6 Best Places for Fly Fishing in Spain

Fly fishing in Spain is the best in Europe, as indicated by Ernest Hemingway in his novel The Sun Also Rises. The Pyrenees is the best destination for trout fishing. Other places with good fishing are the Cantabrian Mountain Range, Gredos and the Basque Country.

In the following article, we will try to describe fly fishing in the five best places in Spain:

1 – THE PYRENEES 🥇

In the Pyrenees are THE BEST FISHING IN ALL OF SPAIN. There you can fish for wild zebra trout, brook trout and even barbels with dry fly, surrounded by National Parks recognized by UNESCO.  Currently, the Pyrenees is recognized in the world as one of the best destinations for fly fishing.

Season:  from May 1 to 15 October (in the region of Aragon it is possible until October 31st.).

Best rivers: Veral, Ara, Cinca, Noguera Pallaresa and Cardós.

Scenarios: small rivers and mountain lakes with pure, crystalline waters that originate due to the melting of the snow in the mountains. Places of immense beauty surrounded by wildlife and fresh air. Two main sectors are differentiated:

  • Rivers near the Ordesa National Park: the rivers run through materials of limestone origin. The waters are basic.
  • Rivers near the Aigüestorte National Park: the rivers are granitic, with more acidic waters and poorer in food.

Species: zebra trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, artic char and barbel.

Size of trout: medium and small size. Very fun fishing, many trout are caught with dry fly.

Type of fishing: mainly with dry fly.

Heli fishing is possible.

Destination Raking:

9,2

Variety of rivers 100%
Variety of species 100%
Beauty scenarios 100%
Trophy trout possibility 50%
Dry fly fishing 100%
Fishing pressure 100%

In favor

against

2 – PYRENEAN FOOTHILLS 

In the plains preceding the Pyrenees, there are some rivers where you can catch brown and rainbow trout as large or even larger than those you could catch on a trip to New Zealand or Patagonia (they are very technical fish). These are slow-flowing rivers, rich in organic matter, with incredible hatches. The angler must master the cast well to fish in these types of rivers.

Fly Fishing Trout Catalonia

Season: September 1 to May 31.

Best rivers: Noguera Ribagorzana, Segre, Cinca, Cardener and Llobregat.

Scenarios: middle and lower channels of rivers such as the Noguera Ribagorzana, Ter, Segre, Gállego, Cinca and others.

Species: brown trout and rainbow trout.

Size of trout: varied. With opportunity to catch large trophy fish.

Type of fishing: dry fly, tandem (nymph – dry), nymph and streamer.

Destination Raking:

7,2

Variety of rivers 70%
Variety of species 100%
Beauty scenarios 65%
Trophy trout possibility 80%
Dry fly fishing 60%
Fishing pressure 60%

In favor

against

3 – CANTABRIAN MOUNTAIN RANGE

Cantabrian Mountains is a mountain range in northern Spain. On the north face, in the province of Asturias we can find the Atlantic Salmon, a fish that is currently almost in danger of extinction. You can also fish for brown trout and sea trout. Fishing pressure and climate change are causing a decline in stocks in this region.

On the south face of Cantabrian Mountains, in the provinces of León and Palencia are some of the most historic fishing reserves in the country. The best known rivers in this area are the Curueño, the Porma, the Orbigo, the Esla, the Sil, the Pisuerga or the Carrión.

They are very technical rivers with regulated flows for irrigation (this is a big problem to fish these rivers in the months of June to October).

Season:  March 15 to October 15.

Scenarios: varied. Plain and mountain rivers.

Species: brown trout.

Size of trout: small and medium.

Type of fishing: dry fly, tandem (nymph – dry) and nymph.

Destination Raking:

6,2

Variety of rivers 90%
Variety of species 30%
Beauty scenarios 80%
Trophy trout possibility 50%
Dry fly fishing 70%
Fishing pressure 50%

In favor

against

4 – CENTRAL SYSTEM – GREDOS

In the rivers of the Central System you can fish for trout in the Sierra de Gredos in the months of May and June. The rivers of the north and south face of Gredos are called gorges and are very difficult in the summer months. They are crystal clear water rivers, where brave and fighting trout of small and medium size abound.

In the province of Salamanca you can fish the Tormes River, where there are large trout, they are fish only suitable for very technical fishermen.

