Fly boxes with interchangable
liners offer the ability to change
types of flies without changing
the fly box.
Wild rainbows frequent the fast
water more than the brown or
brook trout. They seem secure
beneath the broken surface of
fast water runs, riffles and
plunges. Most of the dry flies
you use to catch them should
have the ability to float in the
fast water without sinking.   
Flies: (Choosing the Right Fly)
Fly Fishing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The most often asked question in fly-fishing is "what fly do I use"? Trout in the
Smokies or anywhere in the World for that matter, do not feed on feathers, hair and
metal hooks. They feed on insects, crustaceans, fish and other food that is available
in the streams. Often when anglers select flies they begin to think, act and
sometimes appear to actually believe that fish recognize and feed on such things as
a Royal Trudes or Adams Mayflies.

Special Articles on Choosing The Right Fly:
Is the Fly Important?
Your Fly From the Fish's Point of View

Selecting Flies:
When you are selecting a fly to use in the Smokies or for that matter, anywhere else,
you should first ask yourself "what are the trout most likely eating". What food is most
available and plentiful for the trout to eat? That will be what the trout are focusing on.
Matching that food will give you the highest odds of success.

Examine the Water:
If you don't have a hatch chart, or you don't see the insects shown on the hatch chart,
then carefully examine the bottom of the stream and observe what insects you find in
abundance. Remember that mayfly swimmer type nymphs (such as blue-winged
olives) are going to spook like minnows and are difficult to see. Clinger nymphs stay
hidden down between and below the rocks on the bottom and are usually present
although you don't see them. Many of the insects that trout feed on such as midge
larvae and pupae, small mayfly nymphs, and small caddisfly larvae and pupae are
very difficult to observe. In many streams, anglers would pick up rocks from the
stream bed and observe the insects that attach to them. This is illegal in the Great
Smoky Mountain National Park. You are not supposed to move or remove rocks in the

Check the surface of the water for emerging mayfly nymphs or caddisfly pupae. The
small ones are very difficult to see. The best way would be to use a small skim net to
catch whatever is in the surface film. Check the surface for spinners. They are difficult
to see because they usually fall in low light situations and float flat on the surface or
in the surface skim.

Check the Banks:
Don't fail to check the banks, trees, bushes and grass. Are there any terrestrial
insects such as hoppers, ants, beetles, inch worms, etc., there in abundance? By the
way, do not harm any of these insects or pupae and larvae found in the water and do
not collect them. It is illegal and does not do the stream, fish or animals any good to
do so.

No Hatch to Match:
Most of the time you are not going to observe insects very easily. Most of the time they
are not any hatches underway. The "no hatch to match" condition is common. It would
not be common for you to find no insects in the water. If it is late summer or during
the fall season, you will not find as many large ones as you would in February or
March for example, but you should still find plenty.
Midge larvae and pupae are not
very visible but most likely they are there. Don't forget or overlook them. They are a
very important part of the diet of the trout in the Smokies. If you don't find any aquatic
insects, then you better get out of there and find some place trout can exist. If there is
no food, there are no trout in the stream you are fishing. That is a fact.

The key is to use a fly that matches the larva or pupae stage of what the hatch chart
shows; or to match the most abundant insect you can find on the stream or in the
water that trout may feed on - with a fly.

Matching the Hatch:
If you are lucky and you observe mayflies, midges, stoneflies or caddisflies hatching,
then match the appropriate stage of life of that insect with a fly - an emerger, dun or
adult, or spinner/.

Choose the fly by first matching the size, then shape and finally shade of color of the
natural at the stage of life you are attempting to imitate..
Remember, choosing the right fly is only a part of it.

Matching the Behavior of the Insect:
More importantly, you should match the behavior of that particular insect or other trout
food. Your fly must not only look like the natural, it must act like the natural.
This gets down to the presentation of the fly. Presentation is almost always more
important than how well the fly matches the natural.
In order for you to make the proper presentation of any insect at its various stages of
life, it is necessary that you know how it behaves. This means where it lives in the
nymphal stage of life; when it is available to the trout;  how it emerges; when, where
and how the adult stages of the insect are subject to being eaten by trout; when,
where and how the females deposit their eggs; and when, where and how they die.  
If caddisflies dive to deposit their eggs on the bottom, you need to know it and how to
imitate that behavior. If mayflies emerge on the bottom of the stream rather than the
surface, you need to know it and how to imitate it. These are examples of numerous
activities that you should be familiar with if you are going to successfully imitate
aquatic insects. If you don't, you are relying on pure luck to catch trout rather than

Recommended Flies:
For each insect or trout food item, we recommend two flies. The first flies we
recommend are those that can be purchased commercially which are flies that we
have found to be common and available at most fly shops and outfitters. There may
be a more exact imitation than the one we recommend but not readily available on a
wide scale basis. We are not implying that our recommendations are always the best
flies, although they may well be.  We are implying only that they are normally
adequate imitations that can be easily acquired.

