Fly Fishing Tennessee

Hooked On Fly Fishing Tennessee | My Journey In The Mountains of Tennessee

A yearly goal of mine was to learn fly fishing better. Well, to put it mildly, fly fishing has set the hook in me and now I can’t put the buggy whip down. Recently my wife got the chance to go to a children’s ministry conference in the Tennessee mountains, and since I am self-employed, I took the time off and went with her. I didn’t plan on going anywhere near the conference but instead planned on staying knee-deep in cold mountain streams in pursuit of freshwater trout. 

To prepare for this trip, I took to the internet doing some research. I found plenty of info on some of the local forums, Facebook groups, and local fly shops. Through all my research, I narrowed down the equipment I needed to a  5’9” 3wt. fiberglass rod. I paired it with a 3/4wt reel, 20lb. Dacron backing line and 3wt floating weight forward line.

My First Day Fly Fishing Tennessee

Once I arrived at the destination in Tennessee, I went to some local fishing shops to stock up on the flys I needed and leader material. Due to the ultra-clear mountain water, I went with 6X leader material, a size 14 rubber legs fly, a size 18 zebra midge and suspended them under a small pinch-on indicator. 

This whole rig slightly reminded me of our gulf coast staple rig, the double popping cork rig. Oddly enough, it worked relatively the same way. 

I started my first morning driving around looking for decent access points to the creek I was trying to fish. That’s the point I learned that, due to winter conditions, higher elevation roads were all closed. Bummer. Complete change of plans now. As a last-ditch effort for the day, I found a creek close to the road, parked and headed to the water. The widest part of the creek may have been 8 feet wide. The depth never seemed to be more than 2 feet, but it looked ideal for trout. I started out by swinging the flys upstream and letting them drift naturally downstream. It didn’t take long to realize something wasn’t right. 

I started targeting the deeper water right below the small waterfalls and I started getting some takes. Finally, with about 10 minutes left before I had to leave, the small orange indicator shot underwater like a bullet, I snapped the rod back and immediately felt the tension of a fish. It swam downstream, through a small waterfall and into the pool below. I chased it down the small creek and finally brought it into my hand. A wild rainbow trout. Not a big one by any means, but it was definitely one of my most memorable catches to date. I took a few pics and watched it swim away into the strong current before heading back to the car.

My Second Day Fly Fishing Tennessee

Day 2 started in the worst way possible. Absolutely flooding. 

Knowing that the rain would muddy the water and raise the level, I headed out a few miles above the same area I fished the day before. This time the hike to the creek was about a mile, and it rained the whole time. Once I got to the creek, I could easily tell the water was already higher than the day before. Using the same technique of drifting the flys into the pools under waterfalls, and tailouts, I quickly watched the indicator shoot under the water. Too slow, I missed it.

A few casts later the fish hit again, but this time I struck back. After a very short fight, I had a brook trout nearly in hand. This one, unfortunately, got away before I could get any pictures, but I had another species checked off. The rain kept getting worse and the creek started getting muddy. Within an hour of getting there, the water had risen nearly 2 feet. Time to head out. This creek was completely blown out. 

All in all, this trip helped shape the rest of the year for me. I’m pretty much completely sold on fly fishing. I’ve been several times since being home and caught some pretty great species, but… that’s for another time. 

Good Vibes, Tight “Fly” Lines, and God Bless.

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Jeff Jones


Born as the 3rd son of an Alabama preacher, Jeff grew up in the outdoors, hunting and fishing for whatever was in season. Soon, his passion for nature and fishing led him down the path of kayak angling. In an effort to share his love for the outdoors and to teach others about his southern way of life, the Brackish Coast family of content was created.

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11 replies
  1. Kyle Hines
    Kyle Hines says:

    My late father was a fly fisherman, but sadly passed before I was 3. I always wanted to try it. I actually have a couple of fly rods and reels that I would love for someone to show me them.

    What I just read above sparked my interest for the fly fishing bite and I think I want to try it some day.

  2. Erica DeLana
    Erica DeLana says:

    Loved the article, Jeff! There’s nothing like landing that targeted species after you’ve taken the time to scout and really prepare for a trip. With fishing, no catch is guaranteed, and I’m glad you were able to make it happen in an unfamiliar area!


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