From the White River to the many tributaries of Bull Shoals Lake, the Bear State offers plenty of opportunities to land your desired catch. Although Arkansas is well-known for its bass fishing, many anglers don’t realize the abundance of trout and other species that can be found here.
Arkansas is a haven for fly fishing enthusiasts, offering diverse scenic locations and abundant fish populations. The state provides ample opportunities to reel in various fish species from tailwaters to lakes and rivers. This article will explore Arkansas's top 17 places to fly fish, highlighting each location's unique features, fly fishing spots, and the types of fish you can expect to catch.
Best Places to Fly Fish in Arkansas
Arkansas stands out as a premier fly fishing destination due to its diverse waterways, abundant fish species, and picturesque landscapes. The state offers numerous rivers, streams, and lakes with excellent fly fishing opportunities. Anglers can explore the famous White River, Little Red River, and Spring River, known for their thriving trout populations.
Arkansas' mild climate allows for year-round fly fishing, attracting enthusiasts from near and far. The natural beauty of the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains adds to the appeal, providing a scenic backdrop for anglers. Additionally, the state's commitment to conservation and sustainable fishing practices ensures the preservation of its fisheries for future generations.
1. Beaver Lake Tailwaters
The tailwaters below Beaver Lake Dam near Rogers are a fly fishing hotspot. Known for its trophy trout population, this section of the White River is a must-visit for anglers. Brown and rainbow trout thrive in these cold, clear waters.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Beaver Lake Tailwaters, Arkansas:
2. Bull Shoals Lake Tailwaters
The Bull Shoals Lake Tailwaters, below Bull Shoals Dam, offer exceptional fly fishing opportunities. The cold, oxygen-rich water supports a robust rainbow and brown trout population. Anglers can target these prized gamefish using nymphs, streamers, and dry flies.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Bull Shoals Lake Tailwaters, Arkansas:
3. Caddo River
Fly fishing in the Caddo River in Arkansas is popular among anglers seeking a diverse fishing experience. The Caddo River in southwestern Arkansas flows through the Ouachita Mountains, offering stunning scenery and abundant fishing opportunities.
This scenic river is home to a variety of fish species, including smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and various panfish. Fly anglers can explore the river's stretches, targeting the deeper pools, eddies, and rocky structures where fish often congregate. Using streamers, nymphs, and topwater flies, fly fishermen can entice strikes from the river's feisty bass and panfish.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Caddo River, Arkansas:
4. Crooked Creek
Crooked Creek, located in north-central Arkansas, is a fantastic destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. This scenic river winds its way through the Ozark Mountains, offering a picturesque setting and excellent fishing opportunities. Renowned for its smallmouth bass fishing, Crooked Creek attracts fly anglers from near and far. The river's clear and cool waters provide ideal conditions for targeting smallmouth bass with flies.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Crooked Creek Fly Fishing, Arkansas:
- Poppers - Size 6
- Double Bunny Black and Olive - Size 6
- Clouser Crawdad - Size 6
5. Dry Run Creek
Dry Run Creek, located in the Ouachita National Forest, is a picturesque stream that offers excellent fly fishing opportunities. This small stream is home to native brook trout, making it a haven for fly anglers seeking a unique experience. Stealth and delicate presentations are crucial in this clean, intimate environment. Dry flies and nymphs imitating aquatic insects are effective choices for enticing brook trout.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Dry Run Creek, Arkansas:
- Jig Caddis Pupa Nymph - UV Tan - Size 10
- Zebra Midge Red - Size 20
- Glo Bug Red Dot - Size 10
6. Greers Ferry Lake Tailwaters
The Greers Ferry Lake Tailwaters, formed by the Greers Ferry Dam, create an exceptional habitat for trout, making it a dream destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. The clear and steady water flow sets the stage for productive fishing outings.
The tailwaters witness diverse insect hatches throughout the year, ensuring consistent action and excitement for anglers. Rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout are among the prized catches commonly found in this area. The beauty of Greers Ferry Lake Tailwaters is further accentuated by the surrounding Ozark Mountains, providing a breathtaking backdrop for fly fishing endeavors.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Greers Ferry Lake Tailwaters, Arkansas:
7. Lake Catherine Tailwaters
Situated below the Carpenter Dam on the Ouachita River, this stretch of water offers abundant fishing opportunities. Lake Catherine Tailwaters is renowned for its impressive trout population, making it a popular destination for fly fishermen. Rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout are commonly found in these waters, providing exciting challenges and satisfying catches.
