This is a collection of information on FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about Flyfishing in East Tennessee. Obviously I can't answer all possible questions so if you would like more detail on any area drop me a line and I will try to help. The Eastern Part of the State of Tennessee offers a wide variety of opportunities to the flyfisher with a number of tail waters, mountain streams, and lakes to choose from. I will be concentrating primarily on trout fishing, but there are also a large number of TVA impoundments for the warm water fishing lovers.

For information on the following areas click on the appropriate title.


The tailwater on the Clinch, Hiwassee, Watauga and S. Holston Rivers contain Rainbows and Browns that have primarily been stocked,but with some natural reproduction occuring as well. Because of good dissolved oxygen levels and ample forage many of these fish grow to considerable size. The Clinch, for example, produced the State Record Brown (27 lbs.) only a couple of years ago.

The Great Smokey Mountains National Park, The Cherokee National Forest and a number of other State Parks in the area contain numerous mountain streams with Rainbows, Browns, and some Brookies both wild and stocked. While generally smaller in size than the fish in the tailwaters these fish are wilder and offer a very different challenge to the flyfisherman. In the Smokies the Little River and Abrams Creek are easily accessable and very good producers. There are many other streams in the Smokies requiring varying amounts of hiking for wilder fishing. In the southern section of the Cherokee National Forest the Tellico River and its tributaries such as the Bald and North Rivers and tributaries of the Little Tennessee River such as Citico Creek are good producers for both those looking for easy access or willing to hike in. In upper East Tennessee around Johnson City and Kingsport there are also a number of mountain streams like Beaver Dam Creek, Stony Creek, and the upper stretches of the Doe River and it's tributaries in Roan Mountain State Park that provide wilder fishing in the northern section of the Cherokee National Forest. Throughout both the northern and southern sections of the Cherokee National Forest there are numerous other streams that offer excellent fishing but can be more difficult to access than these that I have mentioned. Contact the National Forest Service for information about hiking, camping and fishing in the Cherokee National Forest.



Interstate Highways I-75, I-40 and I-81 all converge in East Tennessee. All of the areas described in "Where to Fish" are a short drive from one of these Interstates. Need a map or directions on how to get from where you are to East Tennessee? Click on Maps. Or maybe a little help avoiding speed traps along the way? Click on Speedtraps.


Take the Hwy. 61 exit from I-75 (approx. 20 mi. north of Knoxville). For the upper Clinch go east on Hwy. 61 to Hwy. 441 (about 1 mi.). Turn north on Hwy. 441. Go 3-4 mi. till you see the Island Home Baptist Church on your right. The road will turn to the right and parallel the river for about 2-3 mi. until it crosses the dam. Approximately 1 mi. before crossing the dam there will be a turnoff to the left labeled "powerhouse", follow this road for river access closer to the dam. There is good fishing all along this stretch. Where Hwy. 441 turns to the right there is another road called River Road that veers off to the left. River Road also parallels the river for 2-3 mi. until it crosses it at the Massengill Bridge. This stretch is also very fishable. Be careful of very discreet No Parking signs along Hwy. 441 after you pass the Island Home Baptist Church. Park only in the designated areas. For the lower Clinch go west on Hwy. 61 from I-75 approx. 5-6 miles. Hwy. 61 will cross the Clinch as you get into Clinton TN. Immediately after crossing the river take the first road on the right. This will take you back to the Anderson County Sheriff's Office, Jail and Emergency Medical Services. Park in the lot by the Jail. You can fish right here or walk upstream along the river and fish for several miles upstream. The farmer who owns the hayfield behind the jail does not mind if you walk along the path next to the bushes and trees by the river,but please do not get out into his hayfield.

