A boys trip to the River Test

The last few seasons I’ve been doing a lot of fly fishing. I love the light weight, roaming style of angling that fly fishing offers. I can also often get a result on short sessions which is ideal when work and family life is so busy. It’s early season and we’ve had a really special fishing trip planned for a while now, to a proper chalk stream – The River Test in Hampshire.

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I’m visiting this stunning river with a couple of great angling buddies – Nipper and Shuts (James Naylor and Jamie Shuttle). We’re all very excited as we make our way down to Hampshire in Nipper’s monster truck! When we arrive at the venue it doesn’t disappoint. We park the motor in the car park of the Greyhound pub and wonder down to the waters edge.

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Above: The stunning River Test, Hampshire

We take a walk along the beat that we’re fishing. A days fishing here is not cheap but it’s really very special indeed. In some sections the clear water pushes through the shallows at quite a pace. You can then be faced with a deep, slow moving patch of water. I couldn’t wait to get a fly in the water.

We grab what we need from the car. We gather in the little fishing hut and run through our approach. It’s May and there are signs of the annual May fly hatch in and around the river. I want to at least start on the dry fly and then take it from there. We’re all fishing 7 weight rods although we do have little brook rods also made up for those tight little areas. We’re using floating lines with leaders ranging from 4lb – 7lb breaking strain.

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Above: Sorting through the fly box

The morning saw us have some fantastic action with all of us catching fish. One of my favourite patterns is the ‘Hares Ear’ and it really does the business! It’s a fairly fast sinking fly and I think it’s doing well because the fish are hugging the bottom and grabbing the fly very low in the water.

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Above: Me with a chunky rainbow.

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Above: Nipper does battle with a strong fighting fish.

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Above: The result. One of a number of decent rainbow trout.

It’s not all about the fish. The sun is shining, it’s a beautiful day and we’ve all taken the day off work to visit the Hampshire countryside – life’s good!

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Above: Shuts taking it easy.

We take a lunch break, which is something I would never normally do when I’m fishing as I’m usually so obsessed with catching as many fish as possible. But today is very much about enjoying the experience. So we pop open a few bottles of ale and fire up the BBQ. We chill out in the sunshine and have a really good feed. We’re loving this place!

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Above: Lunchtime BBQ and a few beers!

After a long, lazy lunch we begin to fish again. We find a pool that clearly contains a lot of fish. We take it in turns to try and grab a fish and it’s not long before we’re landing some really nice rainbow trout.

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Above: Straight into a nice trout after lunch.

As the evening draws in we call it a day. My first taste of the River Test has been amazing. Typically when I go fishing I fish quite hard. My day on the Test with these chaps has highlighted how important it is to enjoy your time on the bank. I’m going to make a point of frequently fishing sessions where the result is less important than the experience. This is not a new concept to me but something that you can forget quite easily when fishing for specimens as opposed to simply fishing for fish.

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Above: The River Test, a stunning stretch of river indeed!

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