Fly Fishing for Grayling in Denmark |
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Category: Fly Fishing Destinations | Author: Hans van Klinken

Denmark is the most southern of all Scandinavian countries. It is almost completely surrounded by seas, which makes it very interesting for fishermen.

River Konge, Denmark

Denmark is the most southern of all Scandinavian countries. It is almost completely surrounded by seas, which makes it very interesting for fishermen. It's a peaceful land of farmers and agriculture. My friend Mogens Espersen told me that for ages the fishing gods have been very kind to the Danish people and I belief it is true.  In general fly-fishing in Denmark is not easy but rewards can be enormously.  At the eastern coast and around the islands you have excellent saltwater fishing but it is on the mainland (Jutland) where you will find some superb river fishing for grayling. When you hit the right conditions you really can awaken you're heard and soul. More than once I had some awesome fishing but there were also times that only the fish succeed. Grayling fishing in Denmark is special, different and a real big challenge. If you only want to catch loads of fish then you never should go there but if you really want to enjoy your fly-fishing then I can highly recommend it.


Because all the publicity about saltwater fishing, the excellent river fishing fall into oblivion. Denmark is a real fishing paradise in prosperity, especially for the decent fly fisherman and the prospects are looking better every year. Comparing with England and some other European countries the fly fishing in Denmark is rather young but the Danes learned a lot from others mistakes. Fishing clubs did a great job to clean up their waters and the Danish F.F.F. made an enormous contribution to popularise our great sport. Reintroduction of salmon and sea trout seems a great success. They have returned in many rivers and the new populations seem to grow every year. Several farmers already take well care to keep a neutral zone close to the river. Pollu­tion has been severely restricted all over the country and the bad times are really over now. Today a good population of grayling and trout will be found in the upper courses of many rivers, streams and brooks. I believe when people are just fixed on saltwater only; they miss a great opportunity. They will miss an extra challenge, beautiful wetland sceneries and some great fly-fishing. Fly fishing in the Danish rivers means piece, quietness and a lot pleasure. Even at high season you always find a wonderful and lonesome spot to wet your flies.


I like Denmark because I am always sure of having an enjoyable trip and that’s the main reason why I visit it twice a year. I normally make 4 or 5-day trips during each spring and autumn. Just to be out for a couple of days to find some rest what will give me some new inspiration for many things. It is like loading your batteries!  I also like it to fish in small brooks and streams and Denmark seem to be an excellent place for it. There are dozens of nice streams and most of them still have their natural watercourse. The small rivers are very picturesque and it is wonderful to see how they meander and beautify the landscape. Those deep eroded meanders produce perfect lies, shelter and hiding places. The current runs fast and has many marvellous feeding seems between the beautiful weedbeds and high sandy banks. The conditions are perfect for insects to grown and produce and caddis and mayflies are abounded. In several streams you will find large populations of Danicas what attracts not only fish but also a large groups of dry fly fanatics.  In the spring and autumn many birds on their way up north or south take some rest in the fields and bring some extra life to the fishermen. Birds of prey are hunting day and night.  Later in the season when terrestrials fall into the water from the overgrown banks, you sometimes see those pools boiling from activity. I easily can watch it for hours in search for a new trophy fish. When the weather conditions are right up to ten large fish (50+) a day belongs to the possibilities.

The Danish name for river of stream is Å and there are dozens of excellent grayling waters to fish. In Denmark you need a state licence. (fisketegn) which is easy to get at post offices. River fishing means that you have to buy an extra licence for each stream. The prices are very cheep and varies from DKr 20, - a season up to DKr 100, - a day. Hotels (KRO), tourist offices, campings, sport shops and local shops are the best places to find your day ticket. To locate some good river fishing there a few places you surely should remember. Ribe, Varde, Skern, Holstebro and Skive. These are bigger towns and easy to find at every map. For fishing itself you need a good map, a scale (1:200.000) or less is highly recommended.

To get a very good impression about the grayling fishing on Jutland start to work you way up from south to the north. Follow the West Coast. With a few exceptions the grayling is native in most of the rivers that flow out in the Nord Sea. It is the result of the ice age.

