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 runs through the lush Vatnsdalur valley in Hunavatnssysla, plunging through many beautiful waterfalls into a magnificent river canyon. The primary sources of the large catchment area are the pristine and unpolluted heaths on the Southern side of the Valley: Audkúla and Grímstunga, while the Vatnsdalur itself is, without a doubt, one of the most picturesque in all of Iceland. Flowing for over forty kilometres, the Salmon can almost run the river’s entire length, until they reach the majestic Dalsfoss falls.
Approximately half of all the Salmon in the Vatnsdalsá weigh over 10lb in weight, having spent two or more years at sea feeding on the rich ladder of saltwater food found in the marine environment before returning to the river. However, each year, thanks partly to the rivers strict catch and release and fly fishing only policies implemented in 1997, many fish over 20lb and even 25lb get landed every season.
Featuring a vast array of quality pools and beats and throwing up between 700 and 1,200 Salmon in a three-month season, it’s no surprise that the Vatnsdalsá is a name popular amongst the freshwater fly fishing community and attracts travelling rods from all around the world.
Flowing for over 40 kilometres, the Vatnsdalsá Rivers features three main Salmon beats, stretching to around 20 kilometres in length, giving every angler enough space to enjoy the beauty and serenity of this unique river. Each beat offers a selection of quality Salmon fishing pools, with more than four dozen, along with two lakes – Húnavatn and Flódid. The middle section of the river, around 12 kilometres in length, is also famed for its fantastic Arctic Char, Brown Trout and Sea Trout fishing.
Hnausastrengur is the lowermost fishing pool and one of the best and most famed on the entire river, it’s the first stop for the Salmon on their migration, but many fish stay in the pool for the whole of the season. Although not easy to fish, it produces many fish every season, including some to specimen proportions. A long pool fished from the top in hard water, it’s common to see the Salmon break surface, often within metres of the anglers fishing it. In the lower part, the current evens out, and although it might look dull, it produces good numbers of fish each year.
There are a few pools above Hnausastrengur before the river enters the lake Flóðið, although these only get fished when the Salmon are running. From where the river enters the lake and just over 10 kilometres upstream, the waters hold good stocks, of mainly Sea Trout and sea-run Arctic Char.
Above the Trout beats, the river is small to medium in size with a steady current and littered with little holding spots, bigger pools and deep holes. The cliff at Stekkjarfoss is a popular spot, and it’s not unusual to see the Salmon in the clear water, although great caution must be employed if attempting to fish for them – they’re incredibly spooky.
Above the Salmon ladder at Stekkjarfoss and up to Dalsfoss requires a long walk and plenty of work, so doesn’t tend to see too much angling pressure. Although each year, it does produce its fair share of fish.
The Álka River itself is also famous for its Salmon fishing, and it’s easy to spend a day or two fishing its beautiful banks, although it almost warrants a stand-alone trip.
The Vatnsdalsá River is perfect for fly fishing, and its wide variety of water and pools make it a true dream to fish – It has to be one of the finest spots in Europe to wet a fly. It’s by no means an easy river to fish, and you have to work to get results, but it’s even more rewarding when you do. Having a guide on the river is almost essential, not just to ensure you get the very best out of your holiday and increase your chances of success, but also because many river crossings need negotiating safely. Using the services of a guide can often be the difference between catching and not, so our package on the Vatnsdalsá is fully guided, including a car and fuel.
The river is ideally fished with a 12ft 8-weight or 9-weight rod. While single-handed rods work well for most of the situations you will encounter, it’s always worth packing a double-handed model as this will give you greater control over your fly and allow you to work the pools more effectively. Small tube flies and ‘hitched’ flies are the most effective and exciting – watching a big Atlantic Salmon engulf one of these from the surface must be one of the most exhilarating fly fishing experiences. We recommend travelling rods bring their own tackle, including everything from waders and boots, to rods and reels, to flies and fly lines.
To find out more about the fantastic Atlantic Salmon fishing on the Vatnsdalsá River in Iceland, visit our YouTube channel.
The Vatnsdalsá River is one steeped in history, and the earliest records of anglers fishing this magnificent river date back to the early nineteenth century. For twelve years, between 1951 and 1963, the river lease was controlled by Icelanders. During this time, many prominent anglers spent time fishing its banks, including the former President of Iceland, Ásgeir Ásgeirsson.
In 1964, John Ashley-Cooper, a famous English angler and angling author, signed a ten-year lease agreement on the Vatnsdalsá River and gained control over leasing parts of the river to other anglers. When the lease was signed, the landowners decided to build a modern lodge, and the lodge, named Flódvangur, still stands today.
