Northern Spain offers a fascinating variety of fly-fishing, especially for trout. The best locations for fly fishing in Spain range from lush meadows around León to the rugged grandeur of the Pyrenees. Here, fly-fishers have been tying flies and casting them to trout for over 350 years.
With a climate switching suddenly from winter chill to extreme summer heat, the south of Spain is unsuitable for cold-water fish such as trout. Even on more northern areas, some dam-controlled rivers like Castille’s Carrión can become unfishable after June as water is drawn off to irrigate parched land.
Madrid is at the divide, with fine fishing to the north and virtually none to the south. The river closest to the capital is the Dulce. This stream, which abounds in food for the fat trout, is sweet indeed for those who are lucky enough to fish it.
Fly-Fishing Traditions and History in Spanish River
Spanish fly-fishing traditions are perhaps even older than England’s. The publication Manuscrito de Astorga (1624) pre-dates Walton’s Compleat Angler (1653) and contains higher-quality fly tying instructions. The manuscript includes a reference to using hackles from specially bred local farmyard fowl called coq de León.
Today, more than 375 years later, these fowl are still bred around León and their feathers are sought by keen fly-dressers around the world. The Manuscript was written in Leon, the center of Spanish trout fishing in lakes and rivers, and eventually fell into the hands of that most enthusiastic angler, General Franco. Alas, the original manuscript was destroyed by fire, but facsimiles exist.
Franco’s main passion was to improve the limited salmon and sea-trout fishing, especially on the Sella and Narcea rivers in the Gijon region. These two fine rivers are similar in character to some of Scotland and Iceland’s best but have only moderate runs of salmon.
Fly Fishing in Spain: Check Out the Options of Rivers and Dam
There are a lot of options for fishing in Spain and a lot of them are ideal for fishing trouts. Check out them below:
Staging of the Annual Trout Week
Appropriately, it is León that stages Spain’s annual international Trout Week. Their fishermen have six fine rivers from which to choose, including the one flowing past the city. Close by are the Torio, the Curueño, and the rapid, gravel-bottomed Esla, where falcons wheel above the surrounding hills.
Anglers brings the best trout fishing lines, wheels, and other gears to these tournaments. Even more delightful and prolific is my favorite, the Porma, where many waterside fields blaze with wildflowers, including many varieties of orchid. That is true of the de Condado beat near Cerezales, further enlightened for me by the river keeper riding up on horseback to check permits.
In the clear swift river, a variety of waterweed ensures food in plenty for trout, while thick clumps of white-flowered Ranunculus brighten some bankside runs. Despite the fishing pressure on the Porma, good fly-fishers should expect, on each visit, a dozen or more trout averaging close to 450g (Ilb).
Fly Fishing in the Orbigo River
The Orbigo has the highest reputation and deserves it, except where pike has made inroads into the trout stocks. It is one of the great zones for fly fishing in Spain. The most interesting of the 80km (50 miles) of controlled beats is the Sardonedo near San Martina.
There is the added bonus of Patricio’s, a real fly-fishers’ pub with a double-figure Órbigo trout among the fishing pictures lining the walls. Abundant fly life in the Órbigo ranges from tiny black gnats to huge stoneflies.
The pools vary from shallow runs too long flats, the trout from the easy to the challenging. As in most of these rivers dry flies matching the hatch, or a Sedge or Gray Wulff to bring the fish up when there is no hatch, provide the most satisfying method.
Scouring the streams with wet flies can work well, particularly if a dropper fly is bobbed on the edge of the runs. For many Spaniards, bubble-float fishing is the preferred method, with a team of four flies above the float, and a single tail-fly below.
A favorite trout stream of mine is Castille’s Pisuerga, especially on its upper waters near Cervera. The Quintaluengos beat is outstanding, with permits available at Pallencia’s fishery office, where the town is overlooked by a striking 60m (200ft) high effigy of Christ.
This is another clear stream with a variety of pools, but the most interesting challenges are in the rapid runs and cascades from the face of the weirs. The plentiful trout run up to Ikg (2lb), with even larger ones usually caught on streamers rather than dry fly.
The Pyrenean Streams: Fly Fishing Heaven in Spain
Different in character are the snow-fed Pyrenean streams. Rocky banks and beds full of boulders make fishing physically demanding. Once snowmelt clears the way trout are easily spotted in the translucent water. For those wishing to add some high mountain trekking, there are the lbones, which are remote little lakes but rarely fished.
Wild browns are predominant in these tumbling streams with a few stocked rainbows added. A daily limit of 20 trout indicates the prospects of good sport with mainly small fish. As the water drops and warms, barbel up to 6kg (1316) move upstream, sometimes taking flies and breaking the leader of the unwary fly-fisher.
In some Pyrenean reservoirs, American black bass thrives and can be caught on streamers, poppers, or large bushy flies. Other coarse fish sometimes caught on the fly in Spain include carp and catfish, running to 14kg (30lb) or more.
There is a wealth of options in the five Pyrenean provinces. Huesca offers the greatest opportunity for the energetic since it covers the highest parts of the mountains, and so has fewest fly-fishers. Navarra and Lerida also have delightful streams. Overall the best rivers are Segre, Ara, Gallego, Aragón, Subordan, and Esca.
Trout Fishing in Dam of Spain
Different in character again is Salamanca’s Tormes. The prime stretch is the 30km (18 miles) from the Santa Teresa dam, which controls the flow, to Alba de Tormes. Prior to the dam’s construction, the fish stocks were poor, as a result of the summer low water and high temperature.
Even though the dam makes this an artificial river, fish thrived here after trout were stocked from the upper reaches above the reservoir and from the Órbigo.
The early profusion was not sustained but, apart from the indigenous trout, huchen are stocked and big barbel and other coarse fish abound. However, the quality of the fly-fishing can depend on the level of recent stockings.
The river itself is a joy to fish with many different challenges; the dry and wet fly is equally successful. The river is about 50m (160ft) wide and chest waders are needed for best results.
The trout average 400g (12oz), but a few much larger ones can be caught. While floating or slow-sink lines are preferable, there are some deep eddies where a “Hi-D” line helps get the fly down.
Benefits of Fly Fishing in the Rivers of Spain
There are a lot of pros if you are planning to fish trout in Spain. With the best fly fishing combos and other gears, Spain can be a great place to enjoy fishing. Here are some of the options below:
Fly-fishing in Spain is relatively cheap
For example, in the Pyrenees, it is less expensive to fish the Spanish side than the French. Accommodation is also inexpensive. Plan your trip carefully and Spain offers a variety of superb fishing even if you go “on the cheap.”
If you prefer to do it in style there is nothing to beat a week’s stay in Leon’s San Marcos Hotel, coupled with dry-fly fishing on the pick of the nearby trout rivers, notably the Orbigo and Porma.
Spain Contains a Lot of Untapped Rivers and Dam
You will find a lot of rivers, dam and pond without many touches from the anglers. So, the fishes of the rivers are naturally unknown to the fact of fishing and so on.
Normally fishing in these kinds of untapped rivers are easier than in the areas where fisherman normally goes.
There Are Proper Season in Spain, Suitable for Fishing
The season varies a little from region to region, but generally, it is March 1 – July 31 (trout) with the best months being May and June; for other species, it is June 1 – March 14.
Getting Permit is Easier in Spain
There are two sorts of the beat: “free” and “controlled.” To fish the free beats you need a cheap general license. To fish controlled beats or cotos you must apply well in advance, for there are a limited number of rods available each day. The Spanish tourist office can provide up-to-date advice.