Steve Dally's White River Fly Fishing Guide Service


Saltwater Texans Converted

Kevin Vincent from Houston with the trout of a lifetime

John Boatwright and Kevin Vincent’s annual sojourn north to fish the White with me is a classic. Most of their fishing time is spent on the Gulf Coast chasing hardpulling saltwater species.

But the whole White River streamer bug has bit them hard. Last year in some big water they moved some seriously big browns but the deal couldn’t be closed. This year the fever was on them. The guys fish hard, wind doesn’t phase them, and they deserved a big fish. And it took some doing with water levels yo-yoing, some crazy wind, threatening storms but their general silliness is a godsend during the flat periods. Its really hard to row straight when you are crying tears of laughter.

The guys get it. Yeh we are all big kids playing with expensive toys and very determined to find a trophy brown, but its really all about the fun, comradeship and some laughs.

Friday was all about numbers, try 20 browns to 19.5″ but none bigger; Sunday we nymphed up a goodly amount but low water and a bunch of wind made the streamer fishing a chore. Saturday we did 2 floats after a slow morning we bounced downstream for the toad and some others.

For the record Kevin’s fish went 25 1/2″, ate a prototype white streamer of mine about 8″ long on an 8wt, 15 lb test and a type 6 Rio Outbound line. John had a fish of similar class all over one of my Super Bunnies but it somehow missed both hooks.

Looking forward to seeing you guys back.

February Past and Spring Outlook


February What A Month

FEBRUARY, it seems like its lasted for ever, but its been a lot of fun.

We have had high water for streamers and low water for wading, deep snow and bitter cold followed by 70 degree blue sky days. A lot of hours on the oars and some on the throttle and even a few with a rod in hand. We had a bunch of friends around, which is always good and one heck of a nice brown to finish off the month.

Its feeling a lot like spring, with some wind, warm and and caddis can’t be far away. This year’s hatch could be epic, and last year was crazy good. Everyone talks about the Mother’s Day Caddis on the Arkansas, our hatch lasted for 3 months last year. Right now every stone you turn seems to be covered with cases.

With the amount of low water we have been having the dry fly fishing should be crazy good. Stay tuned.

Norfork Rainbow


Snow on Norfork
Shuttle Running at Dusk

We got snow to dig out from

Good friends, food and beverages

Red Nails and Streamers

A Day On Dry Run

Lynsey hooked up and Nate taking pics _ Rabecca Dally image

THE day after Christmas I had a buddy in town, Nate Horn from Mississipi, but was rostered in the fly shop. Nate had heard the tales of Dry Run Creek, and negotiated with our youngest Lynsey to be his entre into this fantastic under-16 fishery.

Nate’s something of a favorite of the girls, which is how he was able to get Lynsey into those way too big waders. It was pretty chilly which is why everyone looks like the little brother in “A Christmas Story”. But here’s a pictorial of Nate and my wife Bec’s photos so you can share in the fun. I wish I’d been able to be there.

A nice chunky brown in the net _ Nate Horn image


Mother and daughter on the Creek _ Nate Horn image


Would You Rather Be Inside


Yep its cold in the mornings, the sun is bright, the water levels fluctuating. But c’mon do you want to spend another day on the couch?

Some times you just need to say to hell with it and go fishing.



Winter Streamers

Fellow guide Ben Levin with a sweet fish this week


ITS been fun getting back out the big stick, big flies and on some bigger water the past week for some streamer fishing, some of the best fun you can have with your waders on.

We really have had some productive trips throughout winter hucking the big stuff, and last weekend I had the first decent shot on some better water with regulars Robert Hime and his son Mason. Robert’s become a streamer addict, invariably his first question is will we be streamer fishing? He’s landed several with me in the 20″ to 22″ range but the truly big one has eluded the net. Mason though he has a fine cast hadn’t really got into the streamer bit

That might all change after our session last Saturday morning when he landed 2 nice browns including one pushing 20″. Robert landed a couple in thelower teens and stuck one of my baby brown flies into a really good fish, but the hook popped out on some violent headshakes. It was a good sign for things to come.

Wednesday Ben Levin and I snuck out for the first time in ages. Ben is solid people, a very good addition to our guide team at the shop, lots of fun to be around and a damn good fly fisher.

We’d been stuck in the shop longer than planned working through the Simms; Rainys and SA offerings for 2011 with rep and mate Eric Kraimer. The plan was to kidnap Eric for a few hours of water time, poor bugger lives in Texas so doesn’t get much trout time and he’d been working way too hard. Plus some sleazebag stole his entire collection of Rainy’s fly samples out of his truck earlier this year. So he deserved the break, but unfortunately his travel schedule was just too tight.

So I got to fish in Eric’s place instead of just running the boat. KIndly I sent the above pic to Eric who was driving to Little Rock _ his answer was unprintable here.

The streamer fishing should get even better as more fish get through their spawning ritual and starting looking to regain lost condition. Cold weather will lead to higher flows, and more opportunities to target the better fish.

Definately give me a call if you want to experience this side of the White River, and Norfork Tailwater.

Mason Hime with a nice Thanksgiving White River brown

Summer Luvin’

Joel Fulmer’s hopper eating brown trout

THE FISHING has to be hot when even a heat index of around 110 doesn’t raise question in the boat about heading in for the day. The last 3 days on the water have produced some phenomenal fishing, and some gorgeous fish and lots of fish.

