Brown Trout Blog

The Skinny on Strike Indicators

By Brown Hobson

Contact Us With Any Questions Or To Schedule A Nymphing Lesson In The Asheville Area

One look at the indicator display in any fly shop can send even experienced anglers running back to the dry fly bins.  Some of the longest conversations I have with anglers in the shop revolve around which indicators would be best for a given situation.  I love all the indicators available and each one is king at the right time so I wanted to share some of what I think they do well.  The three types below are the three I use most often on the Davidson River and Watauga River.

Thingamabobbers/Air Locks

These indicators, (bobbers) lol, are the king when it comes to staying afloat.  If I am fishing heavy flies or lots of shot these are my go to indicators.  High water is another place these guys shine.  You can’t sink these indicators and even if a big wave swamps them they pop right back up.  I most often use the 3/4” size, but the 1 inch are great when fishing really heavy.  The drawbacks to this indicator are that you need a thick diameter leader/buttsection to keep them from sliding up and down the leader.  That is not a problem when I am fishing in the conditions above, but limits their versatility.  Because they float so well fish do feel the resistance from the indicator when they eat the flies below.  In fast water no problem, but in slower water I’ve found that fish spit flies faster as a result.  Also in slow water these indicators land with a loud plop and can spook fish.  High Water on the Watauga River is the ideal place for these indicator types.




I’ll try not to sound too biased here.  Yarn is awesome.  I have used the ORVIS Assortments, New Zealand Wool, and Lefty Kreh yarn and like them all a lot.  Yarn doesn’t float quite as well as the thingamabobbers, but the ORVIS assortment comes in enough sizes that you can put on a big piece or even two when high water is present.  I think fish hold on to the flies longer with yarn than almost any other indicator.  I switched to yarn in slow water 4 or 5 years ago and my catch rates doubled.  Yarn also lands without making a sound and hardly a ripple.  It also comes in colors that help it look just like leaves floating downstream.  On the Davidson River fish will move aside when brightly colored indicators come through a run so having yarn is crucial.  Because the yarn doesn’t float as well as the above mentioned indicators lighter strikes are much more detectable as well.  Low to Medium Water on both the Watauga and Davidson are perfect condtions for these indicators.



Foam Stick On

I first used foam stick on indicators on the South Fork of the Snake during PMD emergences.  Fish really key in on the emerging pmd stage and can be quite picky about the nymphs/emergers they eat.  They are feeding close to the surface but not enough to see them eat the fly.  Because the fish are so shallow you have to have something tiny.  These indicators are often smaller than a dime.  They are feather light so make no noise.  They also stay really well on the small tippet sections I often want them on.  They won’t float much weight and they leave a small amount of residue on your leader when you remove them, but all are small prices to pay when you need the 007 stealth.  Like yarn fish don’t spit these very fast and they go down with minimal pressure.  Low water on the Davidson River is a great time for foam stick ons as is a mayfly hatch on the Watauga River.




These three are by no means an all encompassing list.  Just the three I use the most.  Some of the others like corks, twist-ons, and other types of foam indicators have their time and place, but I think with the three types above you can handle 99% of all the situations out there.  Below are links to many of the products I mentioned.





Lefty Kreh

New Zealand Wool

Stick On

Asheville Fly Fishing Video

Black Scout Survival is back in Asheville fly fishing with Brown Trout guide Josh Gorelick again.  Cool video gives you a sense of where we fish and what we fish for.  Josh gives a great rundown on some of the bugs that hatch on the trout streams around Asheville in the spring.  Thanks Black Scout!

Check out some of their other videos.  There is really cool one about survival fishing in the swamp.  Its kind of like Tenkara 😉


And dont forget to give us a call or check out our main pages.  We would love to show you around Asheville.


