Fly Fishing Deep Creek with Kephart’s Ghost

While not a fly fisherman, Horace Kephart certainly kept good company with some excellent trout streams, like Hazel Creek and Deep Creek, during his tenure living in the wilds of western North Carolina, an area that would later become the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Rumor has it, that if you listen closely as dusk descends upon you while casting dry flies to eager rainbow trout on Deep Creek you can hear the footsteps of Kephart's ghost as he wanders the Deep Creek area.

Deep Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountain Magic

Smoky Mountain Magic is the previously unpublished adventure novel by Horace Kephart, outdoorsman, writer, and champion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The area Horace writes about in the novel is Deep Creek, home to one of the best trout stream in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The manuscript has been passed down through the generations to Kephart's great-granddaughter, Libby Kephart Hargrave, and has now been published by Great Smoky Mountains Association, the park's nonprofit partner. Proceeds from the book are being donated to the Horace Kephart Foundation, Great Smoky Mountains Association, and Friends of the Smokies.

Fly Fishing Deep Creek

If can imagine yourself in the video above casting to wild brook trout, rainbow trout and brown trout, all of which inhabit Deep Creek, or you would just like to explore the area as Kephart did, the map and information provided below should help.

Deep Creek is part of the Little Tennessee River drainage on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and flows about 15 miles before emptying into the Tuckasegee River at Bryson City.

Fly fishing is very good and rewarding for the entire length of Deep Creek where catching a rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout in a single outing is possible. Approximately 90% of the stream lies within the GSMNP and is regulated for single hook artificial lures only.

Deep Creek Map and Access Points

map of fishing access spots on Deep 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

The Deep Creek Trail follows the creek from the Newfound Gap Road to the Deep Creek Campground. The Deep Creek trailhead is located on the Newfound Gap Road (RT 441) about half way between Cherokee NC and Gatlinburg TN (see map above).

Starting at the trailhead, the hike to Bryson City is approximately 13 miles with several campsites located along the way. The trail can be very steep and grueling at times.

The lower end of Deep Creek is accessible from the Deep Creek Campground via Bryson City. On the lower end of Deep Creek the best fishing is above Indian Creek Falls, below this point the river is frequently used by tubers in the summer.

Deep Creek Fly Fishing Tactics

(excerpt from The Fly Fisherman's Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

In early season small- to medium-size dry flies (March Brown, Adams, and Dark Caddis, sizes 12 to 18) are good, and nymphs (Black Stone, Pheasant Tail, and Hare's Ear, sizes 12 to 18) are dependable.

In summer large dry flies (Elk-Hair Caddis, Royal Wulff, and Thunderhead, sizes 10 to 14) and big nymphs (Golden Stone, Prince, and My Pet, sizes 8-14) yield well. These same flies are suitable into the fall, along with terrestrials (Chartrueuse Inchworm, Joe's Hopper, and Fur Ant, sizes 12 to 8).

Some big browns move into the lower reaches of Deep Creek in the late fall and winter and can be taken on streamers (Grey Ghost, Woolly Bugger, and Muddler Minnow) and various egg patterns.

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 71/2- to 8-foot, 3- or 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Deep Creek.  A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 6X 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.

Quality rod, reel, line and rod tube at a reasonable price. Backed by Orvis 25-yr guarantee, a brand you can trust.

High performance nylon leader, great for fishing Dry Flies, Nymphs and Streamers.

Excellent knot strength, stretch and suppleness make this the finest nylon tippet.  3-pack of the sizes you'll need the most.

Heavy duty, waterproof, yet breathable.  If you are tough on waders, these are for you. Backed by Simms Wader Warranty. If they leak, they got your back.

Most durable, yet comfortable, boot on the market.  Excellent foot and ankle support.  Great for rocky rivers. Lightweight and designed for all-day wear.

Sweet pack with ample storage. Unique harness system reduces neck strain. Sleek tapered face improves visibility - you can see your feet when wading!

Durable and lightweight. The carbon fiber frame floats.  Hooks don't get stuck in the rubber mesh bag . Extra length makes it easier to net fish.  Simply the best nets on the market.

Tough, waterproof and priced right. Hold 900+ flies in slotted foam.  If you need more storage - you have too many flies!

Simple, sharp nippers at great price. Clip on retractor keeps this must have gear at your fingertips.

Strong with a fine tip. Perfect for removing split shot and hooks. Simply the best fishing pliers.

The 580 Glass polarized lenses are super clear and somehow relaxing on the eyes.  Game changer.

Note: DIY Fly Fishing earns a commission (at no cost to you) on sales made using the links above. Thank you for your support!

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing in Great Smoky Mountain National Park for more information about trout fishing in the park.

Ken Sperry

About the author

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.

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