Free river fly fishing is hard to find, but it does exist. Before you go fishing on any freshwater in the UK you will need an EA Rod License. You can get it here.
There are typically two ways to find free fishing. The first is finding water that's public access, the second is getting permission from landowners to access their water.
There is a fairly significant amount of water that is public access, normally anything that runs through council-owned property can be fished with an EA rod license.
So if you have a river running through a park or a city then it should be free to access. Always check with your local authority though as sometimes it will be controlled by an angling club.
If you find a piece of water which does not seem to be controlled by and angling club and is not on public land then it is likely this water is privately owned. To fish this water you will need the permission of the landowner. In our experience, most landowners are fairly open to people fishing on their rivers. However, you must speak to them first. A nice letter tends to go down well. In regards to finding out who the landowner is, we suggest you ask around in the local area. The pub is normally a pretty good place to start.
The UK also has many excellent angling clubs which provide very affordable fishing. For example, Bradford City Angling Club has a huge amount of excellent trout and grayling fishing that is accessed for about £40 a year. There are also a number of passport schemes around the country offering affordable fishing. The two largest are The Wye and Usk Foundation, and The West Country Rivers Trust.
If you need any help finding fishing, just give us a shout. If we cant help, we will know someone who can.