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.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Orvis Fly Fishing Tip

Difficulty tying your fly to the tippet? Try this!

As you get older and the light gets dimmer, it becomes increasingly difficult when fishing to thread the fly, let alone knot it onto the tippet. An obvious answer to this problem is to carry some sort of magnifying optics with you to facilitate the process. Often in low light conditions even that is not enough. If you pull out a flashlight, you can sometimes see well enough to tie on the fly, but then you've just lost your night vision at the time when you needed it the most. And, of course, the trout become very active right around dusk. Why is this happening?
The ability for the human eye to discern small details and pick them out of a background typically decreases with age. Part of the problem is the change in the physical shape of the eye as we get older which usually causes us to lose the ability to focus on items up close. Another part of the equation has to do with chromatic aberration in the human eye. Different colors have different wavelengths and the human eye focuses differently for each of them. When you get too many different colors all in the same area, it becomes difficult to pick the detail out of any of it. Without getting too far into specifics, suffice it to say that it is easier to pick out detail against a solid mono-colored background than a mottled or multi-colored one.
So, next time you're on the water with the light failing, the fish rising, and having trouble tying on the fly, try holding the fly up against a single-colored background - preferably a light, single-colored background. A good candidate for this is the sky overhead. It is one of the last things to go dark if it is not a terribly cloudy day. Even if it is cloudy, you can usually find a cloud big enough to use as a solid color. Sometimes the solid glare from the low light on the water does the trick. Look around. It might be that the large elephant-eared leaf of a wild rhubarb does the trick. Using any of these backgrounds makes it much easier than trying to see and tie on a fly against the multi-colored, multi-edged background of streamside vegetation. This is not a cure-all, but it helps and it sure beats not fly fishing!
-Dan Gracia

Monday, December 20, 2010


The Fly Fishing Santa from Third Coast Fly on Vimeo.

From Third Coast Fly.

Fish of the New Millenium

Our friend and fellow Foothills TU member Bob Lux hails from up around Buffalo, NY and gets to go back fishing and hunting there fairly regularly.  Today he sent us this report:

So I headed out to the Tulpehocken Creek today outside of Reading, PA while on a visit to the inlaws for Christmas. The air temp was 28 degrees and the water was 34. Perfect for fools and trout. Little did I know that the trout would be taking the day off and the freshwater reds were on the move. I hooked this guy in a deep hole and fought him for close to ten minutes before I could see what I had on the line. It took almost twenty minutes using 5x to get this guy to the net. I guess they like leech patterns too. I got into 3 more of his brothers and 0 trout. At least the battle with this golden beauty warmed me up.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Congratulations Alan Folger

Great news over at 52 Trout, our friend Alan Folger's blog.  Alan just announced that he has accepted a new position with Trout Unlimited.  Alan will be the Veterans Service Partnership Coordinator beginning January 3rd.  Read more in this post on Alan's blog.

Congratulations Alan!

And if you haven't visited Alan's blog, take this opportunity to do so - you won't find any nicer fishing art anywhere - not to mention some great writing.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Great Christmas Gift

Unicoi Outfitters has put together a great introductory outfit for the new angler in your life. We've taken what we think are the best rod and best reel values available today, added a great line, backing and leader so all they have to do is tie on a fly and start fishing. These combos come with a Redington Crosswater rod and Ross Flystart reel and are priced at $130.95. Not only are they a great entry level rod but they're also more than adequate as your backup rod you keep in your vehicle just in case something happens to your primary rod. It may be just what Santa was looking for for the angler in your home.

We have 7.5' 4-weight and 8.5' 5-weight available.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Do or Die!

Our friend, and excellent flyfishing photographer, Pat Ford just sent us a few photos from a recent trip - I put them together in a quick animation...to see Pat's photography as it should be seen, go to his website. 

I just got back from Chile where I spent 10 days at Puma Lodge with owner Steve Selway and soon-to-be 87 years old Capt. Bill Curtis.  This sequence is from Lake Yelcho.  Bill slipped and fell into the icy waters while fighting a rainbow trout.  He could have easily sunk like a rock, but survived thanks to the guide catching his legs as he went over.  Follow the rod in this sequence - Bill is one tough old Fart!!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Fly Angler's Oath

Quote from the St. Croix 2011 catalog.  We just thought you would like it as much as we do.

Dredger's Cold Weather Tips

From Jeff Durniak - Ga DNR Region III Fisheries Supervisor

Welcome to January in Montana!

Your very best bets this week may be
a) staying at home, or
b) finishing your holiday shopping at a nice, warm retail store.

This frigid weather will really slow down a lot of our sport fish species and make your "catching" much more challenging, especially if you're new to the game.  Just look at the stream temperatures and you'll see the odds stacked against you!  http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv?02330450 In these frigid conditions, even our Burton Hatchery fish will not consume their daily doses of trout chow.  Hatchery managers will be
lucky to fit in an occasional afternoon feeding when the sun shines and the water inches up closer to 40 degrees.

