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Tennessee Tailwaters Fly Fishing Trips

Trout Fishing Trips on the Tennessee Tailwater Rivers

Come and experience the famed trout fly fishing waters of the Tennessee Tailwater Rivers! Located within an hour’s drive of our shop in Downtown Boone.

The South Holston and Watauga tailwaters outside of Elizabethton and Johnson City, Tennessee, offer anglers some of the best fishing in the Southeast.  

Our guides are on the water full time whether working or researching – and with a year-round fishery, we can get you and your group out on the water any time of year!  

The Tailwaters of east tennesse

We have over 40 miles of floatable trout streams just over the border in Tennessee. Come and join in on some of the most famous and rewarding guided fly fishing in the Southeast on the South Holston and Watauga River Tailwaters!

​Our float trips operate in Eastern Tennessee on the tailwaters of the Watauga and South Holston Rivers. These trips focus on the most productive methods for Trout fishing. We also offer floats on a few smallmouth streams including the Nolichucky. Our walk and wade trips typically revolve locally at our shop in Boone, but wading on the Tennessee Tailwaters is possible with the correct generations.

Watauga River

The Watauga River or “The ‘Taug” as we like to call it, is our other big favorite that stems from Wilbur Lake. The Watauga River is home to 6,000-8,000 fish per mile, and much like the South Holston, we love to float and fish it throughout the year.

The Watauga is an extraordinarily scenic river that makes its way through beautiful limestone rock cliffs and farm country before finding its way into Boone Lake.  Many large brown and rainbow trout dominate the river from the dam to the lake.

However, the real draw to the river, other than the fantastic fishing and scenery, is the caddis hatch that occurs each spring from mid-April until the early parts of May. Millions of caddis crawling and flying all over the rocks and even our boats make it one of the greatest spectacles of the year. The amazing fishing during that period is just a bonus.

South Holston River

​This 17-mile-long tailwater stemming from the South Holston Reservoir holds some of the largest brown trout found anywhere in the country. While the South Holston is known for its large hatches and even larger fish, the river also boasts one of the densest, wild trout populations found in the United States with fish counts ranging between  8,000-10,000 fish per mile.

Whether it’s casting to risers during the renowned sulfur hatch or pursuing the large brown trout for which the river is famous, we love to fish it all, YEAR ROUND. We understand what it takes to catch these fish throughout the year, and we are certain our guests will enjoy some of the best trout fishing the Southeast has to offer.

A TYPICAL Fly Fishing float Trip on the Tailwaters

A typical Full Day Float Trip on the Tennessee Tailwaters for trout fishing starts at 6:30 AM at our Fly Shop in downtown Boone.

We will load up or follow from there and travel over to our fishing grounds in East Tennessee, usually putting in on the South Holston or Watauga tailwaters. We will disembark floating from a public put-in, float a few miles, and have a streamside lunch on full-day trips. After lunch, we will float a few more miles to a designated public takeout where the truck will be waiting after being shuttled. Typically taking out around 4.

We will then load up from there and return to Boone, back to the shop at 140 S Depot St. Boone, NC 28607.

We are happy to change any kind of setup or meeting time and location. When each trip is put into our calendar there will always be a designated meeting time and place. The guide will reach out to you the evening before the trip.

We cater to ALL group sizes (yes we can accommodate more than two anglers). Each trip is reserved per group.

Book a Tennessee Tailwater Float Fishing Trip

Tennessee Float Trip RATES

1/2 Day Trips
(4 Hours)
1 – 2 Anglers $450
3 – 4 Anglers $900
5 – 6 Anglers $1350
7 – 8 Anglers $1800
3/4 Day Trips
(6 Hours)
1 – 2 Anglers $500
Full Day Trips
(8 Hours)
2 Anglers $600
Contact us if you have any questions.
We can accommodate various groups and sizes – families, businesses, parties and events, etc. We have a staff of fully trained professional guides ready to help!

