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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Tuckin’ for Trout

Here’s one more tool for your trouting toolbox. Take a look at these short videos and give the tuck cast a try. It basically kicks your flies back toward you a bit at the end of your cast. They shoot straight down toward the water at a faster speed and sink quicker.

Winter rains are starting and our streams should finally get larger, faster, and colder. Trout will hug the bottom and won’t move as far for a meal, so you have to deliver your bug right to their lips.  The tuck cast is your winter trout Uber and will get you more strikes.

First is our Orvis buddy, Pete, and his simple explanation and demo:


Next is Carl McNeil. His colored line really shows the tuck cast in action:


For anyone who wants to overdose on tuck cast details, dive in deep with Dominic on his Troutbitten essay here:


We hope the tuck cast brings you more luck during the challenging winter season. Get down to those fish, detect their subtle strikes, and enjoy some great afternoons astream. Stop in one of our UO shops or give us a call if we can help you further. Good luck tuckin’ it in for trout.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Friday, November 25, 2022

Special Deal!

We are live! Our Black Friday/Cyber Monday special is now available online here:


Order your certificates online before 12:01 AM Tuesday and give your family and friends the lifelong memory of trophy trout fishing on our private reach of the Chattahoochee River in Helen. 

They’ll always remember this special gift!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Thursday, November 24, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report -11/25/22

I was gonna wait until Friday for this report so I could see how the rains would affect weekend trout waters.  But the updated forecast suggests that we’ll only get about 1/4 inch by noon tomorrow and then it will clear out til late Saturday, when an inch or more of rain could blow out larger streams on Sunday. So you still have 1.5 days of decent opportunity ahead of you.  If the water is stained, throw some squirmies!

Given that weather window, here’s a UO holiday gift that might help you plan your post-turkey stream treks. If you think your plate was full today, just wait til you see the heaping helpings of reports from our staff and friends.

Your bottom lines are: 1) headwaters should fish okay, especially on your wet droppers. Warmer air temps have those wild fish slightly thawed out from last week’s freeze. Aim for the afternoon warmth.  2) DH streams will fish well. You have fresh, naive dumplings from last week and the experienced, first batch of fall stockers to choose from. Streamflows are still low, but water temps are pretty good. Stay deep, though.  3) lake spots and stripers are still a run-and-gun game, but hefty size is making up for numbers. A double-digit striper is worth the boat gas burned.

Good luck. Check out our full reports via the link on our home page and our weekend sales at both UO stores. Get outside and burn off some of today’s calories!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: comparadun BWO, Griffith gnat, parachute Adam’s, micro chubby for dry dropper.

Nymphs & Wets:

Peach egg, oops, Ruby midge, lightning bug, soft hackle partridge, split case BWO.

Streamers & warm water:

Simi seal leech, sparkle minnow, finesse changer, clouser minnow.


Thawing out from last week. Still skinny, so try dry/dropper rigs. Anything on dries will be a bonus; most fish should aim for your small, dark wets and nymphs. Use droppers with a tungsten bead or add a size 6 or 8 tin shot about 5 inches above your unleaded bug.

Smokies intel here:


Ricardo grabbed both his  boys and did a trout trek north from Columbus last week. They stopped by our Helen shop first for hot flies and timely intel. They were lucky enough to snag one open Smithgall spot, so older son Zach gave the trophy stream his first shot. And scored! He landed three bows to about 17 inches and lost an epic battle with a monster. His hot bugs were a pink squirmy with a tiny soft hackle midge dropped off the back.

Monday found the trio perched along Smith Creek DH.  As I watched, both boys were scoring and therefore earned some honorary Rabunite handles. They’ll now be known streamside as Zacuum and BigBrookie! Caution: don’t fish behind them because there won’t be many leftovers for you.

Delayed Harvest:

Here’s a reminder that GAWRD spiced up our streams for the holiday. Our SC friends did the same:



Roswell’s Hartley trio hit Dukes and Smith last Saturday and had a good day. They got a few nice bows in a frigid Smithgall AM session that froze fingers and inhibited their knot tying. They thawed out on Smith after lunch and steadily picked off fish on small egg and nymph patterns, often with a twitch.

