Flyfishing on Rivers, Lakes and Reservoirs in England

Here is a small selection of England's many rivers, with our tips on techniques, tackle and tactics to help enjoy these flyfishing venues.

Hampshire Avon

This famous English river rises to the east of Devizes and flows through the Vale of Pewsey and then on through Upavon, Durrington, Amesbury, Salisbury and Fordingbridge before entering the sea at Christchurch. One of the renowned English chalkstreams, the Hampshire Avon generally runs clear and supports good ranunculus (water crowfoot) growth.

The Avon near Amesbury
The Avon near Amesbury

The main tributaries to the Avon are the Nadder, Bourne, Wylie and Dorset Stour - the latter, much more of a ran-fed river - joining the Avon in its tidal estuary. Once a famous salmon river, nowadays the Avon is mainly known for its trout and grayling fishing. Water abstraction has deprived many of these streams of their essential vigour during late summer but there is still some very good fishing to be had, especially in springtime and again in autumn. In the lower reaches carriers provide an increased opportunity for fishing.

Fishing a lower Avon carrier stream
Nymph fishing on a lower Avon carrier stream

Brown trout and grayling fishing

During the spring there is a good mayfly hatch and, unusually, mayflies continue to 'trickle-hatch' throughout the season. There are also good olive hatches and, during the summer evenings sedge hatches provide good sport.

Some beats are stocked with trout while elsewhere the fish are mainly wild, smaller generally, but usually a lot more wily. The grayling are mainly under a pound in weight, with the occasional small pod of significantly larger fish to try for.

Bernard Venables fishing on the upper Avon
The late Bernard Venables MBE, creator of Mr Crabtree, fishing on his beloved upper Avon

Sea trout fishing

At Christchurch there is good sea trout fishing in the evenings in the Claypool which is in the estuary.

Salmon fishing

The Hampshire Avon does hold some salmon (the Royalty Fishery on the lower Avon has long been a noted salmon fishery and is now subject to strict bylaws). Although the quality of the salmon fishing on the lower Avon has declined considerably in recent years, the river is now benefiting from a programme of restoration and stocks are showing some signs of recovering.

Tackle

For trout and grayling fishing a 9 ft or 9.5 ft #5 or #6 rod would be ideal for most situations on the Hampshire Avon. For salmon fishing a 13ft 6ins #8 or 9 rod would cope with most casts, and the same length rod could also be useful for the sea trout fishing on the Claypool, which can call for some fairly long casts, too.

Ribble and Hodder

The Ribble rises in the Pennines in North Yorkshire and flows via Settle, Clitheroe, Ribchester and Preston befiore entering the Irish Sea at Southport.

Tributaries

The main tributaries to this substantial English river are the Hodder, Calder, Darwen, and Douglas. There are trout on all of these rivers, but the Hodder, which joins the Ribble just south of Clitheroe, is a particularly good trout and sea trout fishery.

Trout fishing

The Ribble and Hodder have good hatches of March Browns on their faster stretches, and later in the season all the usual olives associated with healthy spate rivers appear. Sedge hatches on summer evenings are sometimes very prolific, and both trout and small sea trout rise to them. (Pat O'Reilly's bestselling illustrated book Matching the Hatch covers all of these aspects.)

If you need detailed advice on river trout flyfishing, our Beginners' Guide to Trout and Grayling Fishing, available online...

Ivan Duxbury stocking the River Hodder with brown trout

The late Ivan Duxbury stocking the River Hodder with brown trout

Sea trout fishing

The Ribble is one of England's best sea-trot rivers, and in early season double-figure fish are sometimes encountered there. A large fly and sinking line give best results early in the year, but as summer advances lighter tackle, smaller flies and floating lines can be used more of the time.

Salmon fishing

In the Ribble catchment rod- catch returns for 2006 some 870 grilse and 137 multi-sea-winter salmon were reportedly caught, making this one of the most productive salmon river systems in England.

If you are new to salmon and sea-trout fsihing and need an essential guide to getting started, our introductory Guide to Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing is available online, and of course we recommend it unreservedly if not altogether impartially!

