Iceland fly fishing adventure travel tips
We recently returned with huge smiles fresh off a DIY fly fishing trip to the land of fire and ice to provide you with Iceland fly fishing adventure travel tips. By no means was this an easy itinerary. But, we worked hard, chased and caught fish of a lifetime while surrounded by Iceland’s unmistakeable and ethereal volcanic landscape. During our 8-day adventure we wandered the countryside and fly fished a variety of lakes, creeks and rivers. Hundreds of hours went into planning this trip. Having learned some hard lessons, we came back with a few Iceland fly fishing adventure travel tips to pass on to you to help make your fly fishing adventure to this one-of-a-kind destination seamless and fun.
Is Iceland worth it?
This is a question about Iceland often heard in the fly fishing community. The answer is a resounding “hell yeah”. This country boasts some of the best trout and char fishing I have ever experienced. Having said that, it’s one of the most difficult places to fish in terms of logistics and the understanding of where to fish (not to mention obtaining permission to fish). All of Iceland basically acts as “private property fishing” meaning permission and/or permits must be obtained prior to fishing any waters. This might sound like a big turnoff but it actually makes sense and can be a positive in the long run. The local Icelandic people are still a bit old-school and seem to kill every fish they catch. When doing research for this trip you will see photo upon photo of smiling locals standing over there dead catch on the bank in numbers ranging from dozens to hundreds. In some lakes they drag big nets through and harvest huge amounts of fish. This mentality comes from historical suffering during hard times where they had to rely on fish yields to get them through—understandable when you stop and think about it. That’s why the “pay-to-play waters” really are a good idea as these waters are protected from being cleaned out. Not to mention the fish grow big… very big. If you’re thinking about heading to Iceland to chase large brown trout and arctic char, here are a few Iceland fly fishing travel tips from lessons we learned.
Tip #1: Turns out Iceland is a big country
We greatly underestimated the size of Iceland as well as the time it takes to navigate the winding roads found throughout the island. If you’re traveling for a week or less it’s highly recommended that you focus on specific areas to avoid spending your time sitting in the car the entire time.
Tip #2: Rent a 4×4
Rent a 4×4 if you want to fish the highlands, a real 4×4! Early in the planning process we realized we needed to rent a 4×4 rated for “F” roads if we were going to travel within the interior to the more remote highland lakes. We encountered problems when our 4×4 had very little clearance and had to turn around when trying to access some sought-after, high country lakes and creeks. Spend the $$ and get a real 4×4 if you’re planning on going into Iceland’s interior.
Tip #3: Buy the fishing card
Buy the fishing card but use it wisely. Purchasing this card is an economical way to fish a bunch of water around Iceland and get more bang for your buck! This card costs about $60USD and gives you access to 36 lakes in Iceland. We found these lakes to be hit or miss—mostly misses, unfortunately. The fly fishing card a worthwhile purchase when planning around the other rivers you’ve already set up, especially if you’re close by one of the lakes or have extra time to kill. Order it well in advance of your trip. Once ordered you should receive it in about 10 days with a solid brochure with some great information and options to study.
Tip #4: Contact a local fly fishing company to book private rivers
I know this is a little different from fishing in other countries but it’s really the way to go in Iceland. Most booking companies, like gofishing.is, have a lot of options to choose from and will put you on the best water for the season you’ll be in Iceland as the fishing changes greatly throughout the year. The rivers we chose were $200/day per angler. We shared two rod fees between three people in order to save money which seemed to work great. You usually get 12 hours of fishing for the full day so we didn’t mind sharing the rods.
Bonus Travel Tip
If you lack cold weather camping gear or just don’t want to travel with huge bags, there is a great company that rents out most camping gear you’d want. They also have camping gas for stoves for sale. We traveled with most of our gear but rented camp chairs and a table while in Iceland. Having essential camp gear definitely made our trip much more comfortable. Order your gear well in advance of your trip as it’s a very popular service: iceland-camping-equipment.com.
Here’s a few other links to check out:
- General Information: icelandfishingguide.com
- Fishing Card: gofishing.is/veidikortid-the-icelandic-fishing-card/
- Camp Equipment: iceland-camping-equipment.com
- Interactive Map: en.ja.is/kort/
We hope these tips help in planning your own Iceland fly fishing trip and, as always, feel free to contact us with questions.
Story, Photos and Film by Ryan Bonneau
cofounder • Chasing Scale