Nashville Fly Fishing

Where to Fly Fish in Nashville Tennessee (Maps and Flies)

There’s a reason that Nashville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. The nightlife and music scene are plenty entertaining, but the proximity to some wonderful outdoor activities is what sets it apart from many other cities in the East. There are numerous warm water fisheries within the Nashville city limits and a wonderful trout fishery within an hour of downtown. Bring your fly fishing gear whenever you visit Nashville. You’ll catch fish!

Fly Fishing in the Nashville TN area
Fly Fishing in the Nashville TN area

Caney Fork

For trout fly anglers, there aren’t a whole lot of options near Nashville. The Caney Fork is your best bet for a river that’s within a reasonable distance. You’re only an hour or so away from the water, and it’ll feel like a different world once you’re there.

There are rainbow, brown and brook trout in this tailwater fishery. The first 15 miles below the Center Hill Dam in the Buffalo Valley are the best for trout fishing. It’s not uncommon for anglers to land a 20 to 25 inch holdover fish. Plus, the amount of public access is welcomed. You won’t feel as if you’re fishing on top of other anglers.

Caney River pull-off
Caney River pull-off – image credit Google Maps – link

If the generators aren’t running, you can wade quite a bit of this river. Seams, pockets and pools are all prevalent on the Caney Fork. Anglers of all skill levels will enjoy the challenge that these trout provide.

Where to Fish on the Caney Fork

The Lancaster Highway runs below the dam and right along the Caney Fork for several miles. There are numerous pull-offs on this section of road that leads to some great water. Once you park your car, you can work your way up and downstream depending on what looks best.

Throw nymphs and streamers during the early season, but the dries will work as the weather warms in June and July.

Stones River

The Stones River is a tributary of the Cumberland River. Just south of Nashville, the Stones River runs into the J Percy Priest Reservoir. The reservoir is filled with nice bass and catfish populations. These fish are also found throughout the river above and below the reservoir.

The best part of the Stones River is that there is a nice amount of public access within a few minutes of downtown Nashville. Fishing south of the reservoir is your best bet, but if you want to stay closer to downtown, the water above the reservoir also holds fish.

Below the reservoir, the Stones River splits into two forks. The East Fork of the river is far less popular than the West Fork. Each area has a boat ramp where you can launch a kayak or a smaller river boat and drift.

Where to Fish on the Stones River

Start by fishing the East Fork of the Stones River. Some anglers choose to drop in their kayaks and paddle downstream and fish and others will take their motorboats more towards the lake.

You can also wade fish in this for bass, panfish as well as sizable catfish. It offers some nice peace and quiet away from the city.

Cumberland River

The Cumberland River is the largest river that flows through Nashville. It’s a blast to fish because you never quite know what you’re going to land. There are massive catfish, striped bass, panfish, largemouth and smallmouth.

Be aware that the flow of the Cumberland is controlled, so there is quite a bit of structure at the bottom. As a result, there is plenty of cover for fish, but you have the potential of losing some flies. A sink tip line might be a good choice to get your bait lower in those deeper waters.

Find something with a decent amount of movement and get to work. A large streamer like a Clouser minnow would work. Otherwise, you’ll have success with a Muddler Minnow. Be prepared to make quite a few casts throughout the day.

Where to Fish on the Cumberland River

The Lone Branch Access Area in Nashville is a great place to start. You can drop in your boat or bank fish for the day. The river is extremely wide here, so keep that in mind if you’re trying to wade fish. You can easily spend a day fishing here.

Recommended Flies for Nashville Area

The Nashville area waters are filled with baitfish, crustaceans as well as insects. There is no shortage of food in the local waters. Depending on the fish you’re targeting, you’ll use different flies.


Bass will likely be the primary fish you’ll target in the greater Nashville area.

Bass Popper Fly Pattern
Clouser Minnow Fly Pattern
Clouser Minnow Fly Pattern

Bass Popper

A bass popper is going to get the attention of any fish in the vicinity of your fly. It’s a dry fly and it moves quite a bit of water. If you know bass are feeding on the surface, throw one.

Clouser Minnow- Size 4

The Clouser Minnow is a great choice if you want to throw streamers for bass. It’s a great baitfish representation.


If you make your way to the Caney Fork or another trout stream in the area, then you’ll need some smaller flies.

Zebra Midge Fly Pattern
Zebra Midge Fly Pattern
Scud Fly Pattern
Scud Fly Pattern

Black Zebra Midge- Size 20

Midge flies are going to be the most prevalent throughout the Caney Fork. The Zebra Midge is a perfect option for the end of your nymph rig. Or, you can fish it under an indicator. Start with a black pattern and then move on to different colors.

BH Scud- Size 16

Since it’s a tailwater fishery, the Caney Fork has a high population of scuds. The BH-Scud is a good choice of a fly to use if you’re fishing close to the Center Hill Dam.

Recommended Gear for Fly Fishing in the Nashville Area

Since most of the water near Nashville is “warm” water, you have a chance to land some pretty large fish. The bass populations are high, so be prepared to hook into some of the most aggressive freshwater fish on the planet.

You’ll want a 6-weight or 7-weight 8’6” or 9’ rod if you’re targeting bass on the fly. Choose a matching 6-weight or 7-weight reel with the rod. For your leader, a 0x or 1x leader is a good choice. You can use it for streamers, nymphs and dries. 

Foundation Fly Rod Combo
Foundation Fly Rod Combo 👈 Link to Amazon

Sage Foundation Fly Rod and Reel Combo

Are you ready to up your casting game? Looking for a rod that casts a little farther with more accuracy? The Foundation Setup will to step up and deliver. Plus when your buddies see the Sage name you’ll get those jealousy looks.

Read my review Here and watch my on-water review of the Foundation HERE ON YOUTUBE

Check out the link below for more reviews and current pricing.

If you’re fishing the Caney Fork, then a 4-weight or 5-weight 8’6” or 9’ rod is the best choice. Some of the fish can grow to impressive sizes, but most are going to be around 12-14 inches. The occasional 20” trout will make for a fun fight. Use a 3x or 4x leader for streamers. Attach 4x or 5x tippet if you’re throwing nymphs or dries.

Resources for Fly Fishing in Nashville

Fly Fishing Guides and Fly Shops in Nashville

  • Fly South is a local fly shop in the heart of Nashville. The store has been in existence for over 20 years and the guides have great knowledge of the local waters.
  • Franklin Fly Fishing Company is a guide service that operates out of Nashville. They primarily guide on the Harpeth River and Caney Fork River.

Last Cast

Nashville offers some phenomenal fishing. While most people are enjoying the exciting restaurants, concerts and other culture, you can head out of the water for some peace and quiet. You have great opportunities to hook into impressive fish and make your trip even more memorable.

Are you looking for some great How To Fly Fish Articles? Checkout this list:

Danny Mooers is a high school English teacher in Arizona with a love for fly fishing. Growing up in Minnesota gave him the opportunity to experience all types of fishing and grow his skills. After living out in the Western United States for several summers in college, his fly fishing obsession grew. Having the opportunity to share in his passion for fishing through writing is a dream come true. It’s a lifelong hobby and he strives to make it understandable for people of all skill levels

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