Best Fly Fishing in Europe: A Guide to Premier Locations and Tips

Dive into Europe's best fly fishing adventures with our comprehensive guide to the most sought-after rivers and exclusive angling tips.
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Blog Published March 24, 2021
Edited May 6, 2024

Welcome to the serene world of fly fishing, a timeless angling method that artfully combines the grace of nature with the thrill of the catch. 

One man fly fishing on the Owens River at sunrise with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance

Looking to get into it? Or maybe you’re already a fan? Either way, welcome! Fly fishing is pretty cool. You use these fake bugs called ‘flies’ that you whip into the water with a special rod and line. 

This delicate lure is the cornerstone of fly fishing, meticulously tied to replicate the intricate details of insects and other small creatures that fish find irresistible. With a fly rod in hand and a reel spooled with the specially weighted line, anglers dance their flies over the water, mimicking the movements of living organisms to entice their quarry.

Now, here’s a bit of insider info: those flies are more than just bait. They’re custom-made to match the actual insects in the area you’re fishing. It’s about knowing what the fish are after and crafting something that’ll get their attention. And the way you flick and float that fly in the water? That’s what seals the deal.

Salmon fly fishing equipment

While fly fishing is a global pastime, Europe holds some of the most enchanting waters, rich with a variety of species that challenge and delight anglers from all walks of life. From the storied streams that meander through the British Isles to the crystal-clear rivers of the Balkans, each location offers a unique backdrop for this contemplative sport.

So, you’re looking for the best places in Europe to fly fish? You’ve got options. From the winding rivers to the scenic lakes, there’s a spot for everyone. Stick with us, and we’ll show you where to find the prime fishing spots. In this blog, we’ll explore the crème de la crème of European fly fishing destinations.

1. River Tiber, Italy

All roads lead to Rome, as the saying goes, and if you follow the river Tiber, it will eventually bring you right into the Eternal City. With its source in the Apennines, the Tiber begins its journey through central Italy, crossing Tuscany, and winding through Rome,  before greeting the sea some 400 km from the mountains.

The Tiber is most famous for its huge population of Brown trout of all shapes and sizes. The biggest specimens are reported to be more than 100 cm long and can reach a weight of 10 kg.

Besides trout, graylings also represent a big part of the ecosystem and are a joy for all grayling lovers, since the fish can’t be found in every river, at least not in such an abundance.

The season begins in April, leading to the first peak in August/September. With certain stretches of the river being exclusively meant for catch-and-release fly fishermen, Tiber is a perfect choice when visiting Italy.

2. River Soča, Slovenia

Soča River is believed to be one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, offering the best fly fishing in Slovenia, possibly even in Europe! Sourcing in the Slovenian Alps, it runs through the Soča Valley, surrounded by mountains and the untouched nature of the Julian Alps, crosses the border into Italy, and concludes its 130-km-long journey in the Adriatic Sea.

Soča is home to a very special fish, which is endemic in this region. Marble trout is the reason why this river attracts hundreds of fishermen every year, all wanting to catch this alpine beauty. From being almost extinct a few decades ago, its population has been recovering ever since, and with the care of fishing clubs operating the Soča, this special species is thriving yet again. The hard work was rewarded a few years ago when a record Marble trout was caught, measuring more than 120 cm and weighing over 22 kg!

Besides Marble trout, the river is home to Brown trout, Rainbow trout, and even Grayling.

The season begins in April and depends on the amount of snow melting in the mountains. May is usually a great month for fishing. During September and October, the fishing season reaches its peak and is most busy with fly fishermen.

3. River Traun, Austria

River Traun is another beauty from a collection of  Alpine rivers that certainly ranks high in the top fly-fishing rivers in Europe. It sources in the Northern Alps, runs through the city of Traun, and eventually ends its 150km long journey by connecting to the Danube river at the city of Linz.

The Traun River is home to Brown trout, Rainbow trout, Brook trout, Grayling, and even some big specimens of Lake trout. With the most common catch being the Rainbow, it is not uncommon for a Grayling of over 50 cm to grab your fly.

The most productive part of the river is called Gmundner Traum, which is around 15 km long and where the season lasts from the beginning of April to the end of November.

4. River Wye, UK

River Wye is one of the most popular fly fishing destinations in the UK. A length of almost 250 km,  it is one of the longest rivers on the Island, its source being in Wales and its mouth in the Severn Estuary.

There are many places to wet a line along the Wye since it’s very clean and its fish population is plentiful.

Apart from the most wanted and recognizable fish in the river, Atlantic Salmon, it doesn’t lack other fish species such as Chub, Trout, and Barbel, the latter being most popular for using a ground bait technique.

