Local fly fishing legends of the past & future

Each week we will share an interview with a local fly fisherman that has done many things for the sport.


This week we highlight Will Blevins. Trout Unlimited member, trout slayer, and one outstanding young man.


TU640: What was the first fish you remember catching? How old were you?


Will: The first time I ever went fishing I was three years old. My dad took me outside to flip over logs and rocks to find worms.  Once we had our bait, we put a worm on a hook and first cast I caught a little bluegill. 


TU640: Where did you grow up fishing?


Will: I grew up fishing the pond at my house for panfish with anything I could find. I was pretty good at matching the red worm, cricket, and carpenter bee hatch. I fished occasionally while growing up but never really got addicted until one day when I was eleven and my dad introduced me to lures. I never really had the patience to sit there waiting for my bobber to go down but, fishing with a lure gave me the ability to cast and then reel it in repeatedly. That summer I fished almost eight hours every day. 


TU640: How has fishing impacted your life? 


Will: In the past couple years fishing has become a big part of my life. Most of the time if I am not fishing or tying flies, I am watching videos, or daydreaming about fishing. Fishing has impacted my life, but it has also taught me to slow down a bit and have patience. 


TU640: Do you have a favorite trout species? If so, what makes it special?


Will: My favorite trout species is the Southern Appalachian Brook Trout. The combination of the beautiful colors and the effort required to find them is what makes them so special to me. 


TU640: At what age were you introduced to fly fishing? How did you get hooked?


Will: At the age of fourteen I attended the Great Smoky Mountains Trout Adventure Camp, there I picked up a fly rod for the first time and have not been able to put it down since. One reason I enjoy fly-fishing so much is because of how challenging it is, something about the challenge presented and the effort required is what really got me hooked. 


TU640: What is your favorite river to fish and why?


Will: The Tellico River is without a doubt my favorite river as it is where I spend most of my time fly-fishing. From the cold winter delayed harvest to the insanely busy summer Saturday mornings the Tellico never fails to present a challenge. 


TU640: What is your favorite memory of fly fishing and why?


Will: My favorite memory of fly-fishing is a recent trip with my father in which I completed my first ever wild trout slam. It started off as a regular day catching wild bows but quickly became exciting after an elusive wild brown inhaled my dry. After that, my father and I hiked quite a ways to catch a brook trout and complete the slam. Being primarily a nymph fisherman and catching all three species on a dry with my Dad made the seven mile hike well worth it. 


TU640: What is your favorite style of fly fishing? Dry Fly, Nymphing?


Will: My favorite style of fishing is European Nymphing as it is very effective on my local river. The long, sensitive rod, heavy flies, and lack of a flotation device allows you to have direct contact with your flies without having to mend. This method is the most effective way to nymph in my opinion. 


TU640: What is the biggest trout you have caught so far?

Will: This past winter I caught a beautiful wild rainbow that measured at almost 26"! This was the fish of lifetime for me and will be a hard one to beat. 

TU640: If you could fish anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

Will: A trip at the top of my bucket list is the Florida Keys to catch a tarpon. The effort and time required to catch these fish on the fly is something that I find very intriguing. 

TU640: Do you tie your own flies?

Will: Yes, I started tying my own flies last winter and have enjoyed it ever since. The feeling of catching a fish on a creation of your own is second to none. 

TU640: Name one thing you can't live without?

Will: As cliché as it sounds, I do not think I could live without fly fishing.  If I am not fishing or tying, I am usually thinking about a new pattern to tie, a new river to fish, or the big one that got away. When I am fishing, I am in my element. 


TU640: Name one thing that no one knows about you.

Will: I struggle with ADHD and I am easily distracted. But whenever I am fly-fishing, I do not get distracted. I guess there is just something about being knee-deep in a river surrounded by nature that calms me. 


TU640: Do you have a favorite kind of rod?

Will: My favorite rod is the Syndicate P2 Pipeline Pro 10 ft 3 wt. This rod is my go-to for anything trout related. Besides euro-nymphing it also casts dries and streamers very well. The rod does it all. Syndicate has a quick and easy warranty (which I have tested a couple times). 


TU640: What will the future of angling look like if we don't get young people interested in the sport?


Will: I think it is very important that we get as many young kids as possible into fly-fishing and the outdoors in general. If young people do not get into the sport and buy licenses, there will not be enough money to stock trout or restore wild streams to their former glory.


TU640: You’re in high school now. What do you think you may study in college?

Will: I for sure want to do something with fishing in the future whether it be a fisheries biologist, a TWRA officer, or a fly-fishing guide. I plan to major in wildlife and fisheries management or fishery biology. 


TU640: If you had unlimited funds to start an cold water stream project, what would you do?

Will: If I had unlimited funds, I would do my best to restore one of our precious Southern Appalachian Brook Trout streams. I would start by cleaning up all the trash and try to fix the erosion and runoff created by the gravel roads. I would then work to clear out the cover above the stream, and attempt to take out all of the rainbows and build a dam making it impossible for them to travel upstream. 


TU640: What are your future plans with fly fishing?

Will: When I turn sixteen I would love to be at a guide at my local fly-shop. Once, in college I plan to spend my summers out west exploring and guiding in Idaho or Colorado. My dream is to turn my passion into a career some day. 


TU640: What advice would you give other youth who’s wanting to try fly fishing for the first time?


Will: My advice would be do not give up no matter how many birds nest you get. Fly fishing is tough, when I first started on my own I had no idea what I was doing but the more I talked to other anglers and the more I fished I started to figure things out. I have seen many fly-anglers go out and buy a rod and try it 4 or 5 times and then just give up and go back to spin fishing. Therefore, I try my best to help anyone I see on the water that looks like they are struggling. 


TU640: Are you into any other outdoor activities? If so what?

Will: Besides, fishing I enjoy spending time with my family, hiking, hunting, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and snowboarding. I am fortunate to be raised by parents who love the outdoors!