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Fly fishing

The noble art of fishing.

Trout, Arctic char, grayling, pike.

These are just some of the species that await in Norwegian fishing waters.

Fly fishing in river .
Photo: Nasjonalparkriket
Fly fishing in river .
Photo: Nasjonalparkriket

The line arcs beautifully through the air, like a lasso.

The fly gently lands on the water’s surface.

Will the fish take the fly?

Freshwater fishing in Blefjell .
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com
Freshwater fishing in Blefjell .
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com

Actually, that’s not so important.

Since the birds are chirping, the wind is whispering, and the water is gurgling.

You wait.

Fly-fishing in Hemsila, Hemsedal .
Photo: Yngve Ask / Visitnorway.com
Fly-fishing in Hemsila, Hemsedal .
Photo: Yngve Ask / Visitnorway.com

There’s a tug on the line!

Your pulse races – can you manage to reel it in?

Fishing in Hemsedal .
Photo: Robin Fjelldal
Fishing in Hemsedal .
Photo: Robin Fjelldal

Wow!

A shiny, beautiful trout!

Fly fishing at Lesja .
Photo: Nasjonalparkriket
Fly fishing at Lesja .
Photo: Nasjonalparkriket

"The cool thing about Norway is that fishing is so easily accessible. In many cities, you can even catch a fish in the city centre! That’s quite unique in the European context," says Norway’s only university college fly fishing teacher, Tore Rydgren.
He has spent countless hours by the river. Sometimes he goes to the river bank just to study it for a few hours, without even bringing along his fishing rod. 

"It’s all based on strong nature experiences. The unique thing about fly fishing is that the better you are at mimicking what the fish eats, the easier it is to catch it. The goal is to outwit the fish intellectually," he says with a chuckle.
Fly fishing doesn’t necessarily need to take a long time.

"Some of my fishing trips can best be described as an expedition, where I load up my car with food and am away for two or three weeks. But I live in Elverum, where Norway’s longest river, the Glomma river runs through the centre. Fly fishing there for half an hour after work is enough for me to wind down and put a smile on my face before strolling home."

Teacher in fly fishing, Tore Litlere Rydgren in a river holding a fish
Fly fishing teacher Tore Litlere Rydgren.
Photo: Tore Litlere Rydgren / visitnorway.no

Norway’s best fly fishing spots

You can find good freshwater fishing throughout Norway. There is a multitude of species below the surface. The fish you catch depends on where – and in which part of the country – you are fishing.

"My personal favorite is Arctic char, an extremely beautiful fish. Its belly is a little red, and it has a shiny olive colour on its sides. It tastes really good too! Arctic char is one of the freshwater species you find at higher altitudes. Areas like Femundmarka in Eastern Norway, the mountains of Trøndelag, and Northern Norway are good places to start looking. The further north you go, the better the trout and Arctic char fishing opportunities available. Northern Norway is a paradise for fly fishers," explains Tore.

Experienced fishers often keep the best spots to themselves, but some areas are so vast that there is room for more.

"Engerdalen and Femundmarka has 900 fishing waters. That’s roughly the same number of waters as local inhabitants. In Namsskogan in Trøndelag, a fishing licence gives you access to 800 fishing waters. It’s astounding," says Tore.

Remember that you must buy a fishing card before you fish, and pay a fee for fishing salmon, sea trout and Arctic char.

Fly fishing in the sea

Although sea fishing is most common on the coast, one can also fly fish there.

"In the sea, one naturally fishes saltwater species. It’s fun to fish pollack with a fly fishing rod! People often travel to Hitra, Smøla and other gems in the Northwest to fish pollack.

Arctic Char in Langfjordelva, Finnmark
Arctic Char in Langfjordelva, Finnmark.
Photo: Yngve Ask / Visitnorway.com
License to fish – rules that apply

You need a fishing licence (“fiskekort” in Norwegian) to go freshwater fishing in lakes, rivers, and streams in Norway.

Fishing licences are issued by local land owners and fishing organisations. You can buy your licence online at inatur.no, in selected sports shops, convenience stores, and at many campsites.

Fishing licences are valid in specific areas and for specific time periods only, so be sure that you know where you’re going before you buy a licence.

If you want to fish for salmon, sea trout, or Arctic char, you must pay a small fishing fee in addition to your fishing licence. This does not apply to children under 18. There is a total ban on eel fishing in Norway.

