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.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Does your job have you stressed out? Is your better half (husband or wife) on your case?

Are you bummed out about the "Dawgs"? - let's not go there. Does all this make you feel like "tying 1 on"? That's what we'll be doing Tuesday, November 3, at Unicoi Outfitters in Helen.

Come join us at 6:30 PM for our monthly fly tying session - everyone is welcome. If you're just wanting to learn to tie flies or you already tie, you're invited. Bring equipment if you have it - if not, we'll supply it.

We have a pretty good time at each session and occasionally we even tie a fly that might catch a fish. Hope to see you Tuesday.



Fly Fishing in Georgia - A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters

It's here!

As many of you know, our friend David Cannon, who occasionally posts here at the Liars Club Blog, has written a guidebook for fly fishing in Georgia.  It is part of the No Nonsense Guide series that are just excellent books - well-written and photographed and nicely printed.  The great news is that after much anticipation, the book has arrived!  We have it stock in Helen today, and will have some in Blue Ridge tomorrow - hey, even Amazon doesn't have it yet!

David's book is the first and only guide to cover Georgia's top fly-fishing waters. It details cold water streams, warm water rivers and impoundments, and coastal saltwater fishing. You'll gain you a quick, clear understanding of the essential information you'll need to fly fish Georgia's best waters. Outstandingly clear maps provide access points to waters. Find everything you need to know to fish a particular water from hatch charts to flies to essential gear. Full color photos of fishing destinations and flies to use. A great book for the beginner or expert.  The book features photography by Chad McClure and David and Stephanie Cannon; illustrations by Tom Landreth, Bucky Bowles, Paul Puckett, and Patsy Lewis Gentry; and a foreword by our own Jimmy Harris.

We're really happy about how nicely this book turned out, and know that you will be too.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Test Drive an Abel Reel

For those of you who fish Abel reels and those of you who have always wondered what the big deal is with such a pricey reel, Unicoi Outfitters is going to give you an opportunity to fish with their new Super 5N series. Everyone knows Abel reels are the Maserati of fly fishing equipment. They are designed and machined to the most minute of tolerances, their finishes are the most durable in the industry and their drag systems are flawless.

Between now and the end of January 2010, Unicoi Outfitters is participating in the Abel Reel Challenge and will have two Abel Super 5N reels available in each store for you to borrow and fish with just to see how you like it. We'll have one spooled up for a 5 wt. and one for a 6 wt.

A great feature of the Super N series of reels is FlexABELity:  they can handle multiple line weights with the change of a spool. For example, the Super 5N with a large arbor spool is for a 5 or 6 wt. The same reel with a standard arbor spool handles a 7 or 8 wt. line. This provides a versatility not found in any other reel on the market.  For more details on the Abel Super Series, check out this page at Abel's website.

So here is the deal: You may come in and check out (just like a library book) one of the reels and fish with it. When you bring it back, we'll have a Abel questionnaire which you'll be asked to fill out. You don't have to but there is an incentive: even if you don't want to purchase an Abel reel as part of this promotion, simply by taking a few minutes to fill out the questionnaire, you will receive a free Abel ball cap from the manufacturer.

If you do choose to purchase an Abel reel, if you do so within 30 days of your test drive, you will be able to get a solid color reel for the same price as a black reel, and you will receive free laser engraving of your name or initials.  That's an effective savings of $100.  

To sweeten the pot, Unicoi Outfitters will throw in a gift certificate for a half day of fishing at Nacoochee Bend (a $120 value) when you make the purchase. These reels aren't for everyone but if you want the absolute best this is where you'll end up.

One Brother's Admiration

I’m lucky to have the friends I am close to. They keep me humble and grounded.

I’m blessed to have the family I have.

