A couple years ago, we ran a series called “Trout Bum of the Week,” in which we highlighted some of the guys living the good life. . .of a sort. (See the bottom of this post for a link to the previous installments.) This is our second round of profiles. Most of the subjects are guides who have turned their passion into a vocation, spending their time in an outdoor “office” that may include a drift boat, gorgeous mountain scenery, and crystal clear water. Others do have day jobs but manage to spend every other available minute on the water with a fly rod in hand. Whether you aspire to one lifestyle or the other, it’s illuminating to explore the different paths these men and women have taken on their way to achieving “trout bum” status.
Brown Hobson runs Brown Trout Fly Fishing, in Asheville, North Carolina and is a member of 2014 Fly Fishing Team USA. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources from the University of the South, and he is a former manager of the Jackson Hole Orvis store.
1. When did you start fly fishing?
I started fly fishing at age 13 on the farm ponds around Fort Mill, South Carolina. I started fly fishing for trout at age 15 in North Carolina, but didn’t get serious about it until I was in college at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. The Elk River tailwater gave me a great place to practice streamer fishing, nymphing and dry-dropper setups. My first summer in Jackson Hole, Wyoming was in 2006 and that is when the mania that carries me today, began.
2. What’s your favorite water?
My all-time favorite water is the South Fork of the Snake in Idaho. I have never seen such big fish eating dry flies anywhere else I have fished. The way those big cutties slow-gulp Chernobyl Ants gives me the shakes! My favorite home water is the Watauga River in Tennesse. The summer beetle fishing is incredible. It is the coolest fishing opportunity I have found since I left Wyoming. The beetle-eating fish hang out in the slow bends of the river under giant sycamores that hang over the river. They cruise like bonefish, and when they feel the beetle hit the water, they charge it as fast as they can. Sometimes they eat it on the fly, but often stop abruptly inches away before sipping the fly. The couple of seconds as they decide whether to eat or refuse is tantalizing.
3. What’s your favorite fish to chase with a fly rod and why?
Trout, by far! They feed in so many diverse ways that I never get bored. Before I have a chance to get tired of a hatch, everything changes. I also love the dynamics of water in mountain rivers. When I fish for trout in a moving river, I can totally block every other thought out of my head.
4. What’s your most memorable fly-fishing moment?
I earned a spot on Fly Fishing Team USA this fall. I have dreamed of being on the team since 2007, and started trying to make the team two years ago. I had to learn a lot of new tactics and techniques, and after two years of hard work, it paid off. When I found out made the team, I was so stoked. So many of my early fly fishing idols (Jim Hickey, Jeff Currier, Pete Erikson, and Jay Buchner) from Jackson Hole were on the team, and I feel humbled to be a part of the same organization.
5. What’s your most forgettable fly-fishing moment?
After a great first day in the 2008 Jackson Hole One Fly Tournament, I lost my fly on day two. I was fishing a size 16 Parachute Purple Haze, floating from Deadman’s Bar to Moose in Grand Teton National Park, and had a slow start to my day. When fish finally started feeding on mayflies, I netted eight or nine Snake River cutthroats really quickly in a riffle that was on fire. I got excited and forgot to check for wind knots after each fish. All of a sudden, while I was casting, my fly disappeared. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Unfortunately that is a moment I can’t forget. I have never been so devastated while fly fishing. I blew a great opportunity to help my team win the One Fly. Knock on wood, but I have not lost my fly since.
6. What do you love most about fly-fishing?
I love the places and the people. Probably the people most of all. The people whom I have worked with in the fly fishing industry and the clients I have guided are all so cool. There is something about the sport of fly fishing that mostly attracts fun-loving, interesting, and friendly people. The places I get to fish are awesome, as well. Every body of water I have fished is unique, interesting, and presents new challenge. The places are usually beautiful, too.
7. What’s your favorite piece of gear and why?
The Helios 2 10-foot 3-weight rod is the tool I need more than anything else. I am fishing lots of competitions right now, and this rod is the best I have found. It is super lightweight, and I can fish it all day easily. It is extremely powerful for a 3-weight, but has a supple enough tip to buffer shock on my light tippets. I high-stick constantly, and the extra foot of length is a huge advantage. A close second is Trout Hunter Fluorocarbon Tippet. It is so strong, I am pretty sure they have invisible steel cable inside of it.
8. What’s your go-to fly when nothing else is working?
A size 14 gold tungsten bead Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail. It looks like so many different things that fish will eat it anytime. I nymph it and swing it, and have not found a river it won’t work on. It isn’t always the best fly, but it definitely works when nothing else will.
9. What was your favorite fly-fishing trip?
There is a small creek outside of Jackson Hole that is a high-mountain freestone with spring-creek qualities. My wife and I fished it a lot when we lived there, and had a chance to fish it again last fall during our Jackson Hole One Fly practice. There was a great gray drake hatch, and we fished, as we always do, taking turns and picking off feeding fish. It was just the right amount of challenging with my best friend. I will never forget it.
10. What’s your next dream destination?
I really want to get to Argentina and Chile. The photos of the fish and scenery are amazing. I have heard people describe the trout fishing down there as fishing in the Northern Rockies fifty years ago.