My Favorite Things

Okay, I admit it. I stole this idea from Oprah. But I am in a unique position to use and abuse a lot of fly fishing related products and over the years, I have developed some favorites and I thought I’d share them with you. I may even make this a holiday tradition. Who knows? Maybe Santa will see it and put one of these items under your tree!

In any case, it’s worth mentioning that I do not make a dime on any of these items if you buy them. These are just five great products that have served me well. They are random items that range in price from about $12.95 – $400.

Richardson Chest Fly Box

Richardson Chest Fly Box

If you’ve been on a guide trip with me, you’ve seen this. It is absolutely my favorite piece of gear and I’ve been wearing it since 1999. They’ve been making these boxes quite a bit longer, though. Ronald Fye developed the first one in 1951. Rex Richardson purchased the company and the patent in 1960 and the current owner, Bob Hegedus, has been making the boxes since the mid 90’s. Each box is built by Bob in Bellefonte, PA and carries a lifetime guarantee.

I love them for the organization and the flexibility they offer. Everything is right in front of me so I’m not digging through pockets to find things, and it acts as a sort of work table, too. It can be used alone or in tandem with a backpack, vest or hip pack.

There are a several different options from which to choose and each box is custom built to your specifications. Choose from one to five trays and build them how you please: compartments, foam, storage, tippet dispenser… Continue accessorizing with floatant holders (built to fit your brand), magnifiers, flashlights and more. $85 – $400. View website.

Fishpond Burrito Wader Bag

Fishpond Burrito Wader Bag

I like keeping my wet stuff separate from my dry stuff when traveling and this bag is the perfect solution. Unlike some products on the market, it is well thought out without being over engineered. You know what I’m talking about.

Simply open the bag, grab the handles and lift and your waders and boots roll right out. The waterproof interior liner acts as a “changing station” where you can stand and protect the feet of your waders while suiting up. At the end of the day, take your wet gear off while standing on the waterproof liner and roll it all up. The video below will explain WAY better!

It’s ideal for one set of boots and waders but you can fit two if you need. $59.95. View website.

Simms Guide Guard Wading Socks

Simms Guide Guard Wading Socks

Wading socks are wading socks, right? Wrong. Wet wading season lasts a long time in the Smokies and I’m probably fishing and hiking in wading socks almost 150 days a year. I’ve worn about every brand and style out there and these are hands down the most comfortable and durable.

The biggest problem with most wading socks is that they are usually only 2 – 2.5mm neoprene. Your wading boots are sized to fit over the neoprene foot of a wader, which is usually 3.5mm. So, when you end up with boots that are either too tight when you wear waders or too loose when you wet wade. The Simms Guide Guard sock is 3.5mm which means they’re not only more durable, but you get the same fit whether wearing waders or wet wading. They’re a little more expensive than other brands but in my opinion, worth every penny! $49.95. View website.

Fishpond PioPod

Fishpond PioPod Trash Can

“Pio” stands for “pack it out.” This simple little contraption is meant to act as a small streamside trash can to dispose of monofilament, strike indicators, cigarette butts… you name it. The top has “one way” slits that allow you to push things in without them easily coming back out. The lid can easily be removed to properly dispose of trash when you get home.

It conveniently attaches to most any pack or vest with a dual attachment options. Check out the video below for more details. $12.95. View website.   

Shelta Performance Sun Hat

Shelta Performance Sun Hat

After the recent removal of a basal cell carcinoma, I decided to get more serious about protecting my skin against the sun. That included a new hat. I’ve always been a ball cap guy. I don’t like big, wide brims that seem to get in the way of everything and I don’t like floppy brims flapping around in my face.

I found my solution with Shelta. They make a variety of sun hats with different brim shapes and sizes, all with a rigid front brim that won’t flop! Even better, it’s UPF 50+ and it floats. It’s also fairly water resistant which is a big plus in a climate where there almost always at least a 30% chance of rain. Another big bonus is a chin strap that secures out of the way when you don’t need it.

It’s not a cheap hat. Then again, it’s not a CHEAP hat. This thing is extremely well made and comes with a lifetime guarantee. It’s the best purchase I made in 2021! $69.50. View website.

Smokies Fishing Report 11-30-21

Abrams Creek, Smoky Mountains


Smoky Mountains

Water Levels

Little River: 100cfs / 1.63 feet
Pigeon: 214cfs / 1.57 feet
Oconaluftee: 191cfs / 1.24 feet
Cataloochee: 37.5cfs / 2.23

Water Temperatures (approximate)

Low elevations: 38 – 42 degrees
Mid elevations: 37 – 40 degrees
High elevations: 33 – 36 degrees

Current Conditions

Although we’ve had a few pretty afternoons, cold weather has dominated recently. Overnight lows have not allowed the water temps to get much above 40-degrees.

Projected Conditions

Things are definitely improving and by the end of the week, we’ve got some great conditions for December. Daytime highs expected in the 60’s with, more importantly, overnight lows in the mid 40’s. looks like we’re going to pay for it after the weekend, though!


While you may find isolated fish rising on warm afternoons, the name of the game is nymphing right now. Get those flies deep and focus on low elevations during the middle of the day for the most activity.

Hatches/Fly Suggestions

If you’re going to see hatches of any significance, they’ll likely be BWO’s, dun caddis or midges. In any case, they’ll be small and dark. A Parachute Adams or Griffith’s Gnat in #20-16 should handle most anything.

Nymphing is going to be the most productive method right now, and fly pattern is not nearly as important as fly depth. Now is the time for tungsten beads and split shot. Most any generic nymph in the #18-12 range shoud be a good bet. I’m particularly fond of stonefly patterns like a Tellico and peacock patterns like Prince Nymphs and Zug Bugs.

I like fishing double nymph rigs with a point fly and an “assist fly.” The point fly is usually a more subtle pattern while the assist fly is something bigger or brighter to get their attention. The idea is that the assist fly gets their attention and leads them to the point fly… and sometimes the assist fly catches a few, too!

Check out my Hatch Guide for specific hatches and patterns.

Featured Fly

The Frenchie

The Frenchie came into fashion during the first EuroNymphing wave, but I’ve been tying patterns similar to it for years. What we didn’t have until recently are these micro jig hooks and slotted tungsten beads. They are great to tie on and help the nymph to ride hook up, reducing bottom snags.

This is a pretty good pattern for me all year but really seems to shine in the winter. At the very least, it’s flashy pink thorax makes it a great assist fly.