Welcome to our newest travel series, brought to you by YETI. In this series, we will be highlighting some of our favorite fly-fishing destinations around the world and providing you with some essential angler insight to help complete your mission. Just like the new YETI luggage, this guide will aim to help you get from point A to B, but whatever adventure you choose to have in-between us up to you.
In this installment of A2B, we will be looking back on a recent trip to Northern Sweden, and heading into the Arctic circle to Swedish Laplands. There, we were enchanted by the surreal grandeur of the midnight sun, tasted the wrath of the fickle Baltic Salmon, and ventured into the highlands for some of the most mind-blowing Char fishing in the world.
Maneuvering Air Travel:
While some of us may like to think so, the pandemic is unfortunately not over. However, with the widespread availability of vaccines, and proper safety practices: international travel has once again become possible. Unfortunately, just because it’s possible, doesn’t mean it’s easy.
One of the most important things to take into account long before even setting foot in the airport are the international travel mandates in terms of COVID-19. Because you will most likely be flying through several countries, all with different travel regulations, it’s important to make sure you’re well versed in each countries requirements a few days in advance. For instance, some countries will accept vaccine cards as a necessary document for entering their borders, but their neighbors may require entirely different documents such as a negative COVID test within the last 72 hours.
There’s nothing worse than showing up to the airport and missing your flight because you had to take an impromptu COVID test. Trust us: we’ve been there.
Where to Fly Into:
The main airports in Swedish Lapland are Luleå and Kiruna Airport, both SAS and Norwegian fly there with great connections to international flights. There are also smaller airports in Skellefteå, Gällivare, and Arvidsjaur, with good connections to and from Stockholm Arlanda Airport.
Depending on your final destination, you can take a look at the airport map provided by Swedish Lapland’s website HERE.
Preparing for Your Trip:
For all of your non-angling needs, here are a few items we suggest packing along for your journey. Needless to say, there’s always more (or less) you can choose to equip yourself with, but that’s all dependant on what kind of traveler you are. Here are a few items we were glad we brought, or more likely, wish we had:
1. The Right Luggage: YETI’s 2021 Lugagge line
We’ve all been there before; sitting in front of the baggage check area, profusely sweating, trying to fix that broken zipper or torn seam on that piece of luggage we got for cheap. It’s time to put those days behind you and invest in some luggage that’s built for the wild with YETI’s new line of travel luggage. From suitcases, to backpacks, to carry-ons – this new line is built to withstand anything from the harsh hands of baggage check to the exotic angling destinations of your dreams. With more space than you’ll know what to do with, bulletproof composure, you can kiss the days of travel turmoil goodbye.
2. Layers Layers Layers
Depending on the time of year that you’re planning your visit around, one of the most important things to note when packing would be your layers. Most everyone has been in a situation where they are forced to brave the elements because they tested their luck on a single shirt or jacket. What to remember is, you can always add and remove layers as the day progresses – but you have to have packed them to do so. On top of sun and temperature exposure, Swedish Lapland is known to have an abundance of insects such as mosquitos, black flies, and gnats. Layering can oftentimes be your best defense against these tiny airborne adversaries. Yes, gloves count as layers.
3. Bug Repellant
Speaking of bugs, sometimes the summer san can be too hot, and the number of flying pests too numerous to combat with just one’s strong will. Luckily, with modern science, hyper-effective bug repellants such as sprays, gels, and burnable coils are available. For our trip, we owe our sanity to Bushman Dry Gel. However, please note that many of these contain harsh chemicals, and you should do your research before putting anything on your body. Apply with caution. Note: A mosquito net is always a chemical-free option if you don’t mind sacrificing a little pride.
4. Waterproof Backpack and Raincoat
When entering the tundra, you never know what you’re going to get. Weather is unpredictable, and it’s always best to plan for rain. Our advice: always carry a waterproof backpack and a raincoat. Don’t compromise your peace of mind when it comes to keeping your gear safe and dry. Whether you’ve got expensive camera gear, or just a change of dry clothes, a waterproof backpack is essential when traveling through uncertain weather. Rain coats are also an adventures best friend. They can be easily packed away when you don’t need it, and you’ll be thankful when you do. Not to mention, they make a great cool-weather layer.