Fly Fishing High Water in Asheville

We have gotten pounded by rain this month.  We have had over 12 inches of rain in Asheville, NC  as of May 29.  A lot of people have called to ask us whether or not we can still fish and if we have any tips for how to successfully fly fish when the waters are raging.  There is a point where we just cannot safely or productively catch trout on the fly, and we have cancelled several trips for that reason.  The good news is that the Delayed Harvest and Wild Water trout streams in our area clear fast and while they may stay high you can catch trout.  When you have high water the fish look for slower spots.  That means they go to the bottom of the rivers or the side.  We either add a ton of weight and dredge the bottom with stonefly nymphs and worms flies or we put on a shallow dry and dropper rig and fish the eddies along the edges of the river.  In the spring trout metabolisms are at their peak and so are the aquatic insects hatching.  We have yellow sallies, cahills, small blue winged olives, drakes starting, some salmon flies, and assorted caddis.  The high water knocks a bunch of nymphs off their perches and the water is full of food.  The other advantage of high water is that the fish usually can’t see you coming.  Rough water is hard to see through and its very noisy so sneaking up on trout is usually much easier in high water.  We typically catch fish on high water within 20 feet of us.  You can also fish with pretty heavy tippet.  Typically in Pisgah National Forest and other Streams around Asheville we use 5x and 6 x tippet.  When the water is high we can use 3x and 4x.  That makes fighting trout in rough water much easier and we lose many fewer flies.  The photo on this post is a 7 day history of the Davidson River.   It’s a stream that clears very fast and as soon as you can safely wade it fish are on the banks feeding.  Give us a call if you ever need a guide to show you some of the high water techniques listed above.

Great Summer Fly Fishing In Asheville, North Carolina

Summer fly fishing in Asheville, North Carolina can be very fun but knowing where to go is very helpful.  Delayed Harvest waters are opened to catch and kill on the first Saturday in June and as a result we don’t have many catch and release streams with high fish numbers during the summer.  We spend a ton of time guiding on the famed Davidson River during the summer.  The Davidson River Fish Hatchery creates a super cool sight fishing opportunity and while the trout are very selective they absolutely can be caught.  We spend hundreds of days each summer up there and are happy to show you some of our tactics.  We also spend a lot of time fishing all of the small branches that feed all of the delayed harvest streams we guide during the cool months.  The small feeder creeks hav

e small fish but they are full of beautiful wild rainbow trout, brown trout, and at the top native brook trout.  No one will give you names of their favorite wild trout stream, but exploring unkown water is half the fun of hiking in and fishing wild trout streams.  Thirdly we still fish the delayed harvest streams.  A week or two after bloody Saturday the fish that survive the harvest will come out from under the rocks and start to feed again.  The state also sneaks another stocking of trout into DH streams mid summer and the bait dunkers are all gone by then.  Asheville has great fly fishing during the warm months but having some local expertise to get in the right spot can be a huge help.  Give us a call if you want some guided fly fishing help this summer or anytime.  803-431-9437

Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Asheville, NC

By Jeremy Edge
Spring has sprung, and as summer approaches, anglers might begin to see their local trout streams getting too warm, too low, and not to mention too crowded due to the influx of summer traffic, aka “tube hatch.”  Because of this, anglers tend to seek alternate species to pursue in the anticipation of warmer months ahead. Opportunity knocks with warm water fish like bass, bluegill, carp, and gar, all of which offer rewarding experiences in many ways.  From your local lake or river, to even a farm pond, there is a good chance that there are at least a few species you may find.
     The Author with a Smallmouth Bass
I grew up fishing for Largemouth Bass in the lakes of Alabama and Georgia, and then found my love for Smallmouth Bass by exploring local rivers along the way.  It wasn’t until I moved to Western North Carolina that for the first time in my life, I had lakes and rivers within 45 minutes to an hour of Asheville that provided me with access to numerous species; and better yet, that access wasn’t limited.  Oftentimes, when people think of bass fishing, they think of spin rods, glitter bass boats and Evinrude 250s….that’s cool, but most folks either only have enough time to wade, or they don’t have any friends with a bass boat.  The problem is, a lot of these rivers can’t accommodate the launch of a Bass Tracker anyway, but they are easily accessible to waders, rafts or kayaks.  My advice is, make friends with someone who owns a bass boat…you’ll thank me later.
The truth of course, is that you don’t need a spin rod or a motor boat to find and catch warm water fish, including bass.  If you’d like to try your hand at catching one of these beauties with a fly rod, then you may be wondering what to bring with you.  Depending on your fly selection and the type of fish you’re after, I would recommend either a 7wt or 8wt rod with a floating line, but having a spare spool of sink-tip line is not a bad idea, also.  In your box, flies should range from baitfish, crawfish, and hellgrammite, to frog patterns.  Poppers in all sizes can make for a fun day if the fish are hitting top water.  Leaders should range from 7 to 9 feet, and between 10 and 15 lbs.  On your feet, wading socks can allow you wear wading boots if preferred, but in warmer temperatures, sandals/water shoes are adequate and may be more comfortable.
If you are interested in learning more about Fly Fishing for Bass, then please contact us at Brown Trout Fly Fishing, and book a Bass float trip on the French Broad, Pigeon, or Tuckasegee Rivers.  

