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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cumberland River Flies: General Small Nymph Edition

Cumberland River Flies
Chances are if youve ever found yourself knee deep in the cold water of the Cumberland river, you've been faced with the time aged question of, "Which fly to choose." or possibly, "Where the hell are the bugs?" Now, What I would like to do, Is take the time to share with you, my most effective fly patterns, and go into detail of when and where to use them.
The Cumberland river, could easily be considered one of the Eastern United States, Top Trophy Trout Tail waters. Perhaps the only problem with the fishery, is the ongoing construction with Wolf Creek Dam. Due to the construction, their are extremely Irregular flows from Wolf Creek Dam. This does technically affect the lifespan of the trout, however it can make for difficult fishing. Sudden surprise rain showers that the area is known for, can quickly ruin a trip...well, for a little while anyways. The core of engineers and TVA are currently trying to maintain the Lake Level at 681.00 feet at Wolf Creek Dam. In layman terms, any additional rainfall, has to be released from the Wolf Creek Dam to maintain the Lake Level. NOW HOLD ON A SECOND. No worries. There are several access points on the Cumberland River, and it is very much possible to set up your float ahead of Release schedules. The only problem is, the TVA can be very Unpredictable, and nothing is set in stone.

Back on Subject. Here we go with the Flies.

That I am aware of, there are not any major Hatches on the Cumberland River...
OTHER THAN THE ANNUAL Mothers Day Caddis Hatch, and of course, VERY THICK MIDGES, is an almost guarantee.
We do have a healthy population of Giant Stoneflies, and Believe it or not, Salmonflies.
And Mayflies? Sure. Plenty of them.
It is just the hatches are so random, so sparse and sporadic, that its near impossible to key in on them.
When they happen, they happen. And the only way to be prepared for them is by having the right flies. So here we go:

Small Nymphs

Prince Nymph #14-18
 As a start to a good foundation, Filling a fly box for the Cumberland river, is actually quite simple. You should have a selection of Prince Nymphs, in any variation you could think of. Me? I dont like change, so I fish 3 versions. I fish a standard, a beadhead, and a beahhead flashback. Try to keep it in the 14-18 range. It works as general searching pattern, and can be fished either with a High Stick, or underneath a bobber...erm...I mean...strike indicator. The prince nymph also works well fished as the dropper fly in a tandem or two fly rig. To switch things up in your dropper rigs, try using it as the point fly, versus using a smaller fly as the point.

Pheasant Tail #14-18
 And, of course you cant forget pheasant tail nymphs. But honestly, where in the world, will they not work. Think small 14-18, and even down in the 20's. I like to tie them on a curved shank hook, versus a regular straight shank.

Copper Johns #14-20
Copper, Black, Green, Red 
 To copy smaller stonefly nymphs, mayflies, or possibly chironomid, try one of these classic producers. We fish em deep. Dont be afraid to add split shot.

GRHE #14-18
Black, Olive, Natural 
 An old friend of ours. Fish em in the top water column (12-36") of water, or put em right on the bottom. Fish will eat them
. Try stand or bead head, with or without Split shot.

To wrap things up, Ill end by saying, that this is a good start, on how you should pursue filling your fly boxes. Of course their is a whole slew of other popular and effective small nymph patterns we use. But:
A. This is a general touchdown of what to include.
B. As a guide, I cant share all of my secrets ;)

Have a great time out there, be safe, and obey all Fishing regulations, and safe boating laws!

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