The Great British Fishing Survey

fishing tackle

Tackling angling questions.
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Thank you to the 3,162 anglers who took part in our recent fishing survey. We had some very interesting results…

Use the links below to head straight to each section of the survey data, or just read on.

Headlines Carp fishing Fly fishing
Sea fishing Miscellaneous answers Get the complete set of data


Dream Holidays

If money were no object, here’s where the anglers that took part would most like to go on a fishing holiday:

1st 2nd 3rd
Carp anglers River Ebro, Spain DreamLakes, France Anglers Paradise, Devon
Fly fishermen New Zealand Canada Alaska
Sea anglers Norway Florida Iceland

There’s more detail on holiday destinations in the individual fishing sections below.

You’d rather go fishing

50% of our respondents admitted dodging work to go fishing.

Common excuses include illness, family emergencies or a car breakdown.


Families fare no better than jobs for an angler’s commitment.

  • 46% have missed birthdays, anniversaries and weddings in favour of a day’s fishing.
  • 10% have even missed job interviews
  • a couple of participants confessed to dodging their own honeymoon to go fishing!


Fishing can be dangerous

  • 30% have had injuries or illness while fishing
  • fishing tackle causes the most injuries
  • falling was also a common cause of injury


Rod licenses get thumbs up

Rod licenses are strongly supported in the UK. Those in favour:

  • Carpers: 91%
  • Coarse anglers: 93%
  • Fly fishermen: 75%
  • Sea anglers: 60% said they’d support a sea rod license if the proceeds helped to improve sea fisheries.

Conservation is under-supported

  • 44% of anglers that answered the survey do not support any conservation organisations.

For those who do actively support conservation, the Angling Trust is the most popular conservation group among anglers.


Fishing is a lifelong passion

  • 61% of respondents have been fishing for over 30 years, and 16% for over 50 years
  • 78% of anglers that took the survey are over 40
  • 68% started fishing under the age of 10
  • 17% began their waterside obsession when they were under five years old!

Family fishing traditions

Well over half of all the fishermen and women that took part in the survey were introduced to the sport by a member of their family. Most of these (38%) were parents, but a quarter were brought to fishing by a grandparent, sibling, uncle or aunt.


Fishing disciplines

The largest group of respondents is carpers – 36%. The next largest group is the fly fishers at 31.5%. Coarse anglers make up 21.5%, and the remaining 11% are sea anglers.


Why do people fish?

Everyone has their own reasons, and when we asked ‘Why do you go fishing?’, the top answers were ‘to enjoy natural surroundings’, ‘to relax’, ‘peace and quiet’, and ‘the thrill of the catch’.

why do you go fishing?

What can you get from fishing?

73% told us they get happiness from fishing. 60% have found friends through fishing, and 2% of respondents have even found their partners through fishing!


Carp fishing

Fighting over fishing spots

Carpers are largely a peaceable group, but there’s still a bit of conflict at the waterside. Just under 10% of carp anglers reported that they’d had a fight about their preferred fishing spot.

How is time waiting for a bite spent?

There’s often time to fill while you’re waiting that bite, and we asked carp anglers how they spend that time.

what carpers do when they're waiting for a bite

Anglers tend to stay focused on the task in hand, with a good third preparing tackle and bait. Carping is clearly a social sport, as the third most popular activity was to chill with mates. Sleeping is also a popular pastime.

Fishing days and holidays

33% of carpers spend three or four days a month fishing, but a good quarter of our respondents manage to get 5-10 days fishing in. A lucky 2% manage more than ten days a month fishing.

If you’re fishing for more than a few days, there’s a good chance you’ve taken time off work. We asked where carpers’ dream fishing holiday destination was. Spain’s River Ebro was the most popular, with 16% of the vote, followed closely by Dream Lakes in France with 13.7%. Pipped into 3rd place with 13.5% was Devon’s Anglers Paradise.


Annual spend

A great many carp anglers manage to keep their annual spend under £1000 – 47% of them, in fact. Less than 2% spend more than £4,000 per year.


In terms of conservation, the numbers weren’t quite as strong. The Angling Trust is supported by 31% of our respondents, but 61% reported that they didn’t support any conservation organisations at all.

Fly fishing

Fly tying vs fly buying

Flies are obviously crucial to the fly fisherman or woman. Whether or not they make their own flies is a personal choice. We asked, and it turns out that 66% of respondents do make their own flies.

Fishing holidays

New Zealand, Canada and Alaska are the top dream fly fishing holiday destinations. Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents want to cross the globe and head to New Zealand.

top fly fishing destinations


The proportion of fly fishers that support a conservation organisation is higher at 48%. Again, the Angling Trust is the most supported by this group.

Sea fishing

Seasickness isn’t too much of a problem, but 10% of respondents did say they got seasick. We feel for these people – rotten luck to love a sport that makes you feel unwell!

Sea fishing holidays

We asked: “If you won the lottery, what would be your top sea fishing holiday destination?”

Norway came out top with 34% expressing the land of the fjords as their first choice. Florida was in second place with 16%, and Iceland was the choice of 10% of sea anglers.

best sea fishing holiday destinations


Only 44% of sea anglers who took the survey support any conservation organisations – the majority of those that do come down on the side of the Anglers Trust

Miscellaneous answers

Lies about catch sizes

One question we asked was ‘How often do you lie about the size of your catch?’. We wondered if we’d get some controversial results here, but it turns out that anglers are an honest bunch. 64% told us they’d never lied about what they’d caught:

lying about the size of your catch

Fishing and technology

We asked you how you felt about fishing gadgets. 62% of anglers generally don’t care, but 30% love them, with the remainder not caring at all. The largest group of technology fans is the carpers – 44% of this group love gadgets!

Fishing tackle security

Tackle theft is a growing problem. 30% of anglers in the survey have lost fishing equipment to tackle thieves.

Fishing as an Olympic event?

Fishing hasn’t been an Olympic sport for 115 years. We asked if anglers thought it should be an Olympic sport now, and only 41% said ‘yes’.

Get the complete set of data

Those are the results of our Great British fishing survey. If you’d like to study the data a bit more closely, get in touch at and we’ll be happy to share it with you.