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The River Avon

The water where the Pheasant Tail Nymph was invented

There are several rivers in England called Avon all of which vary tremendously in character. The name comes from the Welsh word 'Afon' which literally means 'River' and is derived from the old British word 'Abona'.

The River Avon on which Go Fly Fishing UK offer guided days and fly fishing tuition days is that which flows through Wiltshire and Hampshire to join the sea at Christchurch. It is a river of immense variety rising on the Wiltshire Downs and winding its way through the ancient chalk upland of Salisbury Plain, passing very close to Stonehenge. It is joined by other chalkstreams on its route and, at the mediaeval cathedral city of Salisbury the combined waters of the River Nadder and River Wylye enter the Avon to create a larger river. Below Salisbury it is generally known as the 'Hampshire' Avon and, in times gone by, had a magnificent reputation for its runs of Salmon.

Fly fishing on the River Avon

Above Salisbury, where we do our guided days, the 'Wiltshire' Avon is a superb Trout and Grayling river. Its waters are mostly derived from the alkaline springs which come from the chalk downs with some rainwater supplementation. It is this river which saw the invention of the famous Pheasant Tail Nymph and Frank Sawyer (its inventor), the fabled river keeper, and the well known angler Oliver Kite both fished and loved this river. Kept in as natural a condition as possible this stretch of the river is ideally suited to clients with some experience of rivers. This area is a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ (SSSI) and an EU ‘Special Area of Conservation’ (SAC) and like many rivers is monitored by the Riverfly Partnership to actively conserve our riverfly habitats. Go Fly Fishing UK offer guided days on this part of the river where Frank Sawyer developed the Netheravon style of nymph fishing, including the 'induced take' which our guide is happy to demonstrate.  This is wading and bank fishing water.  A little further downstream we use another stretch of the Avon which is ideal for less experienced fly fishers where the fishing is from the bank only.

Fly hatches are excellent and varied, from the April hatching Grannom and Hawthorn through Large and Medium Olive, Mayfly (Green Drake), Blue Winged Olive, Caddis and countless others plus huge quantities of Gammarus shrimps.

We provide the best value River Avon fly fishing days

Fish species / seasons

A day on the Avon can be thrilling with always the chance of a large Brown Trout or Grayling. The main section of the river on which we guide also has two spring fed, crystal clear, lakes containing both Rainbow and Brown Trout and it is perfectly feasible to have a combined day on both lake and river. The Brown Trout season runs from 14th April to 15th October with superb Grayling fishing available from then until 14th March.

At certain scheduled times during the summer the river is closed for fishing for weed cutting so in 2018 avoid planning days on the River Avon between April 21st and May 7th, June 15th and 29th and July 21st and 1st August.


The River Avon can be covered quite easily with an 8’ 6” or 9’ rod for a 4 or 5 weight floating line. If having a combined day on river and lakes a 9' rod for a 6 weight line would be useful for the big hard fighting Rainbow Trout in the lakes. Polarised sunglasses are an essential item of fly fishing equipment.


On the River Avon upstream fishing from the bank is the rule. As with all chalk streams stealth and observation combined with delicate accurate casts are the key to success. Sight casting is the norm and the fisher must do everything he can to try to avoid the fish being spooked by either clumsy casting or too much bank side movement. Dry fly fishing is very good for most of the season. Nymph fishing is also good in the summer – usually with un-weighted nymphs fished upstream to sighted fish. Fishing for Grayling with weighted nymphs and dry fly, after the end of the Trout season, can be extremely rewarding. It is, after all, on this river where many nymphing techniques were first developed.

As well as providing interesting exciting sport for competent fly fishers the location that we use on the Avon is also ideal for beginners to fly fishing to learn all the main techniques of chalk stream river fly fishing.


Our main local guide, who lives close by, has fished in the area frequently for nearly 30 years. As well as being a fully trained/qualified fly casting and fly fishing instructor he will also loan all the required fly fishing tackle, flies, etc. or you can bring your own, and can provide a local railway station or accommodation collection and return service. If required he will also act as a chauffeur/guide for non-fishing sight-seeing as part of a fly fishing trip. Situated very close to the lakes are some of Britain’s most important historic sites such as Stonehenge, Salisbury (including Old Sarum), Longleat House & Safari Park and the New Forest.

If you are visiting Stonehenge why not combine it with some fly fishing and if you fancy making your fly fishing part of a short-break in the Wiltshire countryside then we can advise you on the best accommodation options. These including manor house hotels, country hotels, inns and bed & breakfasts.


Our River Avon guided days and fly fishing tuition days offer very good value. The prices for a guided day or lesson for one person in the summer season are from £300 (£209 in the winter season) to include the dedicated time of our guide, the river fishing permit, loan of all the necessary fly fishing tackle, flies, etc. (or bring and use your own) and, if required local railway station or accommodation collection/return. The price per person is significantly lower where two people share the services of one guide.

Note that we do not provide just day rod access to fish without a guide/instructor.

Contact Dave at our southern office to discuss your preferred fly fishing location and date or to make a booking – telephone 07899 034728 or email

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