the reviews down pretty well, however I personally felt that between 45-70 feet the rod was a lot easier to cast, therefore deserved a better review. Which still brings up another point of how often does someone plan on casting 45-70 with a 7ft 5wt rod, which is the rod I picked up to fish small smokey mountains streams.

All-in-All, the Orvis Access will impress any angler, its a fine rod in the mix of other fine rods. For more information and reviews I would highly suggest visiting the Yellowstone Angler on what is a very unbias review on 5wt rods (they also have one on 7wts).

Pigeon River: Yellowstone Prong

Bears weren’t the problem with this trip…

It was the rain…

and a lousy camera!

The photos that came out decent still didnt do justice…

The Balsam Mountains, located in Pisgah National Forest, is home notably to the East Fork Pigeon River, Little East Fork River, Middle & West prong of the Pigeon.

During the two day trip, most of the time was spent hiding under cover from the pouring rain or exploring new water…

Like I said, I had a lousy camera!

It was my second trip to the area this year and my first time fishing the Yellowstone Prong (East Fork Pigeon River headwaters).

Fishing at elevations above 5100 ft, this is really as high as it will get for fishing the smokies. Elevation is actually important this time of the year for trout fishing.

The week before, at lower elevations, trout weren’t as active as the trout found here. With warm temps this spring water has been low and fish aren’t as active.

The benefit about lower water was that walking an otherwise hell of area was a little bit easier.

Still dangerous for those fishing by themselves, I wouldnt advise fishing this area if your thinking that access will be just as easy as throwing your fly upstream.

Elevation and thick canopy keep the water cool and treacherous. Small in size the Yellowstone Prong is as good brook water as you’ll fine in North Carolina.

Brookies aka Specks, are all that picky with patterns, however, they will get spooked easily. What this really means is that after you fished a pool, its safe to say that it would be fishable for another 3o minutes. They can be fished a lot of different way (high sticking, dries…) however most of the time you’ll have to be creative with your cast. Cover is tight and close (thats what she said) and stealth is key.

After a busy few weeks it was good to sit back and relax… It was especially great spending with my new birthday present…

Full Access from the new Orvis Access on the next post!

Fishing the Smoky Mountains: Pigeon River

This is the closest chance to fish mile high in the smokies. At 5120 ft above sea level, this bushwaking river, allows anglers to fish exclusively with wild Brook Trout.

I’ve fished all over the Balsams ( Balsam mountain range) however, this section of the Pigeon River will require a bit more attention with trekking/bush waking that’s involved.

Most anglers avoid sections like this due to the physicality and attention to your surroundings thats required. If your looking to easily walk in and flop your fly on the water… find someplace else! 

If you’re looking for large fish to catch… find someplace else!


Although, its diffintly worth a visit to the area if you’re looking to experience the smokies beautiful scenery and theirs plenty of rivers to fish that dont require you to break your back climbing rocks and trees!

Fishing this time of the year can be a bit tricky as far as fly selection and fish activity. Looking to post details and photos after the trip.