Flyfishing the Famous Rivers Test and Itchen



Royalty, heads of state and filmstars are drawn to the banks of the famous rivers Test and Itchen in pursuit of some of the most desired flyfishing in the world. For over two centuries these chalkstreams have been carefully managed for fishing. The clear water, free-rising fish and manicured banks make it possible to select and stalk individual large fish, adding to the challenge and excitement of fishing.
Just an hour south of London the rivers Test and Itchen were home to a fishing revolution more than a century ago: the advent of the dry fly. Prolific fly hatches make dry fly the order of the day for much of the season. For two weeks in the end of May or early June, the hatches are so spectacular that locals call the weeks ‘Duffers Fortnight’ – even the clumsy can catch fish.

Whether you advocate Halford’s dry fly only theory or are a proponent of Skues more liberal approach, the gin clear waters of English chalkstreams are steeped in history. Even Halford and Skues were following Isaac Walton when they took up residence in Hampshire. Today you can fish the same stretches of water that inspired these angling luminaries as well as reading their words. Book Now


Fact File


Trout fishing is available from mid-April to early October: specific dates are set by each estate working within the legal framework and vary depending on the beat.
Grayling fishing available from mid-October to end of January.

NOTE: Both rivers are closed for weedcutting on set dates through the season (between three and four times depending on the season and amount of weed growth). Upper, middle and lower stretches of the river will have different dates. These are best avoided as weed cutting disturbs the river and the large rafts of floating aquatic weed impede fishing.


There is no specific clothing required but neutral and natural colours are most suited – the harder it is for the fish to see you, the easier fooling them into taking the fly will be. So leave that Hawaiian print florescent shirt at home in favour of some khaki or olive drab.
Wading is not permitted on the Test and Itchen, and most of the banks are mown. While the saying you can fish in carpet slippers is apropos, we’d recommend comfortable boots or shoes.
Polarised sunglasses and a hat will not only provide protection but make spotting of fish easier.


8- 9ft 4-5wt


All chalkstream fishing can be undertaken using a floating line with a tippet breaking strain of 2-3lbs


See Fly Box
Most beats are exclusively dry fly until part way through the season when nymphs are countenanced.

Group Size

One or more anglers


Travelling to the UK from within the EU needs no visa
Travel from outside the EU may require a visa at the port of entry

UK fishing licences can be arranged by Outside Days or purchased on-line.




None required


It is standard practice to tip the fishing guide at the end of the day or trip. The size of tip varies depending on the beat (the better the beat the bigger the tip expected), the number of days fishing, the number and size of fish caught, the amount of coaching and assistance requested of the guide, whether you are the host or the guest, and how much fun you’ve had. Of course tipping and the amount tipped are at your discretion, but there are a couple of different ways to work this out. One school of thought is to tip between 10 and 20% of what you are paying for your fishing. Others calculate it on a flat rate per day (usually somewhere between £10 and £50).


GBP Sterling



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Fly Box


Dry (sizes 14-16): Large Dark Olive, Medium Olive,Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear, Greenwell’s Glory, Grannom, Hawthorn

May & June

Dry (sizes 14-16): Greenwell’s Glory, Tups Indispensable, Black Gnat, Adams in all its variations, Houghton Ruby
Mayfly (sizes 8-12): French Partridge, Grey, Green or Yellow Drake, Grey Wulff, Spent Mayfly


Dry (sizes 14-16): Daddy Long Legs, Greenwell’s Glory, CDC, Klinkhammer, Iron Blue, Pale Watery Spinner, Tups Indispensable


Dry (sizes 14-20): Daddy Long Legs,Pale Watery Spinner, Blue-Winged Olive, Lunn’s Particular, Sedges


Dry (sizes 14-20): Daddy Long Legs, Pale Watery Spinner, Blue-Winged Olive, Lunn’s Particular, Sedges, Black Gnat, Orange Quill


Dry (sizes 16-18): Red Tag, Large Dark Olive, Iron Blue, Pale Watery Spinner, Blue-Winged Olive, Lunn’s Particular, Sedges, Double Black Gnat, Red or Black Ant, Black Beetle, Daddy Long Legs

Nymphs when allowed by beat rules

Nymph (sizes 14-18): GRHE, Grey Goose, PTN
Weighted and unweighted