Catching Big Char and Beautiful Browns in Iceland
Myself and Tim Hughes of Airflo recently visited the volcanic wilderness of Iceland in search of brown trout and Arctic char. Our trip was arranged with Fishpartner and involved four days of hardcore fishing on several lakes, plus two highland rivers, the Kaldakvisl and Tungnaa. As well as the usual array of Airflo fishing tackle, we took along a wide selection of Fulling Mill flies, knowing that their durability and fish-catching prowess were without equal.
On the afternoon of day one, we fished a small lake called Villingavatn, where the trout were incredibly fit and beautiful. We observed many large fish feeding in this lake on sticklebacks, so we imitated these with Fulling Mill lite-brite minnow patterns to great success. It was necessary to make long casts with our Airflo SuperFlo lines beyond a weed line, but once in the taking zone, the hits were incredibly savage, with every single fish taking us well into the backing. The average size of the butter gold trout we caught was not far off 60cm – but apparently, these were just the smaller ones in the lake!
On day two we fished the vast Lake Sogid, which produced numerous hard fighting char up to 50 cm to nymphs fished under a strike indicator in a deep water channel. The favourite Fulling Mill flies of the day included the traffic light buzzer and the Czech weapon, a pattern that really picked out the better fish.
We spent the evening of day two and then the next two full days fishing out of the luxurious Fishpartner Highland lodge on their rivers, the majestic Kaldakvisl and Tungnaa, where we put in some seriously long hours on the water.
Day three we spent entirely on the Kaldakvisl, with its stunning waterfalls and rocky pools and runs. Here our favoured method was to fish two flies under an Air-lok bung. The Czech weapon nymph was once again picked out repeatedly by the char. We also had some great fishing with Fulling Mill Skullhead streamers, with fish after fish hitting these flies hard when stripped back across the river mouth where it entered a glacial lake. It is no exaggeration to say we landed vast quantities of char from the Kaldakvisl, far more than we ever thought possible. Many were between 40 and 52 cm and were the most beautiful fish we had ever seen. We also captured some incredible trout to over 50 cm.
Our final day in Iceland was spent on the Tungnaa, a gin-clear river that in its upper reaches flowed through what appeared to be an alien landscape, complete with volcanic canyons and lurid green vegetation. The fishing was even better – here large char averaging 45cm to 55cm abounded, as did many sizable browns, which we landed to 57cm. Even larger trout were seen and lost on streamers!
Fulling Mill redneck barbless nymphs in size 16 fished ‘duo style’ worked a treat on the Tungnaa, especially when drifted oversight fished char. In the deeper, faster runs we found that the Duracell jig nymphs in a size 12 were incredibly effective – I landed 8 Char in as many casts with this fly in just one run, they absolutely loved it!
Dry fly also came into its own on the Tungnaa, with the Fulling Mill Greased Lightning klinks in size 18 working a charm for midge and caddis sippers. Watching prehistoric browns slowly moving up through the deep, crystal clear water to deliberately take your dry fly was something else.
The trip was truly fantastic, and not once were we let down by any item of our tackle. The Airlite V2 fly rods and our new V2 fly reels performed superbly, with the reels smooth drag systems coming to the rescue on many occasions. The Fulling Mill flies we used proved to be as durable as they were effective; they did a great job of surviving the gnarly jaws of the numerous char and trout that we captured.
To sum up, I’d recommend Iceland as a brilliant destination for any angler looking for non-stop action in the most fantastic scenery you can imagine. We will certainly be back next year to give it another go!