The trout thrive in the cool, oxygen-rich tailwaters, ensuring a consistent and fruitful fishing experience. The area is well-maintained, with easy access points and ample shoreline fishing opportunities.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Lake Catherine Tailwaters, Arkansas:
8. Lake Greeson (Narrows) Tailwaters
Fly anglers looking for a diverse fishery should check out the tailwaters below Narrows Dam on Lake Greeson. This section of the Little Missouri River has various fish species, such as trout, walleye, and white bass. Trout are stocked in the tailwater area between Narrows Dam on the Little Missouri River and the low-water bridge at Muddy Fork Road, allowing anglers in southwest Arkansas to fish for them. You can wade or float along the river and use streamers, nymphs, and dry flies to target different fish species.
Recommended Fly Patterns forLake Greeson Tailwaters, Arkansas:
9. Lake Hamilton Tailwaters
Lake Hamilton Tailwaters is located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. They can be accessed by the River Trail Lane Boat Ramp off Highway 270. Anglers can fish by wading, floating along the Ouachita River, or casting from a boat to catch rainbow trout. Because of the ample cover and food sources for trout, the tailwaters below Lake Hamilton Dam are particularly good for fly fishing, especially for rainbow trout.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Lake Hamilton Tailwaters, Arkansas:
10. Lake Ouachita Tailwaters
The tailwaters below Lake Ouachita Dam provide a unique fly fishing experience in Arkansas. This section of the Ouachita River is known for its striper fishery, allowing anglers to hook into these powerful gamefish. Rainbow trout are stocked seasonally in the tailwaters below Blakely, Carpenter, and Remmel dams on the Ouachita River from November to April. This allows anglers in the southern part of the state to fish for trout when the water is cooler.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Lake Ouachita Tailwaters, Arkansas:
11. MacArthur Park Pond
MacArthur Park Pond in Little Rock is a convenient fly fishing destination for anglers seeking urban fishing opportunities. This small pond is stocked with trout during winter, providing an accessible and family-friendly fishing experience.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Macarthur Park Pond, Arkansas:
12. Norfork River Tailwater Below Norfork Lake
The Norfork Tailwater refers to the section of the North Fork River in north central Arkansas that runs for approximately 4.8 miles (7.7 km) from below Norfork Dam to the White River at Norfork. This area is known for its great fly fishing opportunities, especially for rainbow trout.
You can enjoy fishing in the Norfolk River all year round, particularly in the area 100 yards below Norfork Dam, down to its convergence with the White River. However, fishing within 100 yards of Norfork Dam is prohibited, and you need a trout permit for fishing in this tailwater region. It's essential to note that the stretch of the river from the downstream end of Long Hole to Bill Ackerman/River Ridge Walk-in Access is designated as a catch-and-release area only.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Norfork River Tailwater, Arkansas:
13. Ouachita River Tailwater
The Ouachita River Tailwater, located below the Blakely Mountain Dam, is an ideal spot for fishing. It is easily reachable to anglers as it is close to Hot Springs, Arkansas. The location's diverse fish population includes rainbow trout, brown trout, and striped bass. The cold and oxygen-rich waters of the tailwater make it a perfect spot for fishing enthusiasts to enjoy and look forward to their catch.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Ouachita River Tailwater, Arkansas:
14. Spring River
The Ozark Mountains' Spring River is a great spot for fly fishing. It has clear, cold water and abundant rainbow trout. Smallmouth bass also call it home. There are many river fishing options, including wading or floating. The river's diverse features include pools, riffles, and undercut banks, making for various fishing styles using nymphs, streamers, and dry flies.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Spring River, Arkansas:
15. Arkansas River
The Arkansas River in Arkansas is a prominent waterway that stretches approximately 1,460 miles, originating in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and flowing through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas before joining the Mississippi River. For anglers, the Arkansas River in Arkansas offers a diverse and rewarding fishing experience. Its location provides convenient access for fishing enthusiasts across the state.
