World Turning

Fall On Top of Old Smoky

There’s absolutely no doubt that fall has arrive now as autumn color is quickly progressing in the Smokies, leaves are falling, and the weather is cooling down. In fact, we’ve had frost the past two mornings here at R&R Fly Fishing world headquarters in Townsend.


Dry fly fishing is the usual fall program in the Smokies, but the extra cold nights have slowed the fish down a little bit. Nothing like true winter fishing, but the addition of a dropper nymph can certainly help the number of hook ups. Fortunately we’re looking at a bit of a warming trend this week and we expect the fish to really get active again.


Brook trout are really getting colored up brightly now too. They’re still rising ravenously to dry flies, but the weekend cold snap even slowed them down a bit as well. Regardless, these super brilliant fish are one of the best things about fall.



The tailwater situation hasn’t been too shabby either. October varies from one year to the next on the Clinch as flows are rarely the same to years in a row. Flows have been a little touch and go this fall, but the fishing has been pretty workable. We’re not catching tons of fish but the quality of fish we’re catching has been excellent.

Eric Hustedt Clinch Rainbow

Eric Hustedt admires a Clinch rainbow that reached the big 20 on the ruler

Nymphing has been the reliable way of hooking fish but we’re finding the occasional riser with some micro caddis fluttering about as well as midges. We’ve also moved some XXXL brown trout on streamers. None of those have come all the way to the net but we’ve had some heart stopping moments followed by aggravated cases of Tourrette’s Syndrome when things didn’t work out.


  1. Bill Jamison says:

    Enjoy your articles. i a m a 64 year old NC lifetime smoky mtn resident (except for 1969-70 USMC. I am glad most of your writings are about E tenn. NC Smokys are a very special place and us natives are feeling a little choked with the “guides” that exploit our streams for profit. Personally I think it should be prohibited on our national park areas. Every one should have the opportunity to fish but I think those that use out national parks for their own profit are not in line with the purpose of the park. Not what you want to here im sure but i is my opion. GOD bless

    • Hi Bill,
      Thanks for the comment. Our philosophy toward guiding, and the same is true of everyone else we know in the profession, is that we are teachers who help people learn more about fly fishing and the places trout live. Many folks would abandon fly fishing without some help which means less people who care about trout and clean water. We can count a number of our past customers who have gone on to do tremendous volunteer work in fisheries projects that have helped restore native brook trout in the park. Additionally we have spearheaded a program in local schools that puts trout in classrooms so children can see them develop from an egg into a fish, then release them into a local stream and have a personal connection with their local waters.

      I can personally assure you that no guide makes that much profit from a career in fly fishing but we do it for a life that puts us on the water everyday doing what we love and spreading that joy to others. We always try to give back to the resource so we leave it better than we found it.

      Ian & Charity