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The Ten Best Fly Fishing Sites in Tennessee

Tennessee’s Unique Charm for Fly Fishing

Tennessee is considered the “Volunteer State” for its rich history of people being willing to give their time to a cause. This applies to the state’s natural resources as well. Blessed with scenic beauty, Tennessee is home to excellent fly fishing destinations that make it a haven for anglers seeking adventures in the water.

Here are the top ten fly fishing sites in Tennessee that any fishing enthusiast wouldn’t want to miss:

1. Abrams Falls
Best time to fish: Spring and Fall
Cost of fishing trip: $175 – $275
Fish to target: Rainbow and brown trout
Location description: Inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located about five miles away from the campground

The trail leading to Abrams Falls is a favorite route for fishermen, as it passes through the middle of the river, offering several good locations for fly fishing. Trout are usually abundant on this stretch, but beware of the rough waters and tricky currents.

2. Hiwassee River
Best time to fish: All year round
Cost of fishing trip: $150 – $250
Fish to target: Rainbow and brown trout
Location description: Access the river through the powerhouse and the riverfly campground across from the powerhouse

The Hiwassee River is the go-to spot for fishing enthusiasts due to the large fishes found here – the brown trout can weigh up to 15 pounds. The river has plenty of access points for fly fishing, typically best in the colder months, but ideal for warmer months as well.

3. South Holston River
Best time to fish: Spring and Fall
Cost of fishing trip: $200 – $300
Fish to target: Rainbow and brown trout
Location description: Found in Northeastern Tennessee, spans from the dam to the state line

South Holston River is widely known for the number of trout found here. You can find blue-winged olive, midge, sulfur, and quill flies to use for your fishing trip, depending on the season. This location is vast, and each section is suitable for different fly fishing techniques – sinking lines for streamers, dry flies for topwater action, and nymphs for subsurface bites.

4. Caney Fork River
Best time to fish: All year round
Cost of fishing trip: $175 – $275
Fish to target: Rainbow and brown trout
Location description: Found in central Tennessee, an hour and a half east of Nashville

Tennessee’s warm waters flow into the Caney Fork River, a fly fishing destination that has an array of rainbow and brown trout available. The river is known for smaller insects, so using smaller-sized fly patterns is usual here.

5. Little River
Best time to fish: Spring and Fall
Cost of fishing trip: $175 – $275
Fish to target: Rainbow and brook trout
Location description: Runs through the center of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Little River is a favorite among fly fishing enthusiasts due to its remote location and crystal-clear waters. The river flows through here at a gentle pace, which provides a perfect location for dry fly fishing. Fishing the river’s more rocky sections gives anglers an opportunity to catch larger fish.

6. Clinch River
Best time to fish: Spring and Fall
Cost of fishing trip: $150 – $250
Fish to target: Rainbow and brown trout
Location description: Found in Eastern Tennessee, spans from Norris Dam to the Tennessee River

The Clinch River is an excellent fishery known to hold most of Tennessee’s state records for trout caught on a fly rod. The river has abundant aquatic life, including midge and sulfur flies, which makes it easier for targeting fish using a variety of flies and techniques.

7. Elk River
Best time to fish: All year round
Cost of fishing trip: $175 – $275
Fish to target: Rainbow and brown trout
Location description: Found in the Winchester area, south of Nashville

The Elk River has diverse fishing options, from wade fishing to float trips. A skilled angler can fish this river all year round, as it never freezes over. The river has excellent hatches, and flies such as blue-winged olives and sulfur flies work well for fishing here.

8. Watauga River
Best time to fish: All year round
Cost of fishing trip: $200 – $300
Fish to target: Brown and rainbow trout, along with musky
Location description: Found in Northeastern Tennessee, spans from N.C. to the Boone Lake Reservoir

The Watauga River is a location for fly fishing enthusiasts looking for a more diverse fishing experience – brown and rainbow trout are abundant, with musky being a rare catch. The river has a wide variety of hatches for dry and wet flies and is ideal for float trips due to the river’s vastness.

9. Toccoa River
Best time to fish: Spring and Fall
Cost of fishing trip: $150 – $250
Fish to target: Rainbow and brown trout
Location description: Found along the Georgia and North Carolina border

The Toccoa River’s combination of fish and beautiful scenery has led it to be on the list of favorite fly fishing destinations. The river’s habitat provides anglers with several locations to have the best chance to fish on moving water.

10. Duck River
Best time to fish: All year round
Cost of fishing trip: $150 – $250
Fish to target: Largemouth and smallmouth bass, sunfish
Location description: Found in central Tennessee, leading to the Tennessee River

Finally, if you’re looking to target other species, the Duck River is the place to be. Though it is uncommon to fish with flies for their species, the river provides excellent fishing opportunities for bass and sunfish. Fly-fishers usually find success using streamers and small poppers.

Conclusion

In summary, Tennessee’s unique charm lies in its scenic beauty and diverse fishing opportunities. South Holston River, Abrams Falls, and the Hiwassee River are the top locations for trout fishing, while the Toccoa River and Watauga River offer a more diverse fishing adventure. Access these places for a great fishing experience, and you just might find yourself “hooked” on this beautiful state.

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