Great Smoky Mountains National Park 4 min read

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

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

February 12, 2021

Noland Creek divide in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Whether you are new to fishing or just looking for a new way to experience it, a fly fishing trip to Noland Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park could be the ideal choice. You don’t even have to pay someone to plan the trip for you– our DIY guide makes it easy to learn everything you need to know. You can pick and choose where to go and when, and create your dream trip with ease. 

Are you trying to plan a trip on a budget? Perhaps you just don’t want the hassle of having a guide on your trip with you. Regardless of why you’re choosing the DIY route, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn more.

About Noland Creek

Fly fishing Noland Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Noland Creek is a freestone creek that flows through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is located near Bryson City and Cherokee, North Carolina, and has access off of North Shore Road for those coming from Bryson City. There is good access throughout most of the creek, which has a solid population of rainbow, brown, and brook trout, all wild. 

The creek is not stocked, and like most in the park, it doesn’t get a lot of fly fishing action. For you, that means easier catches and some quiet fishing time where you won’t have to fight the crowds. Sure, the more popular trout streams are great, but only if you’re willing to deal with the pressure. 

Noland Creek has a few tributaries that offer additional fishing and there are several campsites in the area and along the way. The Noland Creek Trail is going to be able to take you up and down the stream and give you access to the best fishing areas.

Like most of the creeks and streams in the park, the cool waters provide ideal habitat for trout to thrive. Noland Creek is wide enough that casting the perfect line should be easy. 

The trout in this creek are wary and more interested in how you’re casting than what you’re offering. Stealth and a light presentation are a must.  Simple flies will go a long way if you know how to cast a line well. 

Noland Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

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

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

Best Places to Fish Noland Creek

The Noland Creek Trail offers access to the majority of the creek. From North Shore Road (Lakeview Drive), also known as The Road to Nowhere, there is access to the Noland Creek Bridge, which is where you will find the trailhead. From here, you will be able to follow the stream most of the way.

 You will have to hike in if you want to access anywhere else from this side of the creek. A few miles upstream, you’ll find plenty of great fishing near Bearpen Branch, Mill Creek, and Springhouse Branch. These waters are home to rainbow trout and brook trout and will have various wade-in points that can be accessed as you hike along the trail.

Campsite #64 is located near the confluence of Mill Creek and the Springhouse Branch and makes for a great base camp to explore the area. All camping in the backcountry is restricted to designated campsites. Backcountry camping permits are required for overnight stays in the park.

Be prepared to hike because there are 8 miles of the creek to explore along the Noland Creek Trail. 

Best Time to Fish Noland Creek

You can find premier fishing in this creek during the spring, thanks to the abundant insect hatches. Most of the streams and creeks in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have this advantage. In fact, so do most of the streams in the state. 

This freestone stream also offers decent fishing in the summer at the higher sections, but the lower waters will probably be too shallow and warm to catch much. The fall is ideal because the water is cool again and the weather starts to turn the leaves, creating a beautiful setting for some great fishing. 

You can find trout fishing during the winter months too, although the coldest days may prove difficult to motive the fish to bite. Year-round fishing is permitted in this stream, and you will have the best results in March and April when the hatches are at their peak. 

As mentioned above, you can always call ahead to see what’s biting and how the weather is if you’re traveling during a questionable season. Spring and fall will make for the easiest catches, but no matter when you visit, you’re sure to have a great time.

Best Flies for Noland Creek

Insect hatches on Noland are much the same as hatches on any park stream. In early spring, Quill Gordon, Blue-Winged Olive, Blue Dun, Caddis, Hendrickson, March Brown and Dark Stone are excellent patterns for topwater fishing.

In May, yellow patterns are effective, particularly: Yellow Stone, Golden Stone, Yellow Mayfly, Yellow Palmer and Yellow Humpy, as well as Light Cahill, female Adams and Pink Lady.

Terrestrials are the preferred patterns for early and late summer. 

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Noland 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 the Noland Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 4X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Noland Creek Fishing Report

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

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has plenty of access from major roads like the Blue Ridge Parkway and others. Therefore, you will never have trouble finding lodging, food, or other accommodations while you are visiting the region. Make sure that you don’t travel during peak tourist season otherwise you could be competing with hikers and others for the creeks and streams.

It’s helpful to have a car for a trip like this because of the remote setting. Even though towns are close, they’re not exactly within walking distance.

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

Feature image by Steve Harwood