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Instruction and guiding

Those new to fishing, or with children/spouses etc, who wish to learn, often ask about the availability of suitable instruction. This can be provided in a number of different ways:

From beat ghillies

The ghillies on each beat are normally willing to give some instruction, but this will depend on the policy of the beat, the helpfulness of the ghillie and what his other responsibilities are for the day you are fishing. Always check with the ghillie beforehand to see what the situation is.


Combining your fishing trip with a lesson from a qualified casting instructor will help to maximise your time spent on the water and ultimately, improve your chances of catching more fish.

All forms of fly fishing require good fly presentation in all wind and weather conditions.

Regardless of your casting ability, starting a fishing trip under the expert guidance of an instructor will improve your casting technique and river skills, allowing you the opportunity to safely and effectively present your fly across the stream.

To make your time spent on the water more enjoyable, investing in some casting instruction at the beginning of your trip is money well spent. A list of recommended instructors can be found on this link.


If you want to fish somewhere you haven't been to before, then a Guide can make all the difference between success and failure, especially if the fishery you are going to does not supply its own ghillie or other help for you.

Guides will help you chose the right place to fish, make sure you have the right equipment and use the right techniques. On top of that they will often provide transport, lunch and an endless supply of fishing knowledge, talk and enthusiasm. A list of recommended guides can be found at this link.

Third party instruction on the beat

Be sure to check with your ghillie that the beat is prepared to allow instructors and or guides on the beat. Never turn up with an instructor or a guide without having cleared it first, as this might cause bad feeling with the ghillie which won't do much to help your trip.

For beginners


New to Salmon

How do I organise a day's fishing?

All you have to do is simply purchase the right to fish for the relevant number of rods and days on the beat of your choice. A 'rod' is a term we use to describe an angler, so taking two rods for a day entitles two individuals to fish. There are no other fishery licences required in Iceland, Norway, Russia or Scotland however in England and Wales you must be in possession of and Environment Agency Rod Licence and in Northern Ireland you must possess an department of Culture and Leisure Licence or a Loughs Agency Licence, depending on which rivers you are fishing

If there is a ghillie or fishery manager detailed on your booking confirmation you should ring them a few days before you are due to fish in order find out what tackle you will need to take with you, and then turn up at the appointed time and place.

What does a ghillie do?

Many beats employ a ghillie of some sort. He may be part- or full-time and on larger beats there may be more than one (with one designated as the head ghillie). The ghillie's job is to show you the water when you arrive, advise you on likely spots where fish may lie and the best tackle to use. You will then visit you from time to time during the day to see how you are getting on.

On some beats, the ghillie may stay with you for some or all of the day and if boats are available he may row you if it will increase your chances of catching a fish. Ghillies are also responsible for making sure that you fish within the law and in compliance with relevant conservation agreements. Most can also assist with some casting tuition, but if this is required, please make sure you have spoken to the ghillie in advance.

It is normally expected that you should tip your ghillie at the end of your fishing.

What is involved in a day's fishing?

When you arrive at the beat, the rods meet up, usually at the main hut at around 9am. If there is a ghillie he will help you set up your tackle and select a suitable fly. He will then show you where to start fishing and where to go for the rest of the morning. You will be expected to stop fishing for an hour at lunchtime, usually about 1pm, so please remember to take your own lunch!. He will then organise your afternoon session, often on a different part of the beat. At the end of the day, usually about 5pm, you meet again to tell him about any fish you may have caught and to find out how any other rods have got on.

I don't have any fishing tackle - what should I do?

Sometimes beats can lend you some items of tackle, however, you should not always rely on this. The best thing is to hire the appropriate equipment from a local tackle shop - these are listed on each river's 'Tackle advice' page. Tell the shop's proprietor where and when you are fishing and they should be able provide suitable equipment for you. The main problem will be how to pick up and return things before and after your fishing. Some shops may be able to deliver to your hotel for an extra charge.

What happens if the river floods or I have to cancel my fishing?

In line with general fishing practice, there are no refunds if the river floods. You still have the right to fish, although your ghillie may advise you that it is not worthwhile exercising this right. If he considers that it is not safe, he is entitled to refuse to take you out in a boat or to wade with you. Otherwise he is available to help as needed and will do his best to help get round the adverse conditions.

If you have to cancel your fishing, you do not get a refund, but FishPal can attempt to relet the fishings for you and, given sufficient time, can often achieve results. Please note that there is a charge for this. Alternatively, you can get a friend to fish for you.



New to Trout

The fish and the 'fly'

Wild brown trout are probably the easiest of all freshwater fish to catch. They can be caught by numerous methods including the use of the worm and spinner; the latter methods are permitted on some waters. On the whole anglers derive far more satisfaction from catching trout on an artificial fly. Fly fishing for trout has long been known as the 'gentle art' and this method of fishing is acceptable anywhere. Fly fishing is defined as the presentation (by means of casting a line) of a 'fly', usually the artificial imitation of an insect, designed to fool a fish. The advice on this page is aimed at the beginner seeking to learn to fly fish on stillwaters for either brown trout or stocked rainbow trout which are far more suitable than rivers for the inexperienced. In addition access to stillwaters is much more readily available.

Before you reach your destination

Read a basic book on trout fishing. Understanding the basic principles and practicalities of the sport will give you a head-start before you arrive. It is also an advantage to know two or three elementary fishing knots. Try and arrange some tuition in casting technique from a qualified instructor (this may well be available at your destination); even just a couple of hours should prove invaluable and enable the beginner to start fishing with a fair degree of both competence and confidence. Casting a fly is not difficult but proficiency will be attained much more quickly with the assistance of a professional instructor.


Trout fishing requires far less equipment than most forms of angling. For stillwater fishing a rod of at least 9 ft (shorter for children), a suitable fly reel, a floating line (rated no more than AFTM 6; the rating should match that of the rod) and backing line, a landing net, a box of flies, leader material, a few relevant accessories (such as scissor pliers, clippers and priest) and a fishing bag. Complete outfits may be seen advertised for under £100. Tackle shops are ideally placed to advise. It may well be possible to hire equipment at your holiday destination.

There are countless fly patterns to choose from and it all depends whether you wish to imitate an actual insect or alternatively provoke aggression by using lures. Your destination and/or local tackle shop would be able to advise on the most popular patterns depending on the time of year you are going fishing.