Take I-75 south from Knoxville and exit at Hwy. 163. Take Hwy. 163 east to just outside of Calhoun, TN where it junctions with US 11. Turn south on US 11 for about 1/2 mi. until you can again pick up Hwy. 163 east. Continue on Hwy. 163 to US 411. Take US 411 south until shortly after it crosses the Hiwassee River. Take Hwy. 30 east. You will now be following the Hiwassee River. There are access points to the river all along Hwy. 30 until you get to the bridge that crosses the river at Reliance, TN. Here you have two choices. If you continue on Hwy. 30 east about 1/4 mi. Hwy 30 will sharply turn south away from the river. At that turn there is a gravel road to the left. Take the gravel road and shortly you will see a set of railroad tracks. Park and then walk along the railroad tracks heading east. The railroad tracks parallel the river through the Quality Zone which is artificial lures and flies only. Your other choice at the Reliance bridge is to cross the river on the bridge and then take the first right after crossing the river. Follow the signs towards the powerhouse. After winding around a while this road parallels the river for quite a distance and provides easy access for wading and floating.

Note: Due to runoff from a recent fire the Watauga has suffered a major fish kill in the area below Elizabethton. Plans are underway for restocking this area sometime in April
Take I-181 to Johnson City, TN and then Hwy. 91/US 321 to Elizabethton,TN. Stay on Hwy. 91 in Elizabethton. Your first choice is in Elizabethton where there is a junction with Hwy. 400. You can take this to the left and it will cross the river. Shortly before or after it crosses the river there are streets that run next to the river and from which you can get to theriver . The street that is to the left before you cross the river runs along a small park with easy access and a nice set of riffles just behind the ballfield. If you do not take Hwy. 400 and continue on Hwy. 91 after you pass a lot of McDonalds and such you will come to a stoplight where you cross Hwy. 37 and US 19E. Hwy 91 turns left at this point and crosses the river. Do not turn left, but continue straight at this point. This is Old SR 91. It runs along the river for quite a distance until there is another bridge that crosses the river. Right at this bridge there is good fishing access. Also all along the river before this bridge there is fishing access. If you cross this bridge you will rejoin Hwy. 91. Continue east on Hwy. 91 and you will shortly come to a Citizens Bank. If you turn right at this bank you will be on Siam Rd. Keep bearing to the right on Siam Rd. and there are several access points along it. There are further signs along here for the powerhouse, but don't bother trying to fish further upstream. The fishing closer to the powerhouse is really not very good.

TakeI-81 North from Knoxville to Bristol,TN. Take the US 11W North exit and follow 11W to US 421. Take US 421 East to just past Deerfield Acres, TN and Ruthton, TN. Turn right off of US 421 on to Emmett Rd. Take Emmett Rd. to where TVA Rd. forks to the left and then follow TVA Rd. TVA Rd. forms a loop that runs along both sides of the river. There are a number of different roads that cut away from and parallel the river from here. Unfortunately, most of them are not on state maps. You need a deLorme or other highly detailed map to really follow the river fromthis point to downstream where it becomes a lake. A lot of good fishing is along this lower stretch of the river. If nothing else, as each road that you are on cuts away from the river - take the next one that heads back towards it. There are several bridges that cross the river in this area. Alternate access to the S. Holston starting from downstream just as it begins forming its lake and working upstream is by taking Exit 69 from I-81 between I-181 and Bristol. Stay on State Road 37 heading east until you connect with State Road 390. Take 390 south to Bluff City. In Bluff City take State Road 44 east out of town. It follows the banks of the river off and on for several miles, but then veers away. Once again you will need a very detailed map or a lot of persistence to stay with the river after this point. The entire river from where it emerges from the dam till it begins forming a lake at Bluff City does have numerous access points and is fishable.

For the Great Smoky Mountains National Park there are two approaches that you can use. From I-40 take the Sevierville exit (about 20 mi. east of Knoxville) and follow the signs for Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg to get to the park. From I-75 south of Knoxville take the Lenoir City exit and take U.S. 321 to Townsend, TN and the west entrance to the Park. For maps and information on how to get to the streams in the park I strongly recommend Don Kirk's book: Smoky Mountains Trout Fishing Guide. This book has a detailed description of locations, fishing conditions, and likelyhood of success on every stream in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

For streams in the southern section of the Cherokee National Forest I would recommend asking questions at the local fly shops about most recent conditions and road closings. The best detailed maps of these roads are to be found in the Topographical Maps Book published by deLorme. For the Tellico River and it's tributaries you can get there by taking I-75 to TN 68 just south of Sweetwater, TN. Follow TN 68 east to Tellico Plains, TN where you pick up State Road 165. State Road 165 heads east and follows the Tellico River with good fishing access along much of it's length. For access to the tributaries of the Tellico you will need a highly detailed map.