5. A Good Set of Boots
No matter what you have planned, a good set of hiking or all-purpose boots is always recommended when exploring new territory. You never know when you’re going to find yourself ankle-deep in some muskeg or embarking on a steep hike; so it’s best to always be prepared for adventure. Pro tip: Always pack an extra pair of boot laces too. You’ll thank us one day.
6. A portable cell phone charger
While, if you’re traveling from the states, or heading to a more remote part of the region, you most likely won’t have any service anywhere you go – it’s always nice to have a camera to document your experiences. There are loads of companies out there who make portable phone chargers that can be charged beforehand, or via solar; many of which make products that’ll fit inside your pocket.
Anglers Packing List:
If you’re reading this, you’re most likely planning on going fishing. Good for you. Below, we’ve coordinated with some local Swedish guides to put together a list of some Grayling and Salmon angling essentials you should try to bring, or at bare minimum, make sure you have once you’re there.
Info via Lars Munk
For Grayling: Pheasant tail, Klinkhammer, Pheasant tail, hares ear, woolly bugger, and black gnats. The most important thing is that you believe in the fly!
For Salmon: The name and or style of the fly comes second. Make sure you bring flies in sizes from 2cm – 10cm, bigger flies up to 15cm-20cm, and can be used in the early season in high and cold water conditions during June. Make sure your hooks are strong and sharp!
Flies: Banana – Phatakorva – Sunray Shadow – Monkey – The Usual – Willie Gunn – Black & Green – Black & Yellow – Grey & Green – Cascade – Rapala – Editor – Thunder & Lightning – Kinermony Killer – Beiss
Grayling: Single hand rods from 6-10 feet in class(weight) 2-6.
Salmon and trout: Double hand rods from 12-18 feet in class 6-12. Switch rods from 11 feet class 5-7. Single hand rods from 9-10 feet in class 5-9.
For Grayling: Most WF floating lines will do.
For Salmon and trout: We suggest coming prepared with shooting heads and or versi tips with variable sinking rates in floating down to the heaviest sinking densities. Most of our fishing is within the floating to Sink 2 range. Depending on water temperatures, depth and speed, it may be necessary to go down to a heavier range of multi-density lines between Sink 1 and Sink 7. We recommend both full-length and compact heads for both wide open and short-range fishing situations.
Leaders and tippets:
For Grayling: 9-15 feet tapered leaders, with a tippet range from 0,12-0,20mm.
For Salmon and Trout: 10-20 feet tapered leaders with a tippet range between 0.25mm and 0.52mm. For colder water conditions expect leader lengths to be as short as 4 feet. Tippet from 0.38mm to 0.52mm.
Besides the usual items including nippers, forceps, waders, and boots; we recommend bringing a collapsable wading staff, and of course some polarized sunglasses. These items, while not always essential, can really enhance your angling experience.
Note: Pike fishing is also an option as the temperatures warm throughout the summer. For some tips on what to bring and how to chase some of these nasty pond monsters, click HERE.
Swedish Lapland Fly Fishing Lodges:
The following are some lodges we would recommend. There are of course individual guides and other outfitting opportunities, but here’s a list to get you started:
Additional places to Check-Out:
For non-anglers, or simply for those looking to add some additional flavor to their stay: here are some fun places to definitely check out in the area.
(Get real close and pet a Scandinavian moose)
(Food and Sami experience)
(Knife making and snowshoeing)
(A hotel up in the trees – pretty amazing)
(The original IceHotel. Summer and winter!)
A Place Like No Other…
In conclusion, if you’re planning a visit to Swedish Lapland: you’re guaranteed the trip of a lifetime. With endless scenic landscape, and a fascinating and enriching culture Sweden is not a place you will forget soon. On top of being one of the most incredible, and challenging fisheries in the world, it’s certainly a trip that should sit at the top of every freshwater angler’s bucket list.