Why is it I wonder that so many Yorkshire fly fishers and in particular Yorkshire Dales fly fishers have become such eminent and well known fly fishers over the last couple of hundred years and this tradition still continues to the present day?  In the interests of racial equality and political correctness we must also include the odd Lancastrian who fished/fishes the Dales rivers and streams (usually during cross border raids!) in addition to their “own” rivers such as the Hodder and Ribble.

Look at the past masters Walbran, Edmonds and Lee, Stewart, Pritt et al., (although Malcolm Greenhalgh, a Lancastrian, claims Pritt was also actually a Lancastrian by birth, god help him!).  “Names” like Arthur Oglesby, Reg Righyni, T K Wilson, Eric Horsfall Turner were foremost in the field throughout the 60’s through to the 70’s/80’s and more recently and still alive are characters like Oliver Edwards, John Roberts, Chris McCully and Malcolm Greenhalgh to name but a few.


What do they all have in common?, several things in my opinion, firstly they have all written articles about fly fishing and every single one has written at least one book about fly fishing, some many more. Not surprising then that they have left their mark but I don’t think it’s as simple as that, why should Yorkshire, Lancashire and in particular the Yorkshire Dales continually inspire and produce excellent authors and outstanding fly fisher’s generation after generation?


Four Yorkshiremen


Three main reasons spring to mind; firstly it can be “tough up north” so to catch fish on a regular basis you have to be a pretty good fly fisher, which means having a thorough understanding of the rivers, flies, and the habits of the fish, both trout and grayling, which are different.  Secondly you need to be a “thinking angler”, which I believe I have mentioned before in a previous blog and thirdly and ideally you need to have “served an apprenticeship” having fiddled about on rivers, canals and ponds as a youngster learning about fishing generally the hard way.


A fourth reason I guess is the sheer variety of different rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs in Yorkshire all of which are unique and demand different skills and techniques to fish them correctly, personally I really do believe overall there is no better place anywhere to be a fly fisher.


I was very lucky having a father who was an excellent, if not technical fly fisher, and who mixed and fished with the “Yorkshire School” of his time, he also gave me the opportunity, free reign and the freedom, not available to most youngsters these days, to serve my own apprenticeship.


Recently one of my old pals Malcolm Greenhalgh a member of the “Lancashire School” and an honorary member of the “Yorkshire School” was kind enough to give me a reference, I quote:

“I have been lucky, over the last thirty years, to fish for trout and grayling with many other fly-fishers in a wide variety of rivers across Europe and North America. I must report that the best five of those fly-fishers includes Steve Rhodes of Go Fly Fishing UK.  The other four? Oliver Edwards, the late John Goddard, Chris Hosker and John Roberts.  It is gratifying that four are from the North of England, where the variety of our river fly fishing is far greater than in any other similar sized region of the world.”


Perhaps it’s just something in the water!