Tuckasegee River Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing the Tuckasegee River in North Carolina
The Tuckasegee River or "The Tuck" is the premier destination for fly fishing in North Carolina and another member of the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail. The river is one of few in the state that is a larger stream, shallow in nature and very wade friendly throughout. The Tuck is stocked heavily throughout the year with all three species of trout with brown trout and rainbow trout being the most prolific. Smallmouth bass can also be caught frequently in the river along with the occasional Spring walleye, especially in the section above Lake Fontana. Much like fly fishing the Nantahala River, its neighbor to the west, water generation can be a factor when fishing the Tuck as highwater can make wading temporarily hazardous. The periodically heavy flows due to generation are not the Tuck's only similarity with the Nantahala. Both rivers have sections that are managed by different regulations tooptimize the river for its users. Hatches are also very similar on both rivers along with the populations and trout sizes.
Fly Fishing the Tuckasegee River Headwaters
Beginning just north of the mountain town of Cashiers, The Tuckasegee headwaters begin with Greenland Creek and Panthertown Creek. Still a small stream, the Upper Tuck flows into Tanasee Creek Lake where it meets, you guessed it, Tanasee Creek. These three headwater streams are known as great places to target the native brook trout of the Southern Appalachians. Warden's Falls, Granny Burrell Falls, and Greenland Creek Falls are natural barriers that are great places to start looking for these Appalachian gems. Below Tanasee Creek Lake the Tuck meets with the West Fork of the Tuckaseegee which flows parallel to Highway 107 from Lake Glenville. Wild trout can be found in the tributary streams above this lake as well.
Fly Fishing the Tuckasegee River Delayed Harvest Sections
The Delayed Harvest on the Tuckasegee River can be found off of River Road between Sylva and Dillsboro. This is one of if not the most popular section of river in the Southeastern United States. The section begins at the US 19 Bridge and ends at Slope Street Bridge. The Tuck DH section is stocked heavily from October through May. Come June, the trout are cleaned out of the section quickly or have dispersed into better waters that provide more cover up and downstream. Expect to catch big numbers of trout if visiting during the DH season under normal conditions. Indicator nymphing produces the most trout for anglers throughout the season. Anglers looking for a challenge may look to target trout on a dry fly during ideal conditions or probe for larger trout with larger streamers when trout are more active. Large wooly buggers to single hooked articulated streamers can turn plenty of heads from hungry and territorial trout.
Fly Fishing the Tuckasegee River Hatchery Supported Waters
There are two separate Hatchery Supported Sections of the Tuckasegee River. The upper section runs near the town of Cullowhee. This section sees less pressure than the lower section downstream of Dillsboro. Both sections are around six miles long. Brook, Rainbow, and Brown trout are all stocked in each section of the river. Following the stockings, trout will be easy to come by in the Tuck, but as the season progresses, trout will become more finicky and selective as they move up or downstream to find cover. Their acclimation leaves smaller, more natural patterns such as a pheasant tail, hares ear, and caddis patterns the most productive flies when the trout switch to the natural items on the menu. These sections of the Tuckasegee River, along with the other sections of the tailwater, offer the best fishing in winter and spring when anglers are more dispersed. More consistent generation will begin later in the spring toward the end of the delayed harvest season. Access to each section is available via the pulloffs on Old Cullowhee Road near Cullowhee and Hwy 74 west of Dillsboro.
Best Flies for the Tuckasegee River
Mid spring caddis and blue wing olives are the most prolific hatches of the year. Late November into March, BWOs will hatch consistently only fading briefly during the coldest weeks of winter. Warmer days see the best hatches of BWOs beginning around mid-late morning, while midges will hatch during the dreary, overcast days. Flies in the 18-22 range work best with the larger sizes being more prolific during warmer periods. Don't overlook emerger patterns as winter trout will be feeding more vigorously on emergers than any spinner falls after the insects begin to expire. The caddis hatches from mid March through May can be outstanding. Early mornings and late evenings see the best hatches on the river. Size 14-18 caddis imitations work best around the hatches. More caddis will emerge again in the fall and tend to run a size or two bigger than the individuals in the Spring. Sulphurs hatch in mid-late spring, larger mayfly patterns will appear late spring/early summer, then terrestrials from late spring to fall can all be productive even though there are typically less trout in the system at this time. Productive nymph patterns vary throughout the year. It is much more important to keep your presentations consistent and close to the bottom. Cycle flies consistently until you find one or two that maximize your strikes. Starting with larger, flashier flies then moving towards smaller, more dull flies, is a good tactic.
For more information about America's best trout streams and others in North Carolina, our Fly Fishing North Carolina, Fly Fishing the Davidson River, and Fly Fishing the Hiwassee River, Fly Fishing the Chattooga River pages will give you more ideas for places to visit in the area.