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The Ultimate Guide To Fly Fishing In The Lake District

The Lake District is one of the UK’s most famous areas of outstanding natural beauty. Based between the towns of Keswick, Windermere, and Barrow-in-Furness, it’s a picturesque region that’s perfect for stillwater fly fishing.

The Lake District is known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse landscapes, as well as its iconic lakes.

In this ultimate guide to fly fishing in the Lake District, you’ll learn how to take advantage of the region’s wide range of fly fishing opportunities. Read on to see:

  • the history of fly fishing in the Lake District
  • the best spots to fly fish in the Lake District
  • when to go fly fishing in the Lake District.

The History of Fly Fishing in the Lake District

The Lake District has an illustrious fly fishing history. Kendal used to be a centre for fishing hook-making, while Bowness once relied on perch fishing as a key industry for the town.

Author Arthur Ransome was a prolific angler in the Lakes, and is best known for his Swallows and Amazons series, which he wrote after moving back to the Lake District in the 1940s. As an angler, he’s perhaps best known for developing the elver fly, which is used to fish salmon.

With such a rich history, it’s no surprise that the Lake District remains one of the most intriguing and popular fly fishing destinations. See more fly fishing holidays in the UK.

The best fly fishing spots in the Lake District

Thanks to the wealth of fish species found in the Lake District’s lakes and rivers, the area remains a hugely popular fly fishing destination. Here are some of the best spots to fly fish in the Lake District.


Ullswater is the second-largest lake in Cumbria. At seven miles long and half a mile wide, you’re sure to find a great spot for fly fishing here. Boat fishing is popular on Ullswater due to its sheer size.

Ullswater is predominantly known for its perch stocks and wild brown trout. It’s also one of very few locations where you can catch schelly, a critically endangered species. If you manage to catch one, make sure you release it safely into the water.

There are plenty of fishing lodges and experts based in Ullswater to offer guidance and advice if you’re a novice. You can also seek advice from an Orvis endorsed fly fishing guide based near the Lakes. So this is a great place to start for beginners, especially if you’re new to stillwater or lake fly fishing.


Located near Keswick and overlooked by Skiddaw mountain, this popular fly fishing spot offers some fantastic fishing.

Trout, roach, perch, and pike are all abundant fish species in Derwentwater. It’s also one of just two spots in the UK where you can catch vendace. 

Like Ullswater, you’re permitted to fish from a boat on Derwentwater, giving you greater access to fish in deeper parts of the lake. Make sure you have the right permit for bank vs boat fishing; these are available from tackle shops in Keswick.


Bassenthwaite is a relatively quiet lake, offering a peaceful, secluded fly fishing experience. Its large stocks of brown and rainbow trout — as well as char, roach and pike — make it a great spot for fly fishing. It’s also the only other place (besides Derwentwater) where you can catch vendace.

Boat fishing is also available, though there are restrictions on motorised boats. Bassenthwaite is a protected lake, so take extra precautions to avoid spreading invasive species into the water.

River fly fishing in the Lake District

While the lakes are the most well-known fishing spots in the Lake District, there are also plenty of spots for river fly fishing.

The River Eden is one of the most popular river fly fishing spots in the Lake District. Known for its trout and grayling, there are dozens of beautiful, peaceful beats to hone your river fly fishing technique. The Eamont, a tributary of the Eden, is another great spot. Alternatively, the River Lowther is well-known as a challenging dry fly fishing spot.

When to go fly fishing in the Lake District

Trout are most active in spring and early summer, so expect to have the most success from March through to June. If you prefer to fish the evening rise, July and August also offer excellent opportunities.

Other great fly fishing destinations

Fly fishing is popular across the UK. With plentiful rivers, lakes, and tarns dotted all over the country, you’re sure to find a great new place to test and refine your fly fishing technique.

Hampshire is considered one of the best fly fishing destinations, with its beautiful New Forest countryside, expert fly fishing schools, and chalkstreams teeming with trout and salmon.
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