Fly Fishing in Yorkshire


Why not go Fly Fishing in Yorkshire?

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 Many is the time I am asked where is the best place to go fly fishing in Yorkshire. In the majority of cases I usually respond by pointing the fly fisherman to a destination near to where they live. But let’s look at the reality - the best place to go fly fishing is anywhere in Yorkshire. We live in a very lovely part of the UK and have the biggest county; as my Grandfather used to say “There are more acres in Yorkshire than words in the Holy Bible”.  Just how true this is I don’t know but one thing I do know, I am not counting either. 

Firstly let’s look at the Rivers Swale, Ure, Nidd, Wharfe and Aire; all beautiful rivers rising from the Pennines and full of obliging trout and grayling. These rivers are freestone spate rivers, with rocky, stony beds and the water levels rising quickly with the amount of rain that falls on the catchment areas up in the hills. 

The Swale, said to be the fastest flowing of the rivers, is the most northerly and set in a relatively narrow glaciated valley. The Ure, sometimes called the Yore, runs just south of the Swale following the same easterly direction, but is set in a wider glaciated valley and runs slightly slower than the Swale. The Nidd however is probably the smallest of this group, the water flow being controlled by the amount of water in the reservoirs higher up the valley. Nidderdale Angling Club 

Now we come to the River Aire and the River Wharfe, two very contrasting rivers. The Aire slowly meanders through a very wide valley and is very slow in rising and falling. The Wharfe however is completely different. Set in a narrower valley it is said to be the fastest rising river in Europe. I can feel one of Grandfather’s sayings coming on again. “The Aire is still, the Wharfe is lithe, where the Aire kills one, the Wharfe kills five”.  How true that is when we look back at the horrifying drownings that have occurred in the past and not just anglers. Please be careful when wading, watch the weather forecast and watch the water; the water level either sneaks up on you or can come down in a bore.

Bolton Abbey   

What a difference a clean-up can make to a river for fly fishing! I am talking about the rivers Don, Colne and Calder. Not long ago they were some of the worst polluted rivers in Europe and now, WOW, what fishing there is to be had. Even in the very centre of Huddersfield, if you can cast round the occasional shopping trolley, there are trout that any fly fisherman would give his eye teeth to catch and best of all for us Yorkshire folk the fishing is not expensive in that area. 

Flowing around the edges of the North Yorkshire Moors there is a series of rivers and streams such as the river Rye and Derwent that are very seldom mentioned.  

Many of you will not be aware of the classic northern chalk stream, Driffield Beck. A chalk stream north of Hampshire, whatever next??? Full of wonderful grayling.

Most of our Yorkshire Dales rivers are generally wide and accessible. At first it appears to be a daunting task when faced with the opportunity to cast a fly upon, say, the Rye. Like the Nidd and the Rye our Yorkshire rivers are narrow and shaded by trees. Some banks have certainly never seen a lawn mower. But don’t be deterred. Go and enjoy some excellent fly fishing in Yorkshire and develop your casting skills. Don’t be misled either, there are trout and grayling in abundance.  

The Yorkshire rivers are great for fly fishing but what about some stillwater fly fishing, here again we have some wonderful fly fishing waters. Here is a selection: 

Kilnsey Park - This fishery is situated in spectacular surroundings, consisting of two lakes of approximately 1 acre each, and is open all year round. It is stocked with home-bred rainbow trout weighing from 1.5 to 12 lbs, and operated as a fly-only fishery. The fish are renowned fighters, and will take dry or wet flies on a floating or sinking line depending on weather conditions.

Malham Tarn - High up in the Yorkshire Dales lies a tarn that is described by many anglers as “the forgotten tarn”.  In fact, where many commercial fisheries attract 100 anglers in a month or less, Malham Tarn sometimes doesn’t make that figure in a year. Why? Because not many people know it is there.  This is a pity, because it is an extremely beautiful and unique spot. Malham Tarn is one of only two upland “natural” lakes in the Yorkshire Dales, and is one of the eight upland alkaline lakes in Europe. The banks are part of a nature reserve; therefore the lake can only be fly fished from boats and there are only four of these available. The setting of this lake is nothing short of spectacular and if you are looking for a peaceful day with amazing scenery then this is hard to beat. The only drawback is that the lake is high up at 398 metres and very exposed so if you do decide to fish there take extra clothing just in case!

Malham Tarn fly fishing is boat only - no bank fishing. Electric motors are allowed but not petrol driven.

Helwith Bridge - The lake is 30ft deep, covers 4.5 acres and is spring fed, so the water is crystal clear and is in quiet, tranquil surroundings. The fly fishery is in a stunning location with excellent views of Pen-y-ghent and the surrounding Yorkshire Dales.

The lake is well stocked with triploid trout, blue trout, golden trout brown trout and rainbow trout. The fish can weigh between 2lb and 14lb. 

Wykeham Lakes - A superb venue offering fly fishing in five individual lakes set in beautiful Yorkshire countryside. Offering a warm welcome, great sport, good facilities and in an atmosphere second to none. Wykeham Lakes fishing complex is situated half a mile off the A170 between Wykeham village and West Ayton within the Dawnay Estates. The waters offer superb trout and coarse fishing in a compact unspoilt area of natural beauty.  It is stocked with home-bred rainbow trout weighing from 1.5 to 12 lbs, and operated as a fly-only fishery. The fish are renowned fighters, and will take dry or wet flies on a floating or sinking line depending on weather conditions. 

Lockwood Beck - offers a timeless quality in an ever-changing world. The 60 acres of shimmering water, the varied banks of mixed woodland and spacious moorland, and free rising rainbows and browns can all be relied upon year on year.

And the good news for anglers in this welcoming corner of the North Yorkshire Moors is that manager Gordon Byers has agreed a long-term lease to take the fishing forward. That is a particularly enterprising move in an era when businesses are under pressure and finances are tight. The Lockwood ethos is that good fly fishing, in a glorious setting with a friendly welcome, will prevail. 

Over recent seasons the lodge has been extended to add space and comfort, a wheelyboat introduced, extensive instruction made readily available, and varied stocking to ensure that there is something for everyone. 

I could go on and on about other venues for fly fishing in Yorkshire, the list seems endless.


Please do not forget  - Fishing with Style are here to help with fly selection or fly fishing instruction. We run group fly fishing courses in the Yorkshire area or you can book me for a one to one half day or full day course just click here. 

Better still if you are a newcomer to fly fishing why not join our residential fly fishing holidays at Malham Tarn in the great Yorkshire Dales. 

Go on and give Fly Fishing in Yorkshire a try. You will not fail to be delighted. If you are a relative newcomer to fly-fishing, be prepared to learn a few new skills along the way. If you are a seasoned campaigner just enjoy a real treat.


Fishing with Style

Partners: Stephen Cheetham & Christine Cheetham

40 Aire Grove, Yeadon, LEEDS, West Yorkshire, LS19 7TY

Tel:  0113 2507244