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The Peaks Fly Fishing Diaries - Drink Tea and Catch More Fish

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Want to catch more fish? Drink more tea! Want to catch more fish? Drink more tea!

Well known Fly Forums member and fly fishing guide David Johnson of Peaks Fly Fishing starts a new regular column for us this month titled 'The Peaks Fly Fishing Diaries.' We hope you enjoy this first article in which David takes a wry look at the beneficial properties of a good cup of tea to boost your fishing success!


In one of his fine books The Secret Carp, that fine angler Chris Yates discusses the mysterious power of tea on the river bank. In the chapter “The Art of Tea-making” he says “... a fish so often takes the bait just at the moment the angler is sipping his tea”

Whilst Chris’s passion is coarse fishing, as a fly angler I have often wondered about why tea seems to help me when fishing.

There just may be a scientific basis for the magical properties of tea on the river bank. Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs concerns the needs of humans to function and thrive (stay with me here) at a basic level we need to breathe, drink and eat. So what? I hear you say!

If we ensure our basic needs are fulfilled then we can learn, concentrate and develop. This is why some young children these days go to a breakfast club at school or nursery. A bowl of Weetabix does wonders for learning.


Could a hot cup of tea actually be a fisherman's best friend?

Well, we have all been there, stood in a river with cold hands and feeling slightly hungry. For the past half an hour we have been having one last cast at the same rising fish. This is a physical manifestation of a popular definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results!

When we are cold and hungry we fail to meet two of our most important basic needs. As soon as this happens, we stop thinking rationally and lose concentration on the job in hand.

So, this is where the trusty brew comes in handy.

Imagine we climb out of the cold, pour a hot cup of tea and open a packet of hobnobs. 

Suddenly, filled with the joy of tea a number of things happen.

  1. The pool you are fishing is rested from your relentless casting and fish start to rise more confidently
  2. Your basic needs of feeling comfortable, warm and nourished are met, this enables you to think clearer and you realise that the fish may be taking sub-surface and not off the top.
  3. You spend a few minutes looking at the rest of the river and not zoning in on that particular pool and you notice that upstream there is a pocket of fish rising where there were none earlier.

So, time spent drinking tea is rarely time wasted! 

Each Angler has their preferred way of taking tea. Whilst Chris Yates prefers a blend from Miles The Tea Importers with water with the essence of woodsmoke from his Kelly Kettle others will take it “wet and warm” whereas I have settled on Yorkshire Tea bags with a thermos of hot water.

However you like your brew, tea gives you warmth, stimulates your brain and gives you a precious five minutes where the spell is broken. Allowing you to think clearly before the fishy mist descends.


David Johnson


Dave lives near Sheffield on the edge of the Peak District where he has been fly fishing since childhood. He is manager of Peaks Fly Fishing and helps run the Birchinlee Fly Fishing Club. Dave is also brand director for Harkers Fishing and a keen fly fishing writer, contributing to various print and online publications.


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