The Irthing

The association controls several miles of fishing on the beautiful river Irthing, which flows for much of its length alongside Hadrian’s Wall. The Lower Irthing flows through farmland and consists mainly of slow pools, interspersed with faster riffles and runs. The bulk of the Irthing grayling population inhabits this lower stretch and provide an opportunity for sport during the autumn and winter. The upper river differs significantly from the lower, being shallow, rocky and fast flowing in many places. But there are also plenty of deeper pools, which along with the pocket water, hold a healthy population of wild trout. The water in the Irthing is peat stained, and the banks are often tree lined. Access however, is good, though slightly challenging in places, and the river channel is sufficiently wide to allow an unhindered cast. Part of the upper river flows through a deep wooded gorge, which provides shelter on windy days.

Fishing on the Irthing

The Irthing enjoys good seasonal hatches of upwings and sedges, and fish will also take small terrestrials which are blown on to the water from trees. Fish in the lower river respond well to nymph tactics, using small bead head, or lighter patterns. PTN or Hares Ear derivatives cover most situations, and nothing more sophisticated is likely to be required. When fish are looking upwards, small upwing or sedge patterns can be productive, the usual CDC or parachute hackled patterns work well, in appropriate sizes and colours. For the slower pools and glides, fish can be caught on small F fies or Griffiths Gnats.

The same advice applies to the upper river, small bead head nymphs, fished in the heads of the pools, or through faster runs will account for fish. Sedge or parachute patterns are a good choice, but smaller patterns such as F flies and sparsely tied CDC emergers are useful, when fishing the slower water. Fish often congregate under trees, and feed on the insects which drop into the water. Small aphid imitations, Griffiths Gnat or F flies, will fool these terrestrial feeders. Due to the relatively narrow river channel and tree lined banks, fishing spiders in the traditional across and down fashion is difficult. Traditional North Country spiders, with a lightly weighted point fly, fished upstream through the faster pool heads and pockets, can provide good sport for the wet fly enthusiast.

A rod of 8 to 9 feet long, and rated 3 or 4, will be sufficient for most situations on the Irthing, though a slightly longer rod can be useful for nymphing on the lower river.


The river Irthing is particularly well suited to tenkara tactics. The small average size of the typical Irthing wild trout and grayling, and the fast flowing nature of the upper river, in particular provide an excellent opportunity for the dedicated tenkara fisher to practice their art. Although, as mentoned, some stretches are tree lined, access is good enough on most of the river to allow the use of a longer tenkara rod.

Bait fishing is also permitted, in line with the association rules (See rules page), and upstream worming is a popular tactic with some local anglers.