Salmon is the main target for fly fishermen in the lower parts of the Wye Valley. The season lasts from 3 March to 17 October with its peak in spring when salmon migrate up the river. Nowadays, the biggest specimens caught can weigh up to 16 kg, but a long-standing record from the previous century stands at a staggering 27 kg!

5. Hintersee Lake, Germany

Let’s conclude the list of our best European fly fishing destinations with this beautiful lake in Germany. Hintersee is located in the German Alps, near the city of Marsau near the Berchtesgaden National Park.

It is around 20 hectares in size with shallow areas alternating with deep pools, making it one of the best and most attractive fly-fishing lakes in Europe.

Hintersee is home to a dense population of Brown trout, with some beautiful Brook trout adding to the lake’s diverse mix. With a special stocking plan from the Fishing Club, the fish are constantly growing in numbers. Today, with an abundance of natural food, the local trout are reaching lengths of over 80 cm.

The season starts at the beginning of May and lasts until October. Fishing is possible from the shore, or for those who want more peace, especially in the summer months, fishing from a boat is also a superb option.

6. Langa River, Iceland

The Langa River in Iceland is a gem for fly fishers, with its season stretching from late June to September. It’s especially known for its Atlantic salmon, which are drawn to the river’s 100 named pools that dot its 36-kilometer stretch.

The river’s clear waters flow over volcanic bedrock, creating a mix of falls, deep pools, and fast runs that challenge anglers to adapt their techniques.

Fly fishing here is strictly fly-only, with a strong emphasis on catch-and-release for salmon, reflecting Iceland’s commitment to sustainable fishing practices.

Local guides are key to unlocking the Langa’s potential, offering insights into the river’s patterns and the best techniques to use.

The accommodations near the river range from simple lodges to more upscale retreats, all focused on giving anglers quick access to the river’s best spots.

Island West Langa

7. Thurso River, Scotland

The Thurso River in Scotland is a storied fly fishing destination revered for its wild Atlantic salmon. The fishing season here runs from January to October, offering one of the longest salmon fishing seasons in the country.

The Thurso’s waters wind through the rugged Scottish highlands, providing a diverse array of environments — from gentle flows to lively rapids — across its course.

What sets the Thurso apart is its classic fly water, which is highly conducive to the fly-fishing purist. The river is managed with a conservation-minded approach, often implementing a catch-and-release policy to maintain its salmon population.

Anglers are drawn not only for the fishing but also for the traditional Scottish hospitality found in the local fishing lodges and estates.

The Thurso is also known for its ‘peaty’ water, which can add an extra layer of challenge as it sometimes camouflages the fish, making the angler’s skill in reading the water all the more crucial.

Expert local ghillies are available and often recommended, as their knowledge of the river is invaluable for novice and experienced anglers alike. They can provide insights into the most productive pools and the best flies to use according to the season and conditions.

An old stone mill found in Thurso, Scotland

8. Ara River, Pyrenees, Spain

The Ara River in Spain’s Aragon region is a less crowded but equally rewarding destination for fly fishing, particularly known for its wild brown trout.

The river’s season peaks from March to October, with the best conditions typically found in spring and autumn to avoid the summer heat. The Ara’s clear waters and varied structure, featuring riffles, pools, and runs, require a range of fly fishing techniques and provide an authentic experience in the Spanish Pyrenees.

Conservation efforts are strong here, with catch-and-release practices widely adopted to preserve the natural trout population. Local guides are familiar with the river’s intricacies and can offer advice on fly selection and strategies to match the hatch.

The Ara River, with its natural beauty and challenging fishing, is a hidden gem for those seeking a serene and authentic fly fishing experience in Spain.

Mountain landscape with trees, clear water river and cloudy sky. Ara river in Huesca, Spain

9. Namsen River, Norway

The Namsen River in Norway is often referred to as the “Queen of Rivers” and is a premier destination for Atlantic salmon fishing. Its season runs from June to August, with the summer months being the peak time for larger salmon.

The Namsen is characterized by its wide, powerful flow, which can be navigated using traditional wooden boats known as “harers”. These boats are unique to the Namsen and are used to drift the flies effectively across promising salmon pools.

Anglers on the Namsen can expect a robust fight from the salmon, known for their strength and size in this river. The river management practices a tag system to regulate catches and ensure sustainable fishing.

Lodging options along the Namsen include comfortable fishing camps and full-service hotels, often with guides and boatmen available to maximize your chances of a successful fishing trip.

The Namsen’s combination of majestic scenery and the potential for trophy salmon makes it a bucket-list destination for serious fly fishers.

Namsen is one of the longest rivers in Trondelag county, in the central part of Norway and a favorite hunting ground for anglers. Panoramic view of the rocky riverbank on a rainy summer day

Other great locations for fishing

In this section, we recommend some additional locations which are definitely worth considering when planning a trip!

Our partners from abroad will be happy to help you with anything you need for your trip.

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