You don’t need a fishing licence for fjord and sea fishing in seawater.

Read more about rules for freshwater fishing in Norway at miljodirektoratet.no and plan your trip with fishspot.no.

Useful facts about fly fishing

Fly fishing: Mimicking the natural food eaten by fish, usually flies, to catch fish. Since flies are so light, the fly line itself is the weight used to cast off.

AFTM class​: Term that refers to which weight class a rod, line and reel are designed to handle. Class 1 is for ultra-light fish, class 5 is good trout fishing equipment, and class 10 is for very heavy fish, such as northern pike.

Artificial fly: Used to imitate fish prey using a fly similar in appearance. These may include mayflies, caddisflies and mosquitoes – both in the larval/pupal stage and as a mature insect.

Attractor fishing: Fishing with flies that trigger the fish's curiosity rather than imitating prey.

Did you know that the first person to write about fly fishing was female? In 1496, a text was published in England, entitled "A Treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angl", written by Dame Juliana Berners, an English prioress.

Mayfly .
Photo: Tore Litlere Rydgren
Mayfly .
Photo: Tore Litlere Rydgren

Popular pike and grayling

Tore’s favourite river is Renaelva, within a two-hour drive north of Oslo. The river is a destination for fly fishers from all over the world. But before anyone can help themselves to the fish, it’s important that the stock is big enough.

"The Renaelva river contains one of Europe's biggest stocks of large northern grayling. We’ve managed to achieve that through long-term management. Big fish, that can lay a lot of roe, are re-released. People now come from all over Europe to fish grayling in the Renaelva river. Grayling is a fish in the salmon family that has a scent like mild thyme and a very good taste," says Tore.

Trout and salmon are the most desirable fish for Norwegian fly fishers – but that’s not necessarily the case for enthusiasts from abroad.

"Many fishers from the Netherlands think that I’m joking when I say there are hundreds of accessible waters in Finnskogen in Eastern Norway containing pike. Pike is considered exclusive among the Germans, Dutch, and French. I have been a guide for people who have travelled all the way from Paris to Hedmark just to fish pike. It’s fun!

Moreover, Norway is one of the world’s best countries for wild salmon fishing, which can also be fished with a fly rod.

Become a fly fishing expert with a guide

Even though it can take many years to become an expert fly fisher, it’s not hard to learn the basic skills.

"You can become proficient enough to catch a fish after a one-evening course," says Tore, who also works as a fishing guide.

The course teaches you how to tie simple flies and how to cast flies successfully, among other things.

"I would say it’s of decisive importance to have a guide if you want to start fly fishing. Sign up for a course, go with a professional fishing guide or some good fishing friends, or join a fishing association. It will help give you a good experience," explains Tore.

Experienced fishers can also greatly benefit from having a fishing guide with local knowledge show them the best fishing spots and where the fish are usually found, and give them tips on what the fishes’ favourite flies are at the moment.

But you don’t always need to venture far into nature.

Kristian and Farhad love fishing among the high rises in the capital.

Urban fishing .
Photo: Maverix / Visitnorway.com
Urban fishing in Oslo .
Photo: Maverix / visitnorway.com

Urban fishing

Nearby traffic lights, graffiti and high rises, Kristian Leerand and Farhad Soufi turn down to the Alnaelva river, in the east of Oslo. The city noise disappears as they wander into the peaceful virgin forest that surrounds the river. Kristian and Farhad take out their fishing rods, and it doesn’t take long for the fish to bite. Two small trout!

"We primarily fish for recreation. We release the smaller fish, so they can grow big," says Kristian.

"You can easily fish recreationally in downtown Oslo, but the food quality is not that good there. In addition, there is a lot of competition. In areas close to the city, the fish stocks have now been pushed to the brink. That’s why I would rather recommend fishing in Oslomarka, just outside the city centre. There are good trout lakes in both Nordmarka and Østmarka," adds Tore.

It’s said that once you get hooked on fly fishing, it never lets you off the hook. In addition, it tastes good!

"Being able to catch your own food has always conferred status. Catching wild fish and preparing a good meal is one of the things I really appreciate in life," concludes Tore.

A glimpse of fishing joy

You can unwind by the banks of a river and fly fish both close to and far away from the city.

Happy fishing!

These places are suitable for fly fishing – with a guide or on your own.

Hooked on fishing?

Now that you’re hooked, why not try sea fishing or salmon fishing too?

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