A Salmon Fishing Guide for the Mandalselva, Norway – The Mandal River

Here is a the first part of Salmon Fishing guide in Mandalselva, Norway.  It’s the 11th of May, I’m sitting on the river bank and there is just 21 days left until the 1st of June, Mandalselva’s salmon season opens. In the last few days I’ve seen, as well as many others, multiple fresh run salmon jumping, so they’re on the run.

All of this activity has inspired me to write this article describing what one should have on the end of the line when salmon fishing in Mandalselva. My goal is to inform and hopefully inspire all that may be fishing this wonderful river in the future.  This is part one of two.  Part two will describe the fishing beats of the river, when to fish and why.


This arcticle is focused on Mandalselva, but all the methods, flies, lures will generally be the ones to go for in all of the rivers here in Southern Norway. Firstly, for those that are not already aquainted with the great Mandalselva, here’s a little introduction. The river was once one of the most important income and food resources in this region producing between 20-35 tonn salmon per year in the 1800s. Norway’s most southerly situated salmon river, once a regular hunting ground of the great Lord Edward Theodore Salvesen. A prolific atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and sea trout (Salmo trutta) river that can produce fish in excess of 30lbs and in excess of 12 tons of salmon per season (impressive if you take into account that Norway’s salmon season is just three months long). Regularly within Norway’s top 10 salmon rivers. This peaty brown water river is divided into 4 main zones from the mouth of the river in Mandal upto where the salmon stop due to a natural barrier by Kavfossen, 48km of prime salmon fishing. One important thing to know is that due to acid rain in the 80s-90s, the river’s pH was greatly reduced killing off most of the salmon. In 1997 a liming project was implimented to increase the river’s pH and save the salmon. After many years of hard work by passionate souls and many millions of Norwegian Kroner, the salmon fishing is slowly getting better. The river comprises of a little bit of everything. It’s generally a large river made up of strong fast currents, waterfalls, slow deep pools, wide calm stretches and even a large lake. There really is something for everyone.


Fly Fishing

My passion. When casting a fly to our atlantic salmon, then there are many choices all depending on conditions and how much water is in the river. Mandalselva is easily tamed with a 14’ #9/10 double hander, others prefer 10’ #7 one handers and others switch rods. 15lb(7kg) – 20lb(9kg) tippets possibly stronger depending on where in the river you are fishing. Lines and sink rates in accordance with the conditions. Though most fish with floating or float with a fast intermediate front section. Flies are generally made up of wings of black/dark brown and/or orange with lots of flash. Hackles of orange and bodies of copper, gold or orange. A little blue in there someone also helps. The salmon in Mandalselva like bling or lots of flash. Pink also seems to be an increasing favourite too. After chatting with a few experienced Mandalselva fisherman and putting my own experience into the mix, I have arrived at the flies under.  A mixture of Thunder and Lightning, Ally’ Shrimp, General Practioner, Cascade, Blue Norseman, Black and Orange tube, Sunray Shadow, Phatakorva, Flomflugan Ronneaflugan, Sierra Gorva, Grønbergs Lille Grønn, Orange Express.  Don’t forget riffling hitch with small Sunray Shadows either.  Very effective.



Lure Fishing Many find this type of fishing enjoyable and it really is an effective method. Rods of 10ft (3m) 10-50g married with a 4000-7000 sized reel and strong line are generally preferred. Many choose multifilament main line, but beware that under tension, this can easily break against the rocks.  A long leader of fluorocarbon monofilament will greatly reduced this danger and fluorocarbon is almost invisible under water. The most used lures are Kleppesluken (copper on the underside), Møresilda, Rapala sinking. Copper and red, silver and black, orange and red.  The lure’s weight is chosen in relation to the amount of water in the river.


Bait Fishing

Many enjoy the relaxation of sitting or standing in the river, bouncing a bunch of worms through a pool searching for waiting fish.  A highly effective method that utilises longer rods than lure fishing (12-14ft long).  Please note that the use of shrimps/prawns and live bait (e.g. live fish) are strictly forbidden and is treated as a criminal offence to do so.

I hope this has given a little more insight into Mandalselva, and you’re a little more prepared for fishing here in the future.

More Inspiration

A local Salmon angler, Per-Willy Ormestad’s blog

A lovely article from 2002 by Martin Joergensen over at Global Flyfisher in Denmark

Afiskeri’s video from Mandalselva

Official Information from Mandalselva’s website


To Tore Grundeland, Erik Røysland, Stein Grønberg, Odd Møll and Per-Willy Ormestad for your input.

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