You can also enjoy fly fishing on the surface of the barbel and carp in reservoir. An unknown and very fun fishing that can be practiced both from shore and from boat in the months of May, June, July, September and half of October.

Fly Fishing Madrid

Season: May 1 to June 15 and autumn.

Best rivers: Tormes River and its tributary gorges.

Scenarios: Gredos granite gorges (small streams); large slow-water rivers and reservoirs.

Species: brown trout, carp and barbel.

Size of trout: varied. With opportunity to catch large trophy fish.

Type of fishing: dry fly, tandem (nymph – dry), nymph and streamer.

Destination Raking:

6

Variety of rivers 50%
Variety of species 60%
Beauty scenarios 70%
Trophy trout possibility 30%
Dry fly fishing 90%
Fishing pressure 60%

In favor

against

5 – BASQUE COUNTRY:

In the Basque Country, in the province of Guipuzcoa, there are several stretches of river where it is possible to fish for brown trout and rainbows especially in the autumn and winter months. They are scenarios of low landscape quality but where you can practice your favorite hobby. The best known scenarios are the reserves of Leitzarán, Araxes and Agaunza.

Fly Fishing Guides Basque Country

Best months: October 1 to February 28.

Best rivers: Leitzarán, Araxes and Agaunza.

Scenarios: intensive rivers with repopulated trout.

Species: brown trout and rainbow trout.

Size of trout: varied. Opportunity to catch large trout.

Type of fishing: dry fly, tandem (nymph – dry), nymph and streamer.

Destination Raking:

5

Variety of rivers 30%
Variety of species 70%
Beauty scenarios 40%
Trophy trout possibility 90%
Dry fly fishing 50%
Fishing pressure 20%

In favor

against

6 – NEAR BARCELONA

Barcelona is not a fly-fishing destination as such, but if you’re visiting the city and want to do a day or two of fishing, we have good news for you.

Near Barcelona there are rivers like the Ter with a very good population of brown and rainbow trout. This river is where you can fish all year round and it is one of the obligatory stops on your guided fishing trip near Barcelona.

In addition, if you come in spring, early summer or early October you can fish small rivers located in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Fly Fishing Guide Barcelona

Season: September 1 to July 31.

Scenarios: varied. Plain and mountain rivers.

Species: brown trout and rainbow trout.

Size of trout: small and medium.

Type of fishing: dry fly, tandem (nymph – dry), nymph and streamer.

Destination Raking:

4,8

Variety of rivers 30%
Variety of species 70%
Beauty scenarios 30%
Trophy trout possibility 70%
Dry fly fishing 70%
Fishing pressure 20%

In favor

against

MORE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FLY FISHING IN SPAIN:

INDEX

WHY CHOOSE SPAIN FOR FLY FISHING?

Spain is widely recognized as the premier destination for fly fishing in Europe, a claim endorsed by Ernest Hemingway in his novel «The Sun Also Rises.» Set in the 1920s during the San Fermín festivities in Pamplona, the novel vividly portrays thrilling fishing days in the Pyrenean rivers.

  • «Spain Fly Fishing» has become the dream of many American anglers for several reasons:
  • It offers the opportunity to fly fish for zebra trout, one of Europe’s oldest trout species.
  • The country boasts an appealing climate, stunning landscapes, excellent transportation options, and exceptional gastronomy, culture, and history—ideal for traveling with both fishing and non-fishing companions.
  • You can enjoy dry fly fishing throughout the year.
  • There are extensive kilometers of rivers for fishing, with very low fishing pressure on fish populations.
  • Spain features a wide diversity of rivers and lakes tailored for anglers of all levels, from beginners to experts.
  • Spain also provides the chance to catch trophy brown trout in the foothill rivers of the Pyrenees.
  • The possibility to practice fly fishing year-round. The fishing season starts in March and ends in October, but some rivers can be fished all year.

If you wish to explore Spain, immerse yourself in its culture, history, architecture, gastronomy, and experience top-notch fly fishing, you can trust specialists like us, or even with other companies that have been providing excellent service for many years, such as Pyrenees Fly Fishing SL.. Our goal is to ensure you have an exceptional fishing experience in Spain, tailoring your travel dreams in destinations such as Barcelona or San Sebastián for a perfect journey through Spain.

