Guide Staff

Our world renowned staff of 13 professional guides is anchored by Fly Fishing Master’s Champion Kevin Howell. Our guides specialize in wading for trophy mountain trout and drift boat fishing for trout and smallmouth bass. Our guides operate in Pisgah, and Nantahala National Forest; Dupont and Gorges State Parks and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We also have access to 3 miles of privately managed and limited access trout streams. Our guides offer float trips on the French Broad, Pigeon, Tuckaseegee, Watauga, and S. Holston Rivers.

Kevin Howell

Kevin Howell

Growing up as the son of a nationally known fly tier and fisherman, Kevin was fortunate enough to have fished in 2 foreign countries and 38 of 50 states before heading off to college. Kevin earned a BS in Technology and a BS in Education from Appalachian State University. After college, Kevin returned to the area and took a teaching job so that he could have his summers free to fish. While nearing completion of his Masters in Engineering, Kevin left his teaching job so that he could design houses for a living and have even more time for fishing. In 1997, Kevin took a job as Manager of Davidson River Outfitters. He was also helping his father run Dwight and Don's Custom Tackle. After his father passed away in 1998, Kevin took over the operation of Dwight and Don's Custom Tackle while remaining the Manager of Davidson River Outfitters. In 2000 Kevin purchased Davidson River Outfitters and combined the operation of the two businesses. Kevin has been guiding the streams of western north Carolina since the early eighties and knows most of the fish on a first name basis. While Trout fishing has a special place in his heart, Kevin spends the majority of the year fishing and guiding for Smallmouth Bass. Kevin has also put his vast knowledge of the sport into developing our school curriculum, and is also a Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor. Kevin is also a nationally known fly tier and is currently the Fly-Tying Editor for Fly-Fishing the Mid Atlantic States. He has also had several of his original patterns published in various magazines as well as being produced by some of the national tying companies. When not guiding or tying flies, Kevin can be found off in the far corners of the world hosting a trip,or looking for the next great fishing location.

Walker Parrott

Growing up on the South Carolina coast, Walker was introduced to fishing as a child, catching Redfish,Trout, Jacks and other inshore species. While completing high school in Sandpoiont Idaho, Walker was introduced to Mountain Trout fishing. He wanted to stay in the mountains, but live in the Southeast. After completing Brevard College with a B.A. in Experimental Education, Walker settled in Brevard where he could fish the streams and rivers for Trout and Bass. After college, Walker took a job with an environmental engineering firm, which he soon left to pursue his passion of fishing, and came to work at Davidson River Outfitters in 1999. Now, many years later, Walker is managing Davidson River Outfitters and the guide service. When not in the states Walker is guiding and hosting anglers to Andros Bahamas for bonefish, Argentina for trout and golden dorado and Montana.  Between working with a great staff in the shop and guiding trout, Smallmouth and Musky trips, he has the perfect balance. While trout are the staple, Walker likes to float for Smallmouth Bass and Musky in TN, NC and VA.  If you want a laid back full day of action and fishing, you may want to give this guy a call at the shop. 

Landon Lipke

Landon (aka Cali-Boy) grew up fly-fishing on the streams of the Southern Sierra Mountains in California. Landon has been a hunting and a fishing guide for more than 10 years and now calls the Southern Appalachian Mountains home. When Landon is not exploring the streams of Western North Carolina for Smallmouth Bass and Trout, you can find him in a kayak, or on a surfboard. He also spends a lot of time traveling in Central America chasing his favorite saltwater species.

Dave Bender

Dave Bender

Dave grew up in the mountains of south central Pennsylvania, an area that provided lots of opportunities for fishing and hunting. When Dave was in his early twenties he got bit by the fly fishing bug and it was not long until the hunting fell by the way side. Dave spent a lot of time perfecting his fly fishing skills on the limestone streams of Pennsylvania until his company relocated him to Aiken, SC in the early 1990's. With no Trout to fish for in Aiken, Dave claims to have almost gone crazy, until he discovered the great fishing around the Brevard area. While living in Aiken, Dave would drive to the mountains several times a month to get a trout fix. Dave became very involved with the CSRA Fly Fishers in Augusta where he eventually served as President. As luck would have it, Dave's company decided that he needed to take an early retirement, so he went to work part time for Rivers and Glen Fly Shop in Augusta until he could find a house to buy in the mountains. Within a year of his retirement he moved to the Brevard area and now spends his time on the rivers and streams that he has come to love over the last 14 years. Dave guides 3-4 days a week and is a member of the R.L. Winston Pro Staff. If you are looking for a great day on the water with a laid back trout junkie, then spend a day with Dave.

Kelly Bandlow

Being an avid fly fisherman for the past 35+ years, Kelly moved to North Carolina from norther California 10 years ago. He's chased trout (and steelhead) from the mountains of Hawaii & Baja, across Alaska and the North American continent, to Europe as well.  But what makes him a true "fin" addict is his passion for casting a fly to all things in saltwater.
Kelly's been guiding for almost two decades and he currently splits his time seasonally between western North Carolina and south Florida.  His steadfast patience, as well as a great sense of humor make him a first rate match for anyone wishing to enjoy an excellent day on the water, whether a novice or advanced angler.
When asked what is most gratifying about working for Davidson River Outfitters, Kelly replied, "meeting people as clients and parting as friends."

