Swale at Richmond

Well check me out, venturing outside of my comfort zone and standing in a river that isn’t the Wharfe!

I was kicking around the yorkshireflyfishing bunker on Saturday wondering what to do with myself, initially contemplating a hill walk but eventually settled on fishing a river. I had a good look around this excellent website http://www.yorkshire-dales-flyfishing.com/day-ticket-yorkshire.htm and eventually settled on a sojourn to the Swale.    By the time I set off on the 50 mile drive to Richmond it was about half one in the afternoon but this level of dilly dallying will come as no surprise to regular readers.  I did a quick lap of the town centre to slake my thirst for outdoor clothing bargains then called into Castle Walk Sports to get my day ticket.

After studying the map I was given I settled on fishing the beat to the West of Richmond and drove out a few miles on the A6108 to park up near the access point north of Marske Beck at the end of the private water.

Map of day ticket beats

By the time I got to the water’s edge it was 4:30, shameful! Here was my first tantalising view of the beat I was to fish and I must admit that I’d already settled into the view that this mission was more of a recce than serious fishing. That’s my excuse anyway.

River Swale

I set up a compromise outfit…9ft #6, 10foot  leader finishing in 3lb leader with a size 16 goldhead GRHE and a partridge & orange and waded into the peaty depths. Lordy Lord, this is the most awkward river I’ve ever been in! I would actually advocate having a wading stick with you if you’re at all unsure on your feet because the boulder strewn bed is so uneven. The water really was very peaty as well but it sounds as if this is pretty normal (although I think it was a bit high on the day I went).

The Swale, fast and dirty…just how I like my women!

I fished a couple of pools before ending up at a nice looking stretch where the main river diverts behind a big island then reappears as a lovely fast run into a deep bend. I felt sure I’d get into fish here but alas it was not to be, I think the bright blue sky, cold temperatures and the water conditions conspired against me, I didn’t see a single fish move.

Tail end

I fished a bit further downstream to a point just beyond some power lines then decided to call it a day. I’ll definitely be back but need to do a bit more research on where, when and how to fish the Swale.  I’d particularly like to hear from anyone who has fished this beat, and the one below Richmond to get some local intel.

One thing that I feel I have to mention is just how expensive it is getting to do anything these days. Although the day ticket from Richmond & District Angling Society is excellent value for money at £6, the day still wasn’t cheap. £20 on petrol, £6 day ticket, plus the inevitable £10 on sundry items that cannot be avoided on any excursion – it all adds up. And my felt soles are coming off…£15 for a repair kit! And my fluo orange line needs replacing with something less ..well..fluo so that’s another £40…and I need a specialist Czech Nymph rod…ugh. Hmm, these are all what are known as ‘1st world problems’ aren’t they!


11 thoughts on “Swale at Richmond

  1. john findlay

    Same experience,water a bit fast and pools a bit deep and hardly any showing.
    Fished from bridge at waterworks up over to just past water outlet.
    Started on fly, my wee mate got one, on two buzzers under indicator deep down.
    I switched to worm(small redworm] size 14 hook on the float and got 3 to over
    a pound .We both got taken with something big but what?Take a centrepin
    outfit and try from Lowthenwaite Bridge to just past water outlet on small
    redworm.When you consider £6 for as long as you want to stillwaters £10
    for 4hrs. Try the Esk at Lealholm its free and big fish should be arriving.
    If i journey far and the rules permit i take spin,float and fly gear you never

  2. Ed Wallington

    An interesting read, and thank you for sampling Richmond’s fishing. Have you ever tried further upstream, more into Swaledale? Would be interested in your views, and that or your readers.

  3. Steve Hassall

    Bob, if you decide to fish above Richmond you can obtain a day ticket for Reeth and District Angling Club from the Bridge Inn at Grinton (just before you get to Reeth). But I do agree with the other posts, the Swale is a difficult river to read and get to grips with.I have now fly fished it for 40 plus years and still find it an anathema, but the catching of a beautiful brownie still gives me a buzz. I use the tried and tested spider patterns hardly ever straying from greenwells,partridge and orange, waterhen bloa,snipe and purple, but I have now started to use on the point light leaded ptn (10 to 14) and grhe (same sizes). The spiders no larger than 12’s. Small black midges (dry) are a must. They seem to work well when the trout are rising and you cannot match the hatch. Don’t forget to have some dry bwo. Tight lines. One more thing, make sure you have all your gear as there are no tackle shops in the area now, although I can provide a limited range due to a failed business last year..

    1. Bob Post author

      Thanks Steve, invaluable advice! What length rod do you use, and also what line weight and Tippett strength? I will have another stab this year :-). Sorry to hear your fishing business didn’t go so well, what kind of stuff are you looking to sell?

  4. Steve Hassall

    Hi Bob, I use 8′ rod with a DT”4 line, tippett depends on how I feel on the day and the conditions, but usually 7/5/3. or 6/4/2. The length 10′ I would guess. What I have left gear wise is 100 different river and lake fly patterns, Aqua Pro fly lines different weights floating and inter. Copolymer tippet 2lb to 10lb (50 mtr spools) head varnish, braided and coated leaders, loop connectors, tapered leaders, sinkant, fly boxes. I think you will be getting the drift. I tye a lot of flies and the head varnish is v.good, on a parr, if not better than hard as nails! and cheaper. The main problem in Richmond with businesses is finding affordable premises the average rent is £1,000 pcm before you strike a bat, no grants available to encourage new businesses, but all said, it seems to be a sign of the times. Never mind, at least I gave it a go!
    If you or anyone wants more info on what I have for sale give me a ring on 07788643879 or email me.I must admit the flies are of a very good quality and I don’t think (on a commercial basis) I cold knock them out cheaper. The Aqua Pro lines are spot on, one of the better lines for the price and I use one!

  5. cocpos

    with salmon now returning to the swale and i seen fish in may time lower down the river at topcliffe im sure that day tickets will go thru the roof its a dead cert !

    1. cocpos

      and why is it that in the game fishing world no one wants to divulge where they fish seems selfish and greedy thats why the salmon fishing world on neighbouring rivers like the wear at durham went to pot thru greed and secrecy.now the water is close due to poaching on a seroius but not industrial scale as mentioned in other forums

  6. Malcolm Neale

    I.m new to fly fishing. Started last year.As it,s coming to the end of the season no i will be taking my caravan to reeth nexed year.
    Never fished a rive so any Help any body can give me Will be very helpfle to me.

    1. Bob Post author

      Hi Malcolm

      Presumably you are wanting to fish the Swale? I have emailed you a map (very old mind you!) I had kicking around of some fishing available on the Swale with Richmond and District Angling Society. You used to be able to buy day tickets in Castleberg Sports in Richmond.


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