North Carolina Fly Fishing 4 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Big Snowbird Creek in North Carolina

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

May 22, 2024

Big Snowbird Creek in North Carolina

Fly fishing can be a great hobby, and it’s got a lot of potential if you’re looking to plan a trip to North Carolina. However, what are you to do if you want to explore the fly fishing in the area but you don’t want to pay a pro to take you? Thanks to this handy guide, you can plan your own perfect DIY fly fishing trip to Big Snowbird Creek. 

Enjoy a quiet afternoon on the water or head out in the early morning to start the day with nature– when you’re fly fishing, it’s all about relaxing while you’re enjoying the catch. Let’s dive in.

River Overview

Fly fishing Big Snowbird Creek in North Carolina

Big Snowbird Creek is located in the southwestern part of the state. It sits in the Snowbird Mountains and flows from its headwaters down into Santeetlah Lake, followed by Big Snowbird Road for several miles, which is where most of the access is found. This stream offers its fair share of rugged and easy access options, with more of the latter than many creeks in the area.  

Big Snowbird Creek has a variety of fish, including rainbows, browns, and brook trouts in various areas of the creek. It’s the “grand slam” of mountain fly fishing if you’re willing to make the trip. You’ll find the hatchery section near the Junction, which is supported with stocked brown and rainbow trout. There are even some deep pools here where trout can get as big as 18-20 inches (the browns, at least). 

There are 12 miles of foot access between the headwaters and Junction, where you’ll find plenty of wild trout and about five miles of wide-open water that’s prime for rainbow trout. The large boulders ensure that runs are fast and pools are deep, giving rainbows the ideal opportunity to “hide” and giving you the opportunity to target them. 

Brookies run up to 12 inches in the seven-mile stretch at the lower falls, with several tributaries for shoreline and wade-in fishing all around the area. The Snowbird Mountains are notorious for their role in the Battle of Horseshoe in 1814, and Chief Junaluska of the Cherokee Indians is buried in Robbinsville, located nearby. 

While you’re fishing, you can check out the history and enjoy exploring such a notorious place in the state’s history. Or, you can just catch as many trout as possible. We’ll help by telling you where and when to go next.

Big Snowbird Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

Map of best fishing spots on Big Snowbird Creek in North Carolina

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Places to Fish Big Snowbird Creek

Big Snowbird Creek offers a few different spots for access, including the parking area near the old railroad turnaround that is known simply as the “Junction”. Here, there is ample access and anglers can hike a little way to find different types of waters, as well. There is access off of Big Snowbird Creek Trail, too. 

This creek runs through the Nantahala National Forest, emptying into Santeetlah Lake outside of Robbinsville, and can be accessed from a few spots in the national forest, as well. However, these areas are more rugged so be prepared for a little more difficulty in the hike. 

If you want to access the creek from the Snowbird trail, you’ll enjoy a well-maintained hike that offers plenty of access. However, this is also a popular area because it’s easy to get to, so during the spring and early summer there is a lot of competition and pressure. Consider visiting during a different time or on a different day if you want to visit the easiest-to-access areas on this creek. 

Big Snowbird Creek has multiple waterfalls, and underneath each, there is a significant improvement in the fishing opportunity as the waters are cooler, deeper, and churned up to keep the fish active and moving.

Best Time to Fish Big Snowbird Creek

The least amount of traffic is during the fall, and fishing remains fairly successful for those who venture into the creek. The ants, grasshoppers, and beetle imitations do best during this season, while blue-winged olives and midges also offer ideal patterns for fall angling. 

The late winter and spring offer premium conditions from about noon until dusk, with plenty of aquatic insects to keep the trout biting. Midges, blue-winged olives, and quill gordons are popular and attract the wild fish, as do plenty of other mayflies and caddisflies. The fish enjoy the cooler waters of these seasons, making them easier to catch. 

Plus, in the stocked areas, the stocking usually happens in the spring. The summer does offer some good fishing since the creek stays cool, thanks to its mountain location. Expect to find more brookies and browns since rainbows like the cooler months, but you’ll still have a good time. 

Year-round fishing is allowed in this creek, but be sure to check the different access areas that might have artificial bait restrictions.

Best Flies for Big Snowbird Creek

As mentioned above, you’ve got a lot of options for flies when you fish Big Snowbird Creek. Simple attractor dry flies are a good choice, as are nymphs and buggers. 

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Big Snowbird Creek:

Dry Flies

  • Yellow Sally (#12 – 16)
  • Yellow Humpy (#10 – 18)
  • Parachute Sulphur (#14 – 18)
  • Parachute Adams (#12 – 22)
  • Light Cahill (#10 – 18)
  • Elk Hair Caddis (#8 – 16)
  • Yellows Stimulator (#8 – 14)
  • Chernobyl Ant (#8 – 12)
  • Griffith’s Gnat (#16 – 24)


  • Pheasant Tail (#12 – 20)
  • BH Hare’s Ear (#12 – 20)
  • Rainbow Warrior (#14 – 22)
  • Pat’s Rubber Legs (#4 – 12)
  • Golden Stonefly (#6 – 10)
  • Tellico Nymph (#12 – 18)
  • Zebra Midge (#16 – 22)
  • WD40 (#16-20)
  • Y2K Egg (#12 – 16)


  • BH Wooly Bugger (#2 – 6)
  • Sculpzilla (#4)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Big Snowbird Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Big Snowbird Creek Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide a Big Snowbird Creek fly fishing report and update on current conditions are listed below:

Fishing Regulations

The state of North Carolina requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available.

You can purchase a North Carolina state fishing license and learn about the most current regulations through the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Trip Planning Tips

Big Snowbird Creek is located in the mountains outside of Robbinsville. The nearest city is Asheville, which is home to Asheville Regional Airport for those flying into the area. You can find plenty of accommodations and dining along I-40 and other freeways in the area, along with camping, cabins, and other accommodations throughout the various National Forests, including the nearby Great Smoky Mountain National Forest. 

If you are coming to the area during the winter months, be sure to check the snow reports for higher altitude destinations and creeks. Big Snowbird is usually fairly accessible, but it’s still worth confirming before you travel.

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in North Carolina

Feature image Jeff Moore