A Pro Team member for Semperfli and an accomplished fly-tyer, Phillippa Hake is happiest casting on a river – wherever it is
It began with a fly-tying starter kit and became a passion for Phillippa Hake, as she discovered the joy of catching a fish on a fly she had tied herself.
For more sporting Dianas, seriously sporting ladies offering advice and encouragement, Rosie van Cutsem founded The Riding Club London and TROY London for women in the field. And Marina Gibson launched the Northern Fishing School to introduce as many people as possible to the sport.
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I first picked a fly rod up at the age of 12 and have never looked back. It’s not just a diversion to enjoy at the weekend but a real passion, something I have come to love. I am often asked: “How did you get into fishing?” My parents have a touring caravan and are in a caravan club that tours all over the UK. We were staying at a campsite close to Carsington Water in Derbyshire, where my dad was going out on a boat with one of his friends. Did we have any idea what we were doing? Of course not. But from that moment I was hooked.
I didn’t catch my first trout on the fly until the summer following that trip to Carsington. It’s a day I will never forget. We took a trip to Raygill fisheries close to where we live in Halifax, West Yorkshire. It was a red-hot day in the middle of a heatwave. I was fishing a black and yellow Montana nymph on a floating line when all of a sudden, bang! If you’ve ever fished at this fishery you will know that there are some monsters in there. I was into my first-ever trout and was full of joy when I netted it. To make it even more special, I was the only person to catch a fish that day.
Soon after my first trout I discovered fly tying. My dad had bought me a starter kit and his words were: “The worst £70 I’ll spend this year,” as he thought I would use it for a week and then get bored with it. Little did we know that that little box would erupt into taking over the spare room.
What I love most about tying flies is the confidence boost and buzz it gives you when you catch a fish on a fly you’ve tied. Tying up creations and trying them out on the river is the most satisfying thing ever. And the fly-tying shops with all the materials in such different colours is like going into a sweet shop.
Over the past six years I have been lucky enough to be sponsored. I am now a Pro Team member of Semperfli, a Yorkshire-based company manufacturing fly-tying materials, and submit blogs for the hook company Fulling Mill. I also tie at many fly-tying shows up and down the country each year. In 2020, I’ll be returning to the Fly Tying Rows at the British Fly Fair for the third time and in July I’ll be at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate. Fly-tying shows and social media have made a massive impact on my fly-tying journey. Meeting the people who I would get my inspiration from to tying next to them at these shows.
It is a joy to come home from work in the summer, tie up some flies and take myself off to the river to fish the evening rise. I’m lucky to live in Yorkshire, where the rivers are full of wild trout and grayling.
Although I do prefer river fishing to still-water fishing, in 2016 I was a member of the England ladies team who compete every year in the Ladies International against Wales, Scotland and Ireland, where I learnt a lot from my team mates. But my true love is running water and wild trout. My favourite rod set-up would be a 10ft 4wt river rod accompanied with a Hends Camou French Leader and two jig nymphs, a Purple Majestic Jig and a Natural Quill Jig Nymph.
The one thing I love most about fishing is the destinations you’ll get to go to. I’ve had a number of trips to Europe with my good friend Lisa Isles, who inspires me to travel the world. We travelled to France to fish the northern chalkstreams and over to Poland to fish the mighty River San.
More and more women are picking up fly rods. Fishing is so much more accessible now than when I started. Fishing clothing has improved in particular, with ladies’ waders, wading boots and fishing shirts.
It is important not just to get more women involved in fishing but children, too. There are a number of organisations up and down the country that offer a gateway for kids to fish, such as Fishing for Schools, the charity founded by Charles Jardine. It offers children the chance to discover fishing whilst learning new skills, gaining confidence all whilst having fun. That’s the most important thing; to have fun.
TOP TIPS: Start off at an easy fishery, one that will offer you room to cast without getting caught in trees and is stocked regularly. Always ask the staff at the venue where the best spots have been and what flies are fishing well. Then progress to river fishing.