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

Which is the best fishing destination in Spain?

Many anglers ask us, «Where can we find the best fly fishing in Spain?». Here is a table with some points that will help you to make your final decision.

#DestinationVariety of riversVariety of speciesBeauty scenariosTrophy trout possibilityDry fly fishingFishing pressure
🥇The Pyrenees✔️✔️✔️✔️Low
2Pyrenean Foothills✔️✔️✔️Average
3Cantabrian Mountain Range✔️✔️✔️Average
4Central System✔️✔️✔️Average
5Basque Country✔️✔️✔️High
6Near Barcelona✔️✔️✔️High

The winner of this comparison is the Pyrenees destination. It is recommended to complement this place with the Pyrenean Foothills destination if you are planning a fishing trip of more than 4 days or with the Basque Country. These two destinations are the dream of many anglers due to their variety of landscapes, the beauty of the rivers, and the possibility of catching trophy trout.

Destinations in the Cantabrian Mountain Range can be another good option, but you should know that fishing pressure is higher in its rivers, and fishing can become more technical. A very interesting option for the months of May and June is trout fishing in the small streams on the southern face of Gredos, combined with fly fishing for barbel in the foothills of Gredos.

For express one-day getaways, Barcelona, Lleida, or San Sebastian in the opposite season (September to March) can be good choices.

Comparison of the best fishing months in different fly fishing destinations in Spain

In Spain, you can fish 365 days a year. Generally, the fishing season starts in March and ends in September, but in some destinations such as the Pyrenees, you can also fish in October (October 15th in the Catalan Pyrenees and October 31st in the Aragonese Pyrenees).

Other rivers can be fished every month of the year. These places are called intensive fishing stretches and are usually located in the middle and lower reaches.

If you travel from May to October, we recommend you to visit the Pyrenees. If you travel to Spain in the opposite season, you should visit the Pyrenean Foothills, Barcelona, or the Basque Country.

Conclusions about the best fly fishing destination in Spain:

We always recommend enjoying fishing in the Pyrenees or the Pyrenean Foothills, as we think that the combination of both is perfect. Besides, the Pyrenees have the most beautiful landscapes in Spain and the rivers with the lowest fishing pressure.

SPECIES THAT CAN BE FLY FISHED IN SPAIN

Spain is a country with abundant diversity of native fish, prominently featuring trout and barbel. Brown trout, in particular, hold immeasurable value on the Iberian Peninsula. In Spain, various brown trout variations exist, such as zebra or Mediterranean trout, with origins dating back to the Pleistocene glaciations. These trout exhibit considerably greater evolutionary antiquity than trout populations in central Europe.

In addition to these native species, other exotic species, such as brook trout and rainbow trout, coexist, introduced by authorities in the 1960s. In some rivers, these species have successfully adapted, leading to wild populations.

Lastly, we must not forget some saltwater species that can be fly-fished in Spain, such as sea bass and dolphinfish.

Here are the primary species of sporting interest for fly fishing in Spain:

  • Brown Trout (Trucha Marrón): Including variations like zebra or Mediterranean trout.
  • Barbel (Barbo): A native species found in Spanish rivers.
  • Brook Trout (Marrón Americano): Introduced in the 1960s, adapted in some rivers.
  • Rainbow Trout (Trucha Arco Iris): Also introduced and established in certain water bodies.
  • Sea Bass (Lubina): A saltwater species often targeted by fly anglers.
  • Dolphinfish (Llampuga): Another saltwater species offering exciting fly fishing opportunities.
Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

Brown Trout

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

BROOK TROUT

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

Rainbow Trout

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

Barbel

FLY FISHING SEASON IN SPAIN

The fly fishing season in Spain varies depending on the species one aims to catch, the location of the fishing spot, and the fishing regulations in the specific region or Autonomous Community where one plans to fish. In summary, considering the mentioned factors, the following can be affirmed:

