Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide for the South Holston River Tennessee
This is one of the best tailwaters in the Eastern United States. It is one of a few tailwaters in
the South that is capable of reproduction of trout. Brown trout spawn in the river with
decent success. We think it offers just the right amount of challenge to any angler. It is
neither difficult or easy to fish. You have to do things right, but when you do, you are
The thing that makes it a desirable stream to fish in the eyes of many anglers are the large
aquatic insect hatches. The stream is full of trout food of all types. The Blue-winged Olive
and Sulphur mayfly hatches can be incredible. It also has some great caddisfly hatches.
This provides dry fly fishing opportunities far better than most tailwaters. There are plenty
of times you have to fish subsurface using nymphs, streamers, wet flies, soft hackles,
scuds, black fly imitations and other ways, but all in all, dry fly fishing is very good for a
You have to pay very close attention to the discharge schedule. That is easy to do and the
schedule provided is usually very accurate. There are time you can wade the South
Holston River with ease and times you can't. There are times you have a big advantage
using a drift boat. It all depends on the releases. This information is available under the
TVA Release Schedule link on the introduction page.
Be prepared to use long leaders and tippets and to make good presentations. A drag free
drift is a must most of the time. You cannot hit these trout over the head with your fly line. It
is especially difficult when they are feeding in the slow to moderate water. Good realistic
imitations can make a big difference.
The area just below the weir dam usually has plenty of trout but be aware that they are
difficult to catch. They are heavily fished but they can be caught if you want to accept the
added challenge. Although the water between the weir dam and the dam looks great, it is
even more difficult to catch trout from its smooth, flowing water.
South Holston River
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