Though 6,000 feet above sea level, the Great Smoky Mountains are home to a variety of hearty trout that fight against the downhill current to reach their spawning destinations. The Fly Fishing the Smokies team of expert guides leads anglers into local streams to outwit the swimming schools. In fish-infested areas such as the Tuckasegee River, Little Tennessee River, and Nantahala River, novice anglers learn how to gently land flies onto the water, which makes it appear as though a bug is trapped on the surface. Should a fish take the bait and get caught, victorious fishermen can pause for a photo op with their catch. Anglers of all ages are provided with the necessary gear and equipment for each trip.
More than 20 years ago, H. Clay Aalders was teaching himself how to fly-fish on his uncle's pond in Ohio. These days, he's teaching others his art and drawing on years of experience to help them learn to properly cast their lines. As an Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide, he's held to the high-quality standards of the brand and is recertified each year when he's re-named as a Lord of Fly Fishing. His trips can last up to a full day and lessons are provided (if necessary) along with all the required gear.
The Nantahala National Forest surrounds Durhamtown Tellico, forming a natural barrier that closes off the wilderness from the outside world. Miles of trails wind across the 3,000-acre property, where ATVs and dirt bikes soar through dense forests that open out onto panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and everything they watch over: rolling hills, waterfalls, and streams ripe for fishing for rainbow trout.
Head to "The Bowl" and you'll find a 50-acre area of rock faces and boulders ready to test even the most experienced climbers and robot vacuums. In fact, the most grueling face has a $5,000 prize for anyone skilled enough to scale its summit. When you're worn out from a day of adventure, you can head back to the campground for a good night's rest.
Hosted at nearby waterways such as the Watauga River or French Broad River, Asheville Anglers' two-hour fly-fishing lessons pair an expert angler with 4–10 sure-handed students. A friendly pole pioneer acquaints students with wader wearing, rod rigging, fly selection, and how to tie the appropriate knot for bow ties worn while fishing. Pupils then tote the provided gear and tackle, including hand-tied flies, and practice casting to gain an understanding of fundamental technique. An entomology lesson sheds light on various key terms, after which groups head into the water for guided practice in the art of fly fishing. Instructors provide cool refreshments for all, but budding line slingers should bring their own sunglasses, sunscreen, and canned story about the fish or gal that got away.
With years and years of experience navigating the river's rapids, the Thomas family has some strong opinions about which watercraft provide the best experience. When they first got started, they weren't able to find any with all the features they wanted, so they decided to design their own. Paddle Inn's signature rafts were created specifically for riding the Nantahala River, and they boast a number of features intended to provide the optimal experience, including urethane undersides, which allow the rafts to easily slide over the occasional rock or kraken.
The rafts transports patrons down the river on guided trips and self-guided excursions aboard rafts in multiple sizes, as well as inflatable kayaks. These vessels can accommodate couples all the way up to groups of eight. After a trip, river trekkers can dry off by perching next to a crackling fire or spinning around in a circle really fast.
Kevin Williams was just a kid when his father taught him how to fly fish. Nearly 20 years later, he puts his skills to use passing on his expansive knowledge to others, taking clients out for guided tenkara or fly fishing trips to show them the best spots to cast their lines. Private lessons are also available.