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide
  • Brown Trout Fishing Season: The fly fishing season for brown trout in Spain begins in late March and concludes at the end of September. In some regions, such as Aragón, fishing is allowed until October 31, and in Catalonia, until October 15. There are also places where fishing is permitted year-round. In high mountain areas and mountain lakes, the fishing season starts in mid-May and ends in mid to late October (Aragón and Catalonia).
  • Rainbow Trout Fishing Season: Rainbow trout is an exotic species native to the United States, used for stocking certain river stretches for the purpose of extending the fishing season and for sports and tourism. These river stretches are known as «intensive preserves,» where fishing is allowed throughout the year. In Spain, the presence of naturalized or wild populations of rainbow trout in our rivers is virtually nonexistent.
  • Salmon Fishing Season: The salmon fishing season varies depending on the rivers and the region. As an example, in Asturias, it starts on the third Sunday in May and extends until August 15.
  • Barbel and Carp Fishing Season: Barbel and carp inhabit the so-called «cyprinid waters,» which correspond to the middle and lower stretches of rivers, where fishing is allowed year-round.
  • Pike Fishing Season: Pike, like barbel and carp, inhabit cyprinid areas, and their fishing is allowed throughout the 12 months of the year.
  • Saltwater Species Fishing Season: In the sea, fishing is permitted year-round. Some species have closed months, during which fishing is not allowed, or must be done under catch-and-release regulations.

 

The fishing season refers to the months during which the fishing of a specific fish species is allowed in Spain. However, within these months, there are more favorable times than others. Below are the best months for fly fishing each of the target species in Spain.

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide
  • Best months for fly fishing brown trout: March and April are the months preceding mountain thaw, with optimal river flows. Although catches are scarce during these months, it is possible to catch trophy trout on dry flies in plain rivers during the midday hours. As May progresses, spring arrives, and the fish become more active, making it ideal for fishing in flat rivers and their tributaries. From mid-May to late October, high mountain river fishing offers exceptional conditions.
  • Best months for fly fishing rainbow trout: Rainbow trout inhabit «intensive preserves,» where fly fishing is allowed throughout the season. The months when it’s possible to catch more rainbow trout are the autumn, winter, and early spring months (in the reverse season), coinciding with restocking efforts that contribute to destigmatizing the fishing season.
  • Best months for fly fishing salmon: The best months to fish for salmon coincide with the opening of the fishing season and the highest river flows when salmon migrate upstream. Generally, May and June are considered the best months, although this may vary depending on weather conditions and the year.
  • Best months for fly fishing barbel and carp: These fish can be caught throughout the year, but they show little activity during the winter months. Fly fishing enthusiasts for these species often practice it during the midday hours in the warmer months, ranging from April to September or October. Additionally, it’s important to note that this season is shorter in the Pyrenees rivers compared to the rivers and lakes of Extremadura, a region with a warmer climate in Spain.
  • Best months for fly fishing pike: Pike is an exotic species that thrives in the colder areas of the northern hemisphere. In Spain, the best months for its fishing coincide with periods when the water is colder and temperatures are lower, spanning from October to April.
  • Best months for fly fishing Sea bass: In my experience as a saltwater angler, I’ve observed that in summer, when the sea temperature rises, bass become more active. They are faster, more agile, and nervous, making it easier to catch them. In winter, their activity decreases, but larger specimens can still be caught. Transition months are usually exceptional.
  • Best months for fly fishing Mahi-Mahi: In Spain, this fishing is mainly done in summer and early October, after reproduction near the coasts. During winter, they move in schools in search of warmer waters.
  • Best months for fly fishing Little Tunny: Little Tunny are the first tunas to arrive on the Spanish coasts, which happens in April. Fly fishing for this species can be done until late October, although it may vary depending on the conditions of the year.

 

Finally, we have created a table where you can find the best months to fish for trout according to the chosen destination:

TOP FLY FISHING CITIES AND REGIONS FOR FLY FISHING IN SPAIN

It’s nearly impossible to determine the absolute best fly fishing spot in Spain. However, our recommendation is always to not leave Spain without spending a few days fly fishing in the Pyrenees. Fly fishing in Spain is incredibly diverse, offering a multitude of possibilities. Trout reign supreme, thanks to the country’s mountainous terrain. In major mountain ranges like the Pyrenees, Spain becomes a paradise for fishing this salmonid.

