Tradition and the Green River, NC

A landscape scene from the Green River

Fly Fishing Soul

Tradition can be defined as a handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice. I love this definition and I believe it starts with family and is what gives fly fishing a soul.

Two of my business partners, Andy and Eva Baker recently moved to the mountains of North Carolina in the middle of some great southern trout streams. I have had the great opportunity to fish the Davidson River on many excursions over the last twenty years. Truthfully, that was the extent of my local knowledge of the area, not much in the way of tradition to pass on to my Son-in-Law and granddaughter. However, a quick search for traditional North Carolina trout fly patterns turned up a few possibilities. I needed to tap into tradition and trust the fact that fly patterns developed many years ago, can and do still catch trout. The three patterns that intrigued me most and appeared to be patterns our nine year old Eva could learn to tie would be the Sheep Fly, Yellow Hammer, and Tellico Nymph. All three patterns could be used to swing downstream or be perfect for some tight line nymphing. I tied a few of each, a little rough, or as my fine artist wife Melanie would call, Artist Proofs.

Me showing Eva how to tie the yellow hammer fly pattern
Teaching Eva how to tie a yellow hammer.
Two yellow hammers sitting on a table
Eva and I's yellow hammer pattern we tied.
Yellow hammer hooked into a cork
Yellow Hammer
Sheep fly hooked into a cork
Sheep Fly
Tellico nymph hooked into a cork
Tellico Nymph

Putting Experience to the Test

The Green River is a twenty minute drive from the Kid’s house and is a beautiful hatchery supported trout stream, plenty of fish! Andy and I bought some nice maps, opened them up on the hood of the truck and began to start a tradition of our own. I must admit that I am responsible for the first coffee stain on the brand new map. Hopefully, he can share the map and the adventure with my daughter Sarah and the two girls, Eva and Lila, on many excursions for years to come.

We scouted and found a few spots that were young family friendly in regards to wading. The time had come to put tradition to the test. The look of the stream was familiar to me, plunge pools, flats, riffles, pocket water, long runs, etc. Andy wet waded into position armed with a Yellow Hammer tied to the bend of the hook on a Sheep Fly. I watched as he found the feel for swinging a fly where he wanted it to go. I must admit I felt a little guide pressure to put him on and land a trout, any trout. The pressure escalated within ten minutes as Andy hooked up his first North Carolina trout. In retrospect, I was hoping it was a stocker that would come to hand without much trouble, it would still count. Instead, he hooked up a holdover with good sized shoulders and the fight was on! As he fought the fish, I remember telling him to enjoy the tussle, probably because I wasn’t sure the three of us were going to meet at my net. I cannot remember feeling so satisfied with any trout I have landed as when I looked at Andy’s face as he admired his beautiful rainbow trout resting in the cool water, safely in the net. Not a monster in size, but a giant in terms of what that trout meant to both of us. The Yellow Hammer was secure in the side of the trout’s jaw just as it has been on many trout over the some seventy-five years since first tied. I would imagine, if you run into Andy on the stream he will have a few Yellow Hammers in his box. The tradition continues.

Andy roll casting in the Green River
Andy working on his roll cast.
Andy holding a brown trout standing in the Green River
Andy holding his first trout caught on the Green River.