The river is renowned for its abundant fish species, making it a popular destination for anglers. Some of the commonly found fish in the Arkansas River include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish (such as channel catfish and blue catfish), crappie, white bass, and various species of sunfish. These thriving populations attract anglers of all skill levels, offering opportunities for recreational fishing and competitive tournaments.
The Arkansas River's scenic beauty and diverse fish population create an ideal environment for anglers seeking an exciting and fulfilling fishing experience.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Arkansas River, Arkansas:
- Poppers - Size 6
- Clouser Minnows - Size 0/1
- Muddy Buddy in Black - Size 6
16. The Little Red River Below Greers Ferry Dam
The Little Red River, located below Greers Ferry Dam in Arkansas, is a prime destination for anglers seeking exceptional fishing opportunities. This scenic river offers a serene and picturesque setting for fishing enthusiasts in the Ozark Mountains.
Anglers are drawn to the Little Red River for its thriving trout population, and Brown trout and rainbow trout are the most common species found in the river. The cold, clear water released from the Greers Ferry Dam creates a favorable habitat for trout, making the Little Red River a renowned trout fishery in the region.
Located approximately 60 miles north of Little Rock, the accessibility of the Little Red River makes it a popular spot for both local and visiting anglers. Whether fishing from the riverbanks or wading into the water, anglers can enjoy a rewarding fishing experience amidst the stunning natural beauty of the Ozarks.
Recommended Fly Patterns for The Little Red River Below Greers Ferry Dam, Arkansas:
17. White River Tailwaters Below Bull Shoals Dam
The tailwaters below Bull Shoals Dam on the White River are legendary for their fly fishing opportunities. This section of the river is home to trophy brown and rainbow trout, attracting anglers from far and wide. Nymphs, streamers, and dry flies can all produce results in these waters. Focus on the deep pools, riffles, and seams for the best chances of landing a trophy trout.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the White River Tailwaters Below Bull Shoals Dam, Arkansas:
- Fat Albert Purple - Size 6
- Zebra Midge Curved Red - Tungsten - Barbless - Size 20
- Trophy Dungeon - Black - Size 8
What Gear Do I Need to Fly Fish in Arkansas?
When fly fishing in Arkansas, you'll need a 4 to 6-weight fly rod for targeting trout and smallmouth bass, while a heavier 7 to a 9-weight rod is suitable for larger species such as stripers and carp. A quality fly reel with a smooth drag system is essential to handle powerful fish.
Choose fly lines appropriate for the targeted species and fishing conditions, including floating lines for trout and sink-tip lines for bass. Leaders and tippets with various strengths are necessary for presenting your flies effectively. Flies should include a variety of patterns, such as nymphs, streamers, dry flies, and poppers, depending on the target species.
Additional Facts about Fly Fishing in Arkansas:
Arkansas is known as the Natural State due to its abundant natural beauty and diverse fishing opportunities. The state is home to several professional fly fishing guides and outfitters who can provide expert guidance and enhance your fishing experience.
Conservation efforts play a vital role in preserving the fisheries of Arkansas, and anglers are encouraged to practice catch-and-release to maintain healthy fish populations. Arkansas hosts various fly fishing events and tournaments annually, providing anglers with opportunities to showcase their skills and compete with fellow fly fishers.
Where is the best place to fly fish in Arkansas?
Determining the best place to fly fish in Arkansas is subjective and depends on your preferences and target species. However, some popular and productive locations include the White River Tailwaters below Bull Shoals Dam, the Little Red River below Greers Ferry Dam, and the tailwaters of Beaver Lake and Bull Shoals Lake. These locations consistently offer outstanding fishing opportunities and beautiful scenery.
Where is the best trout fishing in Arkansas?
The best trout fishing in Arkansas can be found in the tailwaters of the White River, the Little Red River, and the North Fork River. These sections below dams provide cold, oxygen-rich water and support healthy rainbow and brown trout populations. Fly anglers can enjoy year-round trout fishing in these rivers, with the opportunity to catch trophy-sized fish.
Where are the biggest trout in Arkansas?
The tailwaters of the White River and the Little Red River are known for producing some of the largest trout in Arkansas. These sections below the Bull Shoals and Greers Ferry Dams offer the opportunity to hook into a trophy-sized rainbow and brown trout. These large fish are renowned for their strength and acrobatic fights, providing anglers with thrilling experiences on the water.