We have compiled a selection of the top 6 fly fishing destinations in Spain, which might be helpful for making an informed decision. If you need detailed information about fishing in some of the best regions in Spain, don’t hesitate to visit the following places:

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING IN ANDALUSIA

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING IN ARAGON

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING IN ASTURIAS

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING IN CANTABRIA

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING IN CASTILE LA MANCHA

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING IN CASTILE LEON

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING IN CATALONIA

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING IN BASQUE COUNTRY

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING IN EXTREMADURA

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING IN GALICIA

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING IN LA RIOJA

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING IN NAVARRE

  • According to major cities in Spain:

From some of the major cities in Spain, it is possible to engage in fly fishing. Here you will find the key information regarding fly fishing, along with some renowned capitals:

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING FROM BARCELONA

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING FROM GIRONA

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING FROM GRANADA

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING FROM LEÓN

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING FROM LLEIDA

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING FROM MADRID

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING FROM PAMPLONA

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING FROM SALAMANCA

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING FROM SAN SEBASTIÁN

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FLY FISHING FROM VALENCIA

FLY FISHING REGULATIONS IN SPAIN

If you are traveling to Spain and wish to engage in fly fishing, it’s important to note that there is no common fishing regulation for the entire territory. Regulations vary by region, making it crucial to check local rules before embarking on any fishing activities.

Local fishing rules are typically published in regional bulletins and referred to as «fishing closure orders» (órdenes de vedas de pesca). These orders govern the issuance of fishing licenses, fishing seasons, the classification of stretches and their regulations, fishing days, permitted baits and lures, fishing hours, catchable species, and quotas.

The regulations tend to be more or less conservative depending on each region, the political party in power, and the disposition of the administrative technicians overseeing fishing. For instance, autonomous communities like Aragón have embraced catch-and-release fishing, extending the season and promoting fishing tourism. Conversely, other autonomous communities such as Asturias and Galicia maintain more traditional regulations, where catch-and-kill fishing is more prevalent, negatively impacting trout populations and resource sustainability.

Understanding the complexity of these regulations can be challenging for foreigners planning a fishing trip during their vacations. Therefore, we always recommend hiring a fly fishing guide. Guides can assist in avoiding administrative violations, take you to the best fishing spots, and help optimize your fishing technique and experience in Spain.

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

FISHING LICENSE FOR FLY FISHING IN SPAIN

Fishing in Spain requires a license, an essential document for enjoying the country’s reservoirs and rivers with your fishing rod. Each of the 17 autonomous communities in the country has a specific set of regulations and deadlines for fishing, making it imperative to conduct research before embarking on your trip.

Fishing licenses vary in duration, offering options ranging from a single day to several months or even a full year. The cost of these licenses depends on the autonomous community in question. Generally, fishing licenses in Spain are very affordable and rarely exceed 10 or 20 euros.

In many autonomous communities, fishing licenses can be obtained online through a payment gateway that accepts VISA credit cards. However, in other regions, it is only possible to obtain this document in person at their offices.

In recent years, an interesting alternative has emerged: the interregional fishing license. Various autonomous territories have joined forces to create this special license, allowing anglers to enjoy open waters in multiple regions. Priced at €25, it is valid in Aragón, Asturias, Castilla y León, Comunidad Valenciana, Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid, and Murcia, and is available for both local and foreign fishermen.

Fly fishing in Spain - Completed Guide

PERMITS FOR FLY FISHING IN SPAIN

In many of Spain’s rivers and lakes, in addition to holding a fishing license, it is necessary to obtain an additional document – we are referring to fishing permits or fishing preserves. Fishing preserves are water segments managed by local authorities or specialized clubs.

The method of acquiring these permits varies depending on the responsible entity and the Autonomous Community where the stretch or section of the river is located. In general terms, it is possible to purchase them through online platforms linked to fishing administrations or federations. In other cases, it may require entering a prior draw or having the assistance of a fishing guide company that has reserved quotas in such draws.

The prices of these fishing permits or preserves vary widely, ranging from 2 to 30 euros per day. These river segments often offer a higher-quality fishing experience compared to open water areas, where only the corresponding fishing license is required.

FLY FISHING LODGES IN SPAIN

In Spain, there are no exclusive fly fishing lodges for anglers. Some companies, such as Pyrenees Fly Fishing or Salvelinus, collaborate with other hotels to create fly fishing vacation packages.

At Spain Fly Fishing Guides, we also work with a network of accommodations from which we organize our guided fly fishing holidays in Spain. These fishing lodges stand out for:

Strategic Locations: Being strategically located in ideal places for fly fishing practice.

