Generally speaking I find that there are two types of fly anglers. People that prefer to fish solo and people that would rather fish with a buddy. Fishing solo has its own unique merits. However, I want to focus on how you can use the buddy system to work water more efficiently and catch more fish.

How can you work water more efficiently while fishing with another person? Cooperation and communication are critical. This can take time to develop with another angler but is well worth it. In the small streams of WNC it can be difficult to spread anglers out on the water without spooking fish. Fish each hole/run as it comes and let the topography of the river decide how you move through it. If the lay of the land allows you to leapfrog your partner without spooking their fish, go for it. If not, wait until your partner has fished out the hole or run. This will allow you both the work more water than you could solo while not spooking fish for each other. Your partner can hold you accountable as far as how much time you spend fishing a run. Your partner can also and serve as a spotter. Lastly, when you hook into a fish, your partner can help net the fish. Working in tandem allows you to cover more water more efficiently, and help land fish quicker which benefits the fish. 

Once you have established a flow with your fishing partner you can begin working on ways to catch more fish while fishing with each other. How you both intend to set up your rods for the day is something to spend some time deliberating on. This is very water type dependent advice so consider what techniques suit the water best and go from there. Dry dropper fishing is the most popular way to fish in our part of Western North Carolina. While preparing to fish with a friend I would stagger your fly selection regardless of your chosen fishing method. Don’t throw the same bugs as each other, try different flies, fly sizes, and depths. This will allow you to figure out what bugs are hot as well as which part of the water column the trout are feeding in faster than if you were fishing alone. 

When I guide I will bring several rods with me for the day. Inevitably, when a client asks why I brought so many I use the golf club analogy. I’m not a golfer by any means but my response is always “you wouldn’t go golfing with just a driver”. Golfers use a variety of clubs that are suited for certain situations. Similarly, I bring multiple rods that are setup for specific techniques or water types. You and your fishing partner can use the same approach using two or three rods. When you determine what type of rig would work best for a run, you can reach for the rod that is best suited for the situation. This reduces the amount of time you spend rigging on the water and keeps you fishing longer. 

Aside from the other reasons mentioned, fishing with a friend is more fun. Cracking jokes on each other, helping each other out when a good fish is hooked, and sharing the stoke of a cool eat are just a few of my favorite reasons to fish with friends. Almost all of my favorite memories on the water are ones I made with those close to me. All of the images in this article are the product of the buddy system. Fishing with friends can not only increase your efficiency as an angler but it also enhances the experience as a whole. 


Like the local heron, JP stalks a side channel of the mighty white river.


It was probably 5 pm on a chill November evening when the rag tag crew of fishermen bound for the rolling hills of Cotter Arkansas arrived at the Trophy water fly shop in Hampton Tennessee. Since we all had time consuming jobs at the time, we persuaded ourselves that it would be worth losing the sleep to just drive through the night and ensure an extra day of fishing. That sounded like a way better plan than it actually was… 

Two SUV’s full to the brim with fishing gear, boat equipment and a couple of stankin’ fishing bums sped through the night, gnawing away at the nearly 700-mile journey we had to complete by morning. At the time all we had to float in was our Buddy Seth’s Ro Deville and an Avon fishing raft that was older than any single person on the trip, which didn’t have a trailer. So, my brother Skye built one out of an old sea doo trailer especially for this trip. Souped up with a new steel tongue and wood platform that bad boy had to weigh 2,000 pounds. Nevertheless, it held the raft just right and we were going to send it.  As we sped down the highway toward the western end of the vastness that is Tennessee all I could think about was how many rotations per second those 8-inch wheels were going at 8o mph and if we would make it to Kentucky before they flew off in a blaze of glory.  Luckily, that never happened and as the night pressed on and the gas stations became more and more Podunk and sketchy, delirium started to set in. At about 6 am, Arkansas time, we were driving down the road that our cabin was on. The blue tint of dawn was starting to appear when I stuck my upper body out of the sunroof of Skye’s 4runner and hollered “We finally made it!” 

COTTER Population 921  

The mid-western town is famously known for Brown trout fishing and the abundance of such fish. The size of the river and the constant stocking of small rainbows allow these predators to grow quite big and aggressive toward bait fish, aka the meat in my streamer box. 

