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Tennessee Fly Hatch Chart

Reliable fly hatch charts are an essential tool for anglers looking to maximize their chances of success on the water. Timing one’s fishing trip to coincide with hatch activity can greatly increase the likelihood of catching more fish.

quill gordon flies hatching

In Tennessee, a diverse range of aquatic insects provide the backbone for thriving trout populations, making a thorough understanding of the local hatch schedule vital for effective fly selection and presentation.

As one might expect, fly hatches in Tennessee can vary by season and geographic region. Knowing which insects are present, and when their hatches typically take place, enables anglers to tailor their approach on any given day.

Throughout the state, popular aquatic insects to consider include mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies. These insects all have unique life cycles and emergence patterns, contributing to a dynamic and complex ecosystem that both challenges and rewards attentive fly fishers.

an early dark stone fly hatchling

In addition to hatches of aquatic insects, anglers should also be aware of the terrestrial insects that can play a significant role in a trout’s diet.

These land-born insects, such as grasshoppers, ants, and beetles, often find themselves on the water’s surface and become an opportune meal for hungry fish.

By incorporating such terrestrials into one’s fly selection, anglers further increase their chances for a successful day of fishing in Tennessee’s diverse waterways.

Understanding Fly Hatch Charts

Fly hatch charts are essential tools for anglers, as they provide valuable information on the types of aquatic insects that will be hatching in a specific river or stream during various times of the year.

a sulphur fly hatch

By understanding these charts, anglers can make better decisions on which flies to use, ultimately increasing their chances of catching fish.

Fly hatch charts typically display information in a tabular format, with columns representing different months or seasons and rows detailing various species of insects. For example:


Each cell in the table indicates whether a particular insect species is expected to hatch during a specific month or season. Using the chart, anglers can develop a fly selection strategy for a given time and location.

It is important to note that hatch charts are based on historical data and may not always perfectly predict insect hatches due to various factors such as weather, water temperature, and climate change. Therefore, it is recommended that anglers use these charts as a starting point, but also stay observant and adaptive while on the water.

Tennessee Fly Hatch Overview

a trico fly hatch

Tennessee boasts numerous rivers and streams, providing abundant opportunities for fly fishing enthusiasts. To maximize success, being familiar with the various fly hatches within the region is essential. This section will provide a brief overview of the key fly hatches that occur during each season in Tennessee.

MonthInsect NameScientific NameSize
Jan – FebMidgesChironomidae family18-26
Little Winter StonefliesCapniidae family16-18
MarchBlue QuillsParaleptophlebia adoptiva16-18
Little Black CaddisChimarra aterrima18
Quill GordonsEpeorus pleuralis12-14
Early Brown StonefliesTaeniopteryx spp.14-16
AprilHendricksonsEphemerella subvaria12-14
Blue-winged OlivesBaetis spp.16-20
Grannom CaddisBrachycentrus spp.12-16
MaySulphursEphemerella dorothea16-18
March BrownsMaccaffertium vicarium12-14
Gray FoxesMaccaffertium spp.12-14
Green DrakesEphemera guttulata8-10
Light CahillsStenonema ithaca14-16
June – JulyYellow SalliesIsoperla spp.12-16
Brown DrakesEphemera simulans10-12
IsonychiaIsonychia spp.10-12
Little Yellow StonefliesPerlodidae family14-18
Aug – SepTerrestrial insects (e.g., grasshoppers, ants, beetles)
Oct – DecBlue-winged OlivesBaetis spp.16-20
Late Autumn CaddisPycnopsyche spp.12-14

Remember to check local hatch charts and fly shops for the most accurate information on fly hatches in your specific area in Tennessee.

Spring Hatches

Spring is a prime time for fly fishing in Tennessee, as the warming temperatures bring a surge in aquatic insect activity. Some of the notable spring hatches are:

  • Blue-Winged Olives (BWOs)
  • Hendricksons
  • March Browns
  • Caddisflies

Summer Hatches

As temperatures continue to rise into summer, the fly hatches shift towards species adapted to the warmer conditions. The most common summer hatches include:

  • Light Cahills
  • Sulphurs
  • Little Yellow Stoneflies
  • Green Drakes

Fall Hatches

Fall brings cooler temperatures, and with that, a change in the fly hatches. Anglers can expect to encounter the following species during the autumn months:

  • October Caddis
  • Blue-Winged Olives (BWOs)
  • Isonychia
  • Tricos

Winter Hatches

Winter can be a challenging season for fly fishing due to lower insect activity and colder water temperatures. However, some hatches persist, providing opportunities even during the coldest months. Key winter hatches are:

  • Midges
  • Blue-Winged Olives (BWOs)
  • Winter Stoneflies

A good understanding of these fly hatches will assist anglers in making informed decisions on fly selection and fishing strategies throughout the year in Tennessee.