They are always there and are constant reminders that I belong to something greater. My brother in particular is the best brother in the world as far as I am concerned. I am truly proud to be his brother. Since the day I was made an uncle by he and his wife, I couldn’t wait for this particular day to arrive, Guy Weekend. It was time to introduce my nephew Joe (who is 4 years old) to the world of trout fishing. I know my father was hauling my brother and me around on fishing trips when we were Joe’s age and we both turned out just fine, so nothing wrong with getting Joe started early. So with a truck load of groceries and fishing gear, we headed up to the cabin for a weekend of burger grilling, Chocolate Yoo-Hoo drinking and trout fishing fun.

There is no better job than being an uncle. And to think that in a couple of years I get to do it again with Joe’s younger brother Jack.

There is also no greater joy than watching the fire being lit in the next generation of trout fishermen.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Fall & Winter Store Hours in Helen

With Daylight Savings Time coming to an end this weekend (Nov. 1st), our shop in Helen will be changing our hours of operation for the remainder of the Fall and Winter season. The hours of operation in Helen will also reflect the changes in operational hours at Smithgall Woods for fishing at Dukes Creek. Here are the new schedules:


M,Tu,Th,F: 9am - 5pm

W,Sa,Su: 8am - 5pm


8:30am , 11:30am , 4:30pm

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New Boat/ Hartwell Report

Today I went to Hartwell with my 5 yr old daughter to test our new lake boat and fish. We got a 20ft Xpress with a 115 hp fourstroke yamaha. This boat runs like a dream. With 2 large casting decks and room on the floor for a third angler this boat will make fishing so much more comfortable. It rides like a Cadillac. The post-front conditions from the last couple of days had the fishing off a little today. We had to cover a lot of ground but finally found a few schools of hybrids in the open water on the south end. Lots of chop made it hard to see the blitzes, you really had to watch the birds and keep your eyes peeled. My daughter caught her first lake hybrid- a 3 pounder on 8lb test. What a great fight on light tackle, she was so excited.

Buck Ernst
Piedmont Angling

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dukes Creek Photo On T-Shirt

I just found out that the photo I shot on Dukes Creek last year that ended up being the cover shot for issue #2 of the online journal of fly fishing photography and video, Catch Magazine, is now on a t-shirt! Pretty cool! In fact, many of you know the angler pictured in the spotlight of this photo.

<Cover of Catch Magazine Issue #2 (November, 2008)>

Anyhow, they haven't yet determined what color the t-shirt is going to be, but I've lobbied for a darker color so that we can wear 'em fishing on Dukes Creek. I'll keep y'all updated.

Here's the link to the t-shirt's page in their online store: LINK

<Original shot>

David Cannon

The River

The River
© 2009 by David Lambert

How do we write of a river? Do we say that it passes us daily carrying life in every molecule? Do we tell of liquidity and a river’s willingness to surround and absorb, to enliven and dissolve. Do we mention the intimacy of its caress? That we feel its essence by its river baggage and know of its passing by its current and swirl and force?

Do we tell of the life of a river? The persistent volume coursing beneath? Do we name it by breath or depth? Define it by its banks, its flora, its color, location or length. Can we can only guess at the forces that engender its flow?

Do we say that a river moves unimpeded, carrying always downstream the debris of life, surrounding branch and boulder in a choreography of both nature and the natural, a dance of life and motion, a liquid ballet that knows neither stop nor stage.

In telling of a river, do we ask where the river begins; where it ends? Do we write that a spot of vapor condenses, mingles and becomes something larger--a trickle following the downhill track of unknowable earlier unities.

Do we say that trickles merge and unite, merge and unite? And those build freshets and rivulets which with time and travel unite to become creeks? That those creeks become streams and streams merge and unite and become the river?

And the river? Do we tell that the river seeks other rivers? That, through merge and travel they become something bigger, a singular, larger entity? Or do we say that rivers coalesce into a sea; and the sea into other seas. And so on, and so on, until they cover the earth. Do we say that this process is eternal, as never-ending as the earth itself and on this day it begins again? And ends again?

