Whenever I get together with a group of anglers it’s a fair bet that within a very short time we’ll be talking about fishing in Norway or Iceland, more specifically what tackle to use. With over 30 fishing trips to Northern Norway & a dozen to Iceland beneath my belt I feel I have got my own personal tackle requirements down to a fine art. All my tackle fits comfortably into one soft canvas holdall, and the overall weight is never much more than the 20kg allowance that is standard with most airlines.
I travel extensively and I detest having to travel with rod tubes, not just because almost all airlines charge for them these days, but also because they are a total pain the butt to lug around airports. Whenever possible I use my various Shimano STC, Shimano Travel Concept, multi-piece rods which come with a strong, light, protective tubes that can fit into my check in bags.
Occasionally someone will argue they are not convinced that these rods are strong enough to handle big cod or halibut. All I can say is that I have used mine to catch plenty of 100lb plus tarpon and billfish, countless sharks and yes, more than just a few big cod, coalfish and halibut. Further, the action on ‘good quality’ modern travel rods is the equal of any two piece.
I always carry a spare rod, but I do this wherever I travel in the world, as I am more concerned about rods getting broken by ‘other means’, rather than big fish. Most good camps in Norway & Iceland will have loaner hire equipment available on site, and many have a shop selling pretty much all of the tackle you’ll need, certainly lures, line and terminal gear. Local supermarkets or even the petrol station often sell terminal gear, so if you do run short of any items you will be able to replace them easily enough.
Rather than attempt to tell you what you should use, I am going to list everything I take, leaving you to decide what works best for you.
RODS: Shimano Exage STC 20-30lb class Ref: TEXAXBT2030. I have found rods rated 20-30lb are perfect, even for very big cod, as the softer action minimises hooks getting ripped out. Some anglers prefer 30-50lb rods but as I said, all I am doing here is detailing the tackle I use.
REELS: For many years I used my tried and tested Shimano TLS 20’s and 25’s and these served me very well, the super smooth lever drags are perfect when playing fish with non-stretch braid, and the TLD range are very affordable. On the down side the relatively slow rate of retrieve of these reels make fishing in deep water hard work.
Consequently for the past few years I have used my Shimano Torium 16’s and 20’s. and more recently the newer upgraded HG versions of these excellent reels. With a rapid 6.2:1 retrieve they make light work of fishing in deep water, while their superb engineering and very reliable clutch makes them a joy to use.
LURES: From experience I would say you don’t lose too many lures fishing in either Norway or Iceland, I average perhaps one lost lure per trip. As a result I do not burden myself carrying loads of heavy pirks. I carry two 400g traditional, stainless steel ‘Norway style’ pirks, plus a selection of around half a dozen other pirks ranging from 150-300g. I particularly like those made by Solvroken such as the STING SILDER and perhaps my favourite, the 250g SØLVPILK, especially those in green.
You must ensure all hooks you use are strong, from experience I would say most hooks on shop bought pirks here in the UK are not strong enough. The exception being pirks bought in Norway made by Solvroken. Typically when I do change hooks I use quality VMC hooks, invariably increasing a size or two from what is fitted as standard.
I use a lot of rubber shads in Norway, and always carry two or three Storm Wildeye Giant Jigging Shads. These superb lures are 9in long and weigh 13 11/16oz. Each pack comes with one jig head ready rigged with a rubber tail, plus two spares, green and orange are my personal favourites, but they all work and are in my opinion the very best large shads available.
I also carry a few packs of Storm Ultra Shads in 80g & 120g, which I fish off on a medium size STC spinning rod. My favourite is the Shimano Blue Romance STC Shore Jigging Rod Ref: TBRSJ905080 matched with a Shimano Saragosa 5000 fixed spool loaded with 20-30lbBS braid. On some days when the fish are not aggressively attacking pirks, I have found a slowly worked shad up through the water column can be deadly, especially when the sounder shows fish are hanging at mid water. This technique is by far the most effective for targeting specimen coalfish.
LINE: My reels are filled to maximum capacity, as this ensures a maximum rate of retrieve and clutch efficiency. As standard I use 20kg, 44lbBS PowerPro. I tie a 20ft 50lbBS monofilament leader to the end of this, I use clear Suffix Zippy. I also carry a spool of 30lb mono for fishing the smaller shads off a flying collar, as mentioned above.
TERMINAL GEAR: My tackle bag has a small Plano tackle box containing a selection of good quality swivels, links, single hooks from 1/0-6/0-for bait fishing, some bait elastic, spare split rings, a couple of beads and booms and two or three plain leads from 6-10oz for fishing those smaller shads. I also carry a filleting knife and a pair of split ring pliers; and tackle wise thats it.
Regarding clothing, I take my salopettes, waterproof padded fishing jacket, boat boats, two hats-always have a spare, neoprene gloves and a full set of thermals. Many Norwegian fishing camps have flotation suits for hire, all SHOULD supply life jackets-wear them!
Needless to say on your first trip, like me, you’ll drag along heaps of stuff you don’t use, and just for good measure you’ll probably pay some excess baggage! But by means of a little experiment, when you get home empty your tackle box and make two piles, stuff you used and stuff you didn’t use, I think you’ll be surprised! Then on your second trip, because I assure you, you will go back, you’ll know just what to take.