Tailored Services: Offering services and spaces specifically designed for fly fishermen, understanding and adapting to our needs. Additionally, they provide personalized treatment to our clients.

The geographical distribution of our fly fishing lodges is as follows:

Feel free to click on the following link if you would like more information about our network of fly fishing lodges:

FLY FISHING GUIDES IN SPAIN

Hiring a fly fishing guide in Spain can make the difference between an unforgettable fishing trip and a frustrating experience. Our experienced guides not only know the best fly fishing spots in Spain but will also provide you with personalized advice and techniques to enhance your skills as an angler.

Unfortunately, legal fly fishing guide companies are scarce in Spain. This entails having liability and accident insurance, properly certified guides, and compliance with all corresponding fees. Before hiring a fly fishing guide, it is crucial to verify that they have the necessary credentials to operate in the waters of the respective region. Hiring an illegal fishing guide poses risks, as both the guide and the client may face fines and the confiscation of fishing equipment and materials, in addition to a ban on fishing in Spain for several years.

If you would like more information about our fly fishing guide company, we invite you to visit the following link. We are committed to providing you with a safe, legal, and enriching experience in the exciting world of fishing in Spain.

SALTWATER FLY FISHING IN SPAIN

Spain is not traditionally known as a destination for saltwater fly fishing; however, it is possible to target some species of sporting interest such as Sea Bass, mahi-mahi, and Little Tunny. The best locations for capturing these species are in the Delta del Ebro, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, and Galicia.

If you want to enjoy fishing for these species, we recommend hiring a fishing charter. It’s important to note that fishing charter guides rarely provide rental equipment for fly fishing, nor do they typically have suitable streamers for this method. Therefore, if your goal is to indulge in saltwater fishing in Spain, it is advisable to bring your own gear and fly patterns.

At Spain Fly Fishing Guides, we do not offer saltwater fly fishing services, but we are familiar with some guides in the Delta del Ebro who can provide this service. If needed, we are willing to assist you in getting in touch with them.

FRESHWATER SPECIES TO FLY FISH FOR IN SPAIN

Spain is an ideal destination for freshwater fly fishing enthusiasts. The country boasts a wide variety of species, both native and exotic, and the fishing pressure on them is minimal.

The native species of the Iberian Peninsula are considered «living fossils» because many of their basins served as glacial refuges during the last glaciation. These main river basins constitute unique biogeographic units and host species of great antiquity from an evolutionary perspective compared to species in central Europe.

In the Iberian Peninsula, trout is the predominant species, found in the headwaters of rivers in the Cantabrian, Galician, Duero, Tagus, Guadalquivir, Mediterranean rivers of Andalusia, Segura, Júcar, Ebro, and Catalan coast basins. However, it is not found in the Guadiana basin and in some rivers along the Levantine coast and the southern part of the peninsula.

The salmonid species present in Spain include:

Mediterranean Brown Trout or Zebra Trout:

  • Found in the Mediterranean basin, with distinctive lateral stripes.
  • Three lineages exist, with two known as Zebra
  • Trout due to their characteristic side stripes. Highly sought after by foreign fly fishermen visiting Spain.

Atlantic Brown Trout:

  • Originating from Pleistocene glaciations, five mitochondrial lineages exist.
  • The Atlantic lineage includes populations in the Duero basin and the Atlas Mountains (Morocco).
  • Recognized by black spots surrounded by a whitish halo.

German Brown Trout:

  • Introduced from Central Europe in the 1860s, hybridizing with native populations in Spanish rivers.
  • Ongoing stocking efforts with foreign strains, with some past introductions leading to hybridization.

Sea Trout:

  • Two reproductive behaviors: resident, completing its life cycle in freshwater, and anadromous (sea trout), maturing in the sea and returning to rivers.
  • Sedentary and migratory populations in Galician rivers and those flowing into the Cantabrian Sea.
  • Highly coveted by local anglers; Spain is one of the few places worldwide where sea trout can be fly-fished using dry flies.

Atlantic Salmon:

  • Marks the southern limit of the Atlantic salmon’s distribution in the Iberian Peninsula.
  • Endangered due to industrialization, river pollution, hydroelectric dam construction, and oceanic fishing.
  • Historical decline, with 200 salmon caught in 2023 compared to ten thousand in the 18th century in the Sella River.

