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Species Spotlight: Arctic Char

Name: Arctic Char

Scientific Name: (Salvelinus alpinus)

Common Names: Blue backs, Torgoch, Red belly’s

ARCTIC CHAR Description

The Arctic Char is a cold-water fish that is a member of the family Salmonidae. Char can be found the furthest north of any freshwater species and can be found in lakes as far north as the Canadian Arctic islands. Char can be found in most waterways, including lakes, rivers and the sea, with running fish that return to their home river each year to breed. Fish returning into fresh water from the sea are known for their harder fighting capabilities, much like Trout and Salmon. Although the Arctic Char would be considered rare in Britain and Ireland only being found in deep glacial lakes but in many parts of the subarctic world they are extremely abundant. Due to the Arctic Chars vast range and very often isolated existence, they are subject to distinct Morphological changes creating vast differences in size, colours and habits.

Average ARCTIC CHAR Size

Because of the Arctic Chars tendency to morph its size range can differ greatly with fish in certain types of water averaging only a 1lb but with certain rivers of northern Europe and Canada holding beasts that can reach up to 30lb. Overall, fish ranging between 2 and 5lb would be considered average for anglers travelling to target Arctic Char.

Where to catch Arctic Char

Arctic Char can be found and caught in many waters throughout Northern Europe and North America, but as I mentioned earlier, the size difference between some areas and others is huge. If you are an angler looking to target larger specimens, then countries worth looking at would be Greenland, Alaska, Iceland, and Norway, each with its own variation of the species. Rivers tend to be more attractive propositions for the fly angler as the fish generally grow slightly larger on average and styles of fishing the rivers more enjoyable. Some lakes can be of interest to anglers, such as Lake Thingvallavatn in Iceland that holds four different subspecies of Char that only two of them can be found here.

Arctic Char Fishing Methods

When choosing tackle for Arctic Char, you first need to look at the type of water and the size of fish that you are likely to encounter. If you are fishing in rivers that have a good flow and hold decent sized fish like Greenlands, Kangia River, then using a switch rod or small spey rod of 6/7# would be of great use. When fishing in higher water, a small double-handed rod gives you great control of your flies and any fish you hook during the fishing day. High water conditions allow you to swing quite large flies such as intruders and 2 to 3-inch tube flies that can really entice an aggressive response from big angry Char. Single-handed rods in 5/6# can be used with floating lines and long light leaders in lower water conditions. Types of flies for fishing this way can be nymphs and small streamers.

Contact us

If you have any questions about our Arctic Char fishing trips, you can contact our experienced fly fishing team member, Peter Collingsworth, who will help with any questions you have on 01603 407596 or by emailing

If you would like to see some action of these fish being caught out in Greenland, make sure to check out our arctic char fishing playlist on Youtube, which you can find here.

Tight Lines,


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