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Fly Fishing in Kentucky - Prime Fly Fishing spots in Kentucky

Prime Fly Fishing spots in Kentucky



Mixed into the hollers and hill country of the state is some great fly fishing. Kentucky offers solid trout fishing as well as bass fishing. The great Mississippi river even runs through the southwestern corner of the state. Maybe not ideal for fly fishing, but amply fishing opportunities.

It doesn’t matter what type of freshwater fly fishing your into, because Kentucky is probably going to have it. 

So, check out the list below to see which Kentucky waterway will make your next trip.


Cumberland River 

The state of Kentucky manages the Cumberland River tailwater as a trophy trout fishery. The tailwater begins at Wolf Creek Dam. The water that flows from this dam is so cold that the tailwater trout fishery extends for 75 miles into bordering Tennessee.

You’ll find that the river is full of both rainbow and brown trout. Most are in the 14” range. It’s also not uncommon to run into trout that are somewhere between 18”-26”. There are also striped bass that live in the river and can grow pretty large.

Gab your 5 weight rod and an assortment of flies to use for the Cumberland. It just depends on what is hatching or what insects are in the river. Often, you’ll be nymphing under an indicator or floating nymphs under a dry fly. Streamers can also be effective when the water is high and a little cloudy.

 Fly Selection 

  • Caddis
  • Midges
  • BWO’s
  • Clousers
  • Wooly Bugger
  • Sulphur


Green River 

The Green River is the ideal spot if you’re looking for great smallmouth fishing. It’s located in the hills of Central Kentucky and is a beautiful river to float. I say float because wading isn’t much of an option. 

You’ll want to use a canoe, kayak or drift boat when you fish this river. You’ll also find that the Green is more of a stop and go river. Stop and fish the spots that look like a smallmouth would hold. Eddies, structure, pools, etc. 

In slack water you’ll want to just paddle through and not waste any time. With the time you’re saving paddling through the slack water you’ll want to take some extra casts when you find an area that looks fishy. 

The best spot to float will start at Roachville Ford Rd. and the takeout will be at Russell. Pack a lunch because the float will take you past mealtime.

Claw dads will work best when the fishing is slow and fishing them deep with a sink tip line is a great way to land some of the larger fish in the river. The rest of the time you can use any sort of topwater flies or streamers to help entice a bite from a nice smallie. 

Fly Selection

  • Deer Hair Popper
  • Foam Popper
  • Clouser
  • Clawdad
  • Wooly Bugger


Elkhorn Creek 

This might be one of the best smallmouth rivers in the state. Providing over 17 miles of fishing opportunity, a great part about this river is that it is easily wadable. Floating can be a great way to really spend a day exploring a large part of the river, but casting is always easier with your feet planted on the ground; and to me wading a river is a great way to get to know it better. 

That being said, if you prefer to float it then you can absolutely do so. Feel free to use either a kayak, canoe, or a drift boat. Most of the shore is private so if you choose to wade then just know you’ll be spending the day in the water and that walking onto the shore would be trespassing.

Peaks Mill Rd is a great spot to get started on the river. You can hop in and wade and work your way either up or downstream. You could also launch from here too.

The majority of the smallmouth you’ll catch will be in the 8-10” range. However, there are plenty of 16” + fish that live in this river too. On top of smallmouth, you’ll also find channel catfish and rock bass being the other main gamefish in this river.

Fly Selection 

  • Deer Hair Popper
  • Foam Popper
  • Boogle Bug
  • Clouser
  • Wooly Bugger
  • Clawdad


Hatchery Creek

Hatchery Creek is located beneath Lake Cumberland and is directly behind the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery. You wouldn’t know by looking at it, but hatchery creek is a completely man-made stream that starts from the cold outflow of the hatchery and goes 6,000 feet before it merges with the Cumberland River.

The first 400 feet of the creek is located in a fishing area. Making it a great spot to start fishing. In this area you’re allowed to keep five trout without any size limits. The remaining river below the waterfall is catch and release only.

You also need a trout permit if you plan to fish the lower section of the river.

The state has provided the trout with plenty of gravel bars, sunken logs, boulders, eddies and other structure that help provide cover from predator and ambush points for chasing prey. They also created “lunker bunkers”. These cut outs underneath the bank where fish can hang out to get out of the current and wait for food to float past. If you can locate these then there’s a good chance, you’ll be able to catch some big fish.

The river is best fished while wading. There are some deeper pools that will cover chest waders. However, most of the river is waist deep or lower. Making it ideal for angler who likes to get in the river and fish.

Euro nymphing and tight line nymphing seem to work best on this river.

Fly Selection



Kentucky has some truly great fishing. It doesn’t matter if you prefer to pursue warmwater or cold-water species because Kentucky has you covered. Check out any of the rivers mentioned above and see which one you prefer!


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