Or, do we write instead of the light that captures the river? Of surface shimmers in a silver dance, directed by currents and orchestrated by the breeze. Do we tell of swords of light that brighten the depths and of how their edges soften and bend to form a sort of liquid lambrequin, light curtains in an underwater orld. Do we say that we have seen the northern lights in the sunbeams of that world? Can we tell of a river without telling also of light?

Can we tell of nights when the moon hangs obliquely in eastern sky and how the river connects both eye and orb by a singular sulphur pathway? Of how that moonpath is ours and ours alone; and how no moonpath can be shared, that every eye will have its own? Do we tell of the jewels we find there and how we hold them tight to our chests, of how they are always and only ours, yet not ours to share?

Do we tell of dirty cotton days and wet light when the sky is all cloud and the river seems sullen and offers nothing but a dull metallic hush? Of the winds that push the leaden clouds and how they peck and fetch the water and spatter your body in a form of moving pointillism. Of the chill that comes with every hull slap and paddle lift. Do we write of the anticipation of a hot shower after such a day on the river, and of knowing that only hot water that can free us of that particular chill?

Or, do we write of solace in the passing water? Of quiet clarity in the morning light, of how it offers the simple luxury of peace? When we speak of the river, do we give it a character? Call it determined . . . persistent? Pensive? Do we say of the river that it has a singular will, that through it we find vigor and truth, comfort and peace? Do we find philosophy in the river? Can we say that the river is a friend; or, in doing so, do we beg too much in return?

How do we write of the river?

Do we tell of family and friends who have known river days river with us? Do we say those days are unique and cherished and that we pray for river memories when age and infirmity deprive us of all others? Do we say that is our only prayer?

Do we tell of a summer day, gauzy and soft lit. Of a son casting to a green spring pool? Of the joy of a wife now well and a radiance of river light scattering on a scarred but perfect body? Would we tell of the warmth of woodsmoke on a high river bank and the pure pleasure perfume it provides. Would we mention a drop-tongued pup who found courage at the river. . .and strength, and voice. Would we say that she was a foundling who found the river home?

Do we write of neighbors on the river? Of friends linked by purchase and pursuit, connected by a sandy path so white it shines us home on a moonless night. Would we say this river and these neighbors were an umbilical, a lifeline? That we have traveled parallel paths to this particular water. Could we write that these neighbors slept on this river and its sisters for generations? And they learn yet?

Would we write that the river forgives? That, if left alone, it will cleanse itself and think no worse of us for our imprudence. Could we say that a that it teaches forgiveness? That through time and trial and solitude we may learn to forgive—both others and ourselves

Do we tell of a river that speaks quietly, whispers the joys of illness gone and the grief of death come quick? Can we say that the river helps with both. That there is lucidity in the river voice? That we hear most clearly when we hear nothing?

Do we write the river records both our passage and our passing? Would we write that it cares for neither?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where in the World is Unicoi Outfitters?

This contest was a lot of fun last year and we got some really interesting photos showing our logo in a variety of locations around the country. Recently we received a photo we just had to recognize and, for the month of October, we are bringing it back.

Russell A. Davis, TSgt, USAF in Iraq sent us the attached photo;  his unit there is the 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron and he’s assigned to the Security Forces Office of Investigations. His home unit in Georgia is the 116th Air Wing Security Forces Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard. All of us at Unicoi Outfitters want to thank Sergeant Davis for his photos, his mission and his sacrifices. He will definitely be receiving a gift certificate for a free fishing trip to Nacoochee Bend. We wish him a safe tour and look forward to seeing him standing in the middle of the Toccoa River in his next photo.