The Morning of our drive in was a bust for Seth and me, we hit the couches and slept while the other boys went fishing for the rest of the day, like animals. When we picked them up that evening the fishing report was slightly grim. They had been skunked, although, I will  let this be known. Anyone who shows up to a new fishery and slays them is just lucky, we were completely aware of how long it can take to dial in a fishery and that’s exactly why we were planning to spend a week in this beautiful place. Accompanied by some geodes we found in the yard and an armadillo we made our first meal on the grill and enjoyed some beers while we talked about our float plan for the following days. 


The elusive Avon in her natural habitat

The Generators on the white wouldn’t be running like we had hoped so we were bound to fish the low water flows of the huge freestone river. 

Such a big river really needs the water from the generators to move with any sort of giddy up. Most of the river was essentially a giant flat of slow-moving water, which is probably why everyone that is serious about fishing on the White has a power boat. 

But as they say, Suffering builds character and nothing beautiful comes from a lack of effort. You could say we persevered and conquered that giant river all the while it taught us all how to be better streamer fisherman and oarsmen. 

The ole Deville sitting below the Cotter bridge and a crisp sunrise.

If your planning a trip to the White, may I suggest having every flavor of streamer in your box. 

Ozark cut-throat trout

Seth caught our unicorn of the trip pulling a well-placed fly across a beautiful grass bed.

To top off our luck we suffered through a wicked rain squall our first full day on the river. Worth it though. 


If there’s one thing that trout will teach you; Letting go can be a beautiful thing 



Skye hoisting a small portion of Arkansas gold 



How I caught this fish is a perfect representation of this trip as a whole:

It felt like we had been floating over this pebble flat for days by the time I had noticed a deeper channel hugging the river right bank. Between us and the channel was a very skinny bit of water and with a little bit of skillful maneuvering JP was able to get us into a fishable distance from the incredible looking habitat; long green river grasses weaved between big boulders and colorful river rock, it was true oasis for any fish for at least a mile and sweet sight for sore eyes. A well-placed cast was answered by this stud that I knew just had to be in there. 

We put in a lot of faith expecting to show up to an abundance of big fish ready to crush, but the abundance never came. We spent 5 days waking up at 4:45am to freezing temperatures and fished til’ dark everyday. We were rewarded every now and again when we came across various types of trout oasis in the vast freestone tailwater.

Making the best of the outdoors with good friends and learning about how to be a better advocate for our natural world have been the most important things I’ve gained from each fishing trip I’ve been on. Its not always about getting into the best fishing you’ve ever experienced, but to learn how to better experience life in general. 

We worked hard and worked together, everyone caught a fish over or near 20 inches and ultimately that was our goal, catch big browns, a buzz and have a good time with our buds. 

And after 3 long years we’ll be returning in February 2021. Stay tuned and Stay with it.

The Winter Solstice has ushered in the winter trout fishing season. For some anglers this signals the beginning of beer drinking and fly tying season. However, for those that want to brave the elements, winter can be a great time to target larger trout on streamers. 


Light tippet and midges characterize winter fly fishing. Sizing your flies down to 18, 20, 22 and even smaller is key to success when bug fishing in the winter. The wintertime diet of a trout is primarily made up of midges and other smaller macroinvertebrates. Most people do not think of winter as a great time for streamer fishing because trout become more lethargic as their metabolisms slow down in the cold water and are less likely to swim very far for a meal. Trout are opportunistic feeders by nature and winter provides ample opportunity to eat with the influx of midges in the water. If trout are less likely to move for food then how should you target them using streamers?

Your streamer presentation during the colder months of the year is critical to getting an eat. Let’s examine some of the variables to consider when winter streamer fishing. First is fish location. During colder months expect larger fish to be holding in large deep pools, undercuts, and beneath log jams. These locations offer trout food and security without much effort to stay there. Streamer depth and speed are also important. Low and slow is usually the name of the game during this time of year.


Either use heavy streamers, sink-tip lines, or even full sink lines to ensure you are hitting the correct depth. The correct depth is either on the same plane as the fish or just above the fish. As far as streamer speed is concerned, the slow swing or longer slow strips will help make the streamer more visible as well as look more obtainable to the trout. Trout are opportunistic so consider these aspects of streamer presentation in order to emulate an easy, larger calorie feeding opportunity. One fish can feed a trout for days. This is a low-risk high-reward feeding opportunity, particularly when compared to the alternative of gorging on hundreds of midges in a day. 


So what streamers to use? Mini Dungeon, Head Banger Sculpin, Full Size Dungeon, and Peanut Envy are some of our guides’ favorites.