Lítið A_9684 (1)

Indispensable for trout and char fishing

Below is a list of ten essential char and brown trout nymphs for Icelandic rivers and a brief description of what they emulate and what sizes are commonly used:

1. Peacock – Simple, but still the most used nymph in Iceland and emulate caddis cases and are often mistaken for midge or chironomid. Sizes: 8 – 16 


2. Pheasant tail – The first choice of many anglers and suitable for all conditions, with or without a beat. First designed by the English riverkeeper Frank Sawyer to imitate multivariate nymph species. Sizes: 10 – 16 

Pheasant Tail

3. Krókurinn “the hook” – A very productive fly that was designed by Gylfi Kristjánsson, an Icelandic fly tyer. Emulates several aquatic insects preferably a hatching Chironomidae. Usually tied on a size 10 – 16 hooks.  


4. Peter Ross – Originally a wet fly, but has proven to be lethal as a nymph. Flashy colors and works great as an attractor pattern especially when it comes to char fishing. Most often used in size 10 – 14

Peter Ross

5. Killer – Originally designed by the fly tier Þór Nielsen (1975) particularly to catch Arctic char in Lake Þingvallavatn. There, it has excelled through the years but has proven itself in other parts of Iceland, e.g. in brown trout fishing in Laxá in Þingeyrjarsýsla. Sizes 10 – 14 work well


6. Zebra Midge – invented by Ted Welling and imitates a tiny midge pupa. It is therefore well suited to Icelandic conditions where the midge flora is enormous. Typically used is sizes 12 – 18 and even smaller in case of a picky fish. 

Zebra Midge

7. Bloodworm – A very effective fly and frequently used as a dropper. Works well for both Arctic char and brown trout. Imitates a larva of the black fly (midge) when it is full of blood, before metamorphosis. Used in sizes 10 – 16.     


8. Teal & Black – Is a classic and imitates the larvae of the black fly (midges). Better smaller than bigger, sizes 14 – 16 and even 18.  

Teal & Black

9. Hares ear – Together with Peacock and PT the most used nymphs in Iceland. Works throughout the year because it covers a broad variety of prey that is active in every season. Sizes 10 – 14 

Hares ear

10. Kibbi – Very simple and popular local fly, created by Björgvin A. Björgvinsson. Imitates the larvae of the black fly (midges) in metamorphosis when the body is filling up, from bloodworm to gubber. Usually used in sizes 10 – 16 grubber hooks.  


Arctic char fishing statistics from rivers in Eyjafjörður

The Arctic char fishing statistics from the rivers in Eyjafjörður, seem to provide convincing confirmation of a further collapse of the char population. What is surprising is that the best registration is in the river Fnjóská, where the main focus is on salmon fishing and char only considered as a “by-catch”. The fishing figures below clarify the situation, although there may be some registration left to take place. 

River Fnjóská – 170 (most in the last 10 years – 332) 

River Eyjafjarðará – 142 (most in the last 10 years – 846) 

River Svarfaðardalsá – 130 (most in the last 10 years – 643)

River Ólafsfjarðará – 121 (most in the last 10 years – 601)

River Hörgá – 70 (most in the last 10 years – 769)  

Picture/Pat Haughton with an Arctic char from river Ólafsfjarðará (HH)

News from Veiðiheimar


Veiðivötn lake area

The Veiðivötn lake area has given good fishing this summer. Lake Litlisjór has has given by far the most fish or 3696, then comes Lake Snjóölduvatn with 2971, Lake Ónýtavatn has given 1600, Lake Hraunvötn have also given 1600 fish and Lake Nýjavatn is not far behind with 1543. 

Many people have visited Veiðivötn lake area this summer, some come year after year and some even several times a year. 

Ljósmynd/Gabríel Pálmi Heimisson with a fish from lake Stóra Fossvatni 

News from veidir.is

HKA Sunray1

Popular flies

Despite considerable development in fly design and the use of new models, the good old ones seem to hold their place on the list of the most used in Iceland. Only a few well-known Icelandic fly tyers have managed to get some of their flies on the list.  

The flies Frances and Sunray Shadow are by far the best catchers in salmon fishing, but following come various “hitch” flies. The most popular types are Collie Dog, Haugur, Munroe KIller and those previously mentioned. Of other salmon flies, mainly triple hooks and Cone heads, the most used are Black & Blue, Silver Sheep, Black Sheep, Munroe Killer, Blue Charm, Green But, Hairy Mary, Collie Dog and the Icelandic flies, Laxá Blá, Dimmblá, Krafla, Haugar and Nóra. Other Icelandic salmon flies which have increased in popularity are Friggi and Zelda. 

Munroe Killer Hitch

For brown trout and char fishing, it has been growing to use nymphs. Pheasant tail and Peacock are probably the flies that have served anglers for the longest time when fishing both species. Different types of bloodworms and vinyl rib flies also work well. Particularly, we can mention the Icelandic fly Krókinn, by Gylfa Kristjánsson, Mobutu and some flies made by Sveinn Þór e.g. Röndin og Glóðin. On bright days, Silver Pearl works very well and Peter Ross, who is better known as a stream fly, often works excellently as a nymph, especially when fishing for char. 