J.E.B. Hall

J.E.B. Hall is a full time fly fishing guide and instructor in Western North Carolina and East Tennessee for Davidson River Outfitters.  In addition to guiding in the Southeast, J.E.B. has spent numerous summers guiding in Southwest Alaska for Alaska West, and is a former operations manager for the Andros South Bonefish Lodge on South Andros Island in the Bahamas.  J.E.B. is also the author of the book The Southern Appalachian Fly Guide, the definitive fly fishing guide book to our area.  When not fishing, J.E.B. can be found on long mtn bike rides, paddling class V whitewater, and gardening.

Brandon Apodaca

Brandon Apodaca

Brandon grew up in Hendersonville NC, a short 30 minute drive from the Davidson River. He has fished it and surrounding waters since he was literally old enough to walk. Fly fishing became a passion of his in his early adolescent years, from which there was no turning back. After High School he attended Western Carolina University due to its proximity to the Tuckaseegee River and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Several missed classes and a few years later he graduated with a BS degree in Entrepreneurship. Brandon believes the Tuck is one of the most diverse fisheries in the southeast, which may have played a role in the length of time it took him to earn his degree. After graduation, Brandon jumped at the opportunity to move to Vail, Colorado to work as a fly fishing guide on the Eagle and Colorado rivers. In addition to guiding, he also taught introductory and intermediate classes on many different aspects of the sport. When Brandon returned to WNC he continued his passion by becoming a board member for Trout Unlimited and was a 2-time director of their annual fly fishing school. Brandon is a very positive young man with a great attitude. He is very easy going, extremely polite and a born teacher. Whether you're an experienced angler looking to learn a new trick or two, or a beginner wondering which end of the rod you hold on to, Brandon will do everything within reason to ensure that your hands smell like fish before the day is over.

Patrick Williams

Patrick Williams

Patrick was born and raised in North Carolina, but has since lived and fished extensively in the northeast and southwest before returning to his home state in 2013. His love of fly fishing has taken him to all corners of the US and abroad to Asia, Central America, and South America to chase various types of fresh and saltwater species willing to eat his fly. Above all, Patrick relishes the opportunity to take clients out on the bountiful freestone streams and spring creeks of the Brevard area, help them become better fisherman, and just have a good time outdoors. Patrick has been actively involved in the fly fishing community as a guide, shop employee, photographer, and writer since 2007. He has guided in both North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and his work has been featured in The Flyfish Journal, Southern Culture on the Fly, and Eastern Fly Fishing. Patrick also displays and sells his fine art photography around Asheville, and through his website ( During the months of September – May, you can find Patrick teaching math and science to high school students, while during the summer he continues his passion for teaching on the water with clients, and in the shop with customers.

Guide Than Axtell

Nathaniel "Than" Axtell

Nathaniel “Than” Axtell grew up in Tidewater, Virginia, chasing largemouth and stripers in the James River basin, while spending each summer plying the Cullasaja River for trout and rock bass in front of his granddad’s cabin. After graduate school at VCU, Than moved here for good 20 years ago; he and his wife are raising their two kids on Cathey's Creek. Than worked his first trip for DRO in 2001, and after stints as a guide and manager at three other regional fly shops, he is happy to return home. His writing and photographs have been published in Fly Rod & Reel, Eastern Fly Fishing, Southbound, and Fish & Fly magazines. Our resident bug nerd, Than was voted “Most Prone to Flip Rocks” by his senior class. He is a devout “char-head” who has pursued speckled trout from British Columbia to Labrador. Whether stalking brookies in the high country or floating tailwaters in his drift boat, Than strives to make every trip educational, entertaining and fun.

Debbie Gillespie

Debbie was born in upstate SC, and grew up in a fishing family . She spent much of her formative years chasing stripers and largemouth in the large reservoirs of SC. While attending college in the mountains of SC, she became a competitive mountain bike racer and spent her free time exploring the hills of western NC. While ripping around the local trails had taken her all over the Appalachians, the explorer in her longed to see parts of the mountains you can't get to by bike.

Picking up a fly rod was a natural progression, and Debbie was hooked. She has fished for trout all over the country, and learned to row on Montana’s Yellowstone River. Debbie  has spent time on most of the popular trout streams in Western NC, and some that most people have never heard of. She  prefers small ,difficult to reach wild trout streams.....which are plentiful in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Always excited to teach aspiring fly anglers, Debbie realizes fly fishing is a sport that can take a lifetime to master. She is constantly looking for ways to turn your next trip into an adventure.

Zach Hart

A native of Walhalla, SC, Zach grew up fishing the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River.  Zach has a great sense of humor, and is super fishy.  If you want to hunt for bigger fish, Zach is your guide.