Iceland is an island in the North Atlantic ocean; it covers 103,000 square kilometres and is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Widely known as ‘the land of fire and ice’ due to its glaciers and active volcanoes, it’s dotted with natural wonders.
The landscape is varied, but over 62% of the country is tundra, and over 14% is lakes and glaciers. It’s from these glaciers where most of Iceland’s hundreds of rivers originate, carving and sculpting there way through the landscape on their journey towards the Atlantic.
The crystal clear, high oxygenated waterways are renowned for the world-class freshwater fly fishing they offer. Atlantic Salmon, found in abundance, are what attract thousands of travelling fly anglers year after year. Salmon fishing in Iceland’s rivers is not a new sport as the English gentry first started fly fishing for them back in 1860. It’s now known to many anglers for some of the best Salmon fishing in the world today.
Less known is the fact that there are also outstanding Brown Trout and Char fishing opportunities. Most of the many lakes and the majority of the smaller and colder rivers in Iceland offer good fly fishing for both species.
Below we have listed the main destinations for you to choose from.
This Sportquest Holidays exclusive offers travelling rods the chance to fish some of the most picturesque and productive freshwater fly fishing rivers in all of Iceland. Our beats, located in the northern part of the country, offer two days of quality fishing on each of the Laxá In Aðaldal, Reykjadalsa & Mýrarkvísl Rivers.
The Vatnsdalsá River is one of the most famous Salmon rivers in Iceland and is renowned for the size of fish it produces. Located in the country's North West, approximately three hours drive from Reykjavik, it flows for over forty kilometres and offers a vast array of quality pools and beats. It produces between 700 and 1,200 Salmon each season, with a healthy average size.
The Laxá In Aðaldal, also known as the Big Laxá, is one of the most famous rivers in Iceland. An enchanting river that fishes consistently well throughout the season, it's renowned for being one of the best Trout rivers in Europe and even the world, producing significant numbers of Brownies, averaging 2lb to 3lb, with a good sprinkling of specimens to over 8lb.
The River Lónsá is situated in northeast Iceland amid the Langanes Peninsula and is a name renowned amongst the freshwater fly fishing community. The Lónsá is home to an abundant healthy population of Brown Trout and is also considered one of the very best rivers in Iceland to target and catch the beautiful, elusive Arctic Char.
The Reykjadalsa river, in the northern part of Iceland, is a tributary of the lower section of the Big Laxá I Adaldal and is known as one of the countries best wild Trout and Char rivers. Renowned as a surface fishing and dry fly anglers paradise, it produces high volumes of fish, and it hasn’t been unusual for the river to produce over 3,000 Trout per year.
The Mýrarkvísl Lodge is situated on the banks of the delightful Mýrarkvísl river, the lowest tributary of the Laxá I Aðaldal on the northern coast of Iceland, around 400 kilometres from Reykjavik. It offers a wide range of diverse waterways for anglers to wet a fly and is famed for its numerous quality Trout and Salmon beats, pools and even a lake.
The West Ranga Lodge provides the most prolific Atlantic Salmon fly fishing in the whole of Iceland. This river system which is spring-fed ensure that it very rarely is out of condition. Combine this with first-class accommodation, guiding & operation and you have the perfect Atlantic Salmon fly fishing destination in Iceland.
This is the perfect fishing trip for a novice or experienced angler looking for a short fully guided holiday with the chance of catching an exceptionally large Trout. Fishing on some stunning private beats, you will have your guide on hand to answer any questions and hopefully land and photograph some magnificent fish.
Average Customer Satisfaction Score 91%
"The Mýrarkvísl is a beautiful river set amongst some stunning landscapes and is well worth a trip if you like your fly fishing. Throughout our fishing days, we landed good numbers of Trout and it was truly special. Matti the fishing guide was a great character and extremely knowledgeable."
"What a stunning place so wild and nothing like we have seen or fished before. Our guides were great and taught us that we should not fish to hard as that only spoils your chances. relax take your time, only fish the best parts of the day and rest the water. All such good advice which resulted in some cracking Trout."
"The Vatnsdalsá River was everything I was expecting and more. I was lucky enough to land two Salmon over 10lb while fishing the river, which made my fly fishing dreams come true (an Atlantic Salmon was a species that has always been on my bucket list). Now I've done it once I most certainly want to do it again!"
The majority of the freshwater fly fishing in Iceland is wading, and it’s relatively comfortable and safe. Lots of the stretches are accessed by car, so there’s not too much walking involved, and the destination suits anglers of all fishing and physical abilities.
Salmon are abundant in nearly all the country’s rivers and average between 6lb and 9lb, but larger fish to 20lb are also caught throughout the season. Salmon fishing in Iceland is normally quite busy, and a relatively competent fly angler could easily catch 4-5 fish per day, with many more lost on the way. Of course, river conditions and weather effect catch rate, and so does individual skill, but in most cases, you’d be paired up with a very experienced guide. They are service-minded, speak perfect English and are good fun, ask them anything, and they will do their best to ensure you have the best time.
The Trout and Char fishing in Iceland is also very good, and they inhabit many of the countries waterways. The Char is the most widespread freshwater fish and range from half a pound to over 10lb, and you can catch both resident and sea-run fish.
The Brown Trout are also widespread but do enjoy the smaller, colder rivers. These fish can reach incredible sizes, and fish to over 20lb are landed every year.
The Salmon fishing rivers in Iceland vary greatly and have many different attributes, offering various fly fishing opportunities. They range from flat, meandering plains into fast-flowing stretches cut into deep gorges, interrupted by stunning waterfalls.
