The West Ranga Lodge is situated only a short drive from Reykjavík in the South of Iceland and is one of the most famous Salmon Lodges in the world and a name at the top of many bucket lists. The West Ranga River runs for over 70 kilometres; its headwaters start near the foothills of the spectacular mount Hekla before it flows towards the sea and joins with the Hólsá. The river is entirely spring-fed from its source, meaning both water temperature and flow are consistent. Iconic amongst the freshwater fly fishing community, it’s home to abundant populations of Atlantic Salmon to over 20lb in weight.
Famed for its beauty, top-quality pools and high volume fishing, over the past 14 years, the river has indisputably been the single most productive Atlantic Salmon river in Iceland, responsible for an annual catch of over 6,490 Salmon. In 2009, it boasted an unprecedented 10,000 Salmon landed in a single season, making it second only to the Ponoi River in Russia in terms of overall productivity.
With 18 rods fishing exclusively on four private beats, spread over approximately 25 kilometres of double bank fishing, it’s no wonder that West Ranga Lodge has become the go-to destination for travelling freshwater fly fishing rods. Whether you are new to Atlantic Salmon or fully experienced, you will enjoy your time both staying at the lodge and fishing this delightful river system.
The West Ranga River is one of the most famous Atlantic Salmon fishing rivers globally and is famed for its abundant fish populations. Approximately just one hour drive from Reykjavík in the South of Iceland, it’s a popular destination for travelling rods and attracts hundreds of anglers each year.
The river has an average width of 50 metres, with varied topography; it features gentle flats and long guiding runs punctuated by impressive multi-tiered falls. The river is entirely spring-fed, which means both water temperature and flow are consistent throughout the year. As a result, it never has low water, and it is seldom if ever, coloured due to flooding and heavy rains. Often the only meteorological threat to anglers is the wind, but thanks to the double bank fishing, it’s never usually a problem.
Salmon populate most of the central river; however, the best fishing gets found from the Árbæjarfoss waterfalls, 15km downstream to the junction of the East Ranga.
Árbæjarfoss, also written as Arbajarfoss, is a waterfall near the small town of Hella. Named after a nearby farm and church, Árbær, it’s one of the most famous spots on the Ranga and in Iceland for Salmon fishing.
Approximately 35m wide and 7m to 10m tall, Salmon on the Ranga must pass this structure to reach their breeding grounds upstream. Anglers who fish in this famous area will probably notice the concrete on the sides of the waterfall, which is a Salmon ladder designed to help the fish on their journey.
One thing that is slightly unusual on the West Rangá is that there is minimal natural spawning habitat. Therefore, it relies heavily on a successful smolt-releasing programme. This programme, which began in 1989, combined with virtually perfect water conditions throughout the season, has made the West Ranga what it is today.
The Atlantic Salmon fishing at West Ranga Lodge gets spread over four beats, which provides approximately 25 kilometres of double bank fishing.
On the majority of the pools, it’s possible to fish with single-handed rods; however, due to its size and prevailing winds, it’s often better to fish with double-handed rods. The longer rods will allow you to cover the larger pools more efficiently and offer better control on a long line through the drift.
As the river is entirely spring-fed, the water tends to be cooler than other Icelandic rivers. For this reason, sunken fly techniques, often in conjunction with sink tip lines (or sinking leaders), are frequently more productive. In addition, the fish will usually respond to smaller flies fishing on floating lines and hitched and stripped Sunray Shadows during warmer weather. If you’re travelling to West Ranga Lodge to sample the fishing, read our blog on Atlantic Salmon Tips On Depth & Speed.
The fishing on the Ranga is easy wading, and the bottom is predominantly made up of black volcanic sand. All the beats on the river get accessed by car, so there’s minimal walking involved. It’s all relatively safe and comfortable and suitable for anglers of all fishing and physical abilities.
The West Ranga Lodge can accommodate 18 anglers, and the fishing is based on two rods per guide. All the guides are incredibly experienced anglers who know the river very well. 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.
Having a guide with you for the duration of your trip can make a huge difference in your success. Not only will they help you catch the Salmon and put you in the right area, but they’re also a huge help when it comes to landing them. There’s nothing worse than losing a fish because of landing difficulties.
One of the unique things about fishing at West Ranga is how flexible the fishery can be; all trips can be tailored entirely to suit your needs. A maximum of 18 rods per day are allowed on the beats, but all get fished on a rotation schedule, provided on arrival; this ensures every rod gets to fish their fair share of waterfalls and selection of pools.
On the Ranga a popular feature is the ability to rod share, so two anglers can share one rod, but only one can fish at any one time. Rod sharing is an excellent way of reducing costs and making the trip even more cost-effective. If you do rod share, then in general, you also have to share a room, unless there’s space available for you to have your own. There’s a small supplement for this if there is, and it’s on a strictly first-come, first-serve basis.
The fishing days at the Lodge get set in even numbers, so it’s possible to have 2,4,6 or 8 days fishing. However, it’s worth mentioning that you’ll fish a half-day at the very start of your holiday and then a half-day on departure day. So, for example, if you book four days fishing, you’ll enjoy a half-day on arrival, two full days back to back, and then a half-day on the day you depart.
To find out more about West Ranga Lodge and Atlantic Salmon fishing in Iceland, visit our YouTube channel.