Book your float trip

Float Trips

Please Note: Booking a fishing trip requires a NON-REFUNDABLE 50% deposit. The full value is non-refundable within 7 days of the scheduled trip date, however, we will honor your deposit and reschedule for a future date if we are completely booked on your preferred date or other conflicts arise.

past catches from Tennessee Float Fishing Trips

5-star fishing guides in Tennessee

Cameron Hamrick
Cameron Hamrick
I went into the trip just wanting to learn how to fly fish. I didn’t expect to really catch any fish. Caught 3! Our group of 5 caught 15 or so fish. David and Colin were great. And can’t forget our mascot Cowboy who brought us good luck.
Justin Crawford
Justin Crawford
Skye and HCGS are the best. Outstanding experience across the board.
Joleen Sherman
Joleen Sherman
Hi everyone, adventure and new experiences are imperative for living a life outside the box. I chose this fly fishing experience for my birthday adventure/ bucket list. Nick was my guide and to say he was excellent is selling him short. I went on this tour not knowing anything about how to fly fish. I chose it because I love outdoors everything!!! I was not disappointed. Nick was so kind, patient and knowledgeable. We went to some spectacular spots. My very first cast ever in my life I caught a speckled brown. Obviously I had a wonderful experience and Nick was the catalyst for my beautiful birthday adventure and celebration. Thank you Nick 😊
Denise Martinez
Denise Martinez
Had an amazing day with Nick today. Outfitted us with all the gear we needed and then off to a great day of learning the right techniques to catch some fish. Nick was awesome and my son, husband and myself had a great day catching trout. Highly recommend if you will be in the area.
Trisha Greenen
Trisha Greenen
Special thanks to Kirby Mellot with High Country Guides-Boone Fly Shop! We had an amazing two day wade trip! Personal Best Wild Brown Trout for my son! I highly recommend High Country Guides, Boone Fly Shop and Kirby Mellot as your Guide. Thanks Kirby!
Jack McCarthy
Jack McCarthy
We’ve used this guide service several times and always been extremely happy with our guide Nate. I book with him exclusively because I know he’s going to provide an amazing experience. I’ve taken both my sons and a friend on different trips with Nate and all had nothing but exceptional reviews of the trips, guide and experiences. Nate caters to every little need with ease, adjusts to the audience and skill level very quickly, and we catch some amazing trout. Can’t wait to get out again with him soon!
Ionic Bionic
Ionic Bionic
Great experience!! Both Corey and Collin are very knowledgeable about the area and fly fishing. Four of us had a half day and caught 22 fish!! Overall great experience highly recommend and great tips and tricks for all levels of experience!!
Dave Taylor
Dave Taylor
Excellent wade trip with David as my guide! Very knowledgeable and a pleasure to be with!
Garrett Skillestad
Garrett Skillestad
I recently had the pleasure of booking a fly fishing trip with this guide service, and it was absolutely fantastic! Corey Murphy was incredibly knowledgeable about the area and provided top-notch instruction throughout the day. The equipment provided was top-of-the-line, and the scenery on the Watauga river was amazing. A truly great escape for a day. We even caught some trout. Overall it was a fantastic time and every person in our party’s expectations were managed and exceeded. I highly recommend High Country Guide service to anyone looking for a memorable fly fishing experience. Five stars all the way!
Brian Dotson
Brian Dotson
Alyssa is an amazing guide and cant wait to get out again soon

Frequently Asked Questions about fly fishing the tailwaters

What types of fish are usually caught on Float Fishing Trips on the South Holston and Watauga Rivers?

The Watauga River, located just below Elizabethton, Tennessee, and the South Holston River near Bluff City, is home to many varieties of trophy trout, such as Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout.

The best spots for fly fishing on the Watauga River are best reached by boat offering about 5,000 to 6,000 trout per mile! Local hatches on certain sections of the Watauga River have plenty of Caddis, Midges, Blue Winged Olives, and Sulphurs for the trout to feed on almost all year long.

