Saturday, November 27, 2010

Caney Fork Fly Fishing with Egg Patterns

The First Fish of the Day
We were on the water for a few hours over the long weekend. The guiding season is winding down and that gives me opportunities to try some different things. We hit the water after the Army Corps turned off one generator, but the water did not fall out as fast as expected. The reason? We determined it was probably because of the heavy rains, over the 24 hours prior to our float, dumping larger than normal amounts of water from the feeder creeks.

It was a slow day and it took a while to get a fish in the net. We tried midges, nymphs, had some follows and flashes on streamers and even had a couple nips and pushes on streamers.

What's a push?
A push is when the fish takes the streamer in its mouth and moves it without eating. It is quite an experience. It happens like this- the fly is coming toward the boat, the fly moves -slowly- sideways sometimes as much as a foot. Then the fish lets go and turns. As the fish turns you recognize what just happened. We toss the fly back to the spot and try to let the it sink. But, it is still hard to get a hook up. That's OK though it is still pretty exciting moment.

hooks, beads, egg yarn, and thread = eggs

Last year I drove up to Cumberland Transit and spent some time talking about egg patterns with Leo. It was last Fall just before we went to the Little Red. As everyone knows egg patterns are a normal part of every angler's fly box in that area. When in Rome...

Flash forward....About a month ago I lost a decent brown on an egg pattern, so on this trip I made sure there was an egg or two in the fly box. The time seemed right and I tied an egg on under an indicator. After a short drift the indicator dove, I was actually paying attention to my indicator....hard to believe I was actually watching the thing, but it happened. Anyway, I set the hook and after a pretty short fight we were netting a nice brown. Eggs one, fish nothing.

An Egg Pattern
Anthony's Brown
As we rowed down the river Anthony was taking his time and picking likely spots. Not to be left out Anthony hooked up with a nice brown on his own egg pattern. It takes a good drift with the egg bouncing just along the bottom and looking natural. The weight/bead is on the fly to help get the fly deep for the slower deeper pools. If it ticks the bottom in more shallow water just gently lift and try to keep it bouncing as much as possible.

The Arsenal
The egg patterns weren't the only thing working. Nymphs were also on the menu. The nymphs came through in the lower sections of the float and certainly out-fished the streamers. We discussed streamers and determined it is just outside of streamer season fight now, but that could change tomorrow and the fish will be seeking protein for the long winter months. Until then tie up some midges nymphs and a dozen eggs.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fall Fishing on the Caney Fork

The First Brookie in a While
Anthony, Steve and I went to the river a couple weeks back. The day started early, very early, as we got to the river early to try and beat the pulse. The plan was to start the float early and get off the water when the pulse hit or slightly thereafter. The plan worked to perfection. Anthony and Steve both caught several fish, but Steve was holding the hot stick for the majority of the day.

The Drifter Early in the A.M.

NOTED: a Good Spot During Generation

With streamer season on top of us, I took advantage of the low water float and made note of the different structure in the river. There are some good holding spots along the rocks and stumps as well as a lot of downed trees on this section of the river. The bigger fish will relate to structure, although not always for cover. Some of the larger browns will sit in the breaks of current and rest, as they wait for night and their next opportunity to feed. Some larger browns will sit right out in the open and wait for their next opportunity to feed. Structure increases the percentage of catching, when pursuing bigger fish.

Anthony Boated this Rainbow Early in the Float

Anthony Hooked Up
The guys hooked up with fish on nymphs, midges and egg patterns. We have been fishing eggs a little here and there this Fall and doing OK with them. Several weeks back I even hooked up with a decent brown trout on an egg pattern, but the fish jumped a time or two and threw the fly, so we keep trying to hook up with the larger fish on eggs.
Anthony hooked up a brown on a streamer right down from the ramp, however it is not the brown I have had my eye on for the past few months. It will come though.

The Leaves Win
As the day wore on and the push of generation began to hit us, we noticed the leaves picking up. The leaves were not only floating on top of the water, they were also through all the points in the water column, as the push of 5300 + CFS began to pick up the current. We fished as long as we could, but eventually we ended up just floating and looking at the eagles, squirrels and of course looking for big fish...

Oh Yeah, We Can't Forget the First Fish

Fall, Along the Caney Fork River

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tailwater Soft Hackle

I just found a good soft hackle on Steven Dally's site and decided to try my hand at the pattern. It has been a long time since I tied a soft hackle, but it turned out pretty the vise anyway. Mine is probably a little different than Steven's pattern. Below is a list of the stuff I used:

  • Hook- Size #12 Nymph Hook....I think (It was laying on the bench and looked about the right size for a soft hackle)

  • Thread- Red (what's a soft hackle pattern without a red butt?)