Rookie flyfisher Gavin (age 13): “I just am starting out fly fishing and it is really fun and interesting.  I am so grateful for guys like Uncle Ken and others for reaching out and helping young kids like me get started and giving some pointers. I think that people should just try it. We had fun at Smith Creek on Monday and I caught two trout.”

UO buddy RonW:  “Kurt and I ventured up to the Toccoa DH last Saturday (19th) . We arrived at 8am to be the first ones there, not surprising as it was a toasty 26F outside.  Fishing was slow for me, with only a few fish to hand all day. I committed to the streamer again as I was wanting to try out some new patterns I tied up.

Kurt fished legs and eggs for most of the day and did much better than me, with over a dozen to hand. The highlight of the day was when a Northern Hogsucker smashed my Woolly Muddler.  A 1st for me and a new species on the fly.  It was another fantastic day on the water as always. Hydrotherapy needs were met and zen mode was reached. Now, bring on the turkey.”

New UO buddy Athens Matt: I fished the border river DH one day last week, starting around noon. Caught a bunch of rainbows and a couple brookies.  Most were around 12in and a couple were pushing 16in. I was euro nymphing with tungsten prince nymphs and hare’s ears.  Although flows were low, it was a nice afternoon on a beautiful piece of water.”

UO buddy RSquared: “Friday was a beautiful, clear, cold day. Steve W. & I drove north to fish my favorite Ga. DH stream. Steve waded while I floated the length of the DH section in my belly-boat. It quickly became evident the stocking truck had not been there since the initial release of trout. I had to fish hard by dredging nymphs to land a handful of brightly coloured rainbows. However, the stocking trucks were rolling this week and all of our DH stream's now have fresh fish in them!!! “

Rodney’s second story: “Monday the North Paulding High School Fly Fishing & Cold-Water Conservation Club formed a bucket brigade & helped Ga. DNR stock the Amicalola DH. When the work ended, volunteers from the Cohutta Chapter of Trout Unlimted helped the club members fish. Every student caught trout. For two student's, it was their first fish on a fly rod!”


UO friend Hillis: “Monday and Tuesday of this week a fishing buddy and I fished the DH sections of the Tuck (well, we tried to fish the Tuck), Nan, and Fires over a two-day period. My fishing buddy prior to our trip checked the release schedule for the Tuck.  I should have checked it also, but I didn't, and we should have checked it that morning, but we didn't. Apparently  the release schedule changed, as about an hour into our fishing the water started to rise. Fortunately we were close enough to shore to exit without any problem. I had one hook up while on the river, but did not land it. My fishing buddy caught a couple. 

It was early afternoon so we decided to drive to the Nan and fish it. It was cold and dreary, and water was low. Arriving around 2 we fished for 2-3 hours.  My buddy caught several, but I failed to catch any. We did not catch many fish the first day out, regardless it was a fun day. 

The next day we fished the DH section of Fires. As with the Nan, the water was very low, maybe the lowest we have seen it, but we had a decent day. I found fish podded up in a deep pool. Every time I thought about leaving the hole I would catch a fish and as a result I would decide to stay a bit longer, so ended up fishing the same hole for quite a while. Couldn't get any action on any of my techniques or flies until I started stripping and twitching (furious twitching) an olive woolly trailed by an olive beaded soft hackle caddis or a hot spot pheasant tail.  Fish hit both the woolly and the trailer.  The twitching drove the fish wild.  Most of the time they missed, but they hooked up enough to make it a lot of fun. Our duo had a great trip north.”

UO guide Palmer: “I fished the Tuck last weekend. Fish were taking streamers of various size and color as well as junk flies.”


UO buddy Splatek: “MiniMe’s mom took him to last week’s Whitewater Park bucket brigade on the Hooch with the GAWRD hatchery folks. He had a blast stocking trout and then catching four on pink leeches.”

Given the recent bucket brigade, the Whitewater Creek and Paces Mill accesses should fish well if the Tailwater doesn’t get blown out.

