Tying Flies for Spring

It’s been a pretty cold week and things probably won’t get much better for close to another week. Water temperatures have been mostly in the 30’s with a few ventures into the low 40’s. It’s actually worth fishing if the water is over 40, but not real productive until you get over 45. Even when the temperature is venturing into the high 40’s, which it won’t for several more days, snow is melting off the mountains and keeping the water icy.

Ice in the river

A pretty scene, but it’s an indicator of slow fishing in the Smokies.

I could find some pretty good fishing if I headed over to the Clinch or Holston. Wade fishing is typically pretty good in the winter with midge patterns. Or I could drag the boat over the mountains and float the Tuckaseegee. The action on streamers is usually good enough to keep things interesting even in the cold. But when it comes down to it, we’ve got work to do. Charity has been designing a brochure for a fly fishing lodge and I’ve been a constant fixture at the fly tying desk. The fly boxes ended the season completely empty and they don’t fill themselves. I received a big order of hooks the other day and have been hard at it.

Snow capped Thunderhead Mountain

Tying flies isn’t as fun as fishing, but view from my window isn’t bad.

I’ve tied a few nymphs. I’ll need them first while the weather is still cold, plus I don’t think there’s a day when a Beadhead Pheasant Tail isn’t a good choice. I’ve tied a few dozen Haystacks, one of my favorite dries for the Quill Gordon hatch. It’s a comparadun, no-hackle fly that floats like a cork in the rough water found on Little River and other streams in the Smokies. I’ve probably tied more Hi-Vis Parachute Blue Wing Olives than anything else. They work great not only for olives but Blue Quills that start coming off in late February or early March. The neon orange wing makes these tiny dry flies easy to see under a variety of conditions. I’ve also tied a variety of Pat’s Nymphs and Prince Nymphs. It won’t be long before I tackle the Parachute Adams and X-Caddis. The Parachute Adams is easily our #1 fly pattern in the Smokies and the same goes for the X-Caddis on the Holston River. I’m sure I’ve got dozens and dozens to go and will still be tying to fill the boxes in June.

Trout flies

Not bad for a couple of hours work.

I can tie most patterns at a rate of around two dozen per hour. Hopefully I can get to fish a few of them in a few days.