The South Holston River begins is a nationally known fish hatchery with many creeks and streams that breed wild trout. All of the brown trout in the South Holston tailwater are naturally reproducing wild fish, which is not the norm for tailwater fishing trips anywhere else.

What gear do I need for my Tennessee Tailwater Fishing Trip?

We offer a variety of fishing trips that require various levels of preparation and organization. Our full-service fly shop and guiding program prepares you with all the gear necessary including your Waders and Boots, Rods, Reels, Lines, Leaders, Tippets, and Terminal Tackles, along with any type of flies or tackle necessary for the day, and a net for releasing and capturing that perfect photo.

You are more than welcome to bring your own rod, reel, leader, or tippet. Whether it is your favorite or you would like us to set it up, bring it on!

A simple gear checklist for any beginner or anyone traveling without gear at all can be as easy as:     
     
Hat / Ballcap / Sun Protection for glare
Water (preferably in a water bottle to reduce single use)
Snacks/Food
Sunscreen for Sunny Trips
Raingear if forecasted (We can provide waders and boots)
Socks to Wear Under Waders (Any kind of socks)
Comfy lightweight pants under waders in Summer
Sunglasses (Mostly for safety)
Phone (For Photos)
Drinks including beer, wine or liquor
Gratuity for your Guide
Smile and a Good Attitude

Please Refrain from BRIGHT COLORED CLOTHING!

Do I need a Tennesse Fishing License for Tailwater Float Fishing Trips?

Our Tailwater Float Fishing Trips require a Tennessee Fishing License for anyone 13 years and older. Purchase your Tennesse Fishing License online here.

How many people fit in a float fishing boat?

Two participants in our float fishing trips fit on each boat, plus a guide.

While can accommodate groups of any size, we like to ensure there is one guide for every two guests. You can customize your fly fishing trip by submitting a contact form, sending us an email, or calling us at ​828-386-6216 to set up a trip for the entire family!

Are Float Fishing Trips Kid-Friendly?

We take a lot of family fly-fishing trips and try to accommodate the young ones as much as possible. Children are allowed on our float fishing trips in Tennesse, but anyone 12 years or younger must wear a Personal Floatation Device while on the boat.

What is a typical float fishing trip like?

A typical Full Day Float Trip can start at our Fly Shop in downtown Boone, but often details such as meeting time and location are determined upon booking and based on where our guests are staying to make it as seamless as possible to get on the water.

After we load up and travel over to our fishing grounds in East Tennessee, we usually put in on the South Holston or Watauga tailwaters. We will disembark floating from a public put-in, float a few miles, and have a streamside lunch on full-day trips. After lunch, we will float a few more miles to a designated public takeout where the truck will be waiting after being shuttled. Typically taking out around 4.

We are happy to change any kind of setup or meeting time and location. When each trip is put into our calendar there will always be a designated meeting time and place. The guide will reach out to you the evening before the trip.

We cater to ALL group sizes (yes we can accommodate more than two anglers). Each trip is reserved per group.

What happens to our Tennesse Fly Fishing Trip if the weather is bad or it is raining?

Our guides have the answers for where to find fish in all conditions. If the weather is bad, we typically can adjust and find plenty of fishable water.

In the event of danger, you can refer to our cancellation policy. 

Details such as meeting time and location will be established upon booking, and our reservation system allows for the guide to reach out the day before the trip to confirm details as well.

Check the weather in Tennessee here.

What is your cancellation policy?

High Country Guide Service requires a NON REFUNDABLE 50% deposit to book a trip. The full value is non-refundable within 7 days of scheduled trip date. We fish rain or shine, unless the weather is deemed unsafe by the guide. In the event of dangerous weather we will reschedule for a future date.

Can I tip my guide?

You sure can! Our guides appreciate it. Gratuity for our Wade Fishing Trips is typically 10-15% of the total trip cost and cash is preferred.

Have a question?

Give us a call or Drop our anglers a line

​828-386-6216

​highcountryguides@gmail.com

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