Article Fly fishing for trout in the UK and the USA, a comparison


The purpose of this article is to help fishers who want to try fishing waters in a different country with some information on the differences encountered. In the UK I have published it on my blog. To keep the article to a reasonable length I am only covering trout fishing and I am going to do that in stages. If this series of articles is found useful I will do another series on migratory species (salmon, sea trout and steelhead).

Limitations of Experience

I have fished most areas in England, and some areas in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In the USA I have only fished in Utah, Idaho and Washington States. Hopefully, later this year I will be in Montana.

License Requirements

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you are required by law to have a rod licence. Strangely in Scotland you do not need one. Licences can be bought for a day, a week or fortnight or for the year. Costs range from £3.50 (day) to £27 (annual). Game (migratory) fishing licences are a lot more expensive. In England and Wales you get licences from the Post Office website. There are hardly any general “rules” published in the UK but I think using explosives is outlawed! Commercial fisheries and clubs have their own rules.

In the USA each State issue rod licences and the format of the licence can be a bit complicated, in fact I think it fair to say that the whole question of fishing in the USA is a lot more complicated than in the UK. This is not surprising as States cover vast areas with a wild diversity of fishing habitat. If you go on line and look at the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife website you will see that their whole Sport Fishing Rules document is 135 pages long. The fresh water section is 95 pages long and deals individually with each lake and river. You can learn a lot if you have time to read it! If you are only out for a few days you are well advised to seek the services of a fishing guide, they should keep you out of jail!

In Washington a licence to fish fresh water can cost between $20 (day) to $84.50 (annual). You can get these on line (if you have a US social security number, which I don’t) or from outfitters like Fred Myers where you can also get a hard copy of the Sport Fishing Rules book for free. As is typical with most American retailers’ staff are most helpful but will ask questions like “do you want the Columbia River extension” and “do you want the licence to cover shellfish” which if you are from outside the USA can throw you a bit. It might seem there is a lot of effort required to fish in the States but believe me it is worth it, even if you are not catching, the scenery, wildlife and people make it unforgettable.

Future articles could cover:-
Access to the water
Availability of free fishing
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Steve Call

Active Member
Great introduction! And, yes our rules and regulations are confusing. I hope you'll continue to write and post these articles. I have visited the UK, but not fished there. I'm always interested in learning about sport fishing any where in the world.

I plan to write another article for my Blog comparing trout fishing in the UK with that in the USA focusing on access to waters, but before I do you could learn a bit more by looking at my recent Blog Posts. The moderator told me I could not put the link up as I was advertising a service. In actual fact although I am a qualified fly fishing instructor I only teach as a hobby. I am a retired engineer and the last thing I want to do is run a business! I get pleasure out of seeing a novice catch their first trout (and get hooked for life) and sharing what other people have taught me. Please try
Thanks for your encouraging reply, it makes me want to try harder! I hope you have a wonderful season with plenty of "tight lines".
Welcome to the Forum. You'll find it the best in the NW, or entire west coast, in my opinion. Nice link to your blog. I had the priveledge of meeting a Salisbury Club Riverkeeper, Malcom, through our common interest in the Nadder. It is a goal of mine to fish the Nadder (for resident Browns) and downriver for a Seatrout and Salmon in the future. If you ever get over here, I'm sure you'll find a wealth of offers and help. We are all brothers in a common cause.
It was good to hear from you. I was interested to learn you have an interest in the Nadder. The Salisbury and District Club have 9 stretches of the Nadder to fish. I have mainly concentrated on the Whiltshire Avon and the Wylye so this year I will try to focus on the Nadder! I just love exploring new waters. As my son lives at Redmond, WA I usually get to come out for a month each year. Regards Alan Carter