Fly fishing is an angling method in which an artificial “fly” is used to catch the fish; in fresh or salt water. From the Tweed in the Scottish borders to the Welsh Dee and the London-commutable test, the UK boasts some of the best rivers in the sport of Fly fishing. I’ve been lucky enough to try a few myself as well as sample the joys of free, club and day ticket waters. I’m hooked and so will you once you try it.
What’s the appeal?
The exhilaration that comes with hooking, playing and finally landing that beast would satisfy any adrenaline junkie. But the catch is only a small part of this game. Even when hours pass without a bite, nothing beats unwinding by the water while working patiently on that perfect cast. Immersing yourself in some of the most beautiful parts of the country far from the pressures of high-tech city life. That’s what this sport’s really about.
The joy of the sport is such that we often release the fish after catching (both sustainable and verifiably humane), though there’s nothing quite like enjoying the fruits of your labour with friends around the dinner table.
Is this really for anyone? Can a city person with no experience get involved?
Whether you’re entirely new to this sport or an experienced angler with weeks of fly fishing under your belt you’re in the right place.
For starters, don’t be put off by the extensive jargon and the expensive equipment that you hear about online.
This is not a sport exclusive to elderly men with a library’s worth of fishing tales and a cupboard full exotic paraphernalia.
What does the UK have to offer in Fly fishing?
UK boasts some of the best waters that this noble sport has to offer. Just a short train ride from London is the world-class Itchen, a chalk stream with a healthy run of wild brown trout. Hop over the border into Wales and the River Wye offers adrenaline-charged night-fishing for sea trout.
Further into the wilderness, the Grimersta estate in the Scottish Hebrides boasts a chain of sea lochs with wild salmon and awesome views. Whether you’re looking for a means to fish one of those infamously exclusive salmon rivers, a chance to break the long standing record for the biggest salmon caught in the UK, or for a chance to make your stag do a trout do.
How much will this cost me?
From £5 day permits for the upper reaches of the Teifi in Wales to £450 for a quick crack at the best beats of the Tweed… Costs vary wildly depending on the time of year and location you’re looking to fish.
Whether you want to start small and work your way up or shoot straight in with the big guns, you’ll soon be more than willing to pay the price of a ticket for Arsenal or the opera for a day’s bliss on the water. There are opportunities across the UK, from afternoons near London to weekend escapes to Scotland — see some examples below:
An Irish getaway to the banks of the Suir, Nire and Tar complete with lodging, pub lunch, fishing permit, transport, equipment and guide will cost you just €275 for two.
Do I need to learn the basics in advance?
Lessons are a must for the novice. It’s too easy to slip into bad habits if you’re not taught correctly from the outset.
There are plenty of guided and tutored fishing trips available online, best of which are provided at Wilderness Now.
Simply turn up and be guided through the basics.
Try ORVIS or GREYS — both fine purveyors of fishing equipment offer free online video tutorials. When it comes to angling, fly fishing for game is the crème de la crème. There are books, paintings, films and songs dedicated to the art.
Do I need to bring specialised equipment with me?
Many of the guides and packages available online offer the chance to loan the kit (Rods, reels, flies, lines, nets, waders etc..). If you are looking to buy then be specific. There’s no such thing as “general purpose” fishing gear. You need to know what and where you’re fishing.
How many days will I need to really get the most out of this experience?
This all depends on whether you are looking to spend an afternoon out of London or a long weekend in the Scottish mountains? The longer the better if you’re keen on immersing yourself in the sport.
It always helps to interact with others who have done this activity or are thinking of it, just like me. Any suggestions?
Whether it’s a general Fly Fishing Forum, a local angling club or the guys who tie the flies; there are plenty of fellow fishermen with whom to discuss your plans and ambitions. Expert we have, who lead guided fishing trips will be happy to answer any questions you have, if you plan on booking with us.
Since this is a getaway from the city experience, accommodation is quite important. Where do people stay?
Many of the fishing opportunities available come with suggested accommodation. These’ll be hotels, B&Bs and cottages close to and often affiliated with good fly fishing waters.
Based on your experience, when is the best time (or season) to go for this activity.
The availability of excellent Grayling fishing and stocked Rainbow Trout lake fishing means that fly fishing is available all year round in most parts of the UK. Peak season (when the conditions are perfect for records to be broken) is of course the best time to fish (but watch out — peak season = peak price).
Generally speaking, fly fishing for game fish on a river takes place from early spring to late autumn. But be sure to check — there are local variations and definite best times for most waters.
When should I start preparing for this activity and can I make a weekend trip out of it to come back in time for work?
Whether you’re trekking to the northern reaches of Scotland (check out the Caledonian Sleeper) or down into the depths of Devon, you can be back at your desk by Monday morning dreaming of your Saturday spent salmon fishing.
With many of our prime fly fishing rivers running through major towns, some within hours of London, you can easily make this a weekend trip. Even if you’re planning to escape further afield, the UK has a brilliant network of airports, train stations and local busses that ensure no part of the country is off limits for a long-weekend.
Fly fishing takes brains, it’s a killer workout, offers fantastic views and brilliant fun. What’s not to love? Wilderness Now selects only the best guides and experiences on offer across the UK. Check out our Fly Fishing booking pages below.