Is fly fishing the new yoga?

Fly fishing offers everything you need to enhance well-being: An immersive, meditative yet physical activity for mindfulness.

One of the first sports to come back after the lockdowns, the links between fly fishing and positive mental health and physical well-being are well documented. Fly fishing is increasingly being seen as an alternative to yoga or meditation as a natural activity to reduce stress.

It has been used as recreational therapy for women recovering from breast cancer and for traumatised and injured military veterans. Indeed, research in the USA by the Rivers of Recovery programme has identified significant reductions in PTSD in veterans after taking a three-day fly fishing course.

The activity itself is immersive in every sense of the word. It combines the sense of being at one with the water of wild swimming and the meditative features of forest bathing. It is reflective and meditative while being both physically and mentally challenging. The rhythmic casting action requires concentration and dexterity, keeping your mind remains focussed on the task: it is skilled and mindful.

You need to understand what is going on around you, under and above the water. You’ll learn patience – lots of it – while being at one with nature. But that patience is rewarded with moments of thrilling excitement: the flash of a kingfisher, the silent flight of an owl, the splash of a diving water vole or perhaps a glimpse of an otter. Finally (hopefully!), the thrill of the catch and a positive rush of adrenaline and endorphins.

Our local fly fishing locations are beautiful, peaceful and contemplative: good places to hang out for an afternoon and meet new people. Add to this lunch by the river and a post-trip drink and chat and your day is made!

Although a low impact sport, fly fishing is still a calorie burner – for those of you for whom that is important. An afternoon’s fishing can be a total body workout: wading against the flow of water works your core and legs while casting and landing fish works your arm and upper body.

Izaak Walton described fishing as the contemplative man’s recreation. Well, anyone can participate – young and old, male and female. Globally the sport has seen a welcome recent uptake among both the younger generation and women. And yes, there are kit buying opportunities aplenty!

Some of us may yearn to get back to the hustle and bustle of pre-lockdown life but for those who want to hang on to life at a slower pace, spend more time outdoors and enjoy all that our local countryside can offer, maybe give fly-fishing a go.

You can read more on this topic in The Sunday Times article for which Mark was interviewed: Keeping it reel: why millennials are practising mindful fly‑fishing
Download a copy | Read online

Our location

The Cotswolds offers some of the most picturesque stream fishing alongside wonderful places to stay and explore. We can advise on local pubs, B&Bs and hotels near to our fishing venues if you would like to combine your flyfishing experience with a break in the Cotswolds.

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