Popular Fly Patterns

Fly fishing in Tennessee offers a diverse range of opportunities, making it essential for anglers to have a selection of effective fly patterns. This section will cover some popular patterns for dry flies, nymphs, and streamers.

black caddis hatch

Dry Flies

The following dry flies are proven to be effective on Tennessee waters:

  • Adams
  • Elk Hair Caddis
  • Blue-winged Olive
  • Royal Wulff
  • Yellow Sally

These patterns have time-tested effectiveness and are commonly used during hatch season to match the specific insects that are present.


Nymph patterns are particularly productive as they imitate the subsurface stage of aquatic insects, which make up an essential part of a trout’s diet. Here are some favored nymph patterns in the Tennessee region:

  • Pheasant Tail Nymph
  • Prince Nymph
  • Hare’s Ear Nymph
  • Copper John
  • Zebra Midge

Adjusting the size and color of these nymph patterns according to local conditions will increase the chances of success on the water.


Streamer patterns are useful for catching larger predatory trout in Tennessee’s rivers and streams. The following streamers have proven to be particularly effective:

  • Woolly Bugger
  • Clouser Minnow
  • Muddler Minnow
  • Zonker
  • Slumpbuster

These streamer patterns can be fished using various retrieval techniques, such as swinging, dead-drifting, or stripping to trigger an aggressive response from larger fish.

Matching the Hatch

Matching the hatch is a key strategy for fly fishing, allowing anglers to select the most effective fly patterns based on the insects emerging in the river. This section will cover three important aspects to consider when trying to match the hatch: size, color, and behavior.


The first step in matching the hatch is selecting the correct size of the fly. It is essential to choose a fly that closely imitates the natural insect in size, as trout can be particular about the insects they consume. To accurately determine the appropriate size, anglers can:

  • Observe the natural insects on the water surface
  • Use a streamside insect collection kit
  • Refer to a comprehensive fly hatch chart for guidance


Color is another important aspect when matching the hatch. While some variation in color is acceptable, it is essential to choose flies that closely resemble the natural insects in color. Anglers can achieve this by:

  • Comparing collected insects to fly patterns
  • Referring to detailed hatch charts that include color recommendations
  • Keeping a range of fly patterns in various colors to suit different hatches


The behavior of the natural insects should be observed and imitated by the angler to increase their chances of success. This can be achieved by:

  • Watching how the insects move on the water, such as skimming or drifting
  • Replicating the movement with the corresponding fly pattern and retrieval techniques
  • Utilizing appropriate casting techniques to imitate the insect’s movements while maintaining a natural presentation

Fishing Tips and Techniques

In this section, we will discuss some tips and techniques to elevate your Tennessee fly fishing experience, including fly casting and reading the water.

Fly Casting

For a successful fly fishing trip, mastering the art of fly casting is essential. The following tips can enhance your fly casting skills:

  • Always maintain a firm grip on the fly rod handle and use your wrist, forearm, and arm in a smooth motion to cast the fly line.
  • Keep the rod tip low and avoid excessive wrist movement to create a tight loop and achieve an accurate cast.
  • Practice varying the casting distance by adjusting the amount of line held outside the reel during the cast.
  • Utilize different casting techniques, such as roll casting or sidearm casting, depending on the fly hatch and fishing conditions.

Reading the Water

Understanding the water conditions is crucial for determining where fish are most likely to be holding or feeding. Here are some tips for reading the water effectively:

  • Identify areas in the river or stream where the current slows, such as behind rocks or logs, or along the edges of deeper pools. Fish often hold in these areas to conserve energy and wait for food to drift by.
  • Observe insects, both in the air and on the water surface, to determine which types of flies are hatching and active. Fish tend to feed selectively on the most abundant insect species.
  • Keep an eye on water temperature and clarity, as both factors can significantly influence fish behavior and feeding habits.
  • Experiment with different fly presentations and depths, as fish may be feeding on nymphs below the surface or coming up to take insects off the surface of the water.

Tennessee Fishing Regulations

Fishing in Tennessee offers anglers a diverse range of opportunities to catch various species of fish. To preserve their rich resources and protect the environment, Tennessee has implemented specific fishing regulations that must be followed by both residents and non-residents.

Before casting a line, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate fishing license. Licenses can be purchased online, in person, or via the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).

In addition to licensure, anglers must adhere to specific regulations based on the body of water they’re fishing in and the species they’re targeting. Some general rules include the following:

  • Catch limits and size limits vary depending on the species.
  • Seasonal restrictions may apply to certain species and locations.
  • Proper handling and release of fish is encouraged if not keeping for consumption.

Fisheries are continually monitored and managed by the TWRA to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Consequently, regulations may change; staying updated and informed ensures a safe and enjoyable fishing experience for all. For the latest regulations, anglers should consult the TWRA website or TWRA fishing guide.

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