If you'd like, feel free to use the comments block below to leave your own words of encouragement and appreciation.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chattooga Gold

There's no question the Chattooga River running between Georgia and South Carolina is a very special place. It was, in fact, the very first river in the country to receive the designation of a "Wild and Scenic River" by the federal government and has been protected from abuse and development ever since. I've fished a lot of spectacular trout streams across United States and, quite honestly, none are more beautiful than the Chattooga. Just as an expectant mother glows radiantly and becomes even more beautiful during that distinctive time, Fall on the Chattooga River brings an exquisite allure to my home river. Sunday afternoon Jeff Durniak and I made the lazy drive north to Rabun County and the mostly east journey on Warwoman Road as you switch back and forth around Rabun Bald. We had planned all along to hike above Burrell's Ford Bridge but we did take time to check the parking lots around the Hwy. 28 bridge just to see if folks were getting out of the house on this beautiful afternoon. All lots were full but we only saw one angler. It was, after all, a great day for hiking as well as fishing.

We arrived at Burrell's Ford Bridge at 1 PM. Air temperature was 48° as was the water temp. Both held steady all afternoon. With a little layering of Capilene and Windstopper fleece, I was very comfortable. My only mistake was forgetting to throw a ball cap in the car. All I had was a wool beanie which was perfectly comfortable but I never truly realized how much glare the bill of a ball cap cuts out. Note to self: don't get so excited about going fishing that you forget vital pieces of equipment. The last time this happened was about twenty years ago when I hiked in to Big Bend Falls before realizing I had left my reel in the car. I suppose such an oversight every twenty years can be tolerated. At least this time I was able to fish.

While Jeff immediately went deep (the nickname "Dredger" is no misnomer), I tied on a big attractor dry with a pheasant tail dropper. Almost immediately I had a rainbow rise to the dry but I missed the strike. That was encouragement enough to convince me to stay with my rig...unfortunately. For the next hour and a half, nothing. Switch to a big stone fly nymph and drop the pheasant tail off the back. "Bam!", nice rainbow. Okay, I can play that game, although I didn't really want to.

For the next three hours, we steadily picked up fish here and there but mostly in the deeper runs with moderate current. And while we really wanted to target wild browns, the rainbows were more aggressive on this trip. But the highlight of the day was a beautiful 14" brown the Rabunites refer to as an old-timey original with buttery gold cheeks and belly that mirrored the gold in the streamside hickory and poplar trees. It was a day for making memories!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lake Hartwell Report

Its on!! Temps have dropped into the 60's and the bigger fish have come up to join in the action. They are beginning to move from the river to the creeks and staying up much longer now. Despite windy conditions today we caught 7 fish on the fly today from 4-7 lbs. Some schools were on bluebacks and others on shad. The key is matching the bait size. It will only get better this week as the night temps drop. Forgot the camera today, sorry no pics. Look for birds and surface activity. If they go down, stay there. They will come back up in a few minutes. Good luck and good fishing.

Buck Ernst
Piedmont Angling
www.buckernstfishing .com

Tuck DH Float with Julian Byrd

Julian Byrd and I floated the Tuck DH on Friday and it was a challenging day. They had just stocked about 10 days prior, so we figured it would be absolutely silly fishing. However, even with an angler/guide as skilled as ol' J-Byrd, it was still one heck of a challenge. We were trying to figure out what was going on for a while when Julian stuck his hand in the water and said, "Wow, this water feels warm". Sure enough, it felt warmer than the 60-degree air temperature we had that day. I had read of several other reports from people on NGTO saying that they had only caught a couple of fish or had caught nothing but the proverbial skunk, but you never know if the person posting is just a lousy fisherman! Of course, Friday night the temps sank to about 34 degrees and the reports from Saturday were the usual - 30 fish, 50 fish, etc. Odds are that cold weather dropped the water temps significantly and those same fish started eating every fly they came across.

If you get a chance, take a float on the Tuck with Julian or Butch. The fall weather is perfect right now, there's water everywhere, these guys know the river well and can get you on these nice and plentiful fish. Here are a few shots from the day:

David Cannon

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nacoochee Bend Fishing Great!