Brook Trout:

  • Introduced in the late 19th century, adapted to some mountain lakes and streams in the Pyrenees and the Central System.
  • Valued for its voracity and vibrant colors, attracting Spanish anglers.

Rainbow Trout:

  • Documented introductions since 1888, with no evidence of naturalized populations due to competition with European brown trout.Otras especies de agua dulce de interés para la pesca con mosca son:

Barbel:

  • Also known as the «freshwater bonefish,» belongs to the Cyprinidae family native to Europe.
  • Indigenous to the Iberian Peninsula, easily identified by its downward-facing mouth and yellow color.
  • Feeds primarily on insects, larvae, and small crustaceans.
  • Nine species in the Iberian Peninsula, with notable representation in the Duero, Tagus, Guadalquivir, and Ebro basins.

Pike (Lucio):

  • A circumpolar species introduced in Spain in 1949 by the National Service of River Fishing and Hunting in the Tagus River at Aranjuez.
  • Released in various rivers such as the Tagus, Guadiana, Guadalquivir, Júcar, Segura, and Alberche between 1949 and 1960.
  • Translocated to many locations in the Iberian Peninsula, gaining popularity among fly anglers, especially in winter months.

Carp:

  • Originally from Asia, carp were introduced to Europe by the Romans and Greeks.
  • Initially bred for food, carp were extensively stocked in rivers and lakes during ancient times.
  • Growing in popularity among fly fishermen in Spain.

FLY FISHING TECHNIQUES IN SPAIN

Tourists visiting Spain should be aware that the country is a true paradise for dry fly fishing enthusiasts. The ample daylight hours and friendly climate create the perfect combination for significant hatches and fish feeding on the surface throughout the year. However, as in all rivers, there are moments and months when nymph fishing proves to be much more effective.

The main fly fishing techniques practiced in Spain include dry fly fishing, tandem fly fishing, and nymph fishing. While the country boasts excellent trout populations, some of its rivers experience high fishing pressure. In these waters, trout have evolved and learned to be extremely selective, demanding a perfect fly presentation. It is precisely this challenge that surprises many anglers, as fishing in certain Spanish rivers is a genuine test to achieve good results.

It is important to note that Spain and its fly fishermen have become a global force, with the Spanish team securing an impressive total of 8 medals in the last 8 World Championships, including 4 gold medals.

Furthermore, Spain and France have been pioneers in Euro Nymphing fly fishing. Spanish competition anglers were the first to use «perdigon» type nymphs. This technique is characterized by fishing solely with a thin line, keeping the fly line inside the reel at all times. Colored and low-memory thread is used instead of a conventional line, along with long fly rods (10 or 11 feet). The goal is to achieve perfect drifts with «perdigon» nymphs, minimally frictional nymphs with the water. Casting is done by leveraging the weight of the nymphs, rather than relying on the weight of the line. This technique has revolutionized fly fishing and gained followers worldwide.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT FLY FISHING IN SPAIN

The premier region for fly fishing in Spain undeniably lies in the Aragonese Pyrenees and a small section of the Catalan Pyrenees. Nestled in the northeastern part of Spain, this area presents an unparalleled fly fishing experience, thanks to its abundant crystal-clear rivers, breathtaking landscapes, and a diverse array of species, including brown trout, brook trout, and zebra trout.

The Aragonese Pyrenees are renowned for their mountainous rivers, such as the Ara River, the Cinca River, and the Ésera River, all of which offer ideal conditions for fly fishing. In the Catalan Pyrenees, notable rivers with exceptional potential include the Garona, Noguera Pallaresa, and Noguera Ribagorzana. These waterways boast pristine, unpolluted waters teeming with wild trout and various other fish species, creating an angler’s paradise.

The Ara River, meandering through the majestic Pyrenees in the Aragon region, is widely acclaimed by anglers as the top trout fishing destination in Spain. Spanning a length of 70 kilometers, the Ara River stands out as one of the rare watercourses in the Pyrenees that has remained unaltered by human intervention.

This river distinguishes itself through its thriving wild trout populations, a fact that, when coupled with its distinction as the last untouched river in the Pyrenees, renders it an exceptional haven for fishing enthusiasts. Moreover, its upper basin is nestled in close proximity to the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, further enhancing the grandeur of its already stunning natural surroundings.