Tackle

For trout and grayling fishing a 9 ft or 9.5 ft #5 or #6 rod would be ideal for most situations on the Ribble and Hodder. For salmon fishing a 13ft 6ins #8 or 9 rod would cope with most casts, and the same length rod could also be useful for the sea trout fishing on the lower river (the Big Ribble) which can call for some fairly long casts.

Teme

The River Teme is the second largest tributary of the Severn; it rises near Newtown and flows past Knighton and on through Ludlow, Tenbury Wells and Burford before joining the River Severn just downstream of Worcester.

Sue Parker fishing on the River Teme in autumn
Sue Parker fishing the River Teme in autumn

Tributaries

The main tributaries of the Teme are the rivers Clun, Onny, Corve and Rea.

Salmon fishing

There are a few salmon in the Teme but it is not noted as a salmon fishery.

Michael Evans returAn autumn day on the River Teme
An autumn day on the River Teme near Knighton

Brown trout and grayling fishing

There are few 'snowstorm' hatches on the Teme, but throughout the season there are hatches - particularly olives, sedges and stoneflies - that bring trout and grayling to the surface. (Pat O'Reilly's bestselling illustrated book Matching the Hatch covers all of these aspects.)

Tackle

For trout and grayling fishing a 9 ft or 9.5 ft #5 or #6 rod is ideal for just about any situation on the Teme; an 8ft rod is all really you need for the smaller tributaries.

If you need detailed advice on river trout flyfishing, our Beginners' Guide to Trout and Grayling Fishing is available online...

Chalybeate Springs, East Sussex

This lovely stillwater is exclusively for bookings by the day, and individual day and half day permits are not available. It is, therefore, ideal for family/group occasions and corporate events.

Spring trout fishing at Chalybeate Springs
Sue Parker landing a nice trout in early spring at Chalybeate

Sue fell in love with this little gem of a fishery from the moment she saw it!  Chalybeate Springs is the original source of world-famous Tunbridge Wells Spa, which was so popular in Victorian and Edwardian times, and is tucked away in the Weald of Kent, about 3 miles from Tunbridge Wells - and seemingly a million miles from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Easily accessible from London and the south east of England, Chalybeate is the perfect location for exclusive corporate fishing days. There is a comfy, fully equipped fishing hut and both tackle-hire and catering can be supplied on request. Up to ten rods can be accommodated at the fishery if you decide to make this delightful lake yours for the day or as a special treat for family, friends, colleagues or customers.

Chalybeate is run and managed by the team of Michael Evans and Mark Carr-Brown who own the nearby Weir Wood trout and coarse fishery which means that expert help is never far away.  They also run fishing courses at Chalybeate, and private fishing and casting tuition can be arranged to suit individual needs.

The fishing hut at Chalybeate Springs
The fishing hut at Chalybeate Springs

More details at Chalybeate Springs website...

Weir Wood Reservoir, East Sussex

This famous reservoir, situated in the heart of the Sussex Weald, offers excellent fishing to both trout and coarse anglers alike.

Weir Wood has recently been reopened as a fishing venue having fallen into disuse in recent years.  When we visited in 2011 the fishing was managed by Mark Carr-Brown in association with Michael Evans, who has since moved his tackle sales and tuition business to Kent.

Weir Wood has fishing to suit all persuasions. There are miles of bank fishing, but you can also hire one of their fleet of new, purpose-built boats and set off on a day of exploration and drift fishing all of your own.

Pat O'Reilly into a good rainbow trout at Weir Wood
Pat O'Reilly lands a spring rainbow at Weir Wood Reservoir

If you want fishing or casting tuition then Weir Wood can supply it along with Guided Fishing and  Fishing Courses, the latter run by qualified fishing instructors and suited to all ages from 6 onwards.

The size of Weir Wood Reservoir and the facilities on hand make it an ideal venue if you are searching for somewhere to run a fishing competition or to organise a group day.

The tackle shop at Weir Wood
The well-stocked tackle shop at Weir Wood

On the day we visited the weather was overcast and with a cold wind blowing, but we still had good trout fishing sport with rising trout.  We can only dream about how good it would be to spend a warm spring or summer day there, and we hope to make the dream a reality soon!

Modern boats at Weir Wood
The boats at Weir Wood provide excellent stability and comfort

More details at the Weir Wood website...