Best Fly Fishing in Arkansas

An angler fly fishing in Arkansas, casting his line into a river with lush greenery, aiming to catch trout in the pristine waters.
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Arkansas is celebrated for its diverse and abundant fly fishing opportunities, attracting anglers from all corners in search of the perfect catch. The state’s clear, cold waters are home to a variety of fish, including the prized trout, making it an ideal destination for your fly fishing adventures. Before you set out, remember to obtain your fishing license and familiarize yourself with the local fishing regulations to ensure a responsible and enjoyable experience.

White River

The White River is a celebrated destination for fly fishing, offering an outstanding environment for catching brown trout and rainbow trout. Originating from the Bull Shoals Dam, the river’s tailwaters provide a consistent flow and temperature, setting the perfect stage for trout habitats.

Fishing spots along this river are diverse. You have the choice to wade or use a drift boat to access prime locations. The White River tailwaters, in particular, are a haven for fly fishers. Here’s a brief guide to maximize your experience:

  • Wade Fishing: Look for shallower areas downstream from the Bull Shoals Dam. These clear and cool waters are perfect for spotting and strategically catching trout.
  • Drift Boat Fishing: Join a guided tour or navigate yourself. The tailwaters can be drifted year-round, and a boat allows you to cover more water.

When selecting your flies, consider the current hatch and predominant prey in the region. Local fly shops and experienced guides can provide valuable insights into the best flies to use for the conditions.

The scenery along the White River is as remarkable as the fishing. The rolling hills, rocky bluffs, and verdant vegetation offer a tranquil backdrop. It’s important to respect this natural beauty and preserve it for future generations to enjoy.

For up-to-date information on conditions, consider looking at a recent fly fishing report or connecting with a local guide service that has depth knowledge of the river.

Little Red River

The sun sets over the tranquil Little Red River, surrounded by lush greenery and rolling hills, as the crystal-clear water flows gently over the rocky riverbed

When you venture to the Little Red River in Arkansas, you step into a world renowned for premier fly fishing. This river exudes an unwavering charm that captivates anglers of all skill levels, particularly those in pursuit of trout. The river’s claim to fame is being the home of the former world record brown trout, offering you a taste of its storied past.

Below Greers Ferry Dam, in Heber Springs, lies a fertile tailwater habitat that is a sanctuary for thriving brown trout populations. The Little Red River, with its crisp, oxygen-rich waters, provides ideal conditions for trout to flourish, making it a bucket-list destination for serious anglers.

Here’s what you need to know for a successful fly fishing trip on the Little Red River:

  • Seasons: Your best chance to catch brown trout starts in mid-October, when the spawning season begins.
  • Accessible Areas: For a serene and scenic fly fishing experience, visit the waters below Bull Shoals Dam.
  • Flies to Use: Match the hatch by using patterns mimicking local insects, like midges and scuds.
Key LocationHighlight
Greers Ferry DamTailwater habitat providing year-round fishing opportunities
Bull Shoals DamAccess point for large stretches of fishable water

Prepare for variable stream flows, and always check local conditions. With the right approach and a bit of patience, you might find yourself reeling in the catch of a lifetime on the Little Red River.

Norfork River

When you’re seeking a premier fly-fishing experience in Arkansas, the Norfork River is a destination you must consider. Also known as the North Fork of the White River, this tailwater flows from Norfork Dam and offers a compact, yet bountiful fly-fishing environment. Spanning just four and one-half miles, its limited length brims with trout and presents as a satisfying challenge for anglers of all levels.

What to Expect:

  • Fish Species: Primarily known for trout, including brown, rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout.
  • River Character: The river is consistently cool and oxygenated, providing ideal conditions for trout to thrive year-round.

Fishing Techniques:

  • Wading: You can wade in many areas due to the river’s generally shallow waters.
  • Boating: Drift boats are a popular option for covering more ground and different fishing spots on the river.

Best Times to Fish:

  • Seasons: Year-round fishing is possible; however, certain times may yield better results.
  • Hatch Times: Inquire about local hatches to determine optimal fly selection.

For a guided fishing adventure, consider hiring a local expert. Not only do White River Fly Anglers provide knowledgeable guides, but a day out with them includes tackle, flies, and a lunch cooked on the shore—a complete package for the best experience on the Norfork.

Pro Tips:

  • Gear Up: Use appropriate flies and gear for the current hatch and river conditions.
  • Respect the Environment: Practice catch-and-release as recommended and always respect local fishing regulations.

With its bounty of trout and serene Ozark surroundings, the Norfork River is a gem of Arkansas fly fishing, offering you both tranquility and the thrill of the catch.

