Nantahala River

The Nantahala River, nestled in the heart of Bryson City, NC, offers an unparalleled fly fishing experience. Known for its crystal-clear waters and scenic beauty, this river is a haven for fly fishermen seeking tranquility and adventure. The Nantahala is renowned for its abundant trout population, making it a prime destination for anglers of all skill levels. In addition to it’s popularity for fly fishing, it’s known for it’s whitewater rafting and kayaking activities as well. Paddlers from all over the country visit this popular tailwater.

Fly fishing on the Nantahala River is a captivating experience due to its unique features. The river’s cold, oxygen-rich waters create ideal conditions for trout, particularly rainbow, brown, and brook trout. With its varied terrain, including deep pools, riffles, and runs, the Nantahala presents diverse challenges and rewards for fly fishermen. Whether you’re casting from the banks or wading into the current, the river’s pristine environment and the thrill of the catch make fly fishing here truly special.

Why Choose the Nantahala River?

Choosing the Nantahala River for your fly fishing adventure is a decision you won’t regret. The river boasts crystal-clear waters that reflect the stunning natural beauty of the surrounding Smoky Mountains, creating a serene and picturesque setting for anglers. The Nantahala is teeming with abundant fish species, with trout being the most prominent. Anglers can expect to encounter rainbow, brown, and brook trout, all thriving in the river’s cool, oxygen-rich waters.

Fly fishing conditions on the Nantahala River are optimal year-round, thanks to its consistent water temperatures and flow. Whether you’re fishing in the warmth of summer or the crispness of fall, the Nantahala offers an exceptional fly fishing experience every season.

Guided Fly Fishing Trips

Experience the best of Nantahala River fly fishing with our guided tours, led by experienced and knowledgeable guides. Our experts are passionate about fishing and intimately familiar with the river, ensuring you have the best chance of landing that trophy trout. We offer customized tours tailored to all skill levels, from beginners eager to learn the basics to seasoned anglers looking for new challenges.


Our guided tours prioritize safety and comfort, providing all necessary equipment, including high-quality rods, reels, and flies. Whether you prefer a half-day or a full-day adventure, our guides will ensure you have a memorable and successful fishing experience. Join us and discover why our guided fly fishing tours are the best way to explore the Nantahala River.

Fish Species in the Nantahala River

The Nantahala River is home to a diverse array of fish species, making it a prime destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Among the most sought-after catches are Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Brook Trout, each offering unique challenges and rewards.

Rainbow Trout – Known for their vibrant colors and energetic fights. They are most commonly found in the faster currents and riffles. Effective flies for Rainbow Trout include the Parachute Adams, Pheasant Tail Nymph, and Woolly Bugger.

Brown Trout – Browns are known to be more elusive and tend to inhabit deeper pools and undercut banks. They are best targeted with streamers like the Muddler Minnow and nymphs such as the Hare’s Ear.

Brook Trout – The native fish of the region, prefer cooler, shaded waters. These beautiful fish respond well to dry flies like the Elk Hair Caddis and terrestrial patterns such as ants and beetles.

Using these flies and techniques, you can expect a fruitful day on the Nantahala River, experiencing the thrill of catching these beautiful (and ancient) trout species.

Nantahala River

Best Seasons and Times for Fly Fishing

Fly fishing on the Nantahala River can be rewarding year-round, but each season offers unique conditions. Spring and fall are particularly excellent, with cooler temperatures and active fish. Spring brings hatches of various insects, making it prime time for dry fly fishing. In the fall, trout are more aggressive as they prepare for winter, providing fantastic opportunities for nymphs and streamers.

The best times of day for successful fly fishing are early morning and late afternoon. During these times, the water temperature is optimal, and fish are more likely to be feeding. Midday can also be productive, especially in shaded areas or during overcast conditions.

In different weather conditions, adaptability is key. Use smaller flies and lighter tippets on sunny days to avoid spooking fish. During rainy or overcast days, larger, darker flies can be more effective. In colder weather, focus on deeper pools where fish are likely to be holding. By adjusting your techniques to match the season and weather, you can maximize your success on the Nantahala River.