I fished Nacoochee Bend today and, man, are there some nice fish in there! The leaves are starting to change, THERE'S WATER IN THE RIVER, and the fish are spread out nicely, meaning there could be a fish in a lot of different runs, riffles and holes now (isn't it nice to see the fish out of drought mode?). I landed fish from 17- to about 20 inches and lost a few others... Speaking of, if you fish there soon, there are three fish on the upper half that I tagged. If found, your reward will be a highly-effective Hurless Nymph! (For clarification, the "tag" is the Hurless Nymph)

David Cannon

Tie 1 On

Just wanted to say a word of thanks to everyone that showed up for our tying session last week--especially the 1st timers Kenny and young Jackson--hope you enjoyed it and we look forward to seeing you again next month. Thanks to all the others that were there--our flies are looking much better and we're still having fun tying them. Remember, we meet the 1st Tuesday of each month at Unicoi Fly Shop in Helen at 6:30 PM. If you just want to learn to tie flies, or learn to tie better flies, or teach us to tie better flies, you are invited and everyone is welcome. Bring a vise and equipment if you have them, if not, we have plenty.

Oh yeah, did I say that our flies catch fish? Just ask Jake!

Jake Darling with a beautiful fall-colored brown trout from Noontootla Creek Farms.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"Go Fishing With A Friend" and Get a Winston Ascent Fly Rod for only $65!

Winston Fly Rods "Go Fishing With A Friend" Rod Promotion

I just got off the telephone with the folks out at Winston, and they've got a great deal - just in time for Christmas - or the fall fishing season!

They're calling it the "Go Fishing With A Friend" program - the idea is that you can help get a friend or family member into fly fishing a lot easier if you have a spare rod they can use....we won't tell anyone, but it would also make a great back-up rod for you!

The deal is: From 10/1/2009 to 12/15/2009, anyone who purchases a Winston Premium Rod may also purchase an Ascent Fly Rod (valued $225 to $230) and case for $65. This price includes UPS Ground shipping directly from Winston so that they have a rod with which to "Go Fishing with a Friend".

Purchaser must send premium rod purchase receipt, warranty card, and method of payment for $65 to Winston to order their Ascent Fly Rod. Must be redeemed by 12/31/2009.
This is a great deal, and you can choose any of the Ascent rods you wish.  And it's easy to redeem:  just send in the warranty card, copy of receipt, payment of $65, and your choice of Ascent rod to the Winston HQ - no additional forms necessary.

This is a limited-time offer, so take advantage of it while it's here - we've got a selection of premium Winston rods in both our Blue Ridge and Helen shops.  And to get in the spirit of things, during this promotion period, Unicoi Outfitters will include a half-day unguided access to Nacoochee Bend for you and your friend with the purchase of a premium Winston rod!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Discount Flies Online - A Good Deal?

The folks over at Midcurrent just published a great article discussing discount flies sold online vs. quality flies sold at your local fly shop. They've made the argument for quality vs. price much better than we could: give Phil Monahan's "Ask The Expert" column a read and think about it the next time you need flies. We sell only quality flies at Unicoi Outfitters, from such sources as Umpqua, Rainey, Orvis, and select local tiers, including some of our own guides.

Loon Outdoors Shark Tooth Tippet Cutter

We mentioned this in the most recent Liars Club newsletter and have had a lot of requests, so we thought we'd make it easy for you to buy!

The guys were really jazzed about the Loon Shark Tooth tippet cutters they saw out at the fly tackle dealer's show in Denver last month.  I was talking with the Loon Outdoors folks, and they told me that none of the distributors or shops in the southeast had ordered these yet, so we decided to get some in and offer them online for all the early adopters!  They're in-stock at Unicoi Outfitters and ready ship.

If you want some more info, check out the description on our website...or click here to see a video demonstration.  You can order there, or we're making it super-easy to purchase the Shark Tooth here from the Liars Club Blog:  just select your size using the drop-down below, and hit the Buy Now button!  These retail for $4.95: we'll send you three Shark Teeth (Shark Tooths???) for only $16.95 shipped to any USPS address!

