Fly Fisherman’s Delight: Casting a Line in Sweden

Photo: Mike Martin

Outdoors & Sports

Fly Fisherman’s Delight: Casting a Line in Sweden

If you’re into fly fishing, there’s nothing more exciting than preparing your line, trekking out into a stream and matching the hatch. As you’ve probably guessed, with all its outdoor culture, Sweden is a great place to go if you’re looking to venture out of your everyday stream.

“Sweden has so much water and rivers – there are great trout, grayling and char streams everywhere; we are also fortunate to have sea trout and salmon,” said Mike Martin, an American living in Stockholm who created Mike’s Fly Fishing Guide to Sweden, which has everything a fly fisher needs to know to catch his or her fish of choice – from casting for trout and grayling in Skärblacka to netting salmon and sea trout in Laholm. “However, in the more populated areas, like Stockholm, fishing for trout is generally limited to club lakes, stocked with rainbows, browns and brook trout.”

If you’re making the trip to Sweden to fish, you should familiarize yourself with the culture. Fishing, while abundant, isn’t readily accessible, and you’ll need to obtain a license to fish. Fishing licenses can cost anywhere from $5-20 a day, and in addition to the license, fishing rights are leased out by property owners in Sweden, and regulations vary stream to stream. It’s recommended to check in with local fishing clubs or gas stations close to your stream of choice for specific information. There also are Facebook groups and other online message boards that can put you on the right path.

Fly fishers also should be prepared to travel if they are looking for the true Swedish fly fishing experience.

“Although trout and grayling can be caught close to the cities, it is best to travel at least three hours north of Stockholm to get into some good fishing,” Martin said. “I would recommend the Dalarna and Jämtland regions. Lots of great streams, and wonderful fishing in late July.”

Second, you should be prepared not only for the style of fishing that’s popular in Sweden, but also for the artic conditions that may come with the experience.

“There is a large following of fishermen who only fish dry flies [flies that sit on top of the water],” said Martin. “Also, for salmon and sea trout fishing streams, two-handed rods are used and tube flies are ‘swung’ to fish. Streamer fishing is not as popular in Sweden.”

As for gear? If you’re a fishing pro, you know a good set of waders, some Merino wool and a hat and gloves can make or break your outing. But Martin takes the cold-weather prep a step further.

“One great tip I learned from some friends is to use wrist gaiters,” he said. “You can add hand warmers on the inside to warm up the blood to your fingers. Also, I’ve used foot warmers inside my wader booties…they worked well, but are a bit uncomfortable…but better than frozen feet.”

Lastly, like with any sportsman activity, there is a certain etiquette that should be observed.

“[Swedes] wait around for a rise, and fish upstream toward the fish, and there is a sort of ‘gentleman’s rule’ when fishing different holes,” Martin said. “You should fish and work your way downstream so that others can have a go at the spot….thus no ‘hogging’ the holes.”

And as Martin mentions in his online guide, don’t forget about fika!

“Fika-ing is an institution in Sweden,” he said. “You must take time to have a coffee and kanelbulle (cinnamon roll) or any other sweet you would like. It is also a time to sit back and reflect on your patterns, fishing places, warm up and have a mental break from fishing. Do it and you won’t be disappointed.”

Fish and fika. What more do you need?

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