Fly Fishing in Europe: The Ultimate Guide

Europe is home to some of the best fly fishing rivers in the world, with so many species of fish to be caught on the fly. So with travel well and truly back on the agenda for many, why not take your passion for fly fishing to destinations you’ve never seen before?

After all, fly fishing is a sport that’s meant to challenge and reward us, so why settle for the same experience in places you know all too well? If the prospect of escaping the day to day hustle is enticing and your need for adventure is at boiling point, read on for our guide to the most stunning and exciting fly fishing trips in Europe.

Nordic fly fishing in Iceland

As European destinations go, Iceland has some of the very best fly fishing rivers to offer. This is a country universally known for its breathtaking skies and awe-inspiring scenery, making it the perfect place to cast your line. With its beautiful sweeping rivers, fast flowing stretches of crystal clear water and majestic falls, Iceland’s fly fishing locations truly capture the essence of the country.

Scenery aside, you will also have an array of different fish to choose from in this part of the world. This little country offers huge potential for some dream angling, and while its seasonal fishing window may be short, it’s well worth carving out some time for.
Famed for its incredible Atlantic salmon, Iceland also presents superb sea trout and brown trout opportunities, as well as the possibility of catching some stunning Arctic char. There’s no doubt you will be spoilt for choice in this part of the Nordics.

One of our favourite Icelandic fly fishing locations is the renowned Langa River. As one of the best fly fishing rivers in Europe, this has been a historically popular destination for English fly anglers since the late 1800s, and with good reason.

As is so typical in Iceland, the upper reaches flow through lava fields, over falls, with small, perfectly designed salmon pools. Its final reaches are about as dramatic and picturesque as you can hope for, with the river dropping into the sea after the famous Crocodile pool.

The Langa has quite rightly earned its reputation as one of the most productive salmon rivers in the world. With just shy of 100 named pools spread over 36 km, this is a dream location for enjoying your favourite sport. Cast your rod from the banks or wade in the glacial clear waters, all while soaking up the glorious scenery in what is an undeniably stunning part of Europe.

Man fly fishing at the Langa River in Iceland

Soak up the highland views while fly fishing in Scotland

A must see location with rod and without, Scotland offers one of the very best fly fishing experiences in Europe, if not in the world. After all, nothing says angling history quite like the Scottish highlands.

With an 11 month long season, incredibly diverse rivers and runs, beautiful surroundings and rich wildlife, anglers come from all over the world for the fly fishing trip of a lifetime.

The Scottish views are certainly bonnie and the fly fishing opportunities are pretty spectacular too. Scotland is one of the world’s premier Atlantic Salmon fly fishing destinations, but there’s more to be caught in this fishing paradise. With vast lochs offering up huge Pike and Wild Brown Trout in abundance, Grayling, Rainbow and Sea Trout are also extremely popular with visiting fly fishers.

The highlight of Scottish fly fishing is the beautiful and prolific Thurso River. Located in Caithness in the far north of the Scottish Highlands, Thurso is rightly regarded as one of Scotland’s premier Atlantic salmon rivers. The river flows for 26 miles or 41km from its source, above Loch More, to Thurso Bay where it meets the Atlantic.

Enjoying a long and productive season, the Thurso River is a particular favourite with anglers through the spring and early summer months, with the opportunity to make a catch never far away. You don’t need to worry about the river becoming too busy either, as a limit on numbers gives everyone a chance to fish all of the river in comfort.

With record catches being enjoyed over the last few years, the Thurso River and the fishing waters of Scotland in general are the ideal destination for those looking for a sense of adventure while keeping close to home.

Clear water fly fishing in Norway

For fly fishers the world over, Norway and its legendary salmon are quite simply the stuff of dreams. Set against an enchanting backdrop of mountains, glaciers and fjords, Norway’s epic and exclusive rivers are home to some of the largest, hardest fighting Atlantic salmon on the planet. The promise of a fish of a lifetime – indeed of several lifetimes – is what brings anglers back year after year.

If that sounds too good to miss, then you will want to add the must-see location of the river Åelva to your fly fishing holiday itinerary. This is Norway’s famous ‘secret river’ which is just too good not to share.

Its tall waterfalls mean the prolific runs are concentrated for much of the season. Indeed, one section of the Åelva – below the prolific Bjalfossen stretch – is reputedly the most salmon-dense stretch of river in all of Europe, with specimens surpassing 40lbs. With its incredibly clear waters, the Åelva is the perfect location for fishing by sight, and you will be hard-pushed to miss the large Norwegian Atlantic salmon within its depths.

One aspect of fishing at Åelva which is often overlooked is the awesome sea trout fishing that can be experienced from late July onwards. One of the best fly fishing rivers in Europe, the sea trout here average around 3lbs, however many fish weighing double figures are caught frequently. The most recent record was 25lb, so your challenge for exceeding that weighty catch is all set.

