Trout Zone Anglers, LLC

Obey River

An often overlooked tailwater in northern middle Tennessee is the Obey River. Flowing from the base of Dale Hollow dam to the nearby Cumberland River, the Obey is one of the shorter tailwaters in the state. An Obey River fly fishing guide will cut the learning curve on this river. More importantly, our drift boats or rafts will help you access the river. With limited wade access, we vastly prefer drift boats on this river to wading.

As a short tailwater with varying flows, the window to successfully fish this river is rather narrow. Still, this river will allow you to catch a lot of trout when it is fishing well with some nice ones mixed in. When rivers like the Caney Fork are running high, the Obey is sometimes still fishable. When booking tailwater float trips for middle Tennessee, we highly recommend staying flexible. This allows us to make last minute adjustments in location based on where the fishing has been best.

Floating with an Obey River fly fishing guide in a ClackaCraft drift boat.

Drift Boat Fishing with your Obey River Fly Fishing Guide

While there is a very small amount of wadeable water on the Obey River, we prefer fishing out of drift boats. These boats are fishing machines with the angler’s safety and comfort first and foremost in the design process. Most importantly, they allow us to access all of the water that is otherwise inaccessible to wading anglers. The deeper holes where the big fish live are only accessible to boating anglers anyway.

Your day will usually start by meeting at the ramp just below the dam. There, we rig up rods and get your ready to fish the Obey River. After launching, we drift down to the boat ramp in Celina, stopping along the way to fish the prime spots. We’ll mostly be catching rainbow trout but the occasional brown trout keeps things interesting. Brook trout are stocked from time to time as well.

Hatches and Fly Selection On the Obey River

As Obey River fly fishing guides, we know where trout like to hold at all times of the year and what they are feeding on. While most fishing is done with nymphs and occasionally streamers, we also sometimes target fish with dry flies. One neat thing about the Obey River is the variety of bugs. While there will rarely be a big hatch, we see enough caddis and mayflies along with the odd stonefly to keep the fish looking up at least a little. Fish rise almost every day of the year to emerging midges.

As with most of our tailwaters, Obey River trout feed on midges and black fly larva more than anything else. The varied bottom in this tailwater means that you really have to pay attention to depth as much as anything. If the fly looks like food and the depth is right, you’ll probably catch fish. That said, you’ll probably find us tying some type of midge on more often than not. We sometimes fish these in tandem with a larger midge or nymph. Other times, we prefer a dry/dropper rig that allows us fish some of the shallower water.

Rigging to Catch Obey River Trout

We often rig up with nymphs and a strike indicator. The ability hang the fly right in the strike zone is what makes us so effective on this river. Knowing the river inside and out helps us know how deep to fish in each section. If you have fished the Obey River with us before, then you know that we will probably be sliding your strike indicators up and down all day long. We do that on all of our tailwaters, but this one in particular seems like it keeps us adjusting all day.

An Obey River rainbow trout

For anglers who want to hunt for “the one,” we are always happy to throw streamers. While the Obey is much more about numbers than big fish, there are still some quality fish around. We have seen brown trout in excess of 24″ on this tailwater and rainbows over 20″ are caught from time to time. That said, we usually send people to the Caney Fork or Clinch River if they are looking for big fish. Overall, this river is more about catching big numbers than anything else.

Why Fish the Obey River With Us

We hope you’ll choose us as your Obey River fly fishing guide. With many years of experience on all of our area tailwaters, we can help you find the fish you are looking for. If you aren’t sure which river to choose, give us a call, text, or email to discuss which one is right for you. If you are flexible, we’ll get your day scheduled and make a last minute decision based on what is fishing well. Don’t be surprised if we end up on the Obey.

As anglers and guides who spend all of our time on the water, we can help you find fish and have the great experience you are looking for. If you want something a little different, try the Obey River.

A big rainbow trout with Obey River fly fishing guide David Knapp for a happy client.