Imagine an event taking place in a building with flexible exhibition space of six thousand square metres which can accommodate conferences attended by up to two thousand delegates, then you have the potential for a truly spectacular show.

The event in question was the London Fly Fishing Fair which took place recently at the Business Design Centre, Islington. I went along and really enjoyed myself.

The show boasted 85 stands which dealt specifically with tackle and fishing. Apart from fishing, such exhibitors as the Countryside Alliance and the Woodland Trust were there. Fishing-wise, there were interests from many parts of the globe:  from Tourism Australia, destination angling lodges from round the world, to Walthamstow Fly Fishers, based not a million miles from the venue itself.

                             Casting demo in progress

Apart from the many stalls of these diverse exhibitors, the spacious show accommodation housed both a casting demo area as well as a dedicated casting clinic pool. Given such coverage of casting technique alone, it was difficult to conceive of attendees not being able to improve or to learn a few things just by simple observation whilst seated at the poolside.

Fly-tying demos provided a point of contact for those on the lookout for ideas, materials or needing advice.

A huge screen was provided for a series of Powerpoint-aided talks given by fly fishing notables. To be honest, my first thought was that the hubbub and noises-off from the main body of the fair would seriously affect the intelligibility of talks. I was however pleasantly surprised. Presenters used a mike, and volume and audibility were such that concentrating on what was said, whilst looking at the gigantic screen, proved a pleasantly simple matter.


Matt Hayes talking on the quality of artificially-raised fish.

There were 15 talks over each day including presentations by all-rounder, Matt Hayes, on the thrill of catching truly wild fish on the fly, and Peter Cockwill, grand master of the small still-water, on the superb quality of modern-day artificially raised trout – an interesting contrast of themes in itself.

The more traditional side of the tackle trade was admirably represented by Edward Barder who gave a well-illustrated talk on the construction – from scratch – of a hand-built split cane rod.

But in my book, people, not the venue or facilities as such, really make a show like this. The opportunity is there to interact on a grand scale; it is a place to meet and catch up with old friends and make new ones, to chat casually with like-minded people, or do a bit of networking over a drink.

Plenty of stalls giving the opportunity for retail therapy!

One highlight for me was the opportunity to chat to a true notable of the fly fishing world: Barrie Welham, a veteran of the still-water trout scene and of the tackle trade. Barry was many years ago constantly mentioned in the angling press as a skilled practitioner of the mobile style of fly-fishing, stalking individual fish, notably at the famous Two Lakes fishery. Now a lively octogenarian, he still radiates enthusiasm for this great sport of ours, and still fishes regularly, as well as being still involved in the tackle trade.

The next London Fly Fishing Fair is set for 22/23 March 2019:

In 2017, 3,000 attended; this year the figure rose to 3,300. So it looks like the show is on a roll.

For the expert, not-so-expert, just keen, or even prospective, fly fisherman it is a really grand day out for fifteen quid, if ever there was one. Be there!

Rod Sturdy.

Rod began fishing in his local park lake at the age of twelve, and from there he graduated to chub and roach from the river Tees in North Yorkshire. He now lives in Surrey within striking distance of the river Mole, as well as the Medway and the Eden in Kent and does a lot of surface carp fishing on small waters in the area. Latterly he has enjoyed winter fishing on the Test in Hampshire. He has contributed numerous articles on various angling subjects and personalities to ‘Waterlog’ magazine, as well as many posts on environmental and political subjects in support of the work of the Angling Trust on the ‘Fishing Magic’ website (

He remains a passionate angler as well as a member and promoter of the Angling Trust.

The Angling Trust deserves your support in its dealings with politicians and the media to defend and promote fishing. *Find out all about the Angling Trust and its work*or call us on 01568 620447. If you’re not already a member DO consider joining.


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