In the Southwest the first area to notice is around the place Ribe. Here you will cross the Ribe river system, which holds trout, sea trout and a good number of grayling. Take some small country roads to follow the river upstream and search for the wonderful Gels Å tributary. This is a rather long but little stream that offers load of places with excellent grayling and trout fishing. It's fishable from Immervadbro to Gels Bro. When you drive around in the country you easily get lost and map reading is essential to be sure to reach the river. Look for some parking areas close to bridges and don’t worry if you don’t see any fishermen. Just walk up or downstream and try at good-looking or fishable places. The Gels River has good hatches and even at rainy days I saw fish rising. Look for holding pools and I am sure you will catch some nice fish. Don’t be surprised when you hook a large sea trout at dark days or sunset.

When you travel further up north you come to the River Konge. It is located between Ribe and Esbjerg. In English it will be translated as “The Kings River” and is definitely one of the best waters for producing large grayling in the 50cm range but often trout will take your fly too.  Some people consider this river even as the cream of the crop of all Danish streams. The best places you will find between Gredsted Bro and Foldingbro but this area can be a bit busy during the weekends. Personally I prefer to fish further upstream. Today my largest grayling in Denmark (59cm) has been hooked and released in a small tributary named Vejen Å.

North of Esbjerg you will pass the Varde river system which also hold salmon and rainbow. There are two feeders that are extremely important for a grayling angler. The Grindsted Å and Ansager Å. The Grindsted is one of the best places to go when rain coloured most of the streams in the area. It is one of the clearest rivers in Denmark with plenty attractive weedbeds and hundreds of wonderful holding pools.  Those pools can be very deep at some places. The Grindsted produces beside grayling also large and beautiful marked brown trout, which are easy to get on dry fly.

In the centre western Jutland you can’t miss the Skern river system. It is huge and has lot of beautiful tributaries to explore, like the Fjederholt Å. and Vorgod Å. In the main river you will find grayling, trout, sea trout, salmon and coarse fish. The most popular places to fish are from Sdr. Felding up to the mouth of the river but the upper parts are the best for grayling. Many anglers who fish the Skern River are too much concentrating on the main river. In their ignorance they avoid the upper courses, and tributaries. This is why the fishing pressure is extremely low at most of the upper parts and feeders. A lot of fishermen still believe that the small brooks and streams only holds a few or just small fish. This is the biggest mistake a fisherman can make in Denmark. Another reason is that not many people know where to get the licences for the tributaries but that’s just a matter of asking.  Some farmers offer some excellent private fishing. Be wise and always ask first if you are not that sure about the area the license should cover. I mostly got permission easily permission when I explain them I fish catch and release only.

The longest river system in Denmark is the Guden Å. This River flow out in the east so actually the grayling was not a native fish. Today grayling up to 50cm are common but not easy to find. The River Guden once was one of the best Salmon rivers in Denmark until human destroy their spawning grounds when they build a dam in the river. Today it seems restocking projects were unbelievable successful and a population of salmon have been returned. The river starts not far from the place Torring and flows through many lakes before it runs in to Randers fjord. For grayling I like to fish from Torring up to Braedstrup. If you are not familiar with the area have a look at Gudenå Camping at Breadstrup. It is directly located at the river and has a very nice fly-only strech to try.


To fish the brooks of Denmark successfully you need a lot of patient, long walks and a little skill. The high banks, trees, grass, plants and much clearer water makes fly fishing more difficult but also more defiant.  In my voyage to discover the smallest brooks and streams I found some wonderful waters. Streams and brooks like the Vorgod Å, Gels Å, Vejen Å, Fjederholt Å, and Grindsted Å are my most favourites.


Rods rate 3-5 up to 9 ft and floating line will do the work perfectly. Chest waders are not necessary. Most favourite are weighted nymphs size 10 like the Leadhead, Peeping Caddis and Caseless Caddis in sandy colours. Shrimps are abounded in many rivers and rusty colours are the best imitations. Dry flies, such as parachute Ants (size 16), Baetis imitations (size 14-16) and small parachutes work great. The Klinkhamer (size 12-14) is highly recommended. During the summer large sedge imitations are excellent. You don’t need chest waders for river fishing. The banks usually are high and the water can be very deep. You also will leave a trace of mud behind what can be reducing the fish’s taking mood.


Limited sizes Trout 30cm, Sea trout 40cm, Grayling 33cm and salmon 60cm. Most rivers and streams open at the first of March and close at the end of October.  The closed season for Grayling is between 15 March and 15 May. There is no closed season for Rainbows.

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