Perfect Flies:
The “Perfect Flies” we are recommending are our own patterns. By “perfect fly”, we
simply mean one that catches fish. The name “Perfect Fly” is not meant to imply that
they are perfect in reality. The patterns are usually, as most patterns are,
modifications of other very successful patterns but in many cases, with colors and
materials that more accurately imitate the natural.

Fly Color:
Since the color of insects sometimes vary from stream to stream, you should always
try to verify the match as best you can by comparing your fly with the natural found on
the stream. You will notice that our patterns generally fall somewhere in between very
realistic imitations and impressionistic imitations. By realistic, we do not mean to
imply that every leg, eye, and detail is imitated to perfection, only that they resemble
the natural.

Difficulty in Tying and Fishing:
The Perfect Fly patterns are not necessarily the easiest flies to tie and in some
cases, they may not be as durable as other flies. Some patterns, especially those
utilizing CDC feathers, are designed to be presented in smooth flowing water where
the insects are most likely to be found and should not be presented in rough,
turbulent water. If you are having problems with the fly floating correctly or seeing it
well, it may be that you are fishing it incorrectly or in the wrong types of water.

Perfect Flies are available at:

Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Click on the Hatch Charts
below for Hatch Times
A large rainbow for the
smokies taken in the heat of the
summer in low water
conditions. A light tippet, long
cast, low light conditions and a
size 20 Blue-winged olive
fooled the fish.
Our "Perfect Fly", Green
Sedge Larva
Our "Perfect Fly", Drake
Our "Perfect Fly", Drake
Tying "Perfect Mayfly Duns,
Emergers & Spinners":
new instructional DVD (& CD
of recipes) teaches you how
to tie 7 basic "Perfect Fly"
patterns. By changing the
sizes and colors of materials
according to the recipes, you
can tie over 120 specific
imitations or flies that imitate
mayfly duns, spinners and
emerging duns.
Tying "Perfect Mayfly
Nymphs" :
This new
instructional DVD (& CD of
recipes) teaches you how to
tie 7 basic "Perfect Fly"
patterns. By changing the
sizes and colors of materials
according to the recipes, you
can tie over 80 specific
imitations or flies that imitate
all the important species of
mayfly nymphs.
Our"Perfect Fly", the Blue-winged Olive
Our"Perfect Fly", Light Cahill Dun
Our"Perfect Fly", Cinnamon Caddis
Our"Perfect Fly", Cinnamon Caddis Larva
You shouldn't select a fly by its looks
rather what it imitates.
Our"Perfect Fly", Brown Sculpin Streamer
Thumbnails-Click on Images
Thumbnails-Click on Images
Our"Perfect Fly", Golden Stonefly Nymph
Our"Perfect Fly", Yellow Sally Stonefly
Our"Perfect Fly", March Brown Nymph
Our"Perfect Fly", Beetle
Thumbnails-Click on Images
Thumbnails-Click on Images
Hatch Charts:
Print a copy of the hatch chart of the
stream (included within this website)
you are fishing and see what insects
should be available for the trout to eat at
the particular time you are fishing. If you
don't see the insects that should be
hatching on the water, in the air or on the
banks of the stream, it doesn't
necessarily mean that they are not there.
Are you in the right type of water or
section of the stream for the preferred
habitat of that particular insect?  Is it the
right time of day for the hatch, spinner
fall or egg ovipositing? Has the hatch
been delayed by cold weather or has it
already ended?

If you don't see a substantial amount of
insects in the air or observe trout feeding
on insects on the surface of the water,
then you could rightly assume that they
are eating something below the surface.
This most likely would be pupae or
larvae of aquatic insects, sculpin,
minnows or a few other things found in
the water.
Selecting The Best Flies:
Let us help you select the best flies to
use for the particular time you plan on
fishing the Smokies. Call us
Toll Free
or email us
( and let us
know the approximate dates you plan
on fishing. Regular Shipping is Free.
Although we can arrange for faster
delivery, it's best to give us at least a
one week notice prior to your trip.

If you let us know a little about
your experience and desires,
we will also advise you as to
which streams we think you
should fish. We are more than
happy to help you in any way
we can.
So, your first choice, if you are interested in catching trout more than you are casting
for them, should be a nymph, larva or pupa imitation of an aquatic insect, or maybe a
streamer that would imitate a sculpin or baitfish. If you know how to read a hatch
(how to read a hatch chart) then this would be by far your best clue as what fly
to use.
Our"Perfect Fly" Cream Midge Larva
Our"Perfect Fly", Giant
Black Stonefly Nymph
"Smoky Mountain Trout Flies"