Many streamers that are commonly used can also work for both species, especially the ever popular Nobblers, flies like the Dentist and Black Ghost and the Icelandic flies Flæðarmús and Stirða. The sea running Arctic char is believed to be attracted to colorful flies e.g. pink, orange and red flies are often useful. Peter Ross, Butcher, Cardinal and Watson Fancy are classical wet flies that work well fishing for char and the Icelandic flies “Heimasæta” and “Bleik & Blá” are often very effective. On the other hand, the brown trout usually choose darker colors and those that resemble natural food, e.g. sticklebacks like. The previously mentioned, Nobbler, Black Ghost and Dentist, are classical and the Gray Ghost, Mickey Finn and the Woolly Worm are often fatal. So finally, a few Icelandic flies must be mentioned that must be in every fly  box. These are “Rektor” and “Hólmfríður” by the famous angler and fly tyer Kolbeinn Grímsson, Dýrbítur and Þingeyingur. 

Red Stirða works well when fishing for Arctic char

The sea running trout; sea trout, commonly chooses to take the same flies as the stationary brown trout. However, it is often the case that anglers choose more colorful flies for this type of fishing, as they are often caught in washed-out water. Often, the most colorful flies used for sea char also work well for sea trout. However, there is a lot to choose from and now flies like Skull heads, Bullets and Damsel are growing in popularity. 


Decline of the Arctic char population

The world’s Arctic char populations are decreasing and in most places their populations sizes are declining. In Iceland and Norway, fishing statistics point to a sharp decline of the sea running Arctic char stocks. One of the clearest examples is the char stock in River Eyjafjarðará, where the catch increased steadily until the year 2001, but after that there is a complete collapse in the stock. However, the reasons for the decline in char are unclear, although there is no shortage of hypotheses.

The collapse of the char population in River Eyjafjarðará was dealt with by changing the fishing management, since 2007 the practice and killing of char was limited. The following year, a long-term study of the char population of the river was launched. Tagging and recovery of char was used to study the movement and survival in a catch and release  system, while electrofishing of fry was used to monitor the development of the river’s fry economy. 

For several years it seemed that the river was recovering, but now it seems that the char population of the river is at the limit of endurance. Unfortunately, something similar is happening in other rivers in the vicinity of river Eyjafjarðará, e.g. River Hörgá and River Svarfaðardalsá. 

“How and why are the numbers of sea char declining”? The main answer probably lies in the complex relationship with climate change. However, overfishing of char, net fishing in the sea, construction and gravel mining by the rivers are also told to play a role in the collapse. 

The graph below certainly shows how the decline has taken place in rivers in Eyjafjörður. The number of Arctic char caught in the four main rivers in Eyjafjörður, in the years 1990 – 2021.

News by Veiðiheimar and Fiskirannsóknir ehf


Flies for the char rivers in Eyjafjörður

In Eyjajförður, close to Akureyri the biggest town in the northern part of Iceland, are several well-known sea char rivers. It is worth mentioning Eyjafjarðará, Ólafsfjarðará, Svarfaðardalsá and Hörgá. What the rivers have in common is that in almost all of them the same flies catch the most fish. In a sample, showing the 14 most used flies in rivers in Eyjafjörður over the years 2008 – 2020, the use of streamers is noticeable. This is probably because they are more used in glacial rivers, like Hörgá and Svarfaðardalsá. Below are the 8 most used flies, and they are probably also popular in other sea char rivers.

Krókur – 1109 char
Red Stirða – 925 char
Phesant Tail – 781 char
Nobbler 512 – char
Heimasæta – 271 char
Bleik & Blá – 266 char
Mýsla – 184 char
Bloodworm – 147 char
Svartá in Bárð

Veiðitorg – fishing permits

Veiðitorg has been operating for several years. It offers cost effective fishing pemits for rivers in many parts of Iceland

In the Northeast Iceland, Veiðitorg offers permits in rivers like Svartá in Bárðardal, Brunná, Arnarvatnsá and Svarfaðardalsá. Svartá has often been considered a miniature image of Laxá in Mývatnssveit. The newest river at Veiðitorg is Svarfaðardalsá, which is primarily a sea char river, but brown trout fishing there is increasing.

One area that is growing in popularity is in the south part of Iceland, and is called Ölfusarós – East bank. The main fish species is sea trout and the day permit only costs 2000 isk. It has been a tradition that all profits from the sale of fishing permits go to the Rescue Squad Björg at Eyrarbakki. 

In the Eastern part of Iceland, the rivers available on Veiðitorg are home to sea char. These are Selfljót, Fjarðará in Borgarfjörður and Dalsá. However, brown trout can also be found in Selfljót. Information pages about these rivers will soon be available on Veiðiheimar. Veiðitorg offers few days in the salmon river Deildará


Picture/Högni Harðarson

Guðrún Hörgá (3)

The migratory Arctic char

There has been a steady decline in migratory Arctic char stocks the last decades, but the peak is considered to have been in 2002 – 2007. Climate change has led to about 1.5° c changes in air temperature and 1.5 – 2.0°c changes in sea temperatures in the last 30 years. At the same time as Arctic char stocks are retreating, the brown trout population grows. 

Changes in average river temperatures are thought to affect spawning by migratory Arctic char, which is also dependent on light conditions. Are we possibly facing the fact that fewer individuals make their way to the sea in spring, facing all sorts of threats and annual recovery becomes poorer.  

Picture/Guðrún Jónsdóttir