Similarly for streams in the areas of Upper East Tennessee around Johnson City, Bristol and Kingsport I would strongly recommend asking questions at the local fly shops about the latest road and stream conditions. Here also a detailed map is more than just useful and becomes, in fact, essential. If you take TN 91 northeast out of Elizabethton, TN it will parallel Stony Creek for much of its length with other access via side roads. Further along TN91 it and TN 133 follow Beaver Dam Creek as it flows downstream to join Laurel Creek in Damascus, VA. For access to the Doe River, Little Doe River and their tributaries take US19E south out of Elizabethton, TN towards Roan Mountain State Park. US19E runs along the Doe and Little Doe for much of their length and then connects to the roads in Roan Mountain State Park for fishing the tributaries.



All of the areas mentioned in WHERE TO FISH have numerous motels, hotels and camping areas available. Depending upon the specific area that you are interested in visiting I would recommend calling one or more of the following Chamber of Commerce/Visitor's Bureaus for specific information:

Athens, TN: 423-745-0334
Bristol, TN: 423-989-4850
Chattanooga, TN: 423-756-8687, 1-800-322-3344
Gatlinburg, TN: 423-436-2392, 1-800-343-1475
Johnson City, TN: 423-461-8000, 1-800-852-3392
Kingsport, TN: 423-392-8800
Knoxville, TN: 423-523-2316, 423-523-7263
Pigeon Forge, TN: 423-453-8574, 1-800-251-9100
Townsend,TN: 423-448-6134, 1-800-525-6834

Specific information on camping and camping areas in any of the National Parks/Forests and State Parks in Tennessee is available from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, 1-800-421-6683. Some State Parks with camping located in or close to the fishing areas mentioned are Big Ridge State Park (Clinch River), Norris Dam State Park (Clinch River), Hiwassee Scenic River State Park, S. Holston Lake State Park, and Watauga Lake State Park.

One of the best sources for camping information that I have found is also the AAA Campbook (Southeastern Edition). This is available free with a AAA membership. It contains both public and private RV and tent sites.


For the tailwaters it is important to know the TVA generation schedule. The Watauga is wadable in a few places with 1 generator going, but all of the other tailwaters are only wadable with 0 generators running. TVA runs a 24 hour information line that can give you this information for the current day and after approx. 6 p.m. will usually give you the generation schedule for the next day. This number is answered by a machine that is activated by a touch tone phone. The number to call is 1-800-238-2264. As soon as the machine starts to talk, push 4 to get to the generation schedules, when the machine starts to talk again push the code for the dam/river that you want (Norris/Clinch=17, Appalachia/Hiwassee=22, S.Holston=01, Watauga=02, Center Hill/Caney Fork=37, Wolf Creek/Cumberland=34). The machine will then give you the last 8 hours of discharge in CF/S and go on to give you the generation schedule for the rest of the day and then tomorrow. If you want to skip the last 8 hours of discharge after you have punched in the dam code wait for the machine to start to talk again and then punch the # button.

You can also now get the Dam Release information online at the TVA Lake Information Website. When you get to the Website, click on Lake Info, then pick the Dam Name that you want information for, and check Dam Releases in the box next to the Dam Name.

Remember that it takes the water a while to get downstream after a generator is turned on or off. On the Clinch,for example, it takes about 4 1/2 hours for the water to get from the dam to the Hwy. 61 bridge at Clinton, TN. On the S. Holston it takes the water about 4 hours to get all the way downstream to where it begins to form a lake. On the Watauga it takes the water about 3 hours to get to Elizabethton from the Dam. On the Hiwassee it takes the water about 3 hours to get to the railroad bridge at Reliance, TN.

