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Home Story Find a Love for Flyfishing in the NWT

Find a Love for Flyfishing in the NWT

In rivers and lakes from one end of the NWT to the other, you’ll find fish eager to bite and personal records easy to beat.

If you’ve never fished in the NWT or are new to flyfishing entirely, here’s a handy guide of everything you’ll need to know. Before long, you’ll be ready to embark on a Northern flyfishing trip like no other. Find your picturesque point of choice and you’ll soon realize why many flyfishing enthusiasts agree that the NWT is home to the finest flyfishing in the world.

Where to find the best flyfishing in the NWT

The NWT is a world of water ways. In every region of the territory there are countless lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls – you name it! Among these many options you’ll find a stunning variety of landscapes and opportunities to enjoy. One thing is certain – if the waters are open, the fish will be biting.

As soon as the ice flushes out in early May, the NWT’s famed Arctic grayling runs begin in rivers across the territory. The Arctic grayling rivals the smallmouth bass with its jarring strikes, spectacular aerial somersaults, short powerful runs and a preference for avoiding the net. Flyfishing enthusiasts who come to the NWT get to make good use of their light and ultra-light rods, using dry flies or small spinners to pluck Arctic grayling out of the water.

In the Mackenzie Mountains, where cold, clear streams hurry down from the highlands, their currents splash with big bull trout. At the base of waterfalls through the South Slave Region, the tranquil atmosphere is only interrupted by the sight of flashy and feisty grayling. Great Slave Lake teems with monster lake trout and gargantuan pike that are fierce and spirited — and they love to strike a fly.

The NWT also has healthy stocks of brilliant-red Arctic char. These fish churn up the waters that pour into the Northwest Passage in the Western Arctic. They can tip the scales at three kilos (nearly seven pounds) or more, and provide fly-fishers with the best polar angling around.

Bring the best Flyfishing equipment

To get the most out of the NWT’s fish-rich waters, you’ll want to be well-equipped.

Conventional fishing gear is designed to catch fish below the surface, but flyfishing rods are special and made to nab fish lurking near the water’s surface.  So plan to invest in a good flyfishing rod, reel and line package.

If you’re in the NWT and want to take the opportunity to try your hand at flyfishing, there’s no need to purchase all this equipment right off the bat. Many NWT fishing lodges, fishing day trip organizers and outfitters can also provide or rent equipment. There’s no better place than the NWT to give flyfishing a try and experience the exhilarating appeal for yourself. You might just find a love for it.

You’ll also need a thin and translucent leader to connect your line to your fly. This tapered material straightens out so that your fly lands exactly where you want. A tippet further extends your leader —  this is something you will need if you lose some of the length of the leader after breaking or cutting it.

Know which fly to fly

Then, there are those all-important flies: there are several types of flies, including dry flies, nymphs, and streamers.  Each one is unique and possesses a memorable name.

The “Parachute Adams” is a dry fly that’s used throughout the world. Looking a bit like a fuzzy mosquito, it’s designed to float on the water to imitate insects that fish love. It also provides a “parachute” to make the fly easy to see on the water.

Then, there’s the “Wooly Bugger” fly, called the bread and butter of flies because it’s so versatile and works for char and pike.

Other useful flies include the “Furry Bunny,” which lures pike to the surface because of its shape that reminds hungry fish of critters like leeches.

Another handy tip from experienced fly-fishers is to use a net with a rubber mesh pocket. Because these are softer, they don’t strip the protective coat from the fish scales. This is important for the health of the fish. Because catch-and-release is common practice in the NWT, these nets are another way flyfishing stays as unobtrusive as possible in the lives of these spectacular fish. It also has the added benefit of ensuring your catch looks vibrant and healthy when you strike a triumphant pose with it for a photo.

You’ll also need a good pair of scissor clamps to help crush barbs or remove hooks from fish.

Then, consider buying a waterproof pack, vest, sling or belt to hold all this flyfishing gear.

Wade out and discover what awaits

You’ll want a good pair of waders to keep you dry and warm as you take the final steps into the crystal clear waters of the North. Once you start catching fish by the minute, you won’t want to call it quits on account of cold toes and wet socks.

With the long summer days you’ll also have lots of time to fish. From warm shallows to open lakes, you will find the waters in the NWT remarkably clear. This means sight casting is spectacularly easy and a surefire way to land any particular catch you set your sights on.

So pack your nymphs, streamers, gnats and flies along for a flyfishing trip deep in the uncrowded beauty of the NWT.  Enjoy flyfishing the way it was intended – free from distractions and hours away from rushing traffic and the din of the city.

Whether you book a stay at an all-inclusive fishing lodge or take a fishing day trip with a flyfishing operator to test the waters, the lakes and rivers of the NWT are teeming with the types of fish that are sure to make your trip unforgettable.

Keen to make the catch of a lifetime? From the Arctic Ocean to a Barrenland brook, your fishing trip in the Northwest Territories will reward you with colossal fish, record-number catches, and an unbelievable story. Read more here to get the “who’s who” of fish species in the Northwest Territories.

It’s no exaggeration to say the Northwest Territories has endless opportunities for the best Northern and Arctic fishing in Canada. Be prepared to break a few personal records.

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