Small Shark Tooth - Fits most spools from Umpqua, Orvis, Cabelas and Climax

Large Shark Tooth - Fits most spools from RIO, Maxima, Scientific Angler, Cabelas, Frog Hair and Umpqua





Loon Outdoors Shark Tooth Tippet Control System Video

Here's a YouTube video that demonstrates the Shark Tooth...

Click here to purchase!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Toccoa River Fishing with Julian Byrd

I'm a little late on posting this, but I was able to float with Julian Byrd and one of his brothers a few weeks ago and we had a great time. We saw some absolutely gigantic browns and rainbows from the high vantage point of the drift boat and even spotted one great big smallmouth in a clear, deep pool. Too bad that guy wouldn't hit a woolly bugger!

Anyhow, we caught some very nice fish, as well. But the best thing is that it really doesn't seem to matter what time of year you fish the Toccoa tailwater - any day can turn out to be a banner day and there's seldom a bad day of catching here.

Here are a few photos (if you want to see the rest of the photos from this gallery, go to www.CannonOutdoors.com, click on 'Clients' in the menu bar and enter the password 'julianbyrd'):

David Cannon

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kayak Fishing Seminar in Blue Ridge with Tony Narcisse

Unicoi Outfitters is happy to announce that we will be hosting a free seminar with Tony Narcisse on Kayak fishing. Tony operates a guide service on Lake Lanier, specializing in chasing stripers from kayaks...or as he puts it: "The Ultimate Sleigh Ride". Visit Tony's website to learn more about his services, and come out to our Blue Ridge store on October 10th at 1pm to learn more about kayak fishing - and remember, we always discount kayak accessories 20% with the purchase of a Native Watercraft Ultimate kayak.

Here's a little background on Tony:

"I started fishing for stripers out of kayaks in 2006 and haven't looked back! There's nothing like the adrenaline rush of a big cow taking you for a sleigh ride."  Since his first encouters with striped bass in small plastic boats those few years ago, Tony has pioneered a sport that has taken firm root in one of the nation's most respected striper fisheries.

"Not only is Lake Lanier gorgeous, but she boast some of the best fishing in the country. And there is no better way to see/fish Lanier than by a kayak."

As the Founder of Georgia Kayak Fishing club, Tony's pioneering spirit, warm personality and deep knowledge of Lake Lanier's striper fishery  makes him the perfect guide for your Lake Lanier Adventure, and he'll be sharing some of that knowledge with us on October 10 - come join us!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

No Title Neccesary

They say a picture speaks a thousands words. So I will simply let Noontootla Creek Farms speak for it self.

Potential Record Brown Trout in Toccoa River Tailwater

John Damer, Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR just posted this on NGTO:

This beast is out there just waiting to be caught...

Click image for larger version  Name: DSC00079_resized.jpg Views: 139 Size: 98.5 KB ID: 4704

Click image for larger version  Name: DSC00080_resized.jpg Views: 96 Size: 71.9 KB ID: 4706

This fish was captured using boat mounted electrofishing gear as part of an ongoing study of trout population dynamics on the lower Toccoa River. It was measured at 28.3" in length and weighed 14 lbs, and then it was released (Where, you ask??? Gee, I don't remember ). If caught by an angler it would be the new record brown trout for the Toccoa River.

As an added bonus, any angler who catches this monster will find that it has one of our small green tags attached just below its dorsal fin, as you can see here:

Click image for larger version  Name: DSC00081_resized.jpg Views: 101 Size: 79.2 KB ID: 4705

To date we have tagged and released nearly 4,000 hatchery and resident trout in the lower Toccoa River. We ask that anglers help with the study by reporting any tagged fish they catch to 706-624-1161. For anyone who has not seen it, here is a link to our press release that explains the study:


As explained in the link above, one lucky Georgia angler who returns a tag to us will win a Lifetime Sportsmans License courtesy of the Blue Ridge Mountain Chapter of TU.

Just one more reason, to go fishing... Tight lines!