Stocker Streams:

Broken record:  slim pickings during the off-season as hatchery space is filled with subcatchables being grown for next spring.  Try Vogel Lake, the 2 tailwaters, and any public accesses below DH reaches, where you can pick up some wanderers. Both GA tailwaters  got a pre-holiday helping from GAWRD.  The border river’s bridge crossings are good spots, too.

Private Waters:

UO guide Israel: “The Soque has fished well. Given the low flows, the small stuff like a ruby midge, root beer midge, and partridge and orange soft hackle have been the best producers.”

The story has been the same at Nacoochee Bend: smaller eggs, nymphs, soft hackles, and midges have been most effective as flows receded.

Warmwater Rivers:

UO buddy Landon: I waded the Upper Oconee a couple days ago. The had a bit of stain, so I bumped low and slow with a black trickworm on a shaky head to land 3 spots up to 15 inches.”


HenryC: “Striper fishing on Lanier remains unpredictable. That being said,  there have been some great opportunities BUT anglers need to make every shot count. You might get 1 shot or a dozen on a trip. You have to fish within your emotions of seeing BIG fish busting the surface and maintaining your composure to make the quick cast, retrieve properly and keep your head in the game. It's not easy fishing for those having not seen this crazy commotion going on for 30 or 60 seconds before it happens again. However that being said, it's way too much fun to experience. Bass fishing is okay at best. This season feels like we are slightly behind our normal fishing calendar.”



UO staffer Joseph: “Here’s some redfish from the forgotten coast. Sight fishing conditions have been tough with high winds and cloudy days but I managed this guy on a small ep crab today.  Overall there’s a ton of fish shallow and shots at fish are not scarce. The hard part has been seeing them before they see you with those lower light conditions mentioned earlier. “

UO owner Jimmy just returned from four days of Bahamas bonefishing with his FL  buddy, Rusty. 


Jimmy said the fishing, food, and fellowship among their 6-member group were great. The first bone was a big one and burned him. After that, he shook off his saltwater “rust” and landed enough bones up to five pounds to be tired at the end of each day. They were hot fish and he had his doubts whether he could land anything bigger.   Poor boy; our hearts really bleed for him…

We hope you enjoy this second helping of holiday intel.   Stop in either UO store to warm up, snag some fresh intel, and knock out a holiday gift or two. Remember our Black Friday deals, too.  Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Black Friday/Cyber Monday

Back by popular demand: it’s our Unicoi Outfitters Black Friday/Cyber Monday Special. Fish our private waters on the Chattahoochee River in Helen for a half-day session at our discounted price of $110 per angler. The sale starts midnight Friday and lasts until midnight Tuesday, so be ready to stop in, call our Helen shop (706-878-3083), or order your trip certificates online.


We will also have select sale items up to 50% off at both UO stores, so stop in during your weekend travels.

NOTE: both UO stores will be closed tomorrow (Thanksgiving Day) so that our staffs may celebrate the holiday with their families. We will return to normal business hours on Friday.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone. We look forward to seeing you this weekend.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Shopping for Your Sportsman or Woman?

Keep our two UO stores in mind during your holiday shopping travels.  We have a nice selection of seasonal attire to choose from. 

As always, we also have some quality flyfishing equipment, wading attire, guided trips, and nearly 20,000 flies to choose from.  Find the perfect gift for that outdoorsman or woman at a Unicoi Outfitters store this season.  We’re in Clarkesville (706-754-0203) and Helen (706-878-3083).  And if you’re unsure, a gift certificate is always a safe bet for you and a cherished gift for the recipient.


PS: stay tuned for our Black Friday sale announcement!

Monday, November 21, 2022

The “O-ring” and the “Trigger Finger”

There is no one right way to fly fish, but we hope that a few of our recent tips help our newer fly anglers enjoy greater success.  Here’s another dose of UO veteran’s intel for anyone interested.

First, the “O-ring.” During the forward cast, many anglers release the loop of fly line from their line hand (non-rod hand) and let it shoot out the guides. Then they have to “fish” for that line before grabbing it to begin their retrieve. Instead of letting go completely, make a circle by pinching the tips of your thumb and index finger together. Let the line shoot thorough that finger loop like an extra rod guide.  After the cast, you can quickly pinch the line and begin your retrieve.

