Fly fishing on Malham Tarn

Go Fly Fishing UK

Fly Fishing – Safety & Risk Assessment Statement

General Risks Associated with Angling


When walking to or beside a river or around a lake or walking to and from a jetty, pontoon or platform, try to only use obvious paths where available.


Steps can be very slippery, take extreme caution especially when entering old stone boathouses.


Beware of undercuts in banks especially near deep water.  Stone/mud reservoir/lake banks and dam walls are slippery, steep and uneven, move slowly with caution.


Take particular care when wading in deep or fast water and on rocky bottoms.  It is recommended that you use a wading staff and wading belt at all times, a life preserver is recommended and can be supplied.  On rivers do not enter the water if flows are very high and be aware of the risk of quickly rising water or flash flooding.  Felt soled waders offer excellent grip on stone or gravel but are very slippery on mud or wet grass.

Power Lines

Do not fish under or near power lines, electricity can arc over considerable distances.  You are ideally earthed in water to conduct electricity.  Carbon fibre rods are excellent conductor of electricity as is a fly line coated in water.


You are perfectly earthed when in water and a carbon fibre rod is an excellent lightning conductor.  If you are on a boat you and your rod may well be the highest point around and a prime target for a lightening strike.  Wherever you are fishing put your rods down horizontally somewhere safe and take shelter ideally in a car, building or hut and don’t shelter under trees.


Always be aware other people on a river or lake bank by avoiding hitting anyone with your back-cast/flies.  If you are on a boat take extra care if you have other occupants, as you can easily hit them with a fly whilst casting.  A peaked hat is recommended and glasses must be worn when fishing at all times to protect your eyes from hooks.


Hooks are sharp and easily penetrate the skin.  Their use brings them into contact with bacteria etc that can be injurious to health.  Caution should be used when handling hooks and tying on or removing hooks.  Rusty hooks should be avoided at all times.

Weighted Flies

Weighted flies cause unpredictable movement of the leader when casting.  Extreme caution should be exercised when casting weighted flies to ensure they do not come into contact with you, fellow anglers or members of the public.


Fishing under trees can be unsafe in windy conditions.  Beware of falling branches.


Avoid cows with young calves, bulls, rams and farm dogs.  Approach the river or lake with caution.


Do not touch snakes and don’t put any part of your body into burrows, holes, stone walls or other similar openings.


Avoid wasps, hornets nests and beehives, wear insect repellent to reduce the risk of insect bites.  Make your instructor aware if you have any serious allergies to stings or bites.

Weil’s Disease & Sewage Effluent

Weil’s disease is transmitted in rat’s urine.  Never put wet lines in your mouth or any other items of tackle that has been in the water.  Wear waterproof plasters on any cuts or abrasions.  Weil’s disease symptoms are flu like, report any unexplained flu like symptom or fever to your doctor.  There may also be a risk in some waters from treated swage effluent.

Lyme’s Disease/Ticks

Check for ticks after returning home, remove any ticks and swab with alcohol and apply antiseptic cream.  Report any unexplained fever or rash around the bite site as soon as possible to your doctor.

Blue Green Algae

Avoid contact with blue green algae.  If contact is made wash off immediately and never drink the water.  Never let your dog ingest blue green algae, there is no cure and it’s always fatal.

Poisonous Plants

Never touch any part of the Giant Hogweed, their sap is caustic and causes potentially severe burns.  Never lick, chew or eat any unidentified plant, berries, fungi or mushrooms.

Boat Pontoons

Be aware that pontoons constantly move, and are hence unstable, they are invariable wet and slippery.  This makes walking on them difficult and possibly unsafe.  Maximum caution is needed.

Getting On, Off, Moving Around on Boats

Like pontoons, boats also constantly move and are unstable when their balance is disturbed.  The motion of boat and getting on, off and moving around on boats disturbs the balance, hence maximum caution is needed when getting on, off and moving around on boats.  Never stand up whilst fishing from a boat.  A buoyancy aid should always be worn when fishing from a boat.

Other Boats

Be aware other boats can approach you from any angle and may be unpredictable in their direction, when “on the motor” you should always give way to those drifting or under sail.  Wherever possible avoid standing up in boats and never fish stood up.  A buoyancy aid should always be worn when fishing from a boat.

Falling In The Water

Falling in the water may cause drowning.  It’s recommended a buoyancy aid is worn at all times when on, in or near water.

Stiles, Bridges and Fences

Always take care when negotiating stiles, crossing bridges and climbing fences, stiles and wooden bridges can be slippery and potentially unsound.  Beware of barbed wire.

Electric Fences

Electric fences which are used for the control of animals and can periodically discharge high voltages.  Contact with the wires may result in a painful electric shock, or worse.

Weather Conditions

When boat fishing, the weather may change suddenly and cause unforeseen dangerous water conditions.  With all fishing and any outdoor activity be constantly aware of changing weather conditions and its potential consequences.  Strong winds make casting difficult and potentially dangerous.  Avoid sunburn, wear sun block even when cloudy in the summer months and tinted glasses or sunglasses will help protect your eyes from glare.

Duty of Care/Medical Conditions

Remember you must advise your instructor/guide if you have any serious medical condition, physical disability or other such limitations at the beginning of the day.  It’s also your responsibility to advise your instructor/guide what he or she should do in the event of an emergency in your case.  Don’t be afraid to say if you are finding anything too difficult or physically demanding.

General Risk Assessment

Please note that this is a general risk assessment highlighting the majority of the potential problems/risks you are most likely to encounter during a day of fly fishing, your instructor/guide will bring to your attention any specific risks associated with the venue you are fishing at the beginning of the day and throughout the day.  Clearly it’s impossible to anticipate every single problem or potential risk and some circumstances can be and are totally unforeseen, accidents do happen, take care, move slowly and above all use common sense, much of the responsibility for your own safety lies with you.

In the event of a severe problem involving any health or safety issue the decision of your instructor/guide to terminate the day is final.

Re-assessed February 2015

Book a day out

Benefit from our extensive
experience and knowledge of the
UK fly fishing scene & locations.

You can fill out our contact form to book a fly fishing lesson or a guided day.

Book a day fly fishing with us »

Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates from Go Fly Fishing UK.

Subscribe »

Web Design Leeds - Web design by New Adventures in Pixels