Different Sections of the Nantahala River

Lower Nantahala River

Fly fishing the Lower Nantahala River, located in the scenic western region of North Carolina, offers a unique and rewarding experience for anglers. This stretch begins below the Nantahala Dam and flows through the Nantahala Gorge, a breathtaking area known for its steep, forested slopes and rocky terrain. The river’s steady flows are regulated by the dam, ensuring optimal conditions for fishing. This part of the Nantahala is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, which are ideal for spotting trout. The accessibility of the Lower Nantahala, with several entry points along U.S. Highway 19, makes it a convenient yet secluded destination. The surrounding natural beauty and diverse fishing conditions create a perfect setting for both novice and experienced fly fishermen.

Upper Nantahala River


Fly fishing the Upper Nantahala River is an extraordinary experience, offering a blend of challenging conditions and breathtaking natural beauty. This section of the river flows from the Nantahala Lake dam down to the Nantahala Powerhouse, meandering through a series of lush, forested valleys and scenic mountain landscapes. Known for its fast-moving, oxygen-rich waters, the Upper Nantahala provides ideal habitats for vibrant populations of Rainbow and Brown Trout. The river’s pocket water, deep pools, and riffles demand precise casting and strategic fly selection, making it a favorite spot for seasoned anglers seeking a test of their skills. Accessible from various points along Wayah Road, the Upper Nantahala’s pristine environment and diverse fishing opportunities make it a must-visit destination for fly fishing enthusiasts.

Nantahala River

Fly Fishing Techniques and Tips

Mastering effective casting techniques is crucial for success on the Nantahala River. Focus on achieving a smooth, controlled cast to avoid spooking fish in the clear waters. The roll cast and the reach cast are particularly useful here, helping you present your fly delicately and accurately.

When it comes to recommended flies, the Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, and Pheasant Tail Nymph are top choices. These patterns mimic the river’s natural insect life and attract trout effectively. Equip yourself with a 4 to 6-weight rod and floating line, which are well-suited for the river’s varied conditions.

Different parts of the Nantahala River require distinct strategies. In fast-moving riffles, use nymphs and high-sticking techniques to keep your fly in the strike zone. Deep pools are ideal for streamer fishing, allowing you to cover more water and target larger fish. In slower runs and seams, dry flies and emerger patterns work best. Adjust your approach bas

Our Fly Fishing Packages

Explore the Nantahala River with our tailored fly fishing packages designed to meet your needs. We offer both half-day and full-day wade trips, providing ample time to experience the river’s best fishing spots. Whether you’re a solo angler or part of a group, our trips cater to all. 


Every guided fly fishing trip is an educational experience, where you’ll learn and catch fish. Recognizing that everyone has different skill levels, each trip is tailored to enhance your abilities, whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner. The process starts with a phone call from your trout fly fishing guide in Western NC to discuss your skills and goals for the trip. The guide will then customize the trip based on your needs and arrange the best meeting spot. Once on the water, you’ll review basic casting, hooking, and landing techniques before diving into the action. By the end of the trip, you’ll leave with valuable knowledge and memorable experiences, complete with photos and high fives to celebrate your successful day on the water.

Booking Information

Booking a fly fishing trip on the Nantahala River is easy. Simply call or click the Book Now button below!


Our cancellation policy allows for a full refund if you cancel at least 48 hours in advance. If you need to reschedule, please contact us as soon as possible. We strive to accommodate changes, but rescheduling within 24 hours of your trip may incur a fee. Book now to secure your spot and enjoy an unforgettable fly fishing experience on the Nantahala River!

Half Day Trip

Price for 1 Angler
$ 300
  • Additional $75 for a 2nd angler
  • All rods, reels and terminal tackle provided
  • 4 Hours on the water

Full Day Trip

Price for 1 Angler
$ 400
  • Additional $100 for a 2nd angler
  • All rods, reels and terminal tackle provided
  • 8 Hours on the water