The “trigger finger” is my index finger on my rod hand. After my cast, I always bring the fly line from my line hand over to the rod and lay it across the index finger of my rod hand. Then I’ll strip in line behind that rod hand instead of in front of it. That index finger acts as another rod guide and, with a simple press onto the rod cork, lets me hookset quickly, with no slack in the fly line.

Keep the O-ring and trigger finger tips in mind for your next trip. Maybe they’ll help your streamer retrieves and trout hooksets.  Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Friday, November 18, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report -11/18/22

Welcome to our holiday report. We hope there are a few days off coming to you and that you can wet a line. The local forecast shows that this early dose of winter will continue, 


so use the winter trout fishing techniques and patterns that we’ve tossed your way all this week. 


Streamflows are back up to their normal November levels after the last two rains. They’re still low and clear and now cold in the mornings. 

Remember that the winter sun is your friend, so aim for the warmest water of the day:  11AM to 4PM.  

Use your stream thermometer as a strike indicator: the closer to 50F, the better. If the water is closer to 40, expect sluggish fish and the need to put your fly right on their nose. Bigger waters with more sun will now fish better than high elevation, shaded streams due to water temps. If you’re at home watching stream gauges before you go, know that the Hooch-Helen and upper Tooga gauges both measure water temps, too. And if you see Centigrade and want Fahrenheit, remember this hint: double the degrees C and add 30.

Stealth, light line, and small flies will enhance your success. See our private waters reports for intel that you can use anywhere.

Henry reports good surface action on the lakes. Burn some gas to find bait schools and/or breaking fish.  If you’re lucky, the birds might give you hints, too, as you watch your fishfinders closely. See his report for details.

GA Power is releasing water into Tallulah Gorge this weekend, so take a quick detour to watch the whitewater.


Our angler reports, Wes’ hot fly list, and more pics are in our full report. Just go to our home page, unicoioutfitters.com, and click on “fishing reports.” 

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: comparadun BWO, Griffith gnat, parachute Adams.

Nymphs & Wets:

Micro mayfly, soft hackle partridge, mop fly, squirminator, diamond and  root beer midges.

Streamers & warm water:

Simi seal leech, sparkle minnow, jiggy craw, Cowen’s Something Else and olive/white clousers for stripers.


They’re fairly low, very clear, and cold.  Find some sun and expect many more hits on your dropper than your para-Adams or Stimulator. A small hares ear or Frenchie is a great dropper right now.  Make sure it gets down.

GAWRD biologist John Damer had a nice trip that he wrote up for this week’s agency fishing blog, which should be published later today. After fishing with him a few years ago, I nicknamed him Deadly Damer. I think he’s part heron!  Don’t miss his wild trout intel.


Smokies reports below.  Note that they’re colder than we are, so fish accordingly or stay south or at lower elevation streams.

Fresh reports here:


And here:


The best part of Byron’s report is “don’t fall in. And bring a dry change of clothes if you do.”


Delayed Harvest:

Smith DH anglers whom I ran across while hiking streamside this week reported slow picks. A lime squirmy did pretty well for one angler who fished the higher, midweek water. A red zebra midge coaxed several to hand for yesterday’s angler.  Streamflow has dropped and cleared, so light lines and small nymphs and midges will be a best bet. If the PM sun shines, watch for a few midge sippers. Remember that Smith runs a few degrees warmer than nearby streams due to the lake. It was 56F at 2PM today. 

Web reports show the Chattooga fishing well. Again, check water temps and get down to those fish if the water is closer to 40F than 50F. Long, thin tippets to get flies down on pool bottoms will enhance your photo opportunities.

With our low rainfall, the Toccoa DH is a best bet right now. Take advantage of its wadeable flows while they last. Winter rains will soon make this more of a float fishery than a wade fishery.  Over there, consider a short tapered leader or none at all Use a long section of 3 or 4X tippet to cut thru the current and reach the bottom of deep pools and runs. Attach a foot of 5X tippet and then tie on an egg, rubberleg stone, or small leech or bugger. If you can cast that rig without too much trouble, then add a small prince nymph or rainbow warrior as a dropper. Fish will bunch up in flood refuges over there, so if you find one, it may have several more friends at that same address.


