Svalbardsa, Iceland

Svalbardsa is in the very north east corner of Iceland in some of the most beautiful scenery. Accessed via daily domestic flights from Reykjavik to Akureyri or Vopnafjordur, Svalbardsa is more easily reached than would appear the case.

The river fishes three rods, although many fishers take the three rods and fish two. The prime fishing section is approximately 17km and requires a little walking. It is not a river for those who are not able to walk between adjacent pools and is unadvisable for the elderly fly fisher.

Svalbardsa is a three rod, catch and release only river, averaging about 300 fish per year. Svalbardsa begins to fish well in mid-July and the runs reach their peak in the first weeks of August with pools filling with holding fish. At this time the average size is just less than 10lbs. The fishing continues to be good into early September with numbers of fresh fish still entering the river.

With classic pools, fast runs and smooth tails, Svalbardsa is one of the secret gems of Iceland. Svalbardsa is best fished with a 9 or 10 foot rod for either a 7 or 8-weight line.

Fishers should bring a sink tip in case of higher water but even in spate the river runs very clear except for the first hour or so. Some guests choose to bring a 12 foot 8-weight double-handed rod but under normal conditions this is not necessary.

Tippet used should be of 10lb to15lb breaking strain and flies should  be the classic Icelandic patterns. One inch hitching tubes, standard quarter and half inch tubes, small silver and black trebles in sizes 8 to 16, black and red Frances tied on small trebles plus Sunray Shadow and Collie Dog tubes up to four inches in length.

If you are reasonably fit and enjoy a wild and dramatic river, you would not be disappointed to have fished Svalbardsa, especially privately with family or a close friend or two.


The lodge on Svalbardsa is a traditional but modern Icelandic lodge overlooking the river. It has four bedrooms each with its own ensuite bathroom and shower plus a spacious living and dining room. It happily accommodates a small party and is the ideal base to take wives and family to share the three rods.

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