Saltwater Fly Fishing In The United Kingdom

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What are tides and how do they work? Hopefully this section will help you resolve the question, use the links at the bottom of this page for further information.

The maximum water level is called "high tide" or "high water" and the minimum level is "low tide" or "low water".

The time between high tide and low tide is called ebb or falling tide, the time between low tide and high tide is called flow, flood, or rising tide.

There are four cycles of tides each month,two neap tides and two spring tides. Spring tides are the tides that flood highest up the beach. The biggest spring tides always fall a couple of days after both the new and full moons. Smallest neap tides come two days after the half moon phases.

Tidal flow can be broken down into three segments of two hours to compare how much water is flowing during each part of the tide. The first two hours the tide will rise 25% of it's height. Middle two hours the tide rises 50% of it's height, the final two hours the tide rises a further 25%

The biggest flow of water coincides with the 3rd & 4th hours (middle) of the tide cycle.

Below is one version of a Tide Table Book. You can purchase these from tackle shops and local coastal shops.
Left is the symbols you will see in a Tide Table Book, to the right a fuller explaination of the symbols.

LW = Low Water ("low water")

HW = High water ("high water")

00:13 12:25 are Low water times on a 24 hr clock

06:18 18:26 are High water times on a 24 hr clock

0.9m and 1.5m are the low water height

5.6m and 5.8m are the high water height

Tide Table
Tue 3 Jan = Day and Date
Tue 3 Jan
0.9 m
5.6 m
1.5 m
5.8 m

Below is a photo of a Tidal Graph Chart. You can view these online or purchase CD's with a full years Tidal Graphs for areas around the UK as well as other countries, plus many more features included.

A tidal graph chart shows the time at the bottom with the height of tide left hand side.

You can work out what height the tide will be at certain times of the day. Good way to plan your time of arrival.

Spring Tide: The tidal effect of the sun and the moon acting in concert twice a month, when the sun, earth and moon are all in a straight line (full moon or new moon). The range of tide is larger than average.

MHWS - Mean high water springs

MLWS - Mean low water springs

Use the following link to check todays Moon Phase

Neap Tide: This opposite effect occurs when the moon is at right angles to the earth-sun line (first or last quarter). The range of tide is smaller than average.

MHWN - Mean high water neaps

MLWN - Mean low water neaps

Range: The vertical difference between the high and low tide water levels during one tidal cycle.

Tidal Day: 24 hours and 50 minutes. The moon orbits the earth every month, and the earth rotates (in the same direction as the moon's orbit) on its axis once every 24 hours.

Tidal Cycle: One high tide plus a successive low tide.

Semi-diurnal Tide: The most common tidal pattern, featuring two highs and two lows each day, with minimal variation in the height of successive high or low waters.

( note tides can differ in some areas, best to consult your local tide table. Look in the INFO section for more details on tides. )

We have Tidal Prediction Software for Windows in our SHOP

There are a lot more questions and advice in the Forum




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