There is something special about this part of Scandinavia aside from the fly fishing alone, with its mountains, glaciers and deep coastal fjords. The perfect place for outdoor adventures, you will have a myriad of beautiful backdrops to enjoy your favourite pass-time.

Two men fly fishing at the river Aelva in Norway

Fly fishing in stunning Sweden

Our beautiful home of Sweden features a dramatic landscape of forests, lakes, mountains and mighty rivers, which are primarily home to large and aggressive salmon. These awesome stretches of water test the limits and capabilities of all levels of angler who are lucky enough to fish them, but they return again and again thanks to the very real prospect of fighting and landing incredible trophy fish.

Blessed with the perfect water, the Swedes are determined to keep it that way, with stringent protections in place, all driven by our national passion to preserve the wild. After all, this is a country that boasts in the region of 100,000 lakes, some with their own weather systems, offering the most idyllic spots for catching salmon, trout or Arctic char.

The famous Kengis Bruk beat is located on the Torne river. This is a classic salmon fishing beat that annually delivers great catch results, throughout the short but intense season. Opening for fishing on the second full week of June and closing on the last day of August, there are fresh fish running all season.
The Torne river’s average weight for fly caught salmon is 15-18lbs, while many fish weighing 20lbs or more are common. Fish running into the 30 – 40lbs class are caught every year. In 2015, local angler Kristian Stridsman landed a monster fish of 43.7lbs after a short but intense 15-minute battle in the boat pool below the rapids. A battle worth having, to bring home such a catch.

Your catch will no doubt depend on where you land on Sweden’s compass, but whether you are on the lake, river or coastline there is some fantastic fishing to be enjoyed.

We may be biased, but anglers the world over agree with us – Sweden really is a piece of fly fishing paradise.

Where is the best salmon fishing in Europe?

Norway is widely regarded as the best place for fly fishing salmon in the world. The river Åelva is reputedly the most salmon-dense stretch of river in all of Europe, with specimens surpassing 40lbs. So if you are looking for your next big catch, there’s nowhere better to try your luck than this beautiful part of Scandinavia.

Iceland is also one of the best salmon fishing destinations – and one of our favourites – for all of the reasons mentioned above and a whole lot more that is just waiting for you to discover and explore.

If you’re looking for something closer to home, Scotland is also perfect for salmon fishing, with a trip to the Highlands always remarkable for its scenery alone.

And let’s not forget Sweden’s Torne river. It is home to Lapland’s largest salmon, making it a dream destination for salmon fly fishers.

All of the locations we’ve mentioned above are famed for their incredible salmon, making Europe the ideal destination for your next fly fishing experience. It is almost impossible to choose just one from this list as being the best – they all offer so much, for the adventurous and competitive fly fishers among us, and for those simply looking for a gorgeous location to fish in tranquility.

Two men fly fishing for salmon at Kengis Bruk in Sweden

Which country has the best trout fishing?

There are a host of great countries in Europe for trout fishing, with many of our previously mentioned locations having incredible trout runs.

Iceland is undoubtedly one of the best places to fly fish for sea trout and brown trout. In fact, this is a key trout fishing destination, offering some of the finest wild brown trout in the world.

Scotland is also one of the best locations to go fly fishing for trout. Wild brown, rainbow and sea trout are all in abundance, making this another key destination for your fly fishing wish list.

And travel to Sweden to be in your element thanks to the brown trout on the Torne River in the largest country in Northern Europe.

A couple of stand out countries for trout fishing that we’ve not yet mentioned are Slovenia and Spain. Slovenia has a rich fly fishing history and an abundance of great rivers for fly fishing, incredible marble trout and even non-native brook trout.

Similarly, the Spanish Pyrénées is an increasingly popular location for trout fishing, with the country also boasting prime locations for trophy wild trout and sea trout.

Where is the best arctic char fishing?

Without a doubt, Greenland is the best place to fish for arctic char. Lax-á Camp is one of the most prolific fisheries in the world – and one of the most beautiful. A unique, wild and beautiful environment to relax and recharge, the fly fishing opportunities will not disappoint in this extraordinary place. Quite simply you won’t find a better place to chase the arctic char.

Another great opportunity to catch Arctic char is yours for the taking in Iceland. This Nordic island country is a firm favourite of both the LOOP team and anglers from all over the world.

Angling professionals from around the globe also travel to the Sarca River, which runs through the Comano Dolomites in Italy. Why? Because its 300 km of waters are famous for their arctic char. This majestic location has hosted the European and World Fly Fishing Championships, solidifying Italy’s standing as one of the best destinations for arctic char fly fishing.

Man holding an Arctic char fish in a river in Greenland

Make Europe your next fly fishing destination

Whether you want to fish for salmon, trout, arctic char or all of these and more, there is no doubt that Europe has some of the best fly fishing locations in the world. With stunning landscapes and breathtaking scenery in abundance, you can be at one with nature and really get away from it all, while enjoying the thrill of the catch.

Visit LOOP Travel to see our fly fishing lodges across Europe (and the world), and start planning your European fly fishing adventure today.