River Swale


Please Note: This page and others giving information about fishing in the Yorkshire Dales, have been left in place after I retired as a flyfishing guide. They are here to help you if you are fishing in the Yorkshire Dales but will no longer be updated, therefore, they may contain outdated information.

Also: Please do not contact me asking for fishing information. Please respect my time and appreciate that I don't have time to spend either on the phone or replying to emails from anglers visiting the Yorkshire Dales. You will find all the information you require on these pages, including day ticket info, if you take the time to look. If it's not within these pages then I don't know. Tight lines.

The River Swale is reputedly the fastest flowing river in England, though I have not found it to be any different to the other Yorkshire Dales rivers when fly fishing. It is also said that it is one of the fastest rising rivers in England and this I can believe having seen it rise at a frightening speed. The name Swale comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Sualuae meaning rapid and liable to deluge.

The River Swale rises in the far north west of the Yorkshire Dales National Pak, above the hamlet of Keld. It is the joining of Birkdale Beck and Great Sleddale Beck that forms the River Swale on its course to join with the River Ure, and eventually the River Ouse to the south east.

The Swale appears more rocky than the other rivers in the Yorkshire Dales, which is usually a characteristic of brown trout habitat, but there are grayling in the River Swale in substantial numbers. I would say that it is currently the best grayling river in the Yorkshire Dales. The better grayling fly fishing is from around the town of Richmond downstream to the Catterick area. Good fly fishing for trout can be had from Catterick upstream to the headwaters. I prefer the fly fishing in and around Richmond, where there is good access to the river.

I have fished the River Swale regularly from Richmond to Catterick and I was once fortunate to catch a 4┬Żlb barbel on a Czech Nymph. Totally by accident I must admit; I actually thought that my flies were snagged on the bottom for some time, before it awoke!

The River Swale is similar in size to the River Ure or River Wharfe in this area and is suitable for most methods of fly fishing. I have had most success when fishing dry flies and Czech Nymphs, depending on the conditions.

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