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: 5/25/2016 Smokies Fly Fishing Report -- Current Hatches: Blue-winged Olives, Sulfurs, Light Cahills, Pale Evening Duns, March Browns, Little Yellow Stoneflies, Giant Black Stoneflies, Golden Stoneflies, Little Black Caddis, Tan Caddis, inch worms, and ants. Fishing is very good now in the Smokies. Hatches are quite diverse depending on which streams you are fishing and what elevation you are at. It is still spring up on the high brook trout streams but almost summer down low. Both dry flies and nymphs are catching a lot of fish now. If you need to learn how to fish these streams, a guided trip with me can help you accomplish that!
Caney Fork Fly Fishing Report: The Caney Fork is fishing excellent right now. Good for both numbers and a chance at some larger fish. Flows allow for both float or wade trips. 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: Fishing is anywhere from good to slow depending on the day and your casting ability. Long casts, long drifts, small flies. Watch for sulfurs and be prepared with nymph, emerger, and dun imitations if the fish are noticing them. When there aren't a lot of bugs on the water, stick with small nymph, emerger, and midge patterns and you should catch some nice trout.
Cumberland Plateau Fishing Report: Smallmouth are coming on strong now and wade fishing the creeks and streams for smallmouth and various sunfish will only get better from here on out. Some good fish are already being caught on topwater.