Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Smith River Virginia
The Smith River is basically a wide stream with little variation in its bottom. There are
long pools, then a section of riffles leading to the next long pool. In most areas of the
river you will barely notice the water moving even when it is moving at a good rate.
That is because of its smooth surface. The surface of the water is deceptive and tough
to fish with a dry fly until you get used to fishing this type of water.
Most of the trout, especially the brown trout, will hold around any structure they can
find. Rock slabs, edges of the riffles, any bank structure, any tree limb or even a stick
in the water, gravel bars and anywhere the depth of the water changes abruptly. The
pools hold plenty of trout but all in all, are more difficult to fish. They usually hold the
larger trout. It is easier to catch the smaller trout in the riffles but not the large ones.
During the summer it is important to fish the shaded areas under overhanging tree
limbs. The brown trout will stay out of the bright sunlit water.
The Trophy Section is the most heavily fished section. The trout see a lot of flies and
spook very easily in this section. In fact, it is easy to spook the trout in any of the
pools. If you don't wade very carefully and slowly, you will spook all the trout in a pool
without having a chance to catch one.
Drag free drifts in the smooth section are tough to get sometimes. The water has
current seams that are difficult to see. At times you will need to make a downstream
presentation even using dry flies. In fact we recommend this method if you can find a
rising trout. In the clear low water, even your leader will put a trout down. The
downstream approach will let the trout see the fly first. Done correctly, your leader will
not pass over the fish. Keep each cast to the inside of the trout and work in towards
the fish until you get the right drift.
Nymph fishing is generally the best way to fish. Most anglers use a strike indicator. The
almost level bottom of the river allows the indicator to work great. When the caddis are
hatching you may want to use a down and across presentation of pupa imitations.
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