Best Fly Fishing Charters in Tennessee

Fly Fishing in Tennessee

Other than being the capital of country music and home to some amazing whiskey, The Volunteer State is also a top-notch freshwater fishing destination. Local rivers and streams welcome a lot of anglers every year who are looking to experience the fly fishing Tennessee is famous for.

What to Catch

Tennessee waters are Trout fishing central, whether it’s Rainbows, Browns, or Brook Trout. Expect those to take up the majority of your fishing time here. You can also find the likes of Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Muskellunge, Crappie, and more all over these bountiful fisheries.

Where to Go

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Smokies are the number-one destination for Trout fishing in Tennessee. You can find Brook Trout almost anywhere in the hundreds upon hundreds of local streams. The cool thing about them is that they are the only native Trout species found in this entire region of the US. How’s that for a unique fishing experience?

One of the largest streams in the Smokies is known as The Little River. This is one of the best places for fly fishing found in the eastern part of the state. From Brook, Rainbow, and Brown Trout to Smallmouth Bass, these waters are as varied as they come.

South Holston River

On the other end of Tennessee, to the northeast, we have South Holston River. Since it starts off from the South Holston Dam, its current can be faster or slower depending on the dam’s power generation. During calmer periods it’s an excellent place for wade fishing, otherwise being great for floating from land.

Wild Brown Trout make up the majority of fish caught here, but they’re far from the only species around. Government agencies will also stock the river with Rainbow and Brown Trout come spring every year. This helps ensure ample opportunities for South Holston fly fishing enthusiasts to present their top game.

Clinch River

The premier tailwater fishing destination in Tennessee is, without a doubt, Clinch River. This river in north Tennessee holds the state record for Brown Trout at 28 pounds 12 ounces. These are some of the best wading waters in the state, in no small part due to very consistent water temperatures throughout most of the year. Norris Dam is as good a place as any to start your fly fishing adventure on Clinch River.

Hiwassee River

South Tennessee has its own prime place for fly fishing, the Hiwassee River. While it’s a remote fishery when compared to some of the others, it has the advantage of being one of the most scenic places for a fishing trip in the entire state. It also has a reputation for being home to some big fish, mainly Rainbows and Browns. Fishing by boat here requires some skill and finesse due to many ledges and drop-offs present. It’s certainly a good idea to hire a guide for this one if you’re on the fence.

How to Fish

You probably noticed by now that wading is big in Tennessee. Make sure you have all the necessary gear (waders, rain jacket, hat, nippers, etc.) and you’ll have a blast.

The default gear for fly fishing in most of these rivers consists of a 9’ 5 wt rod with a 6X tippet and a 9’ leader. While any Trout fly line can serve as your mainstay, you’ll also want to have a full-sink fly line at hand.

Every river has its own unique quirks and wildlife, so you should be free to experiment with your choice of fly. Some general all-rounders include midges, sulphurs, and woolly buggers.

When to Go

You can expect good fly fishing year-round in Tennessee, especially at the tailraces. The only exceptions to this are smaller streams that can become too warm in the peak of summer. South Holston River is especially known for keeping cool throughout the summertime heat, but the best times to visit would have to be spring and fall.

From tailwater rivers to cold mountain streams, Tennessee is filled to the brim with places for a good day’s worth of fly fishing. Come for the music and stay for the fishing – or the other way around – it’s entirely up to you!


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Top Targeted Fly Fishing Species in Tennessee

Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)

Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)

Bass (Smallmouth)

Bass (Smallmouth)

Muskellunge (Musky)

Muskellunge (Musky)

Brown Trout

Brown Trout