DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Eagle Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Whether you have been fly fishing before or you’re just looking for a new way to enjoy the great outdoors, a fly fishing trip could be a great choice. This can be a relaxing hobby that allows you the chance to be one with nature and have the experience that you’ve always wanted.

Our DIY guide will help you every step of the way. Forget paying someone to plan your trip because now you’ll be able to do it yourself. Read on to learn where and when you need to visit, as well as what to bring, to have the perfect fly fishing experience in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Fly fishing Eagle Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Eagle Creek is located in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP), offering prime fishing in an area that is otherwise overlooked for this offering. Surprisingly, even though it is permitted, a number of people don’t even consider fishing in the waters that are on national parkland. Eagle Creek is home to several types of wild trout and is a medium freestone creek that offers easy access throughout most of the stream. 

Eagle Creek offers brown, rainbow, and brook trout and is accessed from Clingman’s Dome. It can also be accessed by boat from Fontana Lake, making it easy for you to get out on the water and cast a line. There isn’t a lot of pressure in this creek since very few out-of-town visitors to the park are actually there to fish. 

The wild rainbows are the main draw here, and you’ll find them throughout just about all of the creek except at the higher elevations. There are even some landlocked 'steelhead' that run up the the stream from Fontana Lake, which are remnants and ancestors of the 1970s stocking of the lake. Easy wading access makes it enjoyable for people of all skill levels and interests, too.

Like several of the park-based creeks and streams, there is also camping to be found along Eagle Creek. The creek was mostly spared by logging operations of decades past, leaving a well-maintained trail and plenty of prime fishing water that’s just deep enough to let trout hide, but still shallow enough to make wading a breeze.

There are tributaries off of Eagle Creek that are worth a look, as well, so feel free to explore the area at your own pace. You’ll enjoy a wide enough berth to cast some great lines, no matter which part of the creek you choose.

Eagle Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing access spots on Eagle Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Get directions to fishing access points and real-time stream flow data with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Places to Fish Eagle Creek

You can find great fishing on Eagle Creek once you’ve traversed the lake. The access is provided from Eagle Creek Trail, but there are several other creeks along the way that offer easier fishing access so many people overlook or skip this one. To start, you’ll want to head to the area above the dam across from the marina. 

You can find walk-in access from the creek once you reach the other side of the lake, and the tributary streams can be accessed via various nearby trails to offer plenty of options for trout fishing.

Once you cross the lake, wading is easy and boats don’t actually fit on this small creek. However, taking a boat across is sometimes easier than making the hike to the creek.

Best Time to Fish Eagle Creek

Like most of the creeks in North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there is really no wrong time to fish for trout in Eagle Creek. The best catches, obviously, are found during the peak hatch season in the spring. You’ll enjoy the easier catches and plentiful fish looking for a bite. 

You will also find decent fishing in this creek during the summer months, although the lower water levels can get a bit warm for the trout on hotter days. In the fall, as the water and the weather shift again, you have more opportunities to find trout throughout Eagle Creek. 

Winter is a good time for trout fishing, so long as you come on the warmer days when the water isn’t at risk of freezing or running a touch too cold for the fish to be active. The fishing on this creek follows wild regulations and is open year-round.

Best Flies for Eagle Creek

The fish in this creek will key in on local hatches, so make sure that you stock up on midges, caddisflies and mayfly imitations. You’ll find that a decent selection of dry flies will provide for plenty of action, but keep some nymphs and streamers on hand for the more finicky fish, as well.

If you come during the spring, the fish will be less picky. You’re not going to catch a trophy fish in this creek but with some basic flies, you should find plenty of willing fish.

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Eagle 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)

Nymphs

  • 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)

Streamers

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

Need flies? 

Ventures Fly Co. offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere.  Set includes 40 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and waterproof fly box. 

Dry Flies
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant

Nymphs/Wet Flies
- Rubber Leg Nymph, Brown
- BH Pheasant Tail Nymph
- BH Prince Nymph
- BH Hare's Ear Nymph
- Barr's Emerger Nymph
- Zebra Midge Nymph, Black

Streamers
- Wooly Bugger, Black (Size #8x2)
- Wooly Bugger, Olive (Size #8x2)

Gear Recommendations

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

Need Gear? 

Below are recommendations for essential gear to make the most of your time on the water.  Note: DIY Fly Fishing earns a commission (at no cost to you) on sales made using the links below.  Thank you for your support!

Eagle Creek Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide a Eagle 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

This creek is easily accessible since it’s part of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which sits right on the Blue Ridge Parkway that runs through the region and connects the nearby towns and attractions. You’ll find camping, cabins, private rentals, and plenty of hotels and motels in the area. 

Remember to consider tourist season when you’re coming to fly fish inside the park - the last thing you want is to get stuck in traffic going in and out of the park. Fishing during the week will help avoid some of the local traffic.

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

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