Unicoi Outfitters is north Georgia's premier guide service and fly fishing outfitter, located on the Chattahoochee River near alpine Helen. Look for fishing reports, gear and book reviews, and general musings here from our staff and guides.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Free Orvis Reel!

Through May 15, 2009, buy any Orvis Helios, T3, TLS, or Superfine rod and pick the Battenkill Bar Stock, Battenkill Mid Arbor, or Battenkill Large Arbor reel of your choice for FREE, a savings of up to $259!

This offer is available at both our Helen and Blue Ridge stores.
(Offer valid while supplies last. Participant must purchase a Helios, T3, Superfine or TLS rod at full price to receive choice of any Battenkill Bar Stock, Mid Arbor or Large Arbor reel. This offer not valid with any other discounts or offers.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

20% Discount on Kayak Accessories

That's right...we'll take 20% off all kayak accessories when you purchase a Native Watercraft kayak from Unicoi Outfitters. It's a perfect time to get that new boat out on the water, and with this great deal on accessories, the time is even better!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Flatlander's Dark:30

After almost a year of being away from my favorite river - the Chattooga - an opportunity arose to head there this past Friday afternoon. The drive north consisted of a little conversation, a lot of bluegrass pickin' music and a rush of memories of past trips to this special place. Visions of rising fish from the first ever "hatch" I experienced seemed as fresh as the new spring growth seen everywhere right now, and there was much anticipation of experiencing one again on this day.

As has been the case for me for the last year or so now, I have a hard time deciding whether to fish or to shoot photos. I wish I would just grow another set of arms and be able to perform both, but I don't see that happening without coming in contact with some sort of radioactive material (maybe a trip to the Savannah River Site is in order?). So, after arriving at the river around 3:00 in the afternoon, Guru started, well, fishing, while I shot a few hundred photos of my favorite place. Observing caddis and mayflies sporadically coming off the water and flying to a nearby hemlock, watching Jimmy catch multiple rainbows and brook trout by skittering caddis patterns downstream, and just getting to see normal water levels had me immediately satisfied before I even strung up the five-weight.

Of course, it finally got to me and the fly line was slid through the stripping guides and then the snakes and finally out of the tippy-top. Some 5X tippet was added to the leader and a parachute Adams was carefully tied with a securely-cinched knot. Cast after cast was made for nearly two hours without a single fish rising. But still, I remained satisfied. For the first time ever I was perfectly fine not catching fish. What's happening to me? Am I growing personally? (I'm reminded of an episode of Seinfeld where George says, "Personal growth of any kind really annoys me.")

Then, just when I had come to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to catch a fish this evening, something changed. Tan caddisflies started flying upriver as if they had been summoned to some sort of important gathering of the caddis. A few mayflies - including some sort of huge light cahill/Green Drake/bald eagle hybrid - started flying around (they were so big, one flew close to my head and I swear the wind coming from its wing-flap blew my hair a little). And, just like that, it was on.

The waning light urged me to switch to a big, visible Yellow Humpy dry fly and drop the parachute Adams off of it. Nothing like fishing two dries. In one long run, I landed six rainbows, one of which went completely air born to grab the Adams before it even landed on the water!

After exhausting that run, a short hike up to a long, glassy stretch where I have caught a few decent browns in the past had me itching to "churn butter" and hook one or two more. Guru and I watched as several brown trout consistently rose, including one who had been doing his squats and bicep curls for a while. After a few dozen casts to "big boy," he finally rose to the Adams. "OOOHHHH YESSS!!" I screamed.

Now, when you hook a fish that runs, like all trout do, you're usually okay as long as they don't run directly AT you. This creates slack and that's not good.

Well, big boy did exactly that.

Luckily, I stuck him good and felt confident that the hook wasn't going anywhere. And, that extra time cinching down my knots had me almost certain that this fish would take up temporary residence inside of my landing net. And, when he neared my feet, I really caught a glimpse of how large this fish was (somewhere between 18 and 20 inches with some good shoulders on him).

There was one variable in this equation, however, that would possibly jeopardize the whole operation - a slight rust on the bend of my hook. The current state of the economy and its subsequent effect on people who are trying to write for a living, combined with the fact that I hadn't trout fished in a while (the bass are on the bed... REPEAT... the bass are on the bed) led to an all-too-neglected fly box.

So, while continuing to YELL "OOOHHHH YESSSS!" over and over, I came up with a new dance move that helps remove slack line - the "Trout-Tackler-Two-Step" is sort of a backward stumble that adds some crazy-fast stripping with the line hand to try to take out the slack. It worked and the fish was on tight again... for about two seconds. In an instant the line was totally slack and my flies were above the water again.

Upon further inspection, the Adams had lost the business end of himself in the battle.


But, an immediate roll-cast to the side resulted in another immediate rise by a smaller brown and he was quickly landed. Another few casts to another rising fish had him on and landed - a NICE 15-inch brown. And before dark, another two browns were landed on that same glassy stretch.

The second half of the hike back to the parking lot was in darkness, save two flashlights from Guru and Dredger (who we met on the hike back) and was just as fun as the fishing. Stories, observations, fish counts, laughs and camaraderie were readily shared on that jaunt through the dark woods as another memory was filed away for the next drive north, whenever that may be.

David Cannon

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What To Do About Clammy Breathable Waders

Here is a guide to the care and feeding of breathable waders slightly modified, but primarily as supplied to us by Orvis. The information is also applicable to any waterproof breathable garment like a Gore-Tex rain jacket:

The outer surface of most laminated waterproof-breathable fabrics is treated with a durable water-repellent coating (DWR). This chemical treatment forces water to bead up and roll off the surface of the fabric improving the overall performance and comfort of the garment.