That should give anglers some realistic expectations about the number of strikes they'll have when water temps plummet.  Some anglers call it "zen fishing" in the winter, as the strikes from stream trout are so subtle, they are barely perceptible.  We use small flies dead-drifted on the bottom, and cast repeatedly into good-looking, slow spots in an attempt to bump the fish in the nose.  They simply won't move far for food right now.  We set the hook whenever we "think" something should happen and do not wait until we see an obvious strike!

For those brave, fleece-draped  souls who still need a fishing fix, there are still some great opportunities in northeast Georgia.  I doubt if those anglers will experience any crowding, either! A look ahead shows a small  "window of opportunity" on Friday and Saturday afternoons, a brief spell of warmer weather between the two arctic
blasts.   Lakes are still warmer than streams, too.  Those who time their trips correctly to take advantage of increased water temperatures should have some luck.

The good news is that the next extended run of warmer weather should turn on a lot of fish, so be ready to fish the tail-end of a 3-4 day warm spell.

This week's best bets follow:
* Delayed Harvest trout waters (getting a fresh dose of stockers this
* Downstream escapees from DH trout waters (Hooch in Helen, Chattooga
below Hwy 28, Ami below Hwy 53)
* Trout tailwaters due to their warmer water from the reservoirs
(Hooch, Toccoa, Smith Creek)
* Stripers on big lakes like Lanier (54 degrees F) and Hartwell

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Standley Cup!

On November 17th I was privileged once again to host the Standley Cup Fly Fishing Tournament. Not only host, but guide, direct, judge, referee and MC! Let me explain. Ralph Ripley and John Standley met in 1975...they were in the Army. Obviously a strong friendship was created there. Ralph left the service in '95' and started his own company (which he still owns and runs). John? Well he continued on in the service and at 70 years old (last year) he was still flying (as a pilot) in support of the military in Iraq. They have fished many places together, including Costa Rica, through the years, but they choose to come back to fish with me here at Unicoi every year for their own tournament, "The Standley Cup". To say that these two are competitive with each other would be an understatement!! What started out as a friendly "dinner bet" six years ago, has turned into a full on tournament with written rules, score sheets and an awards ceremony with the trophy presentation! Trying to explain the needling and trash talking that goes on would be pointless..Let me just say this as a barometer to the degree of needling ...John brought Ralph a hand crafted table with a hand painted trout on it as a consolation gift this trip... because he knows how upset Ralph gets when he looses! The comment was, "this painted trout will be as close as you'll get to catching a fish!" The gift was given to Ralph the night before the tourney just to add a little extra pressure. Like the mailman, neither rain, sleet, snow, or dark of night will keep these two from their appointed tournament and fishing fellowship! The tourney has been held in every type of weather and water condition. Maybe I should say "come Hell or high water!"
Congrats go out to Ralph this year for overcoming a tough day at Frog Hollow and a two year slump to take home the Standley Cup. The friendships and memories that are made on the water are lasting and important...even cherished. I would like to thank these two gentlemen for making me a part of this event year after year and adding to my memories and friendships.
Rex Gudgel (FFF Master)

Sunday, December 5, 2010


As you can see, even when the fish are not biting, the river is a great place to be--what a way to relax. Our tying bunch will meet this Tue., Dec. 7, at 6:00 PM at the shop in Helen.
We welcome anyone interested in tying basic flies that catch fish. This is a great place to start if you are interested and also a good opportunity to sharpen your skills if you tie already--everyone is welcome.

We would just like to express our thanks to Unicoi for allowing us to meet at the shop and for the use of their equipment and supplies.

I would also like to say thanks to all the Unicoi folks at Helen and Blue Ridge for giving me such a great present throughout the year.

Let there be light,

Friday, December 3, 2010

New TV Series on the Impact of Invasive Aquatic Species

If you happen to live in an area where your local cable TV service is gracious enough to have Versus for the outdoor aficionados in the group (can you tell we've got a chip on our shoulder about Windstream?), there is a new four-part series which will begin airing this Sunday, December 5th that focuses on the effect of invasive aquatic species on our fisheries.  You can find more information on the series by going to:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hot Times at River North with Hamp Cross

This past Friday and Saturday I fished with longtime client Stuart Pierce. We met at River North on Friday afternoon and in the first pool were able to land 15 fish with the big one being 8lbs. We continued to catch them on flashback hare ears in size 14 for the rest of the afternoon, probably finishing with 25 plus hookups in the 4 hour half day.

After letting it warm up some Saturday morning we hit the water about 10:30, and caught fish consistently all afternoon, with the largest fish being 23 inches and 7-8 pounds. It took a size 10 gray hurless nymph. Big fly, big fish! Most of the fish took an olive bugger dredged deep though. We ended the day with several more fish over 20" and 20 plus fish for the afternoon. With great weather and cool water, the fish were active and fought well. As always, it's great to get on the water with a repeat client who over the years has become a friend of Unicoi Outfitters and myself. Thanks again to Stuart and I hope to see him in the future to put some more lunkers in the net. Hamp