Spring River

When you’re angling for a memorable fly fishing experience in Arkansas, the Spring River is a prime destination for trout enthusiasts. Originating from Mammoth Spring, the river boasts a generous supply of rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout.

Key Areas for Fishing:

  • Mammoth Spring to Dam No. 3: Ideal for wading, especially the first couple of miles.
  • Below Dam No. 3: A three-mile stretch known for its heart of productive waters.

Your experience on the Spring River is enhanced by the plentiful fishing opportunities in the shoals and pools, particularly down to Many Islands. This three-mile stretch below the dam is where you’ll find what many consider the river’s best fishing.

What You’ll Catch:

  • Rainbow Trout: Abundant throughout the river.
  • Brown Trout: A favored catch for many anglers.
  • Cutthroat Trout: Less common but a thrilling find.

For optimal fishing, stay aware of the water levels and flow, as this can greatly affect your success. Be prepared with a variety of flies, but based on local knowledge, consider these patterns for a fruitful outing:

Fly PatternSize
Fat Albert Purple6
Comparadun PMD16

The river offers a blend of easy access points and more secluded, challenging spots, catering to every skill level. Whether you’re an experienced fly fisher or new to the sport, the Spring River in Arkansas will not disappoint. Remember to respect the natural beauty and preserve it for future anglers.

North Fork River

If you’re seeking a premier fly-fishing experience in Arkansas, the North Fork River is an exceptional choice. Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, it is a prized tailwater fishery, originating below the Norfork Dam. Despite its relatively short length, the North Fork River offers exceptional trout fishing opportunities across its four and a half miles.

Here, you can take full advantage of the river’s cold, clear waters that create ideal conditions for a healthy trout population. The river’s diverse sections allow for various fishing styles, whether you prefer wading or floating:

  • Upper Section: Often wadeable, offering intimate fly fishing scenarios.
  • Lower Section: Better suited for boat fishing, given the stronger currents and depth.

Your fly selection should include:

  • Dry Flies: Use during hatch seasons for surface-feeding trout.
  • Nymphs: Effective year-round, particularly in deeper runs and pools.
  • Streamers: Ideal for targeting larger trout, especially during overcast days.

Check out the Fly Fishing Report On The Norfork River In Arkansas for current conditions and hatches. Remember to familiarize yourself with local regulations as parts of North Fork have catch and release areas to ensure sustainability of the fishery.

Your chance at hooking into rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and brook trout in the North Fork River is excellent, with the potential for trophy-sized catches. So, gather your gear, match your flies to the season, and enjoy the serene beauty and thrilling action that fly fishing on the North Fork River in Arkansas offers.

Buffalo National River

When you’re eager to immerse yourself in some of Arkansas’s best fly fishing, the Buffalo National River awaits. This river, undammed and free-flowing for 135 miles, offers you clear waters teeming with smallmouth bass and other native fish. It’s a revered spot for fly anglers seeking both tranquility and adventure.

What to Expect

  • Scenic Beauty: The Buffalo River flows through majestic bluffs and forested hillsides.
  • Diverse Aquatic Life: You’ll find a variety of species, including smallmouth bass, sunfish, and the occasional trout.
  • Changing Environments: Water levels can fluctuate, so be prepared for varying fishing conditions.

Fishing Techniques

  • Topwater Fly Fishing: Effective during dawn and dusk for catching smallmouth bass.
  • Streamers: Mimicking local baitfish can yield rewarding catches, specifically in deeper pools.

Access Points

  • Ponca: A popular starting point for fishing and scenic floats.
  • Tyler Bend: Offers an accessible fishing trail — the Tyler Bend Riverview Trail, which is well-regarded by anglers.


Remember, the Buffalo River is within a protected national park area. It’s crucial to respect the environment by practicing catch and release and avoiding any disruption to the ecosystem.

Getting Here

You’ll find the river accessible via various points along the Highway 14. Outfitters are available to assist with canoe rentals and shuttles, ensuring you have everything you need for your fly fishing adventure.

Before you set out, check local fly shops for updates on river conditions and hatches to ensure you have the right gear and flies for the season. Your experience on the Buffalo National River is bound to be memorable as you cast your line amidst the natural wonders of Arkansas.

Ouachita River

When you’re considering fly fishing spots in Arkansas, the Ouachita River should be high on your list. The river offers a prime location with ample opportunities for catching a variety of fish, including smallmouth bass and stocked trout in select areas.

Notable Flies:

  • Fat Albert Purple – Size 6
  • Comparadun PMD – Size 16

Fishing Spots:

  • Wade fishing spots excel during periods of low water flow
  • Tailwater areas below dams are promising, especially Blakely Dam

The river is a free-flowing body, so water levels can fluctuate significantly. It’s important for you to monitor local water levels to optimize your fishing strategy. The best season to target trout is from November through April, but you’ll find that there’s good fishing year-round for other species.

