The fly fishing action on the
Tennessee is twenty six miles of tailwater below Center Hill Dam with the immediate sixteen miles below the dam being the best of the stretch. (The first couple of miles is a noted dead zone, due to oxygenation issues.) The dam is operated for power generation and water levels can and do rise in a hurry and daily. The river can rise ten feet in a hour, so dawdling is not an option when you notice that nifty gravel bar you’ve been fishing on suddenly become deeper and water backfilling eddies. Information about the day’s generation schedule can be found online http://lakeinfo.tva.gov or calling 800-238-2264.
Because of the water flow variation and oxygen issues resulting in water being taken from deep in the lake behind the dam, classic hatches are rare. Concentrate on sow bugs, scuds and midges. There are also sporadic caddis hatches in the fall.
There are also strategies for high water periods. Streamers are effective at any level but are really the only option during the high water. Boats can be helpful when going fishing during power generation. Huge wary browns lurk here and there. But during the end of the winter threadfin shad get sluiced through the power generators. Fishing the swell from a boat during these times is the best chance to get a big brown.
River access is easy and parking abundant.