Fly Fishing around Belfast (The Ultimate Guide)

Fly fishing around Belfast is an urban angler's paradise. With prime spots and local expertise, it's unforgettable.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Fly fishing in Belfast is superb, offering a wide range of species to target both in and around the city. I’m Daniel O’Neill, a Northern Irish fly fisherman with over fourteen years of experience, in this article, I will discuss the exhilaration of hooking hard-fighting Atlantic salmon on the fly, the challenge of pursuing brown trout, or even the fascinating experience of targeting mullet around Belfast. 

My Experience Fly Fishing around Belfast

As a Northern Irish fisherman residing in Belfast, I bring a wealth of experience gained over many years of fly fishing in and around this remarkable city. My angling adventures have led me to confront the formidable Irish Atlantic Salmon, land the thick-lipped mullet gracing our coastline, and sightfish for the abundant population of brown trout.

A close up of a fly reel shot in Belfast
A close up of a fly reel shot in Belfast.

Throughout my angling journey, I’ve continually pushed my boundaries in pursuit of the most impressive and sought-after fly species across Northern Ireland. Whether it’s tangling with the colossal Irish pike prevalent in the vicinity of Belfast or capitalizing on the influx of sea trout along the Belfast coast, I’ve honed my skills and amassed experience in almost every facet of fly angling in this region

Why Fly Fish around Belfast?

As previously mentioned, Belfast boasts a diverse array of species for fly fishing enthusiasts to target. Furthermore, the local anglers in Belfast are not only skilled but also incredibly friendly, always willing to share their knowledge and provide valuable tips, additionally, you’ll find a plethora of excellent fly fishing shops in and around the area.

A dollaghan trout close up

Beyond its reputation as a fantastic fly fishing destination, Belfast also serves as the perfect hub for fly fishing enthusiasts. It offers the chance to fully immerse yourself in the rich culture of Northern Ireland and the vibrant nightlife the city has to offer.

5 Best Trout Rivers around Belfast

In this section, we will discuss some rivers located near Belfast where you can enjoy fly fishing.

River Lagan

The River Lagan flows through the city of Belfast and is home to some impressive brown trout. Fishing within the city center is not advisable, but on its outskirts, you can find both sea trout and brown trout. 

A 1lb trout landed close to Belfast

This river played a significant role in the industrial development of Belfast, and along its banks, you may still come across the remains of old mills and bridges. The River Lagan also hosts a salmon run.

River Maine

The River Maine is an exceptional destination for fly fishing, conveniently situated in close proximity to Belfast. It’s just an hour’s drive from the city center and is renowned for its impressive mayfly hatches, making it a perfect choice for dry fly fishing enthusiasts.

Before you embark on your fishing adventure on the River Maine, we recommend reaching out to local fly tyers who can supply you with a diverse selection of mayfly patterns tailored specifically for this river.

River Quoile

The River Quoile is just a quick thirty-minute drive from the city center and is a hidden gem for anglers looking to catch brown trout on the fly. The river boasts numerous gentle cascading streams that are perfect for fly fishing, as well as some larger stretches.

A nice sized dollaghan trout

Effective fly patterns for this river include the zebra midge, as well as silver and teal variations. Accessing the River Quoile doesn’t require a 4×4 vehicle. Additionally, the river supports a diverse stock of coarse species, providing a wide range of fishing opportunities.

River Six Mile Water

The Six Mile Water is conveniently located just a thirty-minute drive from the city center and offers exceptional opportunities for fly fishing. It boasts a diverse range of fishing terrain, catering to various preferences, whether you’re interested in fast-flowing stretches, gentle nymphing, or static night fishing.

This river is known for its unique catch, the rare dollaghan trout native to Lough Neagh, and you can also try your hand at occasional salmon fly fishing. Accessing the Six Mile Water doesn’t require a 4×4 vehicle, and the “Bloody Butcher” fly pattern is a known success for anglers on this river.

River Blackwater

The River Blackwater was once renowned as one of the best coarse fishing spots in all of Ireland. Unfortunately, due to recent poaching, this is no longer the case. However, you can still target the occasional pike on the fly.