For the mountain streams you don't need to worry about generation schedules, but you do sometimes need to be concerned about runoffs after heavy rains or spring floods. For water conditions on the mountain streams your best bet is usually to check with one of the local flyshops for the latest stream conditions.


Non-resident fishing licenses are available as 3-day permits for $10.50, 10-day permits for $15.50, or all season for $26.00. A trout stamp is also required and costs $12.00. The trout stamp is good for one year that runs from Feb. 28 to Feb. 28. A Tennessee Fishing License will allow you to fish anywhere in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (even in North Carolina). The City of Gatlinburg also requires a special permit for fishing within its City Limits available at $2.50/day. The Gatlinburg permit becomes a really good deal from Dec. 1st to Mar. 31st when fishing in Gatlinburg is catch and release only and some large fish are stocked. Fishing licenses are available at most tackle and bait stores as well as at large discount stores like K-mart and Wal-Mart.



This is big water with long casts often called for. For the ideal all around rod I would recommend a 9' 5 wt.,but in lower wind conditions I have had great fun with a 2 wt. Tippets from 5X to 7X cover most areas. Vegetation covered rocks call for felt soles and even carbide studs can be useful if you have them.

This river can fish big or small depending upon where on it you are. A 4-5 wt. would be a good all around rod, but there are stretches where smaller would work just fine. Again, 5X to 7X tippets are fine. Lots of rocks and ledges with drop offs here. At least felt soles or better are necessary.

Medium water that can be handled well with anything 5 wt. or under. 5X to 7X tippets recommended. Very tricky moss covered cobblestones in many places. Felts or better on your soles are called for. Note that on the Watauga the best fishing is "in town" right next to businesses, trailer camps, etc.

Medium water that fishes well with 5 wt. and under rods. 5X to 7X tippets recommended. Bottom conditions trickier than the Watauga in places, felts or better recommended.

Close fishing conditions with often as much rock climbing as wading required. You are usually faced with vegetation overhanging the stream. One school of thought says use as light a rod as you are comfortable with. My favorite rod is a short 2 wt. The other school calls for a long rod that you use almost like a cane pole. This is very handy when you are "dabbing" rather than casting. In "wading" you sometime don't get anything but the bottom of your feet wet, but you are always faced with steep, slippery rocks. At least felts on your soles are called for.


The Creel
6907 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919
One of the best equipped shops in the area for both flytying and flyfishing equipment and materials. They also have current information on hatches, water conditions, etc. for the Clinch, Hiwassee, Watauga, S. Holston and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Holston Angler
110 Poplar Ridge Road
Piney Flats, TN 37686
If you're fishing the S. Holston or the Watauga in upper E. TN, Tim and David can help you out with the latest info and equipment.

830 Sunset Dr., Johnson City, TN 37604
423-282-5413 423-282-8963 (FAX)
WWW: http://www.mahoneysports.com/welcome.htm
A friendly and very well stocked outdoor equipment store with an outstanding flyfishing/flytying department. Your best bet for information on the Watauga, S. Holston and the upper East Tennessee mountain streams.

Watauga Kayak Tours & Outfitters
1409 Broad St.
Elizabethton, TN 37643
WWW: www.trouttown.com/
E-Mail: wataugak@preferred.com
In addition to kayaks & tours they also carry flies, tippet, leaders, waders, etc.

Little River Outfitters
7807 East Lamar Alexander Pkwy., Townsend, TN 37882
A good source for flyfishing, tying equipment and materials in the Smokies. They also have guides and up to date info. Open 7 days a week all year. Byron and Paula Begley
e-mail: info@littleriveroutfitters.com
WWW: http://www.littleriveroutfitters.com/

Smokey Mountain Anglers
Brookside Village, Hwy 321 North P.O. Box 241, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
A good fly shop in Gatlinburg. Smokey Mountain Anglers has been around for a long time. Talk to Bobby Shults, one of the most experienced tyers and guides around.

