8 Fly Patterns For Southern Appalachian Brook Trout

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Dan Flynn C&R’s a Brookie. Photo By: Louis Cahill

My good friend Dan Flynn is the man when it comes to hike-ins for Southern Appalachian Brook Trout.

I’ve never met a fly angler that enjoys bushwhacking through walls of thick impenetrable rhododendrons all day long, more than Dan. Randomly pick any thin line of blue on a Delorme’s Georgia or North Carolina topography map, and chances are Dan’s thoroughly explored the high elevation tributary.

Most anglers I know wouldn’t waste their time and energy for such a small catch, but that’s where most anglers go wrong in their thinking. It’s not about the size of the catch that’s the reward. Instead it’s the aura of true living that comes over you exploring high mountain streams in complete solitude. It’s the small doses of adrenaline that you feel pumping through your veins as you hike up a steep slippery waterfall to the next plunge pool. It’s the anticipation and excitement that you get as you peer over a boulder or log jam and spot a colorful native feeding on the surface. Decades of your life seem to roll back here and the kid in you is reborn. Make a trip to one of these crown jewel brook trout streams and your soul will feel cleansed and reenergized afterwards.

Southern Appalachian Brook Trout Feeding in the Current. Photo By: Louis Cahill

The best thing about brook trout fishing is that you don’t have to carry your entire fly fishing arsenal of gear with you. A fly box filled with a handful of brightly colored dry and wet flies will almost always get the job done. The biggest factor for success is getting into position and choosing a fly cast that will allow you to present your fly in front of the brook trout. The bow and arrow cast is a staple here and anglers should also be ready for plenty of side-arm roll casting.

Be ready to drift your flies downstream under low hanging foliage. Quite often it will be the only way you can present your flies into the prime water. Leave your nine foot leaders at home. Short leaders will shine for the tight quarter fishing, allowing you to keep the critical foot or two of fly line out the end of your rod tip for your fly casting. You’ll also find the shorter leaders will make it easier for you to land your fish, while keeping your fly rod out of the overhanging branches in the process.

Fly Patterns for Southern Appalachian Brook Trout

Top Line (Left to Right): Adams Variant, Thunderhead, Orange Stimulator, Tan Elk Hair Caddis
Bottom Line (Left to Right): Yellow Mayfly, Tellico Nymph, Green Wire Caddis Larva, Micro Woolly Bugger.

Most of my brook trout fishing is done exclusively with one of these dry flies above. However, sometimes you’ll find some of the biggest brook trout will hold on the bottom of deep pools during high water levels and during colder months of the year. Depending on the day, they may or may not be willing to come up for a dry fly. Fishing a nymph or micro woolly bugger dead drifted or stripped can be very successful in these conditions.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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18 thoughts on “8 Fly Patterns For Southern Appalachian Brook Trout

  1. I always hear anglers in the South fishing blue liners. One of these days I’ll try it out. There’s a river in Yellowstone we always make a point of fishing. Full of little Brookies. Although we can catch larger cutts elsewhere in the park, there is no other trout prettier than a brook trout.

  2. I live in SE Wyoming and one of my favorite local streams in late summer is up above 10,000 feet and full of small brook trout. It can only be fished for about 2 months out of the year, between seasonal snowpacks. In fact, I bought my first 7’6″ 3wt rod because of this area. The fishing could be considered “easy”, with big bushy dry flies and strikes on nearly every cast, but I think of it as pure fun. I almost feel like a kid again when I fish for those brookies; like my first experiences with a fly rod catching small G&F stocked rainbows on Sweetwater. Every strike from a brookie makes me grin from ear to ear.

    Also – two of my favorite flies for these alpine brookies are purple bodied parachute adams and red or yellow humpy patterns.

      • It is taken to such an extreme here in GA that on other fishing blogs (NGTO) any reports about brookie streams only ever say “I hit a blue line for great action” a couple pics and thats it. The names and locations of prime Brookie waters are a CLOSELY guarded secret. Everyone loves catching big trout, but to catch the only native trout species and spend the day knowing your the only soul on that piece of water is amazing. A great day of brookie fishing in GA is well usually a soul searching experience!!!

  3. Pingback: Tippets: Bushwhacking, Story Behind the Picture, Brook Trout Patterns, River Repair, Winter Tying | MidCurrent

  4. I keep almost all of these in my box and use about half of them religiously while fishing for brookies in Western North Carolina. It don’t get much better.

  5. Pingback: North Carolina Brookies - The North American Fly Fishing Forum

  6. Wonderful to read about other’s experiences
    with these magnificent native trout. Remains
    to be some of my own most enjoyable
    moments on the stream. Thanks, and please
    continue sharing great reading.

  7. The two brookie streams I usually fish get a bit more pressure than the really remote streams so the fish are somewhat pickier. I generally have to match the infrequent hatch or use terrestrials or nymphs to avoid alot of refusals. There is a common misconception that brookies is small streams get about 7 inches and then die. It all depends on the morphologyofthe stream, I have seen a brookie of at least17 inches in a southern app. stream in a deep and large pool. I was 10′ directly above the fish on an overhanging rock and his dorsal and edipose fins both slowly broke the surface. I didn’t catch it nor see it again. They can get that big under the right conditions and that should be taken into account in the regs or we will eventually breed a race of pygmy trout without that capability.

  8. More on my last post: That trout was as brilliantly marked as most that I have caught although it had a slightly lighter background on the sides, kind of a bluish cast. The pool it was in was about 20′ by 40′ with an average depth of 5′ and a maximum of around 8′. There is no doubt that it was a native because it was above a falls that would be a barrier to any stocked trout.
    The regs on that stream allow one to keep 6 trout over 9″ which is totally inappropriate because there are at present less than a dozen trout of that size in the stream(and probally only 3or 4 over 10″) in spite of its demonstrated capacity to produce fish of considerably greater size in plunge pools. By removing brookies once they reach that size the potential of the stream will never be achieved. The above regs might be appropiate for a stream lacking the deep plunge pools where 9″ represents an old adult fish.

  9. All flies mentioned are exceptional.

    I fish with the Adams female, Adams, and chartreuse Humpy’s almost exclusively here in the Shenandoah Valley in VA. These patterns also produce on almost any native river in WV as well. Just pulled out a 12″ native Brook on the Middle Fork River in WV in front of a spin fisherman on my 3rd cast in 5′ plus deep pool.
    The guy was amazed as he was fishing that hole for over an hour with nothing. He was so intrigued that he asked me to teach him to cast a fly rod. Amazing how one beautiful fishcan cause that kind of intrigue.

    Great article.

  10. Pingback: Spring Brook Trout – Smooth Angler

  11. Native Brook trout are, inch for inch, the best fighters on a fly rod. It ought to be against the law to keep the native ones. They are seldom big enough to get anything called “a meal”, anyway. They are so scarce and rare east of the Mississippi, and are like catching a living painting of no equal. Take a quick picture and turn them loose for the next fellow fly fisher to share the marvel of these beauties of nature.

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