As the rivers are so varied, it’s believed Iceland’s earliest inhabitants and Norsemen would have found the rivers either too short for long-distance travel or simply too hazardous for navigation.
Salmon fishing in Iceland can be split into three categories, based on the river you’re fishing and each one’s origin.
You have glacial rivers, which are very dependent on temperature fluctuations. During winter, there is less water flow like water and much water in the form of ice. This volume increases gradually with the longer days, and their water flow reaches a peak in July and August at the hottest time of the year.
Next, you have runoff rivers that rely on precipitation, mainly in the least permeable areas, where the water runs off on the surface. Therefore, these rivers have their best flow in the wetter months during spring and autumn. The air temperature predominantly influences the water temperatures for runoff rivers.
Finally, Spring-fed rivers have constant volume and temperatures the whole year-round. This continuous temperature ensures that these rivers never freeze over at the source.
The Hrútafjarðará River is an excellent three-rod river in the north of Iceland, approximately 180 kilometres from Reykjavik. A beautiful river that runs from Holtavorduheidi down towards Hrutafjordur and full of stunning looking pools.
The Huseyjarkvisl River, situated in northern Iceland, is ideally suited for fly fishing. Each pool offers good pace and holding spots for swinging flies. The water temperature usually is relatively high in Icelandic terms and perfect for salmon activity, making it an excellent surface fishery.
Laxa I Adaldal River is extraordinary with tremendous character. It is an excellent option for those looking for bigger fish in Iceland while at the same time enjoying comfortable accommodation and good food.
Deildara River is a delightful three-rod river situated in the northeastern part of Iceland. It may be just 7 km long, but the 19 named pools offer the chance to catch large multi-sea wintered Atlantic Salmon.
The Hafralonsa River, located in the northeast corner of Iceland, is one of the wild and remote rivers of Thistilfjordur. Salmon run far and deep inland, and at the top, there is a vast canyon with a series of breathtaking falls.
Hofsá River is one of the “big” northeast rivers and one of the two major Vopnafjordur rivers, and it is situated about 600 kilometres from Reykjavik. Hofsá has a long canyon on the top beats, dramatic impassable falls, and a string of challenging pools as the river thunders down the canyon.
The West Rangá River is one of the best known Atlantic Salmon rivers in Iceland. It is not only for its beauty and the great variety of fishing pools but also for the high volume of Atlantic Salmon caught there every year.
Haukadalsá River is an exclusive five-rod Salmon river located approximately 150 km north-west of Reykjavík and less than two hours drive. The river is famous for its easy accessibility and high average catch statistics. It is also one of Iceland’s most attractive salmon rivers.
The Hitara River is ideal for intact parties looking for technical Salmon fishing with a sprinkling of multi-sea winter fish. The Hítará is one of the country’s best-known Salmon rivers. Though an average-sized river, it has a long and remarkable fishing history, dating back to when the British gentry started fishing here.
Laxá I Kjos River is located within Hvalfjordur near Reykjavik. This river has quickly built a fantastic reputation as one of the world’s best small Salmon rivers and is considered one of the more technical Salmon rivers in Iceland. If you have a passion for fishing small flies and hitching, then the Laxá I Kjos is the destination for you.
Thverá Riveris one of the most prestigious Atlantic Salmon rivers in Iceland, frequented by British Salmon anglers since the late 19th century. It is the lower part of the legendary Thverá-Kjarrá River and offers 107 diverse Salmon pools over its 26 km length.
The Grimsa River is one of Iceland’s most beautiful fly fishing rivers and is one of a few Icelandic rivers that has tradition stamped all over it. It was frequented by British lords and generals as early as the late nineteenth century, and whilst, as with most of Iceland’s rivers today, it is primarily a grilse river.
Kjarrá River has all the qualities that make Icelandic rivers famous for Salmon fishing. With crystal clear water and an endless variety of pools, it is one of the top Icelandic rivers. The landscape is breathtaking; you often feel like you are fishing in the middle of nowhere, with only you and nature.
The Langa River is one of Iceland’s most notable Salmon rivers; flowing over 36 km from its source in Lake Langavatn, it offers some beautiful fly fishing water. The crystal clear water has 93 named Salmon pools, and the river has a dependable water flow, relatively easy wading and remains one of the most naturally productive rivers in Iceland.
Laxa I Dolum is a medium-sized river with a fair volume of water flowing down a rocky bed with alternate pools and runs. This river is famed for its large stock of fish and numerous multi sea-winter Salmon caught every year.
Nordurá River is located in Borgarfjörður on the west coast of Iceland and offers outstanding, high-class Atlantic Salmon fly fishing for adventurous anglers. It is the highest producing natural river in Iceland and ideal for small two-handed or single-handed rods.
The Straumfjardara River is a short river fed by two mountain lakes and several smaller springs combined to create 12 km of prime Salmon holding water, with Arctic Char and Sea Trout in it’s lower reaches. It has 27 named pools producing an annual average catch of 400+ Salmon to just four rods.
The Laxá I Asum River is located in the north-west of Iceland amid green and fertile valleys and is approximately four hours drive from Reykjavik. The river is a fly fisherman’s paradise, and most of the 50 named pools are short and don’t take long to fish.
The Miðfjarðará River, Located on the north-west coast of Iceland, is a small, gin-clear river offering world-class and classic Icelandic Salmon fishing. A real Icelandic gem that keeps producing the goods even in low water years.