Fishing on the West Ranga river gets split into two daily six-hour sessions, from 7.00 am to 1.00 pm and then from 4.00 am to 10.00 pm. The lengthy amount of fully guided fishing time you get is one of the main reasons why many anglers decide to rod share, that and the fact that rod sharing is very economical.
The number of fish anglers can expect to catch will vary significantly on angling ability, but a competent fly angler could land anything from 2-6 fish per day, with many more lost on the way. Of course, as with any form of fishing, river conditions and weather affect average catches, so these figures are only a guide.
There is a strict policy in Iceland that visiting anglers must have their fishing tackle sterilised before entering the country, which is something a veterinary surgeon can easily perform. They can then provide you with a certificate and a signed inventory of what has been sterilised, which will need presenting to the customs officers at Keflavik airport. The most critical items to be treated are rods, reel/line, waders and flies.
Another and more convenient alternative before entering the country is handing your fishing equipment over to customs officers at arrival. They will then be able to disinfect your tackle for you. This takes around 15-20 minutes and costs approximately €40 per person.
West Ranga Lodge is consists of two main buildings; first, there is the leading block which houses the main dining room, kitchens and lounge area. The lounge area is ideal for relaxing with a nice drink on the comfortable leather couches and chairs while unwinding and sharing the days fishing experiences. This central block has a commanding view over the river right at the bottom of the waterfalls and the home pool. The bar has beer on tap as well as many spirits to tempt you. Outside you will find a wader room and drying room to change your clothes at the end of each day. The lodge also has an outside hot tub to soak away all those aches and pains after a long day fly fishing. In total, the lodge has 22 rooms that all provide a private bathroom with shower.
During your stay at the lodge, you can enjoy a daily breakfast buffet, lunch and evening meal in the restaurant located close to the river. The food is prepared every day by the very experienced “top-notch” chefs and served by friendly staff. Mealtimes to work with the fishing are as follows: Breakfast: 06:00 – 10:00, Lunch: 13:00 – 15:00 and Dinner: 21:00
At West Ranga Fly Fishing Lodge there is a small shop where you can find all the fishing equipment you need to fish in Iceland. Staff are always on hand to help you find the right tackle. In the shop, you will find brands like Rio and Sage. So, if you need leaders, tippets, flies, hooks, rods, reels, clothing, and accessories, you will find everything you need in the shop. You can pay with almost any credit or debit cards.
For your convenience, the Lodge also offers free high-speed wireless access. So you can check e-mails or send bragging photos to your friends, family and fellow anglers back home.
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)
Arrive Reykjavik-Keflavik International
On arrival, the lodge manager will show you to your room and provide you with details of the fishing rotation and beat maps and introduce you to your guide for your first evening’s fishing. You will leave the lodge with your guide around 3 pm by 4×4 vehicle to your beat for the evening.
Fishing is based on 2 rods per guide, and there are 4 anglers per beat. You will get to fish all pools in your beat over the next 6 hours of fishing. You will fish until around 9 pm before returning back to the lodge for your evening meal.
Overnight Accommodation: West Ranga Lodge (Single Room) F/B
Rise early to take breakfast in the dining room. After breakfast, depart at 7 am with your guide to the river. You will fish a different beat and several pools on the rotation system and continue to fish until around 1 pm.
Returning to the lodge lunch will be available and then is time to take a well-earned rest before the evening session.
Around 3 pm you will again return to the river with your guides for another fantastic 6-hour session fly fishing for Atlantic Salmon. Our guides are there to help you so if you need any assistance please feel free to ask. Also, our guides have available any flies you might need for purchase.
You will fish until around 9 pm before returning back to the lodge for your evening meal.
Overnight Accommodation: West Ranga Lodge (Single Room) F/B
After a hearty breakfast depart to the river with your guide around 7 am to fish your morning session. After your morning session, it will be time to return back to the lodge and depart for the international airport.
Once you have checked out and paid any gratuities and bar bills our staff will drive you back to Reykjavik International airport.
Transfer back to the airport will either be by private transfer your car hire (not Included)
Depart Reykjavik-Keflavik International
Average Customer Satisfaction Score 87%
"We just loved West Ranga Lodge, the river, guides and fishing was just what we needed after a few stressful months. Would highly recommend the rod sharing as there is more than enough fishing each day for an old couple. We would love to return maybe in a couple of years time."
"We had a marvellous three days fishing, the fishing gods really took our side. The river conditions and numbers of fish was 100% made all the better to the attentive guides and lodge staff. If you like Salmon fishing and wish to catch some fish for a change we highly recommend it."
"I say what an amazing adventure. It is so easy to get to the lodge and with a small village close by. We love Iceland and have enjoyed many of its rivers and this lodge is up with the best. The only regret we wished we had booked longer, we tried to extend our stay while but no surprise they were fully booked."
The season runs from 20th of June to 20th of October.
Season: 20th of June to 20th of October
Peak: July 15th to August 25th
Average Weight: 9lb
Season: 20th of June to 20th of October
Peak: All July
Average Weight: 2.5lb
If you wish it is possible to share a rod, which then means accommodation will be based on a twin room. If you are interested in rod sharing please call our offices on 01603 407596
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 surcharge.
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