Fly Fishing

Wandering the Wharfe

I’m not going to pretend otherwise, my decision to fish dry fly for the trout season this year has made things difficult for me, I’ve had days where I’ve been happy with a single fish. Its taken a bit of getting over the desire to put on a bead head, knowing full well there are trout sat on the bottom but not interested in rising. On the plus side though, fishing has become more relaxing, less busy and probably more enjoyable. I used to find myself fishing bead, seeing a rise , swapping to dry, if the rises stopped I’d try and tie on a bead New Zealand style if I was using a big enough dry, then I might swap to droppers for nymphs. All day I’d be swapping and changing, I might end up fishing dry flies on a set up that was not ideal for it, maybe taking the nymphs off a French nymph set up and putting a dry on the point. I’d often feel a bit disappointed with myself for not setting up properly for the technique I was using. Sometimes I might even take two rods, one set up for dry and one for nymphs, the complication and clutter growing further as two rods now have to be tended to. The decision to fish dry only has saved me from all of this, I now just have my dry fly set up, the rod chosen for the water I am fishing. I might need to play with the leader a bit to adapt to the fly size, weather conditions or the type of water I’m fishing over but much of the complication is gone. It frees you to look up and enjoy your surroundings, rather than frantically and constantly working one or another set up. Which was wonderful yesterday when I had the opportunity to fish at Bolton Abbey with my friend Ian Hedley.

Bolton Abbey have 5 miles of double bank fishing in stunning surroundings on the River Wharfe. The river here is some of the very best of the Wharfe, it has every type of water you might want to fish from deep runs and fast riffles, pots and deep holes, broad and gentle runs, the mirrored surface patterned with the concentric rings of rising fish, wooded areas with wild fish around every corner. We headed for the estate office and purchased our tickets from Mark whitehouse the river keeper , Mark himself is an excellent fly fisher and a wealth of information on both the river and how to fish it, he does an amazing job of keeping the river here, and the result of his work is evident from the quality of the fishing.

We headed for the river and were happy to see small dark olives hatching in good numbers with a few larger olives mixed in, it wasn’t long until we were both catching fish. For a time we went our seperate ways, I headed up into strid wood soaking up the surroundings, the music of the river, dippers tending their nests, the wooded hillside carpeted in white and blue patches of wild garlic and bluebells. Catching up with Ian over a lunchtime drink we both agreed this is the kind of fly fishing that lifts your spirits.

The afternoon was a little harder on the dry fly but I managed to find a few rising fish here or there, as the heat of the day faded we headed down a little further to deeper hole where the river runs past, Ian had noticed some rising fish here earlier in the day. We arrived there to see fish slashing the surface, something had their attention. I tried a small Klink in the faster water but it was ignored, Ian threw out a large klink and it was immediatley smashed by a huge trout that took it with such force it exploded from the water fly in mouth. I tied on something similar and it wasn’t long before we were both playing good fish side by side. We had an extraordinary number of takes over the next 30 minutes before things slowed then finally stopped. A fantastic end to a fantastic day.

About the author


Founder and owner of
A keen angler since 1998 when I started sea fishing while living in Australia
On returning to the UK, l realised I had good trout water on my doorstep and took up fly fishing. I pursued this with the same passion and was happy to have the opportunity to develop a business in my chosen pursuit.
Favourite species include Trout and Grayling but I also like to pursue other species with the fly and have caught sea-trout, pike, perch, roach, chub, orf, minnows, mackerel, coalfish , pollock and mullet on the fly so far.

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