Mother’s Day Caddis aka Granom on the Watauga River

Caddis Riffle Brown

Watauga River Brown Trout Love Caddis Larvae

The Mother’s Day Caddis  hatch is probably just a little over a month away.  If you’ve nymph fished with us, undoubtably you’ve ripped your flies off a bottom snag only to find you were merely hung on a cased caddis.  Our caddis build their houses with leaves and sticks and form a square based long pyramid.  The larva inside is a bright green grub-like animal with black legs and head.  These guys are usually found in the riffles and tail-outs from the Doe River down to Boone Lake.  Usually they hatch the third week in April, but warmer weather will create an early emergence.  They are pretty reliably out when the dogwoods start blooming in the mountains.  The nymphs are large, size 10-14 and the adults are barely smaller.  We get them swinging pupae and fishing dry dropper whenever the hatch isn’t actively bringing fish up.  These bugs get so thick you could choke on them, and are the first decent sized insect of the year, so we find large trout feeding on adults.

This year conditions are shaping up to be perfect.  Watauga Lake is pretty low, so we shouldn’t have high flows during the hatch.  Last year we had low flows as well and the caddis were able to reproduce at levels not seen in almost a decade.  The river bottom is full of caddis right now.  Hitting the hatch is pretty hard to do, as it only lasts a couple of weeks, but the mid April timeframe is looking likely right now.  We still have some openings mid April, so give us a call.  803-431-9437

Gift Certificates: Everything is Included


Many non fly fishing spouses or family members want to purchase the perfect fly fishing gift for their trout crazed significant other, but lack the confidence in their own fly fishing knowledge to select the perfect gift.  The one thing every angler can use is more time on the water and less time dealing with their own tangles.  If you buy a half day or full day guided fly fishing gift certificate from us you don’t have to worry about what gear your angler already has.  If they don’t have gear we can provide anything they need free.  We can always show them a new technique, a new fishing location near Asheville, or simply make their day on the water easier by handling preparation and detangling for them.  Just pick a fly fishing trip from either our wade trips page or our float trips page and you can pay by calling us 803-431-9437 or pay two %50 deposits online to be paid in full.  We will then email you a gift certificate for the trip you want.  As always if you have any questions please email or call and we will be happy to help you figure out which trip might be best.  For an additional $20 we will mail you a hat with a printed gift certificate so you have something neat to wrap!  All the gift recipient will have to do is call us to schedule their trip.

Why Wooly Buggers Work?

markwhitewoolybuggerbowMark White from ORVIS Greenville with a NC Rainbow

Why do wooly buggers work?  There are several answers with two being the short over arching responses.  The most obvious is that the wooly bugger imitates baitfish/stoneflies/hellgrammites/leeches, etcetera.  The less obvious pertains more specifically to stocked fish.   They eat the wooly bugger because they don’t k now what it is, and the only way they can investigate it is to bite it.  Either way there is a time and place for wooly buggers and often when nothing else works I can put on a wooly bugger and light fish up.  For those interested in the reasons they work so well Ill explain below.

The first reason the fish are so interested in buggers is that in any color they move through the water in the many ways baitfish do.  You can’t fish them wrong.  Dead drift, strip fast, strip long and slow, swing, dangle downstream, you cant fish them wrong as long as they are in the water.   In addition to minnows when you dead drift them they look like all the insects mentioned above provided the size and color matches what the fish are seeing.

The second reason they work so well is that stocked fish fresh from the hatchery tanks have never seen something moving above them and through curiosity can’t stay away from a wooly bugger swinging overt their head.  They have no hands right?  So biting the fly is the only way to learn more about it.  By the time they figure it out its too late.  You got them.   Once stocked fish have been in the river for a while they develop a form of PTSD and learned form of distrust of all things dead drifted.  They get pounded by all flies and get to appoint where they have seen fewer things swung than dead drifted.  Nothing swings better than a wooly bugger.

Im not saying the wooly bugger is the best fly by any means.  If you fish it exclusively you will catch fish and  some days you will catch the most.  My point is I always have a few in olive, black, and white in my box and make sure to to try them at some point during the day.  Especially as a day saver type fly when nothing else seems to work.

If you don’t have some order a couple in each color here.  Tie them on with some 3x tippet and let them rip.

