Fishing on the Fly: A Q&A with Jordan Case

Jordan Case’s love for the outdoors started as a young boy, catching catfish with his grandpa out of muddy cow ponds and never stopped growing. Now, he’s a fishing guide for Rouse Fly Fishing. We caught up with Jordan to ask him about the fishing options available in central Arkansas for kids, beginners and experienced fishers, as well as where to go based on what type of fish you’re looking to catch. 

How lucky is central Arkansas, in terms of its offerings for good fishing? 

JORDAN: We are very lucky to live in central Arkansas with such a diverse range of fish species. Whether you’re after bass, catfish or panfish in the Arkansas River, Beaver Fork Lake or Lake Conway, chasing smallmouth bass in crystal-clear streams to our north or south, fishing for trout in tail waters beneath power-generated dams, Arkansas is a pretty special place. States around us are also known for good fishing, but lack the wide variety that we have here. 

What options are available in central Arkansas and what can you fish? 

JORDAN: We are known for our great trout fisheries, which have produced world-record brown trout in the past. The Little Red, White and Northfork rivers are extremely popular for trout fishing. There are countless smallmouth streams in the Ozark and Ouachita national forests. 

What are the best places to go for beginners and kids? 

JORDAN: Dry Run Creek in Norfork is a great place to take a kid fishing. It’s a kids-only, catch-and-release creek full of big trout. Kids can fish it until they are 16. It has wheelchair-accessible fishing, so fishers of all abilities can also apply for a pass to fish the creek. 

With all the options we have in the lakes and rivers, it doesn’t mean there isn’t great fishing to be had close to town. I have many childhood memories of catching fish in Tucker Creek in the middle of Conway. Don’t forget the farm ponds as well. In the spring, white bass will work their way up our lakes’ tributaries to spawn, such as Lake Conway, Brewer Lake and others. These fish are fairly easy to catch when the time is right and great for beginners. 

What do you enjoy most about fly fishing? 

JORDAN: Fly fishing is a more intimate form of fishing. It usually leads you to beautiful places and is somewhat of an art form. Most things that can be done with spinning gear can also be done with a fly rod. Instead of tackle, we tie our own flies out of feathers and fur with synthetic materials made to mimic a plethora of baitfish, insects and crawfish.  

What are the first steps to getting started in fly fishing? 

JORDAN: Getting into fly fishing can be intimidating, but don’t let that scare you. There are many helpful resources to learn these days. A fly shop is a great place to start.  

You can learn pretty much anything online, too. Getting a guide to take you out is also a great option. They will have the gear you need so it’s much less of a hassle for you and an awesome way to see if you’d be interested in it. Guides are great for beginners or even experienced fishers. We help people out who have never fished by teaching them how to catch fish with a fly rod or take you on a boat to a spot not accessible by walking. 

What is a misconception about fly fishing? 

JORDAN: A common misconception with fly fishing is that it is only for trout. Many species can be targeted with a fly rod, from farm pond bass and bream to tarpon in the salt flats. I have so many great memories growing up of throwing hand-tied grasshoppers in farm ponds catching big bass. 

Are there any recent developments, changes or new equipment that could help improve a fishing outing? 

JORDAN: One of the greatest tools that technology has brought to fishing recently is being able to read water levels of lakes, rivers and streams simply from your phone. It used to be hard to stay up on changing water conditions.  

Now, the Army Corps of Engineers has a great app — USACE Little Rock — where you can find a water gauge on almost every lake or river in Arkansas, even the small creeks. This helps you decipher when conditions may be optimal for your fishing trip.