Steeped in history and surrounded by peaceful, attractive countryside, Hampshire is the home of fly fishing. It’s been a popular angling destination for centuries, and continues to be one of the best places to fish. That’s why Orvis’s fly fishing school and Saltwater Fly Fishing Festival are both based here.
In this ultimate guide to fly fishing in Hampshire, you’ll learn about:
- The history of Hampshire fly fishing
- Hampshire’s iconic rivers
- When to go fly fishing in Hampshire.
The History of Hampshire fly fishing
Hampshire has a long history as a fly fishing destination. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the county was home to notable fly fishing figures including Frederic M. Halford and G.E.M. Skues. Halford popularised the dry fly fishing method, while Skues was associated with the nymphing technique.
Hampshire remains a popular fly fishing destination even in the modern day, thanks to its clear chalkstreams that are filled with brown and rainbow trout, grayling, and salmon.
Rivers in Hampshire
The Test and the Itchen are the two most famous rivers in Hampshire. They’re also chalkstreams, which are very rare — there are only around 200 in the world.
The River Test is considered one of the finest chalkstreams in the world for fly fishing. Dozens of fishing clubs and lodges can be found along the banks of the Test, so there’s plenty of spots to fish the mayfly and hawthorn hatches. Many beats don’t require wading, so it’s ideal for the casual angler.
Best beat: the Kimbridge beat is a third of a mile long, with a medium flow rate, interesting shallows, and a bubbling top pool. It’s also fully accessible. Book your day rod letting on the Test.
Like the Test, the Itchen is a chalkstream. Known for its diverse fish species — including brown trout, rainbow trout, and salmon — the Itchen is another fly fishing hotspot. It’s also home to the endangered white-clawed crayfish. Conservationists have made efforts in recent years to protect ecosystems within the river, so it’s no longer stocked.
Best beat: Abbots Worthy is a challenging yet satisfying beat, with good aquatic fly life providing plenty of hatches all year round. Book your day rod letting on the Itchen.
The Dun is smaller and less prolific than other rivers in Hampshire, but there are plenty of great fly fishing beats here, too. It can also be quieter during busy periods. Like the Itchen, the Dun is home to protected species including the great crested newt. So it’s important that anglers take care of the environment and practise responsible fishing.
Lakes in Hampshire
There are several private fishing lakes in Hampshire. Lakes — like fly fishing in reservoirs and other stillwaters — offer a unique experience. There may be a greater variety of fish available in stocked fisheries, including arctic char and blue trout.
You’ll need to get permission from the owner or fishery to fish any private lake.
When to go fly fishing in Hampshire
The most popular times for fly fishing are May and June. The weather begins to get warmer around this time, but the sun and heat haven’t yet caused the fish to retreat into shadier spots.
If you’re planning to fish at peak time, it’s a good idea to book in advance to guarantee a spot on your preferred beat.
Fly fishing schools in Hampshire
The Orvis fly fishing school is a great place to brush up your technique, or learn a whole new set of skills. Based on the Test and Itchen, we offer everything from family-friendly tuition to private lessons.
As well as learning the sport of fly fishing and improving your skills, you’ll have the opportunity to fish in some of the world's most beautiful and renowned fly fishing rivers.Book a private lesson with one of our expert fly fishing instructors or an Orvis endorsed guide to refine your skills for the 2023 fly fishing season.