South Holston River Fly FIshing & Guided Trips

Arguably the best trout fly fishing destination in the south. 

The South Holston River In East Tennessee

It’s no surprise that fly fishing junkies from around the world flock to East Tennessee to experience the fly fishing the South Holston River offers. It is a special place with beautiful scenery at every turn and fly fishing conditions that are nothing short of remarkable.

This tailwater flows directly from the depths of South Holston lake and creates optimal trout conditions for 17 miles of premier tailwater fishing before dumping into Boone lake. Due to these conditions, this river boasts upwards of 4,000 fish per mile in some sections, with some of the largest brown trout in North America mixed in. So whether you’re looking to target fish on dries, nymphs, or streamers, you can expect to be presented with ample opportunity at the Soho.

Fly Fishing The South Holston River

While the South Holston is an incredible dry fly fishery with some of the densest hatches found anywhere, it also produces world-class brown trout with other tactics like sight fishing with nymph rigs and chucking big streamers when the conditions permit. We pride ourselves on our ability to be versatile and hunt large browns regardless of the conditions. So when booking with us, expect to deploy a variety of tactics as we make it a priority to give our clients every advantage possible.

One of our favorite attributes of the South Holston is the various types of river structure. Much like the Watauga, you can expect to fish shallow flats, deep shoals, big boulder fields, cobblestone streaks, flooded vegetation, bank pockets, and more during your time on the river. It really is a versatile fishery that has something for everyone. Not to mention, most of the time, the water is clear, cold, and well oxygenated due to South Holston and the weirs implemented by the TWRA to keep the dissolved oxygen content high.

As mentioned, the bug life and hatches on the Soho are pretty intense. Midges are on the table year round here and often produce some exceptionally large browns when sight fishing. Starting in the spring, the BWO hatch starts, followed by caddis a little later and then sulfurs/PMDS all throughout the summer months. The sulfur hatches are probably the most famed, and for good reason. It’s hard to describe seeing a couple of hundred fish going to town off the top all in a single run, but it really happens.

Wade fishing this river can be great when the TVA isn’t generating water, but when they are, the river is mostly un-wadable, excluding a few areas. The best way to experience the river is with a full day float during generation, but we can also provide float trips during lower water conditions. Check out our guide trips page for more information.

Latest South Holston River Fishing REports

Check out our latest reports on the Soho. If you don’t see a recent report, feel free to shoot us an email and we will get you updated. 


Photos From the Soho

Here are some of the fish and scenery we have crossed paths with on the various sections of the South Holston Tailwater.

Seasonal Fishing Strategies

The Soho is one of the best tailwaters in the US and presents ample opportunities all year long. Check out the section below to get a general idea of what hatches and conditions may be present during your next visit. You’ll also want to check out the generation schedule for your trip. Find the link below to check that out. 

South Holston River Generation Schedule


As many of you know, we love to tie and throw big flies here at TCTF, and the early spring months are a great time to do this. The browns are just coming off their spawn and are actively looking to replenish, and a lot of the biomass present at other times of the year isn’t abundant making them keener to eat a streamer. The other major food sources this time of year are midges and BWOs.

Suggested Flies: BWO nymphs #14-18, BWO emergers #16-20, BWO dries #16-20, Caddis nymphs #14-18, Caddis emergers #14-18, Caddis dries #14-18, Scuds #14-16, Midges #18-22, Streamers


Sulfers are the pretty lady in the room this time of year. It’s hard not to be amazed when the water is covered in them and the fish are recklessly sipping off the top. These sulfur/PMD hatches are some of the densest in the world and make for great dry fly fishing. Midges are still on the menu, and some terrestrial fishing can also be done.

Suggested Flies: BWO nymphs #14-18, BWO emerges #16-20, BWO dries #16-20, Sulfur nymphs #14-16, Sulfur emergers #14-16, Sulfur dries #14-16, Scuds #14-16, Midges #18-22, Streamers


Brown trout will be spawning this time of year. Please respect this incredible resource and DO NOT FISH TO SPAWNING FISH ON REDDS. The future of our fisheries is in our hands, so please take care of it. With that said, midges are still on the menu, and BWOs will start making appearances as well. These BWOs will be smaller than the spring BWOs. Some of the largest browns will be present in the system this time of the year. We like to target pre and post-spawn fish that are trying to feed heavily to prepare or replenish. We do this mostly with big streamers and leech patterns.

Suggested Flies: BWO nymphs #14-18, BWO emerges #16-20, BWO dries #16-20, Scuds #14-16, Midges #18-22, Eggs #14-16, Streamers


Midges will be key to success this time of year. Mainly with nymph rigs under an indicator. We love to throw streamers here, as well, as the fish are coming off the spawn, and the lack of other biomass in the river can really have them keyed in on bigger caloric opportunities.

Suggested Flies: BWO nymphs #16-18, BWO emerges #18-20, BWO dries #10ths 18-22, Scuds #14-16, Midges #18-22, Eggs #14-16, Streamers

Guided South Holston River Fly Fishing Trips With Tri-City TroutFitters

If you want to experience the Soho and chase big browns, we’d love to take you out. We pride ourselves on our knowledge of targeting big brown trout and our preparation & dedication to making sure our clients have the trip they’re expecting. Check out our guide trips page for more information, but feel free to give us a call or fill out the form below to request your dates.

South Holston River Boat Ramps/Meeting Locations

Weir Dam

This a great wade and walk access area and there are boat launched on both side of the weir dam. This is the first river float access on the South Holston.

Big Springs

Big Springs is the first take out point after the Weir Dam and the take out point for a lot of guides and their clients who are floating from the weir dam. This makes a great all day trip if you’re stopping and fishing quite a bit. 

J. ForRest Thomas

Forrest Thomas is the last river access before the Soho runs into Boone Lake.