The old guy called the fly the “skull crusher” since the brook trout would follow it so set that they ‘d slam their heads on stones. He connected them with one arm, in the cool of the little shop in the shadow of Grandpa Mountain, not far from the creek where he ‘d initially become aware of the fly when he was a kid, some 75 years previously.
I believed I understood everything about the Yallerhammer, probably the most conventional of the old Southern Appalachian fly patterns, however this was news to me. The area has actually birthed a variety of homegrown fly patterns– amongst them the Thunderhead, Jim Charley, Sheep Fly, and Tellico Nymph, the area’s real breakout to popularity and extensive usage. However the Yallerhammer is the fly that appears to hold the fancy of regional anglers. Its history is as shrouded in secret and tradition as these old North Carolina mountains remain in their renowned blue mist. Some state the pattern was developed by the Cherokee. Others figure Scotch-Irish leaders thought up the bug. It was initially connected from the split wing plume of a yellow-shafted flicker– what the old-timers called a “yellowhammer,” a big woodpecker as soon as typical throughout these mountains– however nowadays, naturally, it’s unlawful to shoot a songbird such as a flicker. The majority of the flies are connected with colored grieving dove plumes. You seldom see anybody fish it. The Yallerhammer is an attractor pattern, sort of a Bob Evans– buffet sort of offering, which tends to upset the purest of fly anglers. And the Yallerhammer was generally fished as a damp fly, although those have actually fallen out of favor nowadays.
None of this mattered to me. I was searching for Yallerhammers since of their historical and cultural significance. If they triggered trout to bang their heads on the method to the hook, all the much better. I purchased the last 4 the old guy had in stock, size 14s. “I’m repairing to connect some 10s when I navigate to it,” he stated, apologetically. However I could not wait, since I was repairing to shut off the difficult roadway and onto the Forest Service gravel, and climb high enough into the Southern Appalachians to leave cell service and equipped fish alike. 4 Yallerhammers looked like plenty to bet the day on.
The last time I counted, there were 1.6 billion trout fly patterns, with more en route, alternatives made progressively various through an ever-evolving selection of brand-new artificial fly products– things like holographic chenille, UV polar flash, clear midget tubing, and photo-imprinted foam.
I ‘d barely be called a traditionalist, with my graphite rod and sling pack, and I’m a sucker for attractive articulated banners. Who would not desire a Sex Dungeon in the fly box? However when it pertains to small brook trout in ancient brookie water, there’s something to be stated for dressing up in your Sunday finest, fly-wise. Cherished though they are, rainbow and brown trout are trespassers in these parts, the rainbow coming from western America, and the brown from the waters of Europe. Just the charming little brook trout, whose name Salvelinus fontinalis indicates “occupant of springs,” can take pride in being a real Southerner, holding on in the greatest headwater creeks considering that the last glaciers turned tail in retreat from Dixie heat. Drive far enough into these mountains and trek high enough into these headwater creeks, and chunking some ostentatious postmodern polar-ice chenille fly at a fish like a wild Southern Appalachian brook trout appears a little off, like using Versace ankle boots to a rodeo.
With the classics in my chest pocket, I drove past the equipped area of the creek and past the delayed-harvest waters, parked at an indication that designated the stream as catch-and-release/artificial lures just, and began treking. Up and further up, till the path abated and the rhododendrons were too thick to crawl under. Up until it was time to fish.
Already, the creek had actually narrowed to a weak shimmer in the stones. It’s difficult to envision a trout even living there, however this is where these Southern Appalachian brookies need to remain, hunched down versus the browns and rainbows that will outcompete them for food and the warmer waters in lower, less secured crannies. There’s no space for a genuine cast, however I have actually never ever been an old-school dabbler, dipping flies into small pocket water like a mayfly laying eggs. So I moved through the crazy-tight cover without issue of spreading fish, threading the rod through the rhodos, holding my hat to my head, till the creek corrected simply enough.
I roll-cast a Yallerhammer into the foamiest part of the water and took in the slack line. The greatly palmered fly “sort of spins and twirls in the water,” the old guy informed me previously, “which drives the trout nuts.” I attempted to envision the fly doing simply that, toppling in the cleaning device of the pour-over, then wandering in the calmer water, like something stunned and puzzled however still alive. And edible.
The fiberglass 4-weight bent deep, and the idea jerked like a dowitcher pointing fish. The little bugger ran directly at me, and I glimpsed a little slip back to the plunge swimming pool. I took a half advance, safeguarding the light tippet, then coaxed the fighter to hand.
The yellow fly was almost the size of the brook trout’s head. The fish had a hard time in my palm with violent wiggles, jumping from my loose fingers two times prior to I might get the forceps on the hook and back it out. Forget all that things about swishing fresh water through the gills and babying a fish till it collects back its strength. This little pig had gumption and mindset to spare. It rupture back into the deep water, routing orange stimulates like a bottle rocket. If it might have turned me a pectoral-fin bird, I make certain it would have. Whatever else remained in mini– the water, the rod, the fly, the cast– other than for the outsize heart of that 12,000-year-old monster, its life a battle, its future a stacked deck, however its battle and solid desire for life no secret at all.
T. Edward Nickens, writer and editor-at-large for Field & Stream, is a New York City Times very popular author and acclaimed reporter who has actually has actually discussed searching, fishing, and their modern-day expression throughout The United States and Canada for more than thirty years. He likewise works as a contributing editor for Garden & Weapon, Ducks Endless, and Audubon, and is author of Field & Stream‘s extremely effective Overall Outdoorsman Handbook series. He lives and composes in Raleigh and Morehead City, North Carolina. Follow him on Instagram: @enickens.