UO friend RonW:  “The Trio ventured up across the state line last Saturday the 12th to fish a DH stream. We arrived to several cars, each with multiple anglers gearing up. Once we got in the creek, however, it seemed like we had the whole place to ourselves.

 Despite the change in weather It was an off day; I’m not sure if it was the fish or us.  I started off with a streamer and landed 4 fish in the first run I stepped into.  I committed to the streamer and decided I was going to hunt for bigguns'.  Well, I found two, both under the same log/boulder jam and both came out fast to check out my streamer. The bigger of the two even tried to smash it twice. I just couldn't connect for some reason, most likely due to the rod angle and awkward lie of the fish.  After multiple fly changes and a few lost streamers,  I decided to tuck my tail and leave to find new fish.  I spent the rest of the day scratching out 4 more fish and a few lost fish. 

Moe and I called it quits around 4:30 and waited for Kurt to make it back to the truck. They both wore them out fishing legs and eggs, and probably landed 3 times as many as I did.  It was another fantastic day on the water with great friends. Fish were caught, laughs were had and memories were made.  Nothing like a little hydrotherapy! “

Remember the NC DH redosings:



UO friend Splatek: The Hooch Tailwater was tough on Wednesday.  It was so windy that I could barely get my flies in the water. I had a few subtle hits when I dredged my small nymphs deep with split shot, but had little to show for it. It was still nice just to get out and wet a line. Fishing should improve as our weather settles down.”

UO friend Dominic has been paying his dues on the Hooch Tailwater. It paid off handsomely for him this week, as a fat, buttery brown inhaled his rubberleg stone. Congrats to Dom! Enjoy his pic.

Stocker Streams:

Broken record:  slim pickings during the off-season as hatchery space is filled with subcatchables being grown for next spring.  Try the tailwaters and any public accesses below DH reaches, where you can pick up some wanderers. The border river’s bridge crossings are good spots, too.

Private Waters:

UO guide Ben:  “While guiding at Nacoochee Bend this week my client landed a really nice bow on a white squirmy. The boosted flow from that rain helped the fishing a bit.”

UO guide Caleb:  “This couple from Atlanta had a great morning at Rainbow Point on the Soque last weekend after the rain cleared out. The fish were keyed in on small soft hackles and black midges.”

UO manager Jake: “Rainbow Point on the Soque fished well yesterday despite the frigid temps. The water level hasn't risen much with the rains earlier this week, but the fish know winter is coming and they seem to be fattening up. The key for me was 5 or 6x fluorocarbon tippet, and plenty of split shot to get our flies down to them. We landed fish on small eggs, with various midge patterns trailing them. My two best midge patterns were a Diamond Midge and a Root Beer Midge, which we just got a fresh supply of at the Helen shop.”


UO friend Landon: “We hit some lights on Monday night, but there were few fish on them and they were small.  Cowen’s Something Else did what little damage we could muster.”

HenryC: “Striper fishing remains active. Fish are feeding on the surface but are not always easy to feed. Compared to last November the fishing is definitely better. Fish are feeding both in the AM and the PM.  Anglers need to dress for the cold weather settling in this past week and through all of next week. Fish are eating small flies. Somethin else, small polar fiber minnows, Clousers and small game changers are your best bet. Anglers need to fish with a sense of urgency as the fish are up and down rather quickly.”



Our MI buddy, Ski, made the tackle shop’s weekly report. We thought we’d share another nice steelhead pic (first pic, above) and that pic-heavy report:


That’s a wrap on the latest happenings from the frozen tundra of north GA. Dress warmly, follow the sun, and use your low, clear water techniques for some fun days astream. Hunt for big stripers on the lakes and you might find a true trophy, too.  Have a great holiday week, filled with some fun outdoor memories. Stop in either UO store to warm up, snag some hot intel, and net a holiday gift or two. Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.