Tuckasegee River Fly Fishing

By Ed Hudon - January 17, 2021
Chuck Harrell

“The Tuck” is one of the most popular fly fishing destinations on the WNC Fly Fishing Trail, and is a superb river for beginners and advanced alike. It is not uncommon to catch 20-inch trout on the Tuck.

About the Tuckasegee River, Western North Carolina

American Angler said, “ [The Tuckasegee is] one of the best-known trout rivers in the entire Southeast, and it comes by that reputation honestly.”

The “Tuck” is a large-bodied tailwater that flows northwest from Cedar Cliff Reservoir into Swain County prior to flowing through Bryson City. It stops about 20 miles west of Bryson City as it flows into Fontana Lake.

The West Fork of the Tuck splits at the town of Tuckasegee and flows south along NC-107 until it empties into Lake Glenville.

Tuckasegee Fish Species

The Tuckasegee is stocked with Brook trout, Browns, and Rainbows making this river an incredible trout fishery. Trout are not the only species that thrive in this river, in fact, more species of fish can be caught on the Tuck than any other river in Swain County.

  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Kentucky Spotted Bass
  • White Bass
  • Steelhead
  • Catfish
  • Walleye
  • Bluegill
  • Yellow Perch
  • Crappie
  • Muskie

Tuckaseegee River Fly Fishing, Delayed Harvest

The upper section of the Tuckasegee is one of the best Delayed Harvest stretched in the state. For those who don’t know Delayed Harvest is a trout water regulation whereby no trout can be harvested between Oct 1st and June 5th. Moreover, anglers can only fish artificial lures with a single hook.

The Delayed Harvest section of the Tuck is a gem. This section is about 5 miles long and is found between Dillsboro and Sylva, WNC. The DH section is a very popular section of the Tuckasegee 1) because of the robust stocking the state does here and 2) because the special DH fishing regulations in place keep many of the catch and keep anglers fishing other streams or sections. So, between Oct 1st and June 5th, there is an abundance of trout to be caught!

Here are the Delayed Harvest stocking dates, not only for the Tuck but for all of North Carolina

A Word of Caution

This river is wadable, however, it can be tough to navigate when the flows are up. Daily releases for power generation from dams upstream can cause significant changes in water levels. Please do use caution when wading. Make sure you have proper gear (fly fishing waders and wading boots), carry a wading staff, and check the release schedule via the links provided below.

Check the Flow Before you Go

General Fly Patterns to Use

  • Dry flies (best when fish are rising): There are a good number of caddis fly hatches in spring and fall. Otherwise, match the hatch.
  • Nymphs / wet: Girdle bugs, San Juan worms or Squirmy worms, prince nymphs, egg patterns, and wooly buggers
  • Streamers: Use when the river is high

Tuckasegee Fishing Regulations

The Tuck does have a range of fishing regulations that vary based on season and the stretch you are fishing. Please be sure to check the Tuckasegee fishing regulations via the link in our “additional resources” section below.

Tuckaseegee River Story (From a Client, Turned Friend)

I have been fly fishing for over a decade and the first time I fished the Tuckasegee River in Western North Carolina a memory was created that rises above all others.

My First Day Fly Fishing on the Tuckasegee River

My day started with a cup of coffee and little sleep. I packed my gear and headed to the Tuckasegee River for a Euro Nymphing demo that Sage was putting on. Immediately after the demo, Eddie SO KINDLY invited me to put what I had learned into action.

What followed was THE BEST DAY fly fishing I have ever had. Within two hours I caught 5 fish—3 different species—one of which was a 2.5 lb trophy brook trout! In Northern New Mexico, where I learned to fish, if I were lucky enough to catch a brook trout, it was likely 6 inches or smaller. With Eddie, all of this was accomplished by using a tight-line nymphing technique I had never attempted before but knew I had fallen in love with.

My experience with Eddie on this day far surpassed my best-guided trip ever. Yes, even that of a trip to the San Juan River in New Mexico where my best friend and I caught fish all day long!

I have since fallen even deeper in love with the sport of fly fishing. I am happy to say Eddie has been a true inspiration. He is a patient, friendly, skilled angler and his knowledge of Western North Carolina is uncanny—he has shown me fishing spots I NEVER would have gone. After getting guided by him several more times—including a trip with my father introducing HIM to the sport of fly fishing—I am PROUD to call Eddie a dear friend.

Eddie Hudon knows Western North Carolina intimately! If you are a beginner, an expert AND/OR (especially) if you are visiting the area of WNC he comes HIGHLY recommended. Your day will be filled with knowledge, laughter, and… lots of trout!

Book a guided trip with Eddie Hudon

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Additional Resources:

 

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