Legends of Fall

A group of anglers in two boats floating in a river

Four Orvis Fishing Managers share their favorite fly-fishing tips for autumn adventures.

Contrary to popular belief, most folks who work in the fly-fishing industry don’t spend all of their time with a fly rod in hand, casting to trophy game fish. This is especially true of people who work in retail, whose job requires keeping the focus on the customers and making the most of their time on the water. The main focus of managing an Orvis store or fishing department is on serving others, especially during the summer when the fishing is hottest and the store is bustling, full of eager anglers looking for flies, gear, and fishing tips.

Fall provides a little more breathing room, and offers retail workers a chance to wet a line and make the most of it. Recently, four Orvis associates from North Carolina got out of their stores and into a couple of drift boats for two days on the Watauga River, where they shared stories, became better friends, and caught a bunch of trout. Charlotte District Manager Mary Schaeffer and Store Manager Ian Huang joined Asheville Store Manager Austin Smith and Fishing Manager Sav Sankaran on an overnight river trip with Orvis-Endorsed guides Brown Hobson and Patrick Fulkrod—both past winners of the coveted Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide of the Year award.

Two friends in fly-fishing gear catching up by a river
Two hands holding a river rock with bugs on it
An angler fly-fishing from a guided boat on a river

Although they all knew each other through work and had hung out at the annual Orvis Guide Rendezvous, this was the first time they had shared so much time together on the water. Each came away with a greater appreciation for the restorative effects of being immersed in nature and the value of sharing the experience with friends.

A group of anglers stand next to a boat, riverside

Ian: Any time you get to spend more than a day with someone, it makes your relationship deeper and better. It didn’t hurt that the fishing was amazing, and we were surrounded by gorgeous scenery.

Mary: It was amazing just to get an excuse to get out and fish. A favorite moment was when Sav, after playing guitar for us by the campfire for quite a few songs, realized that he was ankle-deep in water. The reservoir had risen by about a foot, and no one had noticed in the dark.

Austin: From beers and jokes in the boat, to torrential thunderstorms that put our gear to the test, our “mini-adventure” had it all. It was special to be able to spend a few days in one of my favorite places with my colleagues and friends . . . and watching Sav fall out of the drift boat in slow motion was hilarious.

Sav: One of the highlights for me was late on our last day on the river, when after weathering a crazy thunderstorm, I managed to catch my best fish of the trip. The setting couldn't have been more picturesque: the boat flanked by fog-laden banks and the smell of rain still lingering in the air. I usually joke that catching fish is a happy side effect of going fishing. The setting and the camaraderie with fellow anglers are the memories that endure.

Three anglers in a boat on a river
A group of friends talk around a picnic table
A guitarist playing around the campfire

For many anglers, fall is a magical time of the year, when trout become less wary and more eager to feed. As days grow shorter and nights grow crisper, fly fishers feel the urge to wring the most out of the season before winter closes in. To help you make the most of your fall adventures, we asked Ian, Mary, Austin, and Sav to share some of their best tips and tricks for the season. Use this advice to have more fun on the water, catch more fish, and create memories to help you get through those cold days when you’re stuck inside.

Two hands holding a fly-fishing rod while fishing

Favorite Fall Fly-Fishing Tips

An angler wearing many layers while fishing

How to Layer for Warmth for Fall Fishing

Orvis regional manager Mary Schaeffer shows you how to gear up to stay warm for fall fishing.

A close up image of fly rod and reel with fly

How to Make a Dry-Dropper Rig for Fall Trout

Orvis Asheville store manager Sav Sankaran demonstrates his favorite tandem rig for fall fishing. A medium-size, bushy attractor dry fly--such as an Orange Stimulator--will draw strikes from trout looking up, and it also serves as a strike indicator for the Pheasant Tail Nymph he uses as a dropper.

A close-up of a hand holding an indicator

How to Fish Two Nymphs Under an Indicator

Orvis Asheville store manager Sav Sankaran demonstrates his favorite double-nymph rig for fishing under an indicator in fall. A heavy stonefly imitation--such as an Pat’s Rubberleg Stone--will get the flies down in the water column quickly. As a dropper pattern, Sav chooses a smaller beadhead pattern. For an indicator, he uses an Airlock Indicator because it is easy to put on, take off, and reposition, and it doesn’t kink your leader.

A close up of a fly-fishing fly held in pliers

Ian’s Top 5 Flies for Fall

Orvis Charlotte store manager Ian Huang shares his five favorite flies for fall trout fishing.