A Day Out{side} Fly Fishing

By Kara Moss
Fish Ambassador

Follow along with Kara Moss as she documents her journey fly fishing in Asheville, North Carolina.

On a recent trip to Asheville, N.C., my partner and I decided to do something out of our comfort zone and try something brand new — we booked a drift boat fly fishing experience! We are very inexperienced fly fishermen, so we figured hiring a guide would not only give us the best chance at finding local fish but would also give us the opportunity to learn about fly fishing techniques like casting, knot tying and fly choices.

We hit the water at 7 a.m. sharp. Our guide had everything we could have ever needed: a boat, rods, reels and more flies than I could count. Our guide described to us that we would be fishing tailwater, which meant that we would be fishing downstream from a reservoir dam. Because the dam releases water from the bottom of the reservoir, all the water that is released is cold. That means this tailwater stream is cold year-round. The water stays in the 45- to 65-degree range, which is great for the fish we were looking for. The river we were fishing is home to native brown trout and is stocked annually with rainbow trout.

Our guide said the main forage for trout in the area includes mayflies and midges. Being a fly fisherman means being a bit of an insect expert. He shared the importance of knowing the life cycle of each insect in the region and how each fish responds to these bugs in their various life stages. Before these insects become the winged adult version, they spend their juvenile life stage below the surface of the water. This juvenile life stage of mayflies and midges is what we were trying to imitate with our flies. We had two flies of different patterns on a nymph rig, which means our flies were submerged, imitating these aquatic insects. Having different flies tied on helped us key in on what the fish were hungry for that day.

We were using fly rods, which took some time to adjust to as people who primarily fish for bass. In bass fishing, we are both so accustomed to the weight of our lure being the driving force behind each cast. On the other hand, in fly fishing we rely on the weight of the line to cast the practically weightless fly. Casting with a fly rod requires a technique that involves practice and patience. The water was incredibly clear, and the fish could see our every move, so it was important that we were able to cast precisely as well as far away from the boat. Luckily for us, our guide was a terrific teacher, and as the morning went on, our form got better and better.

Setting the hook looks a little different than what we are used to, as well. Our guide emphasized setting the hook by pointing the rod downstream. Since trout are typically facing upstream, searching for their next meal, setting the hook by pointing the rod upstream would just pull the hook out of the trout’s mouth. We lost our first few fish as we figured out the new technique, but we were quick to make the necessary adjustments.
Over the course of the day, we welcomed many fish to the boat. We were so excited to target a different species than we are used to in a beautiful part of the country. The views from the drift boat made for an incredible trip, even if fish weren’t part of the equation. The sounds of nature in conjunction with the crystal-clear water and beautiful green trees could not be beat.

We learned so much about fly fishing on this trip, but there is still so much for us to learn! Our guide let us know he also guides smallmouth bass trips close by, so of course we will have to come back to learn more about the incredible sport of fly fishing and how to target another species.

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