Old Smoky Outfitters
511 Parkway #201 (Riverbend Mall), Gatlinburg, TN 37738
865-430-1936 e-mail: JTSNAPP@aol.com
Another good shop in Gatlinburg itself. Jack Snapp has been guiding and offering advice on the Smokies from this location for years. Drop by their new website at http://www.thesmokies.com/oldsmoky_outfitters/

Wynn's Sporting Goods
541 Wynnfield Dunn Pkwy, P.O.Box 5410 Sevierville, TN 37864
P.O. Box 70
New Midland Plaza
Alcoa, TN 37701
If you are coming in to the Smokies from the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge side it's worth stoping by Wynn's on the way in. If you are coming in from the Maryville/Townsend side then drop by their store in Alcoa. They look like a large Sports Unlimited type operation, but have an excellent flyfishing and tying section with some very good prices.

Dry Fly Outfitters
Hwy. 411 & Hwy. 30
Benton, TN
Interested in fishing the Hiwassee? Lisa and Tony Wilson have the latest info and are Orvis certified guides. Check out their shop when you're in the neighborhood

Adam's Fly Shop
Rt. 2 Box 122
Reliance, TN 37369
If you're fishing the Hiwassee this is a good fly shop to call. Located on Power Station Road that runs along the North bank of the Hiwassee above the bridge at Reliance, TN they are practically right on the river.

Choo-Choo Fly & Tackle
40 frazier Ave., Chattanooga, TN 37405
423-267-0024 423-267-4009 (fax) ccft@choochoofly.com

Outdoor Adventures
2501 North Ocoee St., Cleveland, TN




The safest bet on the whole river is a #14 scud in a gray/green, but conditions vary greatly short distances apart. The upper river has large sowbug populations and plenty of midge hatches. Recommended patterns: #16 sowbug, #18-20 EHC in green or orange, #14-18 bead head pheasant tail, #16-20 brassie. Wooly Buggers in green or black and various wet flies can also be productive. The lower Clinch has heavy sulphur hatches in #16- 18, plenty of the ubiquitous scuds and occasional small caddis and BWO hatches. The insect life on the Clinch has been changing recently with surprises showing up on an almost yearly basis. Last year, for example, there was a Hexagenia hatch for the first time in most fishermen's memory.

Lots of caddis, usually in tan, green or grey, #16-18. BWO almost the year round, usually #18. Sulphur hatches occasionally in #16-18. Bead head pheasant tails and tellicos are productive nymphs. A number of large browns have also been taken on orange stimulators. Conditions don't just change from day to day, but sometimes from minute to minute.

Lots of BWO's in #18 and less often #16-18 sulphurs. Very occasionally small caddis. Midge hatches common in the winter and spring. Bead heads, brassies and scuds are good nymph patterns. Wooly Buggers and wets can be productive.

Very heavy sulphur and BWO hatches in #16-18. Regular caddis hatches in #16 & 18. Bead heads, brassies and scuds are good nymph patterns. Wooly Buggers and wets can be productive.


Great Smoky Mountains:
Hatches can include midges, caddis, BWO, stoneflies (black and tan)and a wide variety of surprises. Caddis come in green, tan and black #14-18. BWO's usually #18. Stone flies are usually best fished as nymphs #4-8. Other productive nymphs are a variety of bead heads, tellicos, princes and gold ribbed hare's ear. Brassies are also productive when the midges are out. Wooly Buggers in green and black and muddler minnows are also highly favored. Patterns, quite franky, usually aren't that important in the Smokies - these fish are usually hungry and will go for most anything that is well presented.

Other Mountain Streams:
Everything said about the Smokies usually applies to these also though it is well to check with a close by fly shop to see what kind of local patterns have been working well lately.



These are a group of patterns that I have found useful in East Tennessee. For Classic Smoky Mountain Patterns refer to that section in the main part of my homepage.

This is one of Al Troth's original patterns.

Hook: Mustad 94840 or Tiemco 100 (#10-20)
Thread: Tan or Brown
Palmer Rib: Brown Hackle palmered through body
Body: Hare's Ear & Mask Dubbing Fur(or other desired color of dubbing)
Wing: Tan Elk Hair Fibres
Head: Trimmed Butts of Elk Hair Wing

NO HACKLE CADDIS (Olive Version)
The simplest and often most versatile of all.

