Where Fly Fishing is a Professional Passion…..

Fall is Here…..

Sept. 30, 2014…….Busy start to the week, Fall is not right around the corner…its here!   The fishing and the weather and the leaves are changing quickly, and all of it good.  Sure, there are some things I will miss about summer or warm weather, but hey, when you live in an area like we do where we can do this 12 months out of the year its all good.


Streams are low and clear, this last shot of rain was good but more is needed.  Cool nights and cooler days have made for better water temps, and temps are ideal, and most waters are seeing the first of the fall olives, some craneflies, a smattering of caddis, some flying ants, and still a decent terrestrial bite that will stay around til the frosts become regular and all the leaves have fallen to the ground.  Until then though, don’t put up the beetles, ants and inchworms just yet.  I landed some good fish on large terrestrials,  as have clients the past week, most notable being a size 12 carpenter ant tied with foam.  Yes, size 12.  A frequent fly fishing mistake is the belief that you need to always fish small ants.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I do right the opposite.  On our waters, unless they are flying ants, which are very late season(right now) and usually very small- – -requiring both spot on patterns and careful presentations, I almost always use a size 12 or 14 and almost never use a smaller one.

Here’s a report on the latest fishing, which was on the tailwater to our north known as the Smith River, aka “Smitty”, and one of my favorites and my home water….

I had originally scheduled a two day group trip but it didn’t pan out. I am in between our busy summer season and super busy Fall season. Have not stopped since mid July, guided a ton of trips and spent a few weeks out west, then returned to busy fishing afterward. Other than Sunday which is a day off and a day with family , have not stopped or had a ‘fishing break’ or a ‘guide’s day off’ to fish or R& D time (which I do a lot in testing and developing new techniques and fly patterns)…..so I saw a window of a few hours and hit my home water less than an hour from me…the Smith River tailwater in Central Va. I knew from decades of fishing and guiding there and from recent trips that I could find some really tough risers……stream wise wild browns to test my mettle and my new flies on. All of this proved so, just as I expected. I found my friends rising in all the places I knew they would be, and the same ol’ bugs and stuff that has been happening since I first fished here in the early 1980s. Black Ants, tiny black flying ants (22-24), and scads of blue winged olives 24-26 (the ‘fall hatch’ on the Smith that brings fish up almost every late summer and fall afternoon- – -the one that frustrates folks and drives them to say bad words- – – the same one I secretly love and can’t get enough of). These fish will raise your game. You want to make giant leaps forward in your fly fishing ability? Learn to catch Smith River fish consistently. I don’t care who you are, beginner, intermediate, or Joe Expert. These fish don’t care. And at times they are the most technically demanding wild browns I have ever fished over. The fish of the Big Horn or Missouri River in Montana, Spring creeks in Montana, world famous Henry’s Fork in Idaho, the PhD water on Silver Creek in Idaho…..a wild Smith River brown over 12″ beats them all. And yes, I’d argue that with anyone…..expert or no.


I got in the water and found rising fish just as I expected and where I expected. Tested a few ant patterns and bwos and had success with all of them. I caught all fish as they were rising, and only one took a dropper, about a 10″ brown that ate one of my Smith River chocolate zebras. Other than that, the 15 or so I landed in 3hrs of fishing all ate dries, a mix of browns and rainbows. And it was just the sort of tough, technical, walk and stalk and fish to sippers kind of fishing I love. I had one stretch with 6 or 8 rising browns, all in flat skinny water, some in barely enough water to cover their backs. Picked them off , landed 5 of them, spooked one, and broke 2 others off with a hard hookset. I am seeing more fish and nicer fish than I have seen in two decades here. New regs might be having some benefit or effect, time will tell. But in any case, it was a badly needed break if only for a few hours.


I have a number of trips coming up, things get really busy quickly.  I am looking forward to some great fall fishing and getting out with many of you.  Our October is almost entirely full, November is about half full, and December will be filling soon as well.  I have been doing lots of video stuff lately as well, here’ is a clip from our recent fishing on the Smith River.  The river is home to some of the most selective browns you will find in the lower 48…..but I love it.  I fish here a lot and do a good bit of guiding, and always have, but Fall is the most challenging season and while folks don’t always like tough, technical dry fly fishing ….I dig it a lot and can’t get enough of it.  It raises your game to a new level…….check it out below:




As a Far Bank/RIO Products Pro, I am always excited to share news and new stuff with my clients and visitors to our site.  RIO products has a new Fly Line Selector app that helps anglers choose the correct fly line based upon the fishing they plan on doing and the specific rod they have.  You can put in the type rod you have, and just follow the app through several specific questions….and it will take you to the lines that will work best for your rod and application.  It is available for your tablet, PC, smartphone….both Apple and Android platforms supported.  You can check it out here  or click the logo below.


Stay tuned for more info, some great fishing reports, as we kick off our Fall season.  Be sure to check out our main fly fishing site for up to date info on most everything in the area fly fishing wise….. http://www.appflyguide.com.

Great Fly Fishing…….Tight Lines…


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Snapshot 4 (9-30-2014 10-24 AM)Yours truly with a flat water wild Smith River brown trout……a 14″ skinny water bank sipper that thought his blue wing olive eating ways would serve him well….it was doing just that  until I showed up.  I have fished all over the lower 48 on the toughest of water and these guys during mid to late fall  are the toughest fish I have ever fished to.   Jeff Wilkins photo Sept 29, 2014……



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