How fly fishing is helping those who have been through the trauma of breast cancer

PUBLISHED: 12:13 29 June 2017

Fly fishing instruction Clive giving some tuition at Wrackleford

Fly fishing instruction Clive giving some tuition at Wrackleford


Learning how to cast a line on beautiful still waters can help get you back on the road to recovery, as Gillian Payne from the Dorset branch of South West Fishing For Life reveals

Fly fishing is not something you would expect to find on the top of the list of things to do when you have been through the trauma of breast cancer. But as the members of South West Fishing For Life (SWFFL) discovered, taking up fishing has really helped them to get their lives back on track.

SWFFL provides a network of friends and support to help breast cancer patients with ‘moving on’ and coping with difficult times, as well as sharing information and experiences with people who can empathise. Thanks to the generosity of various fishing venues, and all the volunteers, these days are free for members to attend. And if you have never fished before there are friendly instructors on hand to show you the basics of fly fishing.

Founded in 2008 on Wimbleball Lake on Exmoor, the idea for SWFFL was inspired by research that revealed that fly fishing techniques can be very beneficial to build up tissues and muscle for ladies who are suffering or recovering from breast cancer. Not only is casting a line good for you but just being by water in beautiful surroundings is therapy in itself. The initial aim of the organisation was to give anyone who has suffered from breast cancer the opportunity to learn to fly fish for free and in doing so, enhance their well-being and help them to develop a healthy life-long interest.

South West Fishing For Life has now grown to eight groups which meet monthly: Kennick in Devon, Cornwall, Blagdon in Bristol, Dorset, Hawkridge in Somerset, as well as Gloucester/Worcester and a Pennines group in Bolton – the latter are called Fishing For Life.

The Dorset group started in 2013. We meet on the third Sunday of the month (9am- 1pm) at the Wrackleford Estate Fisheries (DT2 9SN) near Dorchester by kind permission of Mr Pope. Ladies are given fly fishing tuition by our qualified coach Clive and there are also sessions on knot tying, entomology – learning to match the hatch, fly tying and conservation. Each morning is concluded with refreshments. The fishing season runs from April to October. And in the winter monthly the groups still meet for fly tying and talks on how to catch fish.

But Fishing For Life is not simply about fishing, it gives participants valuable ‘me’ time and a chance to reconnect with nature by still waters. We always encourage friends and family to support, they can come along and do their own thing and then join us for refreshments afterwards.

In time we hope to have groups all over England, so anyone who has suffered or is living with breast cancer can enjoy what we have to offer at our monthly get together: support, friendship, ‘me’ time, caring volunteers who listen and lots of fun and laughter!

Get in touch!

Lead coach Clive is always happy to chat if you want to know more 07956 074798 or call Gillian on 01398 371244. For more details about the organisation visit

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