ORVIS Tungsten Head Wooly Bugger

Brown Trout Fly Fishing Guide JEREMY EDGE Wins the 3 Rivers Carp Cup!!

By Jeremy Edge
July 30 marked this year’s annual Carp Cup in Knoxville, TN, hosted by 3 Rivers Angler. If you have ever been to any kind of fishing tournament in your life, this one is a one of a kind experience. Allen Gillespie puts this event on with the help of Outdoor Knoxille as a benefit for the Legacy Parks Foundation, and it always draws a pretty fun crowd! This year’s event was my third carp cup. I won the 2014 Individual class, came up short in 2015 and had a good feeling about 2016. Check-in started 8am and due to weather rolling in I showed up, got my carp cup ruler and rolled out to the French Broad. Just outside of Knoxville is the Douglas and Cherokee Reservoir. Below Douglas is the French Broad and below Cherokee is the Holston River; both being tail waters they offer a very rich ecosystem for fish to thrive in, and with reasonable flows can offer top notch sight fishing to multiple species such as small mouth, carp, gar, and drum.     
   I had fished the FB in weeks past and knew what I had to do and where to hopefully find fish. I wasn’t on the water twenty minutes before I had my first carp and I was off and rolling…or so I thought.
Common Carp
In my experience, if you catch a nice fish within the first hour, it’s usually the kiss of death, and this time it took shape in the form of a rain storm. The storm rolled on for about an hour as I laid up under a tree in my kayak trying to stay as dry as I could, watching fish tails pop out of the water every now and then. When the heavens parted and the rain stopped, it provided that “Good God it’s Hot!” type humidity for a few hours, then the fish began to move and eat.
   The afternoon brought hungry fish and awesome weather! I netted three more common carp and my very first mirror carp 
mirror carp
that afternoon. After a day of paddling, fishing, cursing, laughing, more cursing, and five carp, I called it a day and rolled back to Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center for weigh-in at 6pm. The tournament is judged on the five largest carp a team/solo can catch with 1 in = 1 point, and whoever has the most points wins their division. Anglers rolled in over the next hour and I always love the fish stories, horror stories, and Cinderella stories that come with it. The award ceremony started at 7 pm and I wasn’t sure how I fared against the competition, but felt I had a good shot. After all was said and done, I won the Individual/Kayak class with five fish totaling 122 inches.jeremycarpcuptrophy Prizes were awesome, good times were had by all and I thank all the sponsors that helped put this event on. If you’re looking for something fishy to do come next July, I highly recommend driving yourself to Knoxville, TN, and come check out the best carp fishing in the southeast. Thanks again to 3 Rivers Angler, Outdoor Knoxville, and all the Knoxville anglers for making this an awesome event.
To book a trip with Jeremy Edge call us at 803-431-9437

ORVIS Summer Fly Fishing 301 Dates and Equipment List

ORVIS Greenville's Fishing Manager Mark White displays a great Rainbow Trout from the Watauga River



6/26, 7/24, 7/31, 8/14


Trip Layout

Each angler receives a ½ day guided float trip, plus a ½ day unguided wade fishing excursion accompanied by ORVIS Fishing Manger or Brown Trout representative. Lunch and Drinks included.

8:00 Meet on the Watauga River, location TBD

8:30-12:00 Fish

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:30-4:30 Fish


$150 per angler

Not Included

Lodging, TN fishing license, fishing equipment(waders required), and transportation are not included.  Call for lodging suggestions in close proximity to the Watauga. If you would like to stay in Asheville has a full list of recommended places to stay. Travel from Asheville to the Watauga River takes 1 hour and 10 minutes. Payment must be made in full at the time of booking and is non-refundable.  Call Brown Hobson at Brown Trout Fly Fishing to book your trip. 803-431-9437

Suggested Flies and Terminal Tackle are

Rainbow Warrior size 18-20

Flash Back Pheasant Tail size 16-20

Size 12 Girdle Bug

Zebra Midges 18-22

Squirmy Worm

Size 14 Elk Hair Caddis

Size 16 Parachute Adams

Size 18 Tailwater Sow Bug


9′ 4x leader

4,5,6 x tippet

Yarn Strike Indicators or small thingamabobbers

Split Shot Assortment

Fly Floatant both gel and powder




boots – boots with studs can’t be worn in boats but are great in the river.  Felt is fine both places.  If yo have studs have soem kind of alternate footwear for the boat.


TN Fishing Licenses needed are 3-Day All Species