Fast forward some thirty years, and Pétur Pétursson took over in Vatnsdalsá River, with his vision to turn the system into a self-sustaining river. Pétur was keen to implement a strict ‘catch and release programme and did so. Thought to be the first of its kind in the country, the river flourished and based on research carried out in 2012 it’s now considered to be the best, most productive spawning river in Iceland.
“Game fish are too valuable to only be caught once.” – Lee Wulff
The Flóðvangur Lodge, located to the west of Flódid lake, was built in 1964 and has been attracting anglers ever since.
Reconstructed and revamped in modern times, it features a range of rooms equipped with comfortable beds, toilets, and showers. The common seating area is spacious and relaxing and features a TV, free Wifi, a separate dining area and a range of far-reaching views.
Right outside the lodge, you can enjoy a soak in an outdoor hot tub or take a ‘schvitz’ in the steam bath. If you fancy a few hours off from the fishing, then it’s possible to have a round of golf on the lodge’s 4-hole golf course, partake in some horseback riding or even enjoy one of many wonderful nature walks.
To the owners of Flóðvangur Lodge, good food is incredibly important, and their passionate chefs have created an outstanding menu, working with nature and natural resources from Vatnsdalur Valley. As a result, every customer will have an option that suits their palate, and all specific requests are catered for, whether you are a vegetarian, vegan or have a food allergy.
Anglers start their day with a hearty breakfast before fishing starts around 8 am, going through until midday when you have lunch by the river or return to the lodge if you prefer. Fishing then commences after lunch until late afternoon. When you get back to the lodge, and after you’ve refreshed, a three-course meal gets served.
The below itinerary is flexible should you require additional fishing days or additional free days to explore; we can tailor this itinerary to suit you personally. Feel free to talk to our travel consultants who can explain all options available.
Depart UK (alternative routes available)
Once you arrive in Keflavik and have collected your bags you’ll be met by a representative from the Vatnsdalsá River and transferred to the fishing Lodge.
The journey to the Flóðvangur Lodge is around 3.5 hours.
Once at the lodge you’ll need to unpack and get ready for the first half a day of fishing. Fishing starts at 16:00 on arrival day.
Overnight Accommodation: Flóðvangur Lodge (Single Room) F/B
For the next 3 days, you’ll be fishing the beautiful Vatnsdalsá River, once of the most famous in Iceland, for the hard fighting Atlantic Salmon.
Flowing for over 40 kilometres, the Rivers features three main Salmon beats, stretching to around 20 kilometres in length, giving everyone enough space to enjoy the beauty and serenity of this unique river.
Overnight Accommodation: Flóðvangur Lodge (Single Rooms) F/B
After breakfast, you’ll head out for half a days fishing, fishing until 12.00 pm.
After fishing, a representative from the Vatnsdalsá River will transfer you back to Keflavik.
The journey from the Flóðvangur Lodge to Keflavik is around 3.5 hours.
Once back in Keflavik you’ll need to check into your overnight hotel.
Overnight Accommodation: Airport Hotel (Twin Rooms) B/B
After breakfast, you’ll need to make your way to Keflavik Airport ready to board your flight home.
Average Customer Satisfaction Score 90%
"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 Vatnsdalsá River was certainly kind to us, with all our rods landing at least one Salmon. The accommodation was very comfortable and it was nice to mix with like-minded people. The food was very tasty and well needed after a busy day on the river. Overall it was a very nice trip and I'd have no hesitation in recommending it to others."
"Unfortunately, due to some unsavoury conditions, the river fished incredibly hard. However, we did manage two Salmon in our group. Everything apart from the fishing was brilliant though and all the trip has left us with is a deep urge to get back next year, hopefully during some better conditions, to sample more of what the Vatnsdalsá River has to offer."
The season runs from June to Septmber.
Season: June to September
Weight: 5lb to 30lb
Average Weight: 10lb
Remember that Sportquest Holidays' services are completely FREE! When you book a trip with Sportquest Holidays, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge and flights independently.
Prices are based on one adult in single room accommodation fishing 1 rod (unless otherwise stated) and are correct at the time of going to press. Subject to time of year or date and currency fluctuations, these prices may fluctuate slightly due to flight price increases or fuel surcharges.
Bella Sofia Lodge is new for 2023, offering anglers single rooms and world-class Sea Trout fishing on the Rio Gallegos and the Rio Gallegos Chico Rivers. Based on only six rods per week, it offers guests more than 10 kilometres of water each to wet a fly, making it the most exclusive fishery in all of South America.
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 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.