The Fishing Just Gets Better

After a float trip on Monday and a trip over to Greenbrier in the Smokies yesterday I’m confident that we’ve entered the best period for fly fishing in East Tennessee. Spring is certainly here. I passed two flocks of turkeys yesterday with gobblers strutting for hens.

While it was a wet day in the drift boat on Monday, the fishing was excellent. Casting midge pupa to rising trout under a dry fly or strike indicator was the most productive method, but we had a great time with streamers too. In fact, we landed a 16 1/2″ brown trout with the streamer.

Hatches at Greenbrier were not as good as what we’ve seen on Little River, but the dry fly fishing was still pretty good and we got strikes on nymphs in most spots. Water levels are a little on the high side in the Smokies right now, but that’s what they’re supposed to be like in March. Today water levels are right about average for the date.

The best fishing has been coming around mid-day and exending into the afternoon. Nymphs are producing all day long and dries are best from noon to 4:00. A variety of #12 size dry flies are working great right now. Try Parachute Adams, Haystack, Quill Gordon, and Adams. Hatches of smaller Blue Quills will turn fish to something smaller. Try the same patterns in #16-18.

Fly Fishing with Streamers - Advice from the Guides


  1. Judy Cavanaugh says:

    Ian, your articles posted here are truly fascinating as well as educational. My husband and I are nearing retirement age (I am a teacher) and are passionate novice fly-fishermen, having just started about 2 years ago. We know enough to “get by” and also know that there is always so much more to learn!
    We spent a few days last spring down in Greenbrier, TN, (we are from the Detroit area) at a nice golf/log cabin rental resort and regretted that we didn’t bring along our fly fishing gear, as the rivers in the area looked so enticing! We are planning on driving down again for the week after Easter, but would really love to rent a place on the river. How COOL it would be to simply cast a line from our “own” property instead of driving out to somewhere (even though the drives are truly breathtakingly gorgeous). Do you happen to know of any nice log chalets that fit our dream and that would not cost us an arm and a leg? (The way I fly-fish demands I have full use of all my extremities!) We would love to hear from you with your advice regarding this matter if you can. We also look forward to reading your upcoming fly-fishing articles as our trip to your area approaches.
    With our thanks,
    Judy and Kevin Cavanaugh

    • Judy & Kevin: Thanks for the kind words. Glad to know you learn from our articles.

      You could probably find something to buy on a trout stream, but the part about not paying an arm and a leg is probably the tough part. There is probably more to choose from in North Carolina. Most mountain trout water in Tennessee is in national forest or the national park; not all of it, but most of it.