North Carolina Fly Fishing 5 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Lost Cove Creek in North Carolina

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

May 21, 2024

Hunt Fish Falls on Lost Cove Creek in western North Carolina

Lost Cove Creek is touted as one of the prettiest wild trout streams in western North Carolina.  If you want to hook up with the prized wild brown trout that reside here, you are going to have to work for it though.

Up for the challenge? Read on.

Fly fishing trips can be whatever you make them. Plus, you don’t have to be an expert on fly fishing to plan a great trip, or even hire one. With the help of resources like our DIY guide, it’s easy to plan a great excursion. 

Whether you’re new to fly fishing or just looking for a new trip to add to your list, North Carolina has a lot of beautiful fly fishing destinations. Check out this guide on Lost Cove Creek to learn when to visit, where to find the best fishing, and what to take along.

About Lost Cove Creek

Fly fishing Haper Creek and Lost Cove Creek in western North Carolina

Lost Cove Creek is a tributary Wilson Creek and is rated as one of the most beautiful trout streams in the state. It offers fly fishing under catch and release regulations for wild rainbows, browns, and brook trout. 

This small freestone stream flows through the Lost Cove Wilderness Study Area and the Pisgah National Forest. There are several places where you can access the creek for fishing. 

The stream is very clear and it doesn’t have the same steep declines at the higher elevations like some mountain streams. The declines come downstream, which may impact the availability of fish and where the best locations are. The clearness of the water could be difficult for catching browns during the day. 

This year-round creek is located near Morganton and Roseboro, offering year-round access although it’s not necessarily easy to get to. Most people choose to visit a couple of major areas on the creek, but there is a lot to check out.  The majority of the trails in the Lost Cove Valley would require overnight hikes. 

For those who want a challenge, Lost Cove Creek delivers. It’s hard to access most of the best places to fish and downstream you will come across some private property that is to be avoided. However, thanks to Forest Service Roads and other access, it’s not impossible to fish here. 

You’ll just have to work for it. Up next, we’ll help by telling you where to go, when you should visit, and what kind of flies will get the best catches.

Lost Cove Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on Lost Cove Creek in western North Carolina

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

Best Places to Fish Lost Cove Creek

You will find some of the best fishing on this creek near Forest Service Road 464, which takes you to the Hunt/Fish Falls Trail. It’s about three-quarters of a mile to the water and most people only use it to access the falls. However, if you continue following it, you’ll find a gem. 

Here, the waterfall becomes a series of short cascades separated by pools, offering plenty of great spots to drop a fly. There are plenty of boulders and rocks for the fish to hide around, making them easy to get to even without a lot of your own cover. 

There is also some decent access in the study area, but again there is usually at least a mile or two of hiking required because of this remote stream– after all, it is called “Lost Cove”– did you really expect it to be easy to find? But, if you’re willing to make the trek, you’ll find some great fly fishing on this creek. 

Upstream isn’t the best place to find the catches that you want, but you might still want to take a walk to see what your options are. Honestly, the Hunt/Fish Falls Trail is the ideal spot to fish unless you’ve got days to invest in a serious expedition of this creek.

Best Time to Fish Lost Cove Creek

This creek is subject to year-round wild trout regulations, making it possible to fish at any time of year. However, you may not always find the trout willing to cooperate. For example, the summer heat can warm the water too much and make the trout seek out cooler waters. 

Summer may offer some good fishing on cooler days or in higher elevations, but it’s not common. The winter is the same way– you can find trout on most of the warm days, but the cooler days won’t see a lot of action. 

Spring is the ideal time, as is the case with most trout streams in the state. This is when the hatches are getting the attention of the trout and the weather is ideal to provide a comfortable water temperature for the fish. It’s the busiest time, but again this isn’t a busy creek in the first place. 

Fall also offers great fly fishing for the wild browns as they get ready to spawn. Plus, the scenery becomes quite beautiful with the changing seasons, as fall foliage surrounds the creek. The water remains cool and the biggest trout will be out during this time.

Best Flies for Lost Cove Creek

The trout in this creek are pretty typical in terms of trout. The good news, however, is that they’re a lot less picky because they don’t see as much action.  The gin clear water of Lost Cove Creek does make the fish spooky though. Keeping a low profile and fishing with stealth are far more important that fly selection here.

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Lost Cove 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 Lost Cove Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Lost Cove Creek Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide a Lost Cove 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

Those coming to Lost Cove Creek will need a vehicle– it’s a remote setting and you’ll have to drive to reach it. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an Uber that will take you up to the mountains and if you do, it will cost a small fortune. Just bring a car, and if you fly in, rent one. 

This creek passes just below Highway 221 and Grandfather Mountain State Park, just a short drive from Boone, Morganton, and Linville. Highway 181 will take you down into Morganton, and there will be plenty of dining and lodging along your route. If you are flying, Johnson City or Asheville are your best options.

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

Feature image by Highest_Vision