Hook: Mustad 94840 or Tiemco 100 (#10-22)
Thread: Olive
Body: Olive Dubbing
Wing: Tan Coastal Deer Hair or Grey Poly Yarn
Note: This pattern is effective in a very wide variety of colors including grey, green, tan, black, brown and even yellow and orange.

Hook: Tiemco 2487 Scud #16-20
Thread: Black, Brown, Olive or Tan
Ribbing: Small Copper Wire
Thorax: Hare's Ear Dubbing

Hook: Mustad 9671 or equivalent (Nymph hook) #18-22
or Tiemco 2487 (Scud hook) #16-20
Thread: Black
Ribbing: Fine Silver Wire
Thorax: Hare's Ear Dubbing
Wing Case: Two strands of Rainbow Krystal Flash

Hook: Tiemco 2487 or equivalent, #12-20
Bead: Copper Bead in size appropriate to hook size
Thread: Black
Ribbing: Copper Wire
Tail, Abdomen, Thorax, etc: Ring Neck Pheasant Tail Fibres wrapped up the hook to the bead and then overwrapped with the ribbing

Hook: Mustad 3906 #16 or equivalent
Thread: Black
Weight: .015 dia. heavy soft wire (lead substitute)
Antennae: 2 Natural Goose Biots
Ribbing: 5X Tippet
Back: 1/8" wide strip of scud back or clear irredescent plastic
Dubbing: Gray Hareline Dubbing or Gray-Olive Nymph Dubbing

Hook: Mustad 94840 #16-18 or equiv.
Thread: Pale Yellow or Tan
Wing: Post wing of poly yarn tied in upright(white or grey)
Tail: 2 micro fibbets tied in as a split tail(orange or brown)
Body: Pale yellow to dirty orange dubbing depending upon the hatch
Hackle: 1 cream hackle wound around the post wing parachute style
Note: This can also be tied and is effective as a BWO by using olive dubbing or as a Adams using muskrat.

Hook: Mustad 94840 #16-18 or equiv.
Thread: Olive
Wing: Light Coastal Deer tied as a spread Comparadun wing
Tail: 2 micro fibbets tied in as a split tail(olive or black)
Body: Dirty olive dubbing
Note: This can also be tied as a sulphur or Adams

Hook: Tiemco 2487 # 16-22
Thread: Body color of your fly: olive, brown, black, grey, etc.
Note: The thread forms the abdomen of the fly
Tail & Wing Case: Wood Duck flank fibres (the WD of the name)
Thorax: Coarse dubbing like hare's ear

Hook: Mustad 3906 #12-16
Thread: Yellow, Orange, Olive or other color
Tag: Gold Mylar
Body: Yellow, Orange, Olive or other color Floss
Ribbing: Fine gold wire
Hackle: Partridge wound collar style

Hook: Mustad 9671 or 2X Nymph hook (#8-12)
Thread: Olive
Tail: A few strands of olive and brown marabou
Abdomen: Butts from the tail
Ribbing: The olive tying thread
Wing Case: 4-5 strands of peacock herl
Thorax: Olive hare's ear dubbing, picked out
Eyes: Burnt monofilament

Hook: Mustad 3906 or equivalent #10-14
Thread: Orange, yellow or other color
Tag: Gold Mylar
Ribbing: Fine Gold Wire wrapped in an open spiral
Body: Floss - flourescent orange, orange, yellow or other color, tapered so that it is narrower at both ends and fatter in the middle
Collar: Rainbow Krystal Flash tied in just behind head 1 1/2 times hook length.

Hook: Mustad 3906B, TMC 3761 (1X Nymph) or
TMC 2487, Mustad AC80250BR (Shrimp/Scud), #12-16
Thread: Gray or Black
Weight: (Optional) Medium lead or lead substitute wire
Tail: Wood duck flank or dyed mallard
Rib: Fine silver or gold wire or mono
Shellback: Clear plastic strip cut from poly bag about 1/8" wide
Body: Coarse Gray, Olive or Olive Gray dubbing
Eyes: (Optional) Burnt mono
Legs: Pick out fur on bottom of body