In Spain, fly fishing enthusiasts can explore various scenarios for their angling experiences, each with its unique characteristics:

  • Fishing Preserves («Cotos de Pesca»): These are designated public waters, including rivers and lakes, explicitly managed for sport fishing. Administration bodies typically oversee these preserves (referred to as social preserves), although some may be managed by fishing clubs (known as sport preserves). Fishing preserves are governed by specific regulations to maintain the health of trout populations. They are usually well-maintained and monitored. To fish in a preserve, you must hold both a regional fishing license and a permit or day pass. Fishing guides often operate in these areas, catering to anglers’ needs. Fishing preserves can be categorized as either no-kill or extractive, depending on whether trout can be kept.
  • Free Fishing Tracts («Tramos Libres de Pesca»): These areas are open to the public, and angling only requires a fishing license from the corresponding region. Anglers must adhere to local fishing regulations and norms when fishing in these areas. Similar to fishing preserves, free fishing tracts can be classified as either no-kill or extractive, offering flexibility to anglers with different preferences.
  • Intensive Fishing Areas: These areas are actively managed, with regular releases of farmed trout to enhance the chances of successful catches. Generally, intensive fishing areas are accessible year-round, providing ample opportunities for angling. Just like other scenarios, intensive fishing areas can be divided into no-kill and extractive options, catering to various angling preferences.

Reservoirs or Private Lakes: Privately owned reservoirs or lakes are regularly stocked with farmed trout. Anglers must obtain permits from the property owner and adhere to specific regulations when fishing in these locations.

These diverse scenarios offer a wide range of fly fishing experiences across Spain, ensuring there’s something for every angler, from novices to seasoned veterans.

In Spain, the region of León boasts one of the longest traditions among anglers and stands out as a popular fishing destination, although not always considered the best. Additionally, the Alfarrás preserve, situated along the Noguera Ribagorzana river in Catalonia, has gained significant recognition. This intensive fishing preserve draws numerous local fly fishermen, primarily because of the remarkable size of its trout. These trout thrive on abundant gamarus crustaceans (shrimps), making it a notable spot for angling.

In Spain, fishing within National Parks is strictly prohibited. Fishing guide associations are actively pursuing an amendment to the 2014 National Parks Law, which currently restricts fishing for recreational and sport purposes within these areas.

While fishing within the boundaries of National Parks is not allowed, there is an opportunity to engage in the activity in the peripheral protective zones surrounding these parks.

As such, the prime rivers for fishing near National Parks can be found adjacent to the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park, as well as within the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park.

To engage in fly fishing in Spain, you must obtain the corresponding regional fishing license. Additionally, to access the most exclusive rivers and lakes, you will need a daily permit, also known as a «coto de pesca.» It is essential to be aware of the fishing regulations in the region, detailed in the annual closed season order.

The cost of a fishing license in Spain varies depending on the region and the type of license. Generally, fees range from 10 to 80 euros per year. Daily permits or «cotos» for select rivers and lakes typically cost between 5 and 20 euros per day. It is important to verify the exact prices in the region where you plan to fish.

Yes, non-residents can engage in fly fishing in Spain. They must obtain a fishing license, the cost and requirements of which may vary by region. Additionally, it is essential to comply with local regulations and obtain the necessary permits for specific fishing locations.

Ernest Hemingway primarily fly-fished in Spain on the Irati River, located in Navarra, and in the Burguete area. These places, with their natural scenery and abundant trout, inspired his work «Fiesta» (also known as «The Sun Also Rises»), where he describes his fishing experience in the 1920s.

The Spanish Pyrenees stand out as the prime destination for fly fishing in Spain. They offer a variety of rivers and an outstanding trout population. Additionally, you’ll enjoy spectacular landscapes and the presence of National Parks such as Ordesa and Aigüestortes.

Among the most prominent fly fishermen in Spain are world-renowned competitors David Arcay and Pablo Castro, pioneers of the Euro nymphing style. Carlos Azpilicueta is also recognized for his excellence as a casting instructor.

Salvelinus and Pyrenees Fly Fishing are the pioneering fly fishing companies in Spain. Both offer personalized experiences and luxury trips in the Pyrenees. Over the years, other companies such as Spain Fly Fishing Guides have also emerged.

Enjoy a fly fishing trip to Spain