Langa means literally “Long river” and long it is. It originates in one of Iceland’s larger inland lakes, Langavatn (long lake!) and starts off flowing with runs and falls through an uninhabited moorland of haunting beauty. Until recently this was the domain of some very large inland char. The char are still there but over the past decade the salmon have been up and coming up there due to the many fish ladders implanted by the rivers owners.
As Langa appears from the wilderness it spills into a birch covered canyon with some stunning pools and pristine water so clear that you can spot a salmon a long way off. And there are a lot of salmon to spot. The canyon ends at Sveðjufoss falls and its famous fish ladder that was for years Iceland’s longest. It is a captivating sight to stand on the crag above the largest box in the middle of the ladder and observe the flocks of salmon fining to and fro, waiting for the right moment to make the plunge up the rest of the ladder and ever closer to home.
Fish on in Strengir, below Skuggafoss. All photos by Einar Falur.
Below, Langa enters a long flat section with a lot of gravel bars and cut banks. The river used to break up into many small channels in this area but the river keeper has bulldozered the river over the years to the extent that the stretch is now not only a prolific area full of fine pools, but an important spawning area as well.
Another canyon takes over when the flat section ends and it features a dramatic yet passable falls, Kattarfoss. The canyon below offers some great fishing, as do a string of pools below the canyon. Langa is one of the finest Salmon rivers in Iceland and has rightly earned worldwide acclaim. The river has benefited from the construction of a number of fish ladders increasing both fish habitat and resultant fishing.
A nice Langa grilse.
As important as anything is the water-regulating dam at the headwater lake which provides the river with a sound and steady flow whatever the weather. In short the rivers water level stays stable far longer than that of rivers without such regulations.
Langa holds 12 rods in the prime weeks, divided into four rods per beat fishing three beats, each beat fishing two rods on the upper and two rods on the lower section. The river is ideally suited for single-handed rods with floating lines and small flies and tubes in patterns such as the legendary Langa Fancy.
A grilse has grabbed the hitch on Lower Kampari.
Other favorites include the Red Frances, Sunray Shadow and almost any micro-tube, especially when hitched. During early season and when the levels rise late on, local tube flies work well, fished with sinking tips.
The Langa lodge is one of Iceland’s newest and best equipped. It is beautifully situated on a hillock overlooking one of the rivers better pools.