The chalkstreams of England are the birthplace of modern fly fishing and are steeped in a long and distinguished history. Along their courses the tactics and skills that developed into upstream dry fly and nymph fishing were devised and refined, transforming fly fishing into the sport that we now practice. The UK contains 85% of the world’s chalkstreams, a very valuable and limited resource both ecologically and financially. These streams provide some of the finest dry fly and sight nymph fishing anywhere in the world. Watching the mayfly dance along the rushes on a long summer evening and later, experiencing the thrill of a splashy rise as they swoop low on the water to complete their life cycle is a thrill that every fly fisherman should experience. The visual element that we love so much is the essence that makes the style of upstream fly fishing so exciting.
The history and tradition on so many of these beats remains, allowing one to make parallels from old texts and walk the same river banks as those that came before us. Join us on the rivers Test, Itchen and Avon, three of the most famous chalkstreams and walk in the footsteps of some of the most influential anglers; all fathers of modern day fly fishing.
Chalkstream geology and ecologically.
What is a chalkstream?
Rainfall filters down into the porous chalk substrate and fills the aquifers. The resulting crystal clear spring water running at a constant temperature of 10 °C (54 °F) feeding these streams and rivers is rich in minerals but low in sediment content leading to the characteristic bright gravel, growths of dark green tresses of water crowfoot interspersed with emerald green starwort, excellent conditions for invertebrate life providing the ideal habitat for brown trout and grayling. Other key species that live along our chalk streams are the otter, water vole, kingfisher, water shrew and white-clawed crayfish. The flora, fauna and the crystal clear waters make chalk streams the most beautiful and iconic of all our UK rivers. Due to the slow release of water from the aquifers chalks streams are almost always free from flooding and hence fishable throughout the season regardless of weather.
The main southern river catchment areas, Meon, Itchen, Test, Avon and Frome and Kennet to the north, each having many other feeder streams and all providing quality trout fishing.
All of these rivers have been shaped by man since the beginning of the 17th century initially for the flooding of meadows and providing water power for mills.
Since the demise of these operations over the last century the rivers have primarily been managed for fish and fishermen.