Fly fishing gear

Fly Fishing in the High Country |

This beautiful region in and around Boone is known for a lot, especially on the natural wonders side of the equation. With a multitude of awe-inspiring mountains surrounding us, including some of the highest peaks found east of the Rockies, many rivers, streams, and streams originate and flow from these peaks.

Consequently, due to the natural conditions of our rivers, the trout fishing is of a very high quality here in the High Country. In fact, the sport and the trout fishing industry have become one of the largest businesses in the region.

Fly fishing is a different method of fishing from the usual rod and reel and worm fishing that many of us learned to do as children. With many breeds of freshwater fish such as bass, bluegrass, crappie, catfish and more, a spinning reel or bait casting reel is used to cast live bait or artificial lures to trick, catch and bring them, depending on the species and natural fishing conditions.

Fly fishing, however, is not necessarily a more refined approach to fishing, but it is a more precise form of angling due to the nature of the species of choice, trout. As a result, trout fishing requires a different type of fishing system that is both easy to learn and fascinating to experience.

The trout found here in the High Country represent a unique species of fish that must live in certain natural conditions to survive. First, trout is a fish that likes to live in cooler waters. It is a species that does not do well in too hot water in summer. Even though the state of North Carolina is located in the south, it is the high mountainous elevations that create the cooler waters necessary for the life of the trout. Therefore, brown trout, rainbow trout and native brook trout, the three species of trout found in North Carolina, thrive in the lower temperatures found in our rivers, streams and streams, most of which have their origins atop the surrounding mountains. The optimum water temperatures for trout are between 45 and 70 degrees.

Rainbow trout are native to the Pacific Northwest, but were successfully introduced to North Carolina waters many years ago. This is also true with brown trout, which is a species imported from Europe and Asia. Brook trout, however, is the smallest species of trout native to the eastern half of the United States and Canada. Because it is their original home, they are appreciated and prized by fishermen.

What is also unique about trout is what they eat and how they eat them. Small trout feed on insects found in water as well as similar creatures found on land and in the air that fall into the water. Older trout still feed on these same land and water insects, but they add small fish, crawdads, and other small vertebrate animals to the menu. Brown trout, being the big bullies of the North Carolina trout world, also eat larger fish than other species. All trout, for example, love a good hatching of flying insects, which will no doubt hit the water at some point and this is where the trout will ambush them from below.

So, due to the idiosyncratic characteristics of trout when it comes to eating, fly fishing rods, reels and bait are what it takes to fish for these wonderful aquatic animals. At the heart of the trout fishing system is the artificial lure, all designed to mimic the aquatic, land and flying creatures that trout love to eat. Known collectively as trout flies, many of these artificial lures are small and handcrafted, using various materials to make a fur fly that will land right above the water, resulting in will trigger a strike by a waiting trout. To land an artificial lure floating just above the water, this is where the distinctive design of the fly rod and reel comes into play. Using a large rod, the angler with fly learns to throw it back and forth. force air but gently, in order to free enough fishing line to get to where the trout are hiding.

Many of us have seen fly fishermen in action, live or on video. The fun thing about this sport is that you can learn to use fly fishing rods, reels, and bait in less than a day. Fly fishing adds a whole other layer to the fishing experience and because of this, many new fly fishermen quickly develop a passion for the sport.

For those who want to take the plunge and learn a wonderful new way to connect with nature that will last a lifetime, this is where the many fly fishing outfitters located here in the High Country come in handy. Not only can you buy gear from them, but they’ll teach you how to catch trout on the fly and then guide you to the best secret waterways where the big trout live. Sport is another reason why this region is a great place to vacation, visit and live.

There is, however, only one fly fishing gear shop and guiding service located in the middle of downtown Boone and that is the Highland Outfitters Company.

Housed on the second floor of a refurbished and vintage building at 140 S. Depot Street, Highland Outfitters is a full service business ready to meet all your fishing gear needs and get you on the water with knowledgeable guides . Some of the major fly fishing rivers and streams served by the Company are found in Linville, Blowing Rock, Banner Elk and Boone, as well as the Watauga and South Holston Rivers in Tennessee.

Owner Alex Dale has found success with his Highland Outfitters store originally located in Linville. Then he started a second business with the Foscoe Fishing Company located on Rte. 105 outside of Boone, which is still in business. Then, when he found out that this premier building was open for rent in downtown Boone, he decided to take a leap of faith and move his Highland Outfitters operation to a city where tourists and tourists alike. potential fly fishing enthusiasts were thick.

As fate would have it, however, Dale moved into his new storefront in late summer 2019. Soon arrived January and February, a slow period for guiding activities, and then came the coronavirus pandemic a months later in March.

While Dale had to make adjustments due to the crisis, Highland Outfitters weathered the storm and even came up with new ways of doing business that were influenced by stay-at-home orders.

“The retail side is why I’m here in downtown Boone, as well as the fact that no matter where the store is, we’re never far from prime fishing waters,” Dale said. “The New River begins here in Boone, as does Winklers Creek, and we fish as far as the back waters of the Watauga River and South Holston River, which are some of the best trout fisheries in the Southeast. These cool streams and the limestone rock in the water are all part of good trout fishing. As for this spring, we were fortunate enough to keep our doors open during the pandemic, using store capacity limits of 50 percent. However, people were fishing and continue to fish during this situation, which is why we first started out as a dump service for our customers.

Highland Outfitters started taking orders over the phone and then taking the items to the sidewalk. Phase 2 allowed them to open with a limited capacity of internal clients. During the lockdown, Dale also turned his storage space into a small pop-up store, doing everything he could to stay open.

By the time you read this, we hope that the full opening of the company has almost started. Business is picking up now that summer has arrived, and Dale is happy about it.

“The thing with fly fishing is that we prefer to be socially distant anyway,” Dale said. “We had customers who wanted to support us during this difficult time to buy our gift cards. Things like this have helped keep our doors open. Fly fishing, especially the guide services side of the industry, has been hit hard due to the lockdown as tourism and travel are needed. Even though we changed our practices a bit, business has finally picked up. We have a lot of people coming to town to learn how and where to fish. Our fastest demographic group is the women who play the sport, and next to that are the young people who are also getting into fly fishing, from teens to college students to young people from around the world. 20 years.

Dale is an optimist about the pandemic, his business, and fly fishing in general.

“In the short term it’s been tough, but the long term is starting to look better,” Dale said. “The good thing is that I’m learning new ways of doing business and helping our clients. The engagement with our customers that we experienced on social networks has been surprising. I’ve always used social media as a place where I love to provide free information and entertainment, a place where people can learn fly fishing and paint a pretty picture of life on the water. But I never focused on selling on these platforms. At the same time, social media has been very helpful as people have been eager to buy our products and help us keep our store open during this crazy time. This led to a deeper engagement with our local and regional fly fishermen. “

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