Flyfishing in Switzerland, General Information

Flyfishing in Switzerland, Swiss Alps guided fishing trips

The Swiss Alps are called the water castle of Europe. A variety of mountain streams offer excellent fly fishing for trout in a pristine and clean mountain environment. The pike fishing in one of our clean deep lakes is simply thrilling and is, to me personally, some of the best flyfishing in Switzerland. Test your nymphing skills on large barbels or have some fun hooking elusive chubs on a dry fly.

Switzerland with its 26 Cantons, 4 official languages, 100’s of private and public waters and multitude of rules and regulations can be a nightmare for an outsider trying to spend a day on the water within all legal limitations…….

Why not take advantage of your stay in Switzerland and fish with a local who knows the good spots and how to fish them ? Switzerland may not be one of the prime fishing destinations in the world,  nevertheless pristine waters can be found off the beaten path, full of healthy fish and in a natural setting of famous beauty, the Swiss Alps. Flyfishing in Switzerland is a unique experience !

Flyfishing in Switzerland – General Information

For an visitor or foreigner it is difficult to find much information on the flyfishing in Switzerland. No question – our 26 cantons, each with their own rules and regulations, do not exactly make it easier. Additionally all official information will usually be published in german, french and italian – 3 of our 4 official languages. English…good luck.

Fishing tourism is still underrated and virtually no one is prepared for it…official information is difficult to find for a tourist, finding a fishing license can be a challenge.
Therefore I will answer some of the most common questions below.

  • Do I need a license to fish in Switzerland ?

A question that cannot be answered in a few words….. I live and work in the canton of Berne and therefore am familiar with our rules and regs. Do not just trust my word ! It is your responsibilty to make sure you are within all legal limitations wherever you fish. Basically fishing is allowed on all major lakes from the shore- with one rod – single barbless hook – without fishing license. But again- there is exceptions- so check ! Flowing waters may be private or public and in any case always require a fishing license. In the canton Berne most waters are public- in other cantons any decent waters are private these days.

  • Do I need the SaNa (Sachkundenachweis) to get a license ?

Ok, if you have heard about SaNa, you are not doing too bad already…. The SaNa (Sachkundenachweis) is a 1-2 day basic knowledge fishing course, and is required for anyone wanting to purchase a license for a duration of more than a single day.
Having said that, the SaNa is not required for a single days fishing license, which I will organize for you. Attention- again some cantons may have their own rules.

Here is the official Website for the Switzerland SaNa (german, french, italian)

  • Is it true that Catch & Release is illegal ?

To make things clear: we are talking only about fish that are caught within open season and reach the legal minimum size. All fish caught outside of their season or too small for legal limit – must immediately be released with all given care !

So – Yes, under our animal protection laws, C&R was banned a few years ago… (we don’t play with our food).
Nothing to be proud of – but it is what it is !
There is loopholes though….

  • You may not go fishing with the intention of releasing all fish you catch. Clearly illegal !
  • Releasing a single chosen fish for ecological reasons is legal !

As a rule of thumb: It is your individual decision to release a fish for ecological reasons if the fish is in good shape and its chances of survival are great. You may not release the fish if it is hurt, bleeding, exhausted or pulled up from great depth. Systematical C&R is illegal !

You may contact me for any questions about Bernese rules & regulations. For any other cantons you’ll have to do some research yourself. A good pointer are always fishing shops in the canton you intend to fish.

Besides…..if you come flyfishing in Switzerland with me, I will supply the fishing license !

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Flyfishing in Switzerland – the waters we fish !

Our rivers & creeks hold brown trout, some brook trout and char, grayling and barbels. The lakes hold lake trout, pike, perch, walleye, whitefish, etc. – to name only the species interesting for fishing. You see,  Flyfishing in Switzerland offers a wide variety.

Our rivers and creeks in Switzerland, specially the ones at higher elevation offer the kind of fly fishing I am personally most fond of. The rivers are clean and cold with only few human traces visible, if any at all. These waters are generally quite small, very cold and of fairly steep gradient. Access can be easy or difficult- depending on your preferences and your ability to hike, scramble and wade. As anywhere….the best fishing is found in the difficult to reach spots   ;-) Often overgrown banks with little casting space increase the challenge, and spooky fish in the clear water demand a stealthy careful approach.

Good trout fishing will require some planning, studying topographical and road maps, your own means of transportation ( a car!), accurate equipment and knowledge of the local weather and water conditions- not to mention a valid fishing license.

As result of the conservation efforts, many fishing creeks in Switzerland are open for fishing only 3 days a week- Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Many rivers I fish are glacier fed and tend to carry snow melt in spring. Heavy flows making access difficult or even dangerous and discolored water unsuited for dry flies, making weighted nymphs the only choice. Snow melt season is highly variable and depends on weather and temperatures, after cool nights you may find suitable conditions even as early as March/April.

The lakes demand a different approach altogether. I specialize on pike and lake trout only. Any other lake fishing is only of little interest to me, as it is done with trolling, jigging or bottom fishing. Our lakes hold enormous lake trout. Flyfishing in Switzerland for lake trout is not easy, as these fish usually hold deep. In early spring, with the mass appearance of a large mayfly, lake trout can be caught on a dry fly !

But my favorite lake fishing is definitely the flyfishing for pike. I won’t go in much detail here – please visit my pike on a fly page. Flyfishing in Switzerland for large pike is a true adventure !

As fishing goes here in the alps we are highly dependent on weather and water conditions, when deciding upon a days destination. This is why it is necessary to keep different options open and make final decisions only  the night before the trip.

Generally the best months for flyfishing in Switzerland are June, July, August and September.

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If you are here on family vacation, business trip, or if you simply don‘t want to fuss around and waste time finding the right fishing waters in Switzerland – make it easy on yourself – book me for a days Flyfishing in Switzerland…!!

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