Joel Fulmer, from Memphis, produced the fish of the weekend with big head coming fully out of the water, to engulf a Rainy’s Deer Hair Hopper. He and good friend Chris Heppel, who has appeared in these pages a few times, scored a bunch of fish on Copper Johns Friday, and a few stripping buggers and of course some on top. This was a big dark lanky maleeven better the previous cast he scored a 19″ brown on a Copper John.

For all my artsy fartsy photography and wanting to get it back in the water fast Chris’ lower res camera phone pic gives the best impression of size of this fish. Click to view

Saturday and Sunday I had Hardy Winburn V and Hardy Winburn VI, who had been sent in my direction a very good mutual friend. Number 5 and Number 6 have fished a lot together over the years, Canada, the Bahamas and the Little Red. But they don’t get to spend much time together these with the younger Hardy having attended college in Boston, and is now NYC based chasing an acting career. The kid has a good head on his shoulders, 3 movies under his belt and plenty of passion, I wish him well on that tough road.

We had scored  a good number of 12-16″ fish early, then things slowed up for us until we broke for lunch, rehydrated and re-energized. Back on he water things lit up. I recall Hardy V saying at one point “I’ve had 12 straight drifts and  landed a fish over 16”. They were all slabs, with one super thick 18″ fish and one nice 19″ fish. Day two we went downstream brown hunting, looking for a fish like Joel’s, and we hooked plenty of small ones, until Hardy VI nailed a nice 17″ brown.

Enjoy the pix

A really solid Bull Shoals rainbow going home


Summer Fun Photo Essay

Dog Days Are Good Days


GROWING UP in Australia 5 minutes from a beach meant the summer relief from the heat was always about the water. In later years it became about lakes and rivers and mayflies, terrestrials and dry flies.

Last weekend I got a rare day off without commitments with my wife Bec, the youngest Lynsey and Madison, floating in the drifter from Wildcat to Cotter. Ive been doing quite a few guide days on this stretch and the lowish flows are very good.

Wet wading is pretty good unless you are on some fresh flow in the morning. Starting early and you might need some waders, its deliciously cool. The fly rigs are light and simple, often a dry fly is serving as the best indicator and there are some serious quality fish, though these are extremely challenging.

As far as fishing was concerned it was pretty good, but we weren’t going hard, swimming, photography, fish watching and just floating was pretty good. Madison got the bonus of chasing sticks in the river.

Bec lost a real trophy brown, after a great drift, but lost the handle on the line, and the slack was enough to enable an escape. Five minutes later I got sticked up when an extremely hot brown ripped me down the next shoal.

Everyone we have floated on this stretch has had a hoot _ and as a nice break in the afternoon we have been stopping off to see Jamie Crownover at Hurst Fishing Service, where you can grab and icecream or popsicle, and for many of the women fly fishers a proper restroom.

Lonely Mayfly at Wildcat

Ant Eating Brown

Lynsey learning the oars

 Join us for some fun

Updating River Information

Just went through and updated the White River and Nofork generation patterns articles in light of some recent information and incidents on the river.

The White River and Norfork are great places to fish, its a pity that the safety and needs for information to stay safe isn’t better supported by the US Army Corp of Engineers and SWPA.

Our guide isn’t comprehensive and doesn’t cover all eventualities. But there is one rule of thumb err on the side of caution _ or book a guide.

Click here for

Understanding Generation The sites, and what they tell you

Putting it All Together: What the information means on the rivers

Updated Photo Galleries

Just been through updating the photogalleries this morning with pics from this year. Hope y’all enjoy

Fly Lines _ What Not To Do!

A Fly Line in Terminal Condition

SOMETIMES it pays to check your gear before you hit the water.

I was heading out for a drift boat float this week when I was selecting a rod for the day, just one I wanted a simple day. I hadn’t fished my Z-Axis 5wt for a couple of months, but it was only when I hit the water I realized why.

The Rio Gold flyline I was have on the Z was well past its use by date. Which was exactly the reason I hasn’t been fishing it _ Can you say DOH! I can honestly say now that a new flyline, rather than the one I was fishing (and later photographed above), is going to change the way you fish. The real message though is change them before they look like this

I had more snarls tangles and general aggravation than I’ve known for a looong time. So I figured y”all might like to see what an old flyline looks like. Click the pic can see them larger and check out all the dark lines running across the fly line.

First off let me say this flyline was a sample from the first year of the Rio Gold. Yeh I liked it so much on the Z it had become a permanent fixture. Its been fished by me, my wife and fishermen on guide trips since late 2007. Seriously its probably been out on 400+ days with less maintenance than my mates at Rio would recomend.

Its not like my other flylines don’t get maintained, and changed regularly, particularly my guide reels. This spool though had ended up being my own personal line over the past year of its life. I’d actually acquired a couple of  Rio Gold WF5Fs in the interim. One went to a charity auction and the other ended up in shop inventory when we got low.

Now look at the pic below, which will give you a pretty good idea of what all those dark likes become _ cracks. Its a wonder this flyline was floating at all and probably a tribute to the Agent X technology that it would.

See what all those little lines are

Not that it was going through the guides all that well either as you could imagine. The surface was pretty rough and ready but it was one section in particular that I’d find sticking. Heck I spent a while looking for a non-existant knot.

But that sticking section back in the head (just as I’d get a decent load on the rod, was proving a problem.


This pic shows the source. Yep I’d peeled off a chunk of the coating which was putting a hitch in the giddy-up as the line was coming in or out of the guides at speed. This was all to the hilarity of my fishing companions.

So here’s the lesson, check all your flylines regularly. If they look like this replace them.

Bad language carries a long way over water.

PS: A new Rio Gold is now installed.