Local Conditions to Check:

  • Water levels
  • Weather reports
  • Hatch occurrences

Remember, the Ouachita River flows through the Ouachita Mountains, which not only provides a stunning backdrop for your fishing adventure but also offers a diverse ecosystem where fish thrive. If you’re planning for a multi-day trip, consider the area around the Ouachita River Tailwater for its accessibility and fish availability.

For up-to-date information on fishing conditions and what to expect when you arrive, you can refer to the latest fly fishing reports to ensure a successful outing. Always practice catch and release when appropriate and be mindful of local fishing regulations to help preserve the beauty and vitality of the Ouachita River for future generations of anglers.

Caddo River

The Caddo River is a gem in Arkansas, known for its clear waters and diverse fly fishing opportunities. Flowing through the Ouachita Mountains in southwestern Arkansas, it offers both scenic beauty and the chance for a great catch.

When you set out for fly fishing on the Caddo River, consider using the following flies to increase your chances of success:

  • Fat Albert Purple – Size 6
  • Comparadun PMD – Size 16

Here’s what you need to remember about fly fishing in these waters:

Fly Fishing EssentialsDescription
Best TimesSpring and Fall for optimal trout activity.
Target SpeciesRainbow and brown trout, smallmouth bass.
AccessibilityGood access through public points along the river.
Fishing TechniqueDead drifting with nymphs and streamers is effective.
RegulationsEnsure to check the latest catch and release guidelines.

Keep your technique refined and adapt to the river’s conditions. Drift your flies deep in the runs to mimic local forage and attract fish. For up-to-date information on river conditions, visit Whacking Fatties.

Your fly fishing experience on the Caddo River will be more enjoyable with local knowledge, so don’t hesitate to ask nearby anglers or guides for advice. Remember that patience is key — not every day brings easy catches, but your efforts in these waters can be very rewarding.

Fourche La Fave River

The Fourche La Fave River offers you a tranquil and bountiful fly fishing experience in Arkansas. Known for its scenic beauty and diverse fish population, this river is an ideal destination if you’re seeking a serene fishing getaway.

Here’s what you can expect during your visit:

  • Fish Species: You’ll find a variety of fish, including black crappie, blue catfish, and the excitement of catching kelp bass. The river is also a habitat for various other species, allowing for a rich fishing experience. Check out the latest fishing reports for up-to-date information.
  • Fishing Conditions: The conditions are usually favorable, making it a great spot for both novice and expert anglers. For current conditions, see detailed forecasts at Whacking Fatties.
  • Bait & Techniques: Live bait can enhance your chances of a successful catch. Explore fishing near deep holes and structures where fish tend to congregate.

Nearby Activities: Beyond fishing, you can enjoy hiking, camping, and canoeing, making it a comprehensive outdoor adventure spot. More information on what to expect in the Fourche Lafave River area is available for further planning.

Essential Tips:

  • Respect local regulations and catch limits to maintain the river’s ecosystem.
  • Stay prepared with appropriate gear as weather conditions can vary.

Greers Ferry Tailwater

Man standing in Greers Ferry Tailwater, Arkansas, casting his fly fishing line into the clear, flowing water surrounded by scenic nature.

When you’re looking to fly fish in Arkansas, the Greers Ferry Tailwater is a prime destination. Formed by the Greers Ferry Dam, this area is known for its bountiful trout populations and picturesque scenery. The clear and consistent water flow from the dam provides ideal conditions for trout, and as such, fly fishing here can be remarkably productive.

The Greers Ferry Tailwater flows for about 30 miles, and the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission provides details about the access points that you can use. Some key points about this tailwater include:

  • Temperature: Year-round water temperatures range between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, contributing to an environment that supports the trout population.
  • River Bottom Composition: Consists mostly of sand or gravel, with sections of heavy moss in the deeper areas.

This tailwater is not only home to rainbow trout, which are stocked by the Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery but also to naturally reproducing brown trout. Here, brown trout can get to impressive sizes, with specimens ranging from 5 to 30 pounds. You’ll find that the best time to target the larger brown trout is during their spawning season, which typically stretches from mid-October to November.

Flies to Use:

  • Midges
  • Winter Stoneflies
  • Articulated Streamers

Your fly fishing adventure is enhanced due to the diverse insect hatches and streamer opportunities, with reports suggesting good activity in the Little Red River. Always ensure to check the latest fishing reports before you plan your outing to have the most up-to-date information on conditions and hatches.

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