  • Body- Copper Wire and Green Wire laid side by side and then wrapped forward together (this should get the fly down in the water column where the big ones are supposed to be...and makes for great segmentation)

  • Thorax- Peacock Herl (behind the hackle, you can't see it but the fish can....we hope)

  • Hackle- Aged Partridge (That stuff has to be 5 years old. It was either use it or not see it again for another 5 years)

  • Collar- Green Dubbing (for a collar in front of the hackle, it makes a good,,,well a good "collar")

  • Head- More red thread (or whatever color the fish in your river like)

If you tie the pattern let me know how it fishes. By the time I remember I tied the thing, it will probably be hopper season again!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fly Line Maintenance

It's been a couple years since I replaced some of the lines on the reels that we use on the drifter. So, I put in a call and a couple days later a care package arrived. All the lines did not need to be replaced, there were a few just needed to be cleaned. I searched the Internet to see what the manufacturers had to say about cleaning the old lines.

The manufacturers have a lot of tips for fly line cleaning and maintenance. Some are pretty basic and common sense and some have additional products to help with cleaning as well as increase performance. Below is just some of the information available from several major players in the fly line business.

To clean your Airflo line, mix a small amount of household detergent with warm (not boiling) water in a bowl or sink.
Strip the line from your reel into the water and allow to the line to soak for 2-3 minutes - this will loosen any dirt and clean any algae build-up from the surface.
Then dry off the line by winding the line back onto the reel through a clean dry cloth.
Do not put too much pressure on the line, as the heat generated in the cloth can distort a flyline, also, if you put the line onto the reel under too much tension then this will cause reel set or memory.

At Cortland, we build our fly lines to provide you with many hours of trouble free use, but it is your responsibility to extend the life of the fly line, and maintain proper performance through routine care. Avoid excessive heat exposure to the lines by keeping your reels out of direct sunlight. Avoid car dashboards or rear window ledges when transporting. Clean and dry fly line and backing before storing. Also, use Cortland XL Cleaner before and after each outing to ensure maximum performance and longer lasting lines.

Clean your lines frequently. The process typically takes less than five minutes. Orvis recommends Orvis Zip Juice Wonderline Cleaner, made specifically for the super slick coating on Wonderline Advantage lines. If Zip Juice is not available, use mild soap and water. Clean more frequently if you fish ‘dirty’ water - stillwater or moving water with lots of organic material.

Scientific Anglers
Cleaning with soap and water on a cloth removes most of the dirt, but our new cleaning pads work even better. Properly cleaned your lines will float better, cast better and last longer, certainly a good trade-off for a couple minutes of line maintenance. Dressing with our new line dressing will further improve flotation, casting and durability also.
Clean and dress your lines every 2-3 outings, or anytime you think dirt is hindering their performance. The cleaning pads are easy to carry in your vest or tackle bag and can be used anytime, wet or dry.

Most RIO fly lines are self lubricating. However, cleaning is an important aspect of fly line longevity, and we recommend cleaning every day. In freshwater, microscopic particles of algae will collect dirt and debris. These adhere to the surface of a floating fly line, adding weight which eventually overcomes the line’s natural buoyancy. This microscopic dirt will also help grind ridges into line guides and destroy fly line coatings. In saltwater fly fishing, salt will dry on the line. When you notice your line not shooting as well, or the tip of a floating line beginning to sink, it is overdue for a good cleaning. A few drops of a mild soap without detergent or even a small bar of soap and a rag is sufficient for cleaning a fly line. Once it’s cleaned, apply a super thin coating of RIO Poo Goo™ or another brand of 100% silicon on a cloth and pull the line through the cloth. This coating needs to be a thin film to prevent pickup of dirt. The silicone grease will help float the line and aid in shooting.

Care for your MONIC fly lines is critical for peak performance. Once fly lines pick up dirt they do not float and cast to their full potential. Clean lines with a mild detergent and redress with your favorite dressing. Line dressing and cleaners do not affect our polymer coatings. It is to your advantage to consistently clean your fly lines.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Elk River Fishing Report

The Usual Elk River Rainbows

I slipped off to the Elk River this afternoon. It has been a long time since, I have found the time to get down to the river where I have been lucky to spend so much time. Over the past year though it has been tough, between trips and personal fishing, to get away from the Caney Fork. So, in spite of the rains last night and the drizzle of the morning, I was off.

The water was stained, which is expected after a rain. The wind was up and the fish were rising, but the most surprising thing was the number of cars in the parking lot. The stained water presented an obstacle. The Fall weather also presents a change in the trout diet. To combat these conditions I thought the best fly would be an attractor nymph. There just so happened to be a Tutto on the Orvis rod that I took with me.

For those who are wondering what the heck a Tutto is? Let me do my best to explain. It is a flashy nymph, with a big bead head, PT body, flashy tail and flash back. Tutto means everything in Italian and this fly imitates most attractor nymphs on the market, combined. Why take the time to change attractors? There wasn't a good reason (and I can be lazy when I am fishing on my own) so I started there. The third cast picked up a Elk River Rainbow and the afternoon began.

Slightly Stained Water

The fly box that went along on this trip was full of nymphs, some dries and a ton of midges. David Knapp is one of the best midge anglers I know. He took the time one evening to show the guys at Calvary Outfitters a midge made of vinyl tubing. I rumbled through the box and put one of these little jewels on the 6x tippet. Then on the first cast it picked up another rainbow after a dry spell. The fish were selective and the fishing was technical. Fishing to feeding fish can be maddening and rewarding, depending on the drift.

