Can you fish rivers all year round?
You are not able to fish rivers in the UK all year round, they have a close season in place between the 15th march to the 15th of June. If you do fish in the close season and get caught, you can expect prosecution and a fine.
Can you fly fish rivers in close season?
No, if you are caught doing any type of fishing, not just fly fishing in the close season, you will face the same prosecution and fine.
Top fly fishing rivers
In the UK there are some amazing opportunities for fly fishing, we have produced a list below of some the top fly fishing rivers in the UK. Some clubs will also have different close seasons, in fishing salmon for instance, you need to enquire what the club rules are on the stretch of river you would like to fish, as well as adhering to the environment agency rules.
1.River Test, Romsey
One particular section of the river Test which boasts some amazing chalk stream fishing is the Broadlands Estate fishery on the lower Test, this is very different to the higher reaches of Test. The Broadlands section is wide, fast, varied, and open in parts, the species to fish for on the fly are varied from large brown trout, grayling, sea trout and some anglers have even caught Salmon. The section of river has some incredible scenic views, where anglers can wade out and really get into the spirit of river fly fishing!
2.River Itchen, Hampshire
Another incredible British chalk stream in the heart of the Hampshire countryside, it is also home to brown trout, sea trout, grayling, and salmon. This can be a great venue for upstream dry fly fishing and some lucrative nymph fishing. The mayfly hatch in May and June can provide some amazing dry fly fishing when matching to the hatch!
3.River Coln, Fairford
Areas such as the Bull Hotel stretch and the Fariford park are great for anglers who are after species such as brown trout, Grayling, rainbow trout etc. This amazing river in the Cotswold’s offers the fly fishing angler some amazing scenery to fly fish and enjoy the true spirit of the Cotswold countryside.
4.River Frome, Dorset
Unlike the Test, the Frome is located further away from London. It is still classed as one of the biggest chalk streams in the Southwest, it used to be famous for its stock of Salmon which has gradually declined. The brown trout still thrive in numbers, the wild trout in the Frome are very sort after.
5.River Wye, Derbyshire
This river contains Salmon, brown trout, rainbow trout, grayling and the occasional sea trout has been known to be landed. The river runs from the Welsh mountains, through Wales and crosses into England near Hay-on-Wye, this is the middle reach of the river where it eventually goes through Ross-on-Wye which is the lower reach of the river. The Wye is well regarded for its Salmon fishing and should be well worth a visit!
6.River Tay, Perthshire Scotland
The river Tay is best known for its Salmon fishing, avid fly anglers travel from all over to fish for the Atlantic salmon which inhabit the Tay. The river Tay fishing season opens from the 15th of January, different areas of the Tay can be more prolific than others at different times of the year, so it is worth doing your research before taking a trip in pursuit of some of the amazing salmon which it holds! You may need to beef up your fly fishing tackle for some of these large salmon, the fishing is very different to the wild trout fishing in the south of England!
7.River Piddle, Dorset
A small chalk steam, containing plenty of trout, sea trout and salmon! The river is clear in nature due to it being a chalk stream and it is quite a small narrow intimate river. This would not be the best of places to start as a beginner, it does require a lot of close quarter sight fishing with accurate dry fly and nymph presentation being essential.
Please note, the close season rules will apply to all of the above rivers, certain club memberships may be required to fish these stretches which are managed, stocked and maintained by clubs. The open seasons for each individual specie can also vary, so make sure you know what specie you are after and you check you can fish for them at your desired time of year. Check if the section you want to fish is managed by a club, if it is you will need to enquire about a day ticket or a membership to fish. The clubs usually enforce rules as to when upstream dry fly fishing and nymph fishing can take place, catch and release might also be in place.
How do you fish wet flies on a river?
The fly rod set up itself doesn’t need to be anything too substantial, a 7ft 3 wt fly rod should suffice on most fast running chalk streams in the UK. A 9ft leader with a dropper halfway along and a point fly of your choice tied to the end. You want to be fishing downstream and letting the flow and the action of the water work the fly’s. If you have waded out into the river, you can work each side of the river and the centre of the river as you move along, to cover as much water as possible where the trout could be sitting. The trick, is to try and guide the wet fly into the trout’s feeding stream, upstream to downstream to make the fly appear as natural as possible, you don’t want to be retrieving the fly against the flow.
As the fly is drifting downstream, you need to mend the fly line, you need to keep tension on the line so that there is no slack in the fly line as it drifts. If you do this at the bottom of the swing and a trout takes the fly it will hook itself as it takes the fly and turns. You will often get the take on the drift, which is exactly what you want, you want to repeat this process on different stretches of the river. The wet fly’s which you use, want to imitate the hatch which is present in the river you are fishing, fishing the swing technique on the river, with a floating line, 9ft leader and an assortment of wet fly’s is a great way to get started.
How do you fish dry flies on a river?
Dry fly fishing downstream requires a dry fly line and a strong leader. You want to completely avoid drag, fishing a tight line will create this. To get a dry fly to naturally drift downstream you have to give the fly slack, it will naturally drift down with the flow of the current until it runs out of slack to do so, to give slack you can use a parachute cast or you can cast and wiggle the line (giving the fly slack as it lands). You need to make sure you cast within one to two feet of the fish you have sighted, so that there is no drag at the point in which the dry fly passes. First, fish a foot short, then try and get a bit closer on each cast to the fish to gauge the distance without spooking it, eventually getting the dry fly to drift over the path of the sighted fish.
Mayfly dry fly fishing can be great when the mayfly has hatched and are floating around on the British chalk streams! When using a mayfly pattern, the fly can be quite hard to cast due to the size and aerodynamics of the fly. The perfect time for catching the trout is when they are on the mayfly’s during the mayfly hatching period, you want to sight the fish when they are rising and see if you can tempt them to take your dry fly off the surface!
Top river fly fishing tips!
- Keep mobile.
- Have a range of dry fly’s and wet fly’s.
- Always take Polaroid sunglasses.
- Do your research on the river, what hatches at what time of year, and what fly would work best for that hatch?
- Have in mind the specie you want to fly fish for!
About The Author
CEO & Co-Founder
Being out on the bank and catching a fish is just a bonus for me, what I really love about angling is it provides us with the ability to be at one with nature and appreciate what most do not get to see. I discovered my passion for angling at the age of 9 and it has never left me, carp fishing has always been the core of my angling but I will never turn down the opportunity to target other species and enjoy what our waters have to offer.