One of my most productive patterns for smaller streams out west such as high elevation cutthroat streams is a variation on the Copper John. I call it the Mustard John. The fly is also extremely successful on rivers like the Gunnison during Yellow Sally times. I'll always fondly remember fishing the Gunnison River immediately below the NP visitor center for 2-3 hours and catching trout after trout. Most of them were browns in the 14-18" range with one or two pushing 19" and a beautiful rainbow trout thrown in for good measure. All fish came on the Mustard John.
I'm currently preparing for a Smokies adventure this next weekend and was tying a few flies last night. It occurred to me that some of you may enjoy using this fly so without further discourse, I give you.........the Mustard John!!!
Hook: TMC 5262 #14
Bead: Brass 7/64
Thread: 8/0 Yellow and Black
Tail: Brown Biots
Body: Medium Ginger Ultra Wire
Thorax: Peacock Herl
Wingcase: Mottled Bustard Thinskin + Pearl Flashabou + epoxy
Legs: Mallard dyed wood duck
Tie it the same as you would a regular Copper John, just using the different colors mentioned above. For a good tutorial on tying the Copper John, refer to this page on Charlie's Fly Box. If you don't already tie and fish Copper Johns, I highly recommend that you add them to your arsenal immediately. Don't hesitate to experiment with colors. Other proven colors to try are red and green but don't let yourself be limited.
UPDATE: 9/12/2016 Smokies Fly Fishing Report -- Current Hatches: Isonychias (aka Slate Drake or Mahogany Dun), Mahogany Duns (Paraleptophlebia), Little Yellow Stoneflies, Golden Stoneflies, Tan and Cinnamon Caddis, inch worms, beetles, and ants. Some cooler weather has been helping conditions in the Smokies. Nighttime lows are falling enough to keep the lower elevations close to fishable. Probably give them another week though and then it will be game on. Fish are eating fairly well. Yesterday's Little River Outfitters Day 2 School was successful with all of my students catching fish even with the low water conditions.
Caney Fork Fly Fishing Report: Our floats continue to churn out some really nice trout. See some of the recent blog entries below for more on that. I have some availability if you are looking for a guided trip so contact me about a float or wade trip if you want to enjoy this fishing at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com or call/text (931) 261-1884.
Clinch River Fishing Report: Flows are mostly up so heavy deep nymphing or streamer fishing will be the way to go during periods of generation. Look for fish eating terrestrials along the banks and especially in areas of soft water. On low water, think midges and long fine leaders. Dark seems to be the color although both dark and silver beads are working on the midges. I recommend strike indicators with hooks in them on low water. Last week I caught my best fish on a #14 Yellow Stimulator that was serving as my strike indicator.
Holston River: Give this river a break on the trout sections until next winter. Water temperatures on most of the trout water are elevated and fishing now will stress these beautiful fish.
Cumberland Plateau Fishing Report: Smallmouth bass fishing is good but the water is low. We have another week or two of warmer temperatures before the final turn towards cooler weather begins. Both topwater bugs and subsurface offerings are getting it done. Before we know it, the cooler weather of fall will have us chasing muskie again as well!