DWR coatings will begin to degrade after extended use and as the garment becomes soiled. The degradation will inhibit the DWR coating’s ability to bead water and cause the garment to “wet out” as the face fabric material absorbs water.

Although the garment is still waterproof, the water saturated face fabric will hinder the garments ability to breathe and produce a cold and clammy feeling for the wearer. It is important to clean your garments regularly to help avoid this situation.


Most garments can be machined washed, consult the care instruction label on the garment. Make sure to use an additive-free detergent. DO NOT USE ANY DETERGENTS THAT CONTAIN FABRIC SOFTENERS OR COLOR SAFE BLEACH.

Machine Washable Items (Stocking foot waders and jackets)

Ivory® Snow (powder)
ReviveX® Synthetic Fabric Cleaner
Nikwax® Tech Wash

Non-machine washable Items (Boot foot waders)

Granger® G-Wash Spray Cleaner

Please read and follow the instructions included with these products and the garment manufacturer’s care and cleaning directions.


Cleaning alone may not restore the DWR coating effectiveness.

For a clean garment, use a cool iron or tumble dry on low to medium heat to reactivate the coating. Please follow the garment manufacturer’s recommended instructions for drying.

To reapply a DWR coating, we recommend the following products. Please be sure to read and follow the instructions for application carefully.

ReviveX® Spray-On Water Repellent (Which we stock at Unicoi Outfitters)

With basic care and maintenance, your waterproof, breathable garment(s) should provide you years of use and enjoyment.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dan Blanton at Frog Hollow

We were very excited this past week to host one of fly fishing's true legends, Dan Blanton. Dan is one of the pioneers of west coast salt water fly fishing and was inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame in 2002. He was in town as a guest of the Atlanta Fly Fishing Club and Henry Cowen was entertaining him with some good old southern fishing for a couple of days: stripers and trout. Dan couldn't have picked a more miserable weather situation to try fishing in Georgia but, as you can see from these pictures, he had a very successful couple of days. We thought it appropriate that we let Rex Gudgel, Unicoi's flower child from California, guide Dan at Frog Hollow.

To find out more about Dan and his fishing exploits, writings and fly designs, you can visit him at his website. If you'll check out his Bulletin Board, you'll find his comments on fishing with Henry and Rex here.

Here's One You Don't See Every Day!

We just got this nice report in from Matt McDuffie:

My wife Linda and I are expecting twins in August, and recently took a little vacation to Anna Maria Is. (barrier Is on the south side of the mouth of Tampa Bay). I can’t say I was targeting a
Lookdown Fish, in fact, I had to look it up to make a positive ID. At any rate, I landed this one the first evening on the water on a clouser. Thought yall might enjoy this unusual catch. By the way – the new blog is great.

Great catch, Matt! Thanks for the comments on the blog....and congratulations on the twins - get in as much fishing now as you can!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Big Winners!

Just a note to let everyone know who won the recent drawings we had in both Helen and Blue Ridge:


Bill Dicks won the Orvis Helios outfit.

Blue Ridge

The St. Croix Imperial Rod was won by Polly Dean.
Bruce Daniels won the Lamson Guru reel with an SA Sharkskin line.
Another Sharkskin line was won by Danny Waldroup.

Congratulations folks! Look for more promotions later this year for your chance to win prizes and take advantage of special prices!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Frog Hollow Fishing Report

This just in from Vonnie McClung of Albany, GA:

Just wanted to thank you guys for a great trip last Thursday. My friend and I fished with Rex at Frog Hollow and had a blast. It was my second time fishing with you guys, but it was my buddies first ever fly fishing experience. Rex took a lot of time with him and eventually had him landing some fish. He's hooked (pardon the pun).

Attached is a picture of the best fish I landed that day. I lost two that were as big if not bigger. I guess that means I'll have to come back and try again.

Thanks again for a great trip.

Nice fish, Vonnie...hope to see you and your buddy again soon!

Friday, April 3, 2009


That's what we'll be doing on Thursday April 9 at 6:30 pm at the Unicoi shop in Helen. Thanks to Jimmy, David, and John for the use of the building and supplies for our first fly tying meeting.

There is no charge here so this is a great opportunity to learn and also teach and have some fun.

This is for beginners, pros, and tyers like me that just want to learn more about tying. The session is open to TU members and any one else who has an interest in fly tying and fly fishing.

They are already doing this at the Blue Ridge shop and they tell me it is going well. We hope for this to be a regular monthly meeting and we can select the day and time best for everyone at the first meeting. Bring your vise and other supplies if you have them--if not, that's OK.

We'll be serving pheasant tail under vise--from rare to well done--hope to see you there.

Ron Thomas

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

St. Croix, Lamson & Scientific Anglers Day @ Blue Ridge

At Unicoi Outfitters in Blue Ridge on Saturday, April 4th:

Come cast a St. Croix rod and receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win an St. Croix Imperial Fly Rod, Lamson Guru reel, or a Scientific Anglers fly line. We will be giving out hats too.

Unicoi Fly Tying Instructor/Guide Chad Peters will be demonstrating tying flies on a Norvise during the day.

Unicoi Guide John Mauldin will be available to talk with folks interested in fishing in Last Chance Idaho on the Henry's Fork, Madison and South Fork.

FFF Master Casting Instructor Eric Cook will be available for fly casting instruction.

Becky and I will be answering questions about the new products in the shop such as the Simms Vibram Boots, Native Watercraft, and St. Croix Imperial Fly Rods. As always, we will be glad to give you any advice you might need fishing the local streams.

Free food and drinks from 11am to 1pm.

We hope to see you. Please call us at 706-632-1880 for questions.