A Break in the Clouds Brought SUNLIGHT!

As afternoon turned to evening, the rises slowed and eventually only the most selective fish seemed to be feeding. As I watched the fish it was clear the fish were actually eating just below the surface. As with most folks I like to say they were rising, but really for the most part they apeared to be eating emergers. Every once in a while a fish would chase an adult midge, that appeared to be about a size #20.
Other anglers were reporting technical fishing. The fly box was in and out of the jacket often enough that I eventually got into some flies that are usually overlooked. The fly of the day was a dead-drifted Tutto, but the partridge & orange and a stripped pheasant tail (w/o a bead) also fished well.
If you are going down to the Elk, I would suggest giving the water a day or so to clear. Take plenty of flies in order to give the fish a different look every now and then. Don't overlook a stripped soft hackle and as usual take some nymphs to hit those holes the upper part of the river is known for.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fishing the Caney Fork

The First Fish

The day started as I picked up Scott and his son Jared at Sharp Lodge. They came from East Ridge, TN to fish. They fished the day before, below the dam, and caught a couple fish. On this day there would be more than a couple fish caught, by far, this day would be a much better day according to these two anglers. The guys fished spinning gear and we tried the long rods as well.

Jared's First Rainbow of the Day

The lake level is below 625' and has turned the river the cloudy- greenish color that it was last winter. The fish are not moving far for their food, so putting the offerings in the face of the fish is the best way to ensure a chance of a hit. We battled this condition starting about this time last year, but were still able to catch fish, in spite of the less than desirable conditions.

Cloudy Water

Scott and Jared during a Break in the Action

Jared's First Brown

The guys counted fish as they were caught and I tried to referee the fish counting battle as instructed. There were fish caught and fish lost. The fish that were lost were the topic of conversation, especially when Jared did the math and came to his own conclusion, his Dad had lost more fish than he had lost. As we passed other anglers, Jared took upon himself (with no coaching from me...OK maybe just a little) to let everyone know he was out-fishing his Dad...

Jared Holding Court on the Finer Points of Angling

The day went along and finally began to wind down. We met a cool golden retriever while we loaded the drifter on the trailer. Then hit the road back to the lodge, where a hot meal of: BBQ pork chops, chicken & dumplins, peas, fresh veggies, cornbread, mashed potato's, sweet tea and I can remember the rest. A very good ending to a nice day on the river.

The Finest Angler on the River

If you have any questions about what is working for us on the river or want more specific information, just drop an email to and I will be happy to assist if I can.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fishing, Cameras and Lyrics

David is Looking Serious, the Fish Has a "Caught Look"
It has been a while since David and I got together and floated. We have been on the river on the same day, but at different places and been to the Smokies at different times. When we both had a day free we got together and made the trip to the Caney. We did a different float and caught the section on low water. Starting early in the day we were able to get most of the float in before the generation hit us and pushed the drifter onto the ramp.

Early Morning at the Ramp

Get Away To Where the Boat Leaves From...

We left the ramp early while the temps were still in the 30's. David was first up to the casting brace....hey the temps were in the 30's and rowing is a good way for me to keep warm. He started on streamers and with the cold water hitting his stripping finger it would take some quick keep him fishing and to keep me warm and rowing. The fish didn't disappoint and with the rainbows relating to structure we were on fish early.

This Rainbow Was Right Where It Was Supposed To Be
We stayed on streamers for a while and then switched to the usual nymphs and midges. We picked up rainbows all morning and spotted some browns. The browns were still staging for the most part and some were really close to getting on the redd. We didn't fish the browns, but saw some here and there. The rainbows kept us busy as we tried the same old nymphs and tested some new ones as well.

Train I Ride, Sixteen Coaches Long
Just when you thought this was going to be another fishing report, see if you can name the artist who sang the train lyrics above...

David Did Most of the Catching on This Float

David is quite the angler and also into photography in a big way. He is finally taking his photos to the Internet for sale. On this day he kept busy behind the camera and was successful on the nymph rod as well. David's nymphing technique is somewhat different than mine. His is more of a Czech style and mine is more of a true dead drift. Both are productive and drift the flies at completely different angles. It is interesting to see the different techniques anglers use and how they can all be used in the same situations with practically the same results.

David Hard at Work With the Nymph Rig

Yes, I Got Some Time in the Casting Brace As Well

After the temps warmed up I slid into the casting brace with the Hydros in hand. I took my turn at the point and tried some R&D nymphs, which for the most part only worked OK. After I gave them some good drifts through some productive water and found them to be somewhat effective, I put the usual one fly rig on and busted a rainbow on the first drift.....At least the R&D flies did produce.
The day wound down as the water release brought the river up and pushed us onto the takeout. The sun was getting low and dipped down behind he hills from time to time. We had a good day fishing the usual stuff as well as some new stuff. David will send some of his photos from the trip and I will post them when they get here. So check back and see a couple shots from David Knapp's perspective.
Done for the Day
If you have any questions about what is working for us on the river or want more specific information, just drop an email to and I will be happy to assist if I can.