North Carolina Fly Fishing 4 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Twentymile Creek in North Carolina

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

May 22, 2024

Waterfall on Twentymile Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Fly fishing can be a great hobby for those who enjoy the outdoors. There are so many different types of excursions to plan, including those that take you to places like Twentymile Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While hiking may be the big draw within the park, it offers plenty of great trout fishing as well.

Whether you don’t want to pay someone to show you the way, or you just prefer to plan your own trips for the experience, we can help. This guide will show you where to go, when to go, and what you should take with you. Happy fishing!

About Twentymile Creek

Twentymile Creek is one of the best-hidden streams in the park. Despite it being very accessible, the locals and others that are interested in fly fishing don’t visit the stream very often.  The stream is predominant with wild rainbows, but some brown and brook trout find their way up the lower reaches near Cheoah Lake, as well. 

Several miles of the creek offer easy access via Twentymile Trail, but there are some areas that are thick rhododendrons where you may want to wade or hike the trail up further to find easier access. There are some areas that are more difficult to access, but the option to wade makes it easier for those who are willing to make the trek. 

The shorelines of this creek are covered with trees and heavy brush, and some of the banks are very steep in places. This can make it difficult to get in and out of the creek, so it’s best to wade through these areas until you reach a spot that’s easier to get in or out. This stream has about four fishable miles of water that descends rapidly from Shuckstack Mountain and dumps into Cheoah Lake. 

There aren’t a lot of tributaries on this creek worth fishing, but the creek itself offers average-size trout and a lack of crowding, thanks to the fact that few people even know that the stream exists, let alone that it offers some of the best fly fishing in the region. If you’re looking for wild rainbow trout, you won’t have to look far in this creek. Plus, there’s a ranger station nearby for assistance and safety.

Twentymile Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing access spots on Twentymile 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 Twentymile Creek

As mentioned, some areas of the creek are harder to access than others. This mid-sized stream is a tributary of Cheoah Lake, and when you enter the park you will want to head to Twentymile Trail to get started. You will be able to walk along the stream or wade for miles, with year-round fishing access. 

The best spots for trout are where you find pools under the thick brush, so feel free to wade for the best results. The good news is that there isn’t a lot of pressure here so no matter where you end up, you should find some good average catches. Remember that this is more of a hobby stream than a trophy creek. 

This is a tightly-enclosed mountain stream that includes a lot of inclines and hiking. For the more active fly angler, it’s a great choice for a fun getaway to grab some relaxation on the fly. Stick near the park’s main access to the creek for the easiest terrain, but if you’re willing to hike for them, there are some good catches further upstream. 

Best Time to Fish Twentymile Creek

The season for Twentymile Creek and most of the streams and creeks in Great Smoky Mountain National Park runs year-round for those who are coming to the area to fish for trout. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll always find the best catches.

Like most park streams, the best time to fish is during the spring when the hatches are prime and the fish are biting. Simple attractor dry flies and nymphs are all you need to imitate the hatches and get some of the best catches without a lot of effort. You will have the opportunity to find some fish during the summer, but it can get too warm at times. 

Winter and fall, of course, are great times to fish in this region. The trout enjoy the colder water and when the weather is right, you’ll find plenty hiding in the various pools and runs along the stream. One thing is sure: no matter when you travel, you’ll enjoy accessing this hidden gem.

Be careful of any seasonal changes to park hours or fishing regulations, as those could impact your trip planning and creek access. Other than that, there’s really no restrictions keeping you from having a great experience at Twentymile Creek, no matter when you visit.

Best Flies for Twentymile Creek

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

Twentymile Creek Fishing Report

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

Located right off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is remote enough to enjoy the getaway but provides convenient access to nearby towns, lodging, dining, and more. Those flying into the area will come through McGhee-Tyson Airport in Knoxville, which is the closest.

You can choose to camp in the park, find lodging and accommodations along the parkway, or even drive into nearby Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge for a little R&R and sightseeing. It’s best to bring a car so that you can explore the park, as ample parking is available in various public access areas.

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

Feature image by Chris Morris