A small dollaghan

The Blackwater remains a fantastic destination for trout fly fishing. It features numerous deep pools to fish, and you might even have the chance to catch the occasional salmon. Although it’s approximately an hour’s drive from Belfast city center, it’s well worth the journey for most fly anglers.

5 Best Trout Lake Lakes around Belfast

In this section, we will discuss some lakes located near Belfast where you can enjoy fly fishing.

Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh is the largest lake in all of Britain and offers superb fly fishing opportunities. However, these opportunities are starting to diminish due to the substantial commercial netting activities on the lough.

A dollaghan trout landed on the fly

Lough Neagh once had a significant population of freshwater eels, but they were overfished to the point where their numbers have yet to recover. The dollaghan trout, which inhabit this lake, can reach incredible sizes and migrate up various rivers throughout Northern Ireland during their season. This impressive lough is just a thirty-minute drive from Belfast city center.

Lough Beg

Lough Beg, approximately thirty minutes from belfast is connected to Lough Neagh but is notably challenging to access. Renowned as one of the best coarse fishing spots in Northern Ireland, this remarkable lough necessitates the use of a flat-bottom boat for fishing.

It is also advisable to check local regulations to avoid fishing while hunters are shooting in the vicinity. Despite the challenges, the lough offers opportunities to catch pike on the fly, as well as large brown trout, making it a rewarding destination for skilled anglers.

Lough Mourne

Lough Mourne is just a twenty-minute drive from Belfast and provides excellent trout fishing with picturesque surroundings. This lough offers a variety of fishing locations, catering to anglers interested in both shallow and deep water fishing, making it an ideal destination for fly fishing enthusiasts of all preferences.

A small trout close up

Popular fly patterns for this destination include the Invicta and Greenwell Glory, which are known to be effective for this area. There is no requirement for a 4×4 to access it. 

Branty Lough

Brantry Lough is a fantastic location for brown trout fishing near Belfast, approximately a fifty-minute car drive from the city center. This lough is stocked with some sizable brown trout, and no 4×4 vehicle is needed to access it.

Typically, this lough is fished from the shore, and patterns like Woolly Buggers and Rainbow Buzzers tend to be effective. Late spring is an ideal time to fish this lough, as the longer nights, increased trout feeding activity, and the beginning of fly hatches create excellent fishing conditions.

Silent Valley Resiviour

Silent Valley Reservoir is located just an hour’s drive from Belfast and is renowned for its quality brown trout fishing. While you won’t find enormous trout in this reservoir, it boasts a consistently abundant fish population year-round. It’s a well-known fishing destination, so arriving in the morning is advised to ensure you get a chance before the fish become more cautious.

A stream caught trout

The lake is set amidst picturesque surroundings, and there’s no need for a 4×4 vehicle to reach it. Silent Valley Reservoir is also a crucial source of drinking water for Belfast.

Belfast Fly Fishing – Fish Species

In this section, we will discuss the most popular species to target around Belfast on the fly. 

Brown Trout

Brown trout are the most common fish species targeted by fly anglers around Belfast. In the vicinity of Belfast, you can also catch sea trout and dollaghan trout, which are two variations of brown trout.

A close up of a small trout

Dollaghan trout are known to be more active at night, making your chances of catching them better just after dark. Sea trout are brown trout that have migrated to the sea and returned; as they enter the river, they may still have a silvery coloration.

Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic salmon are the most sought-after species for fly fishing around Belfast. These fish are known for their spectacular acrobatics, leaping out of the water, and can be incredibly challenging to land when caught on the fly.

An Atlantic salmon caught in Northern Ireland

While Atlantic salmon can be found in public waters, many of the prime salmon runs are owned by fishing clubs. However, you can often purchase day tickets for club-owned stretches of water. The ticket prices vary depending on the popularity and quality of the fishing location.


Pike can be found in many bodies of water around Belfast. It’s more common to catch “jack” pike on the fly, which is typically under five pounds. However, there are larger, mature female pike to be found if you know where to look.

Pike is known for putting up a strong fight when caught on the fly, but they do require specialized gear to handle due to their powerful and sharp set of teeth.

Belfast Fishing Season

The best months for fly fishing around Belfast are during the summer when the water has slightly warmed up, and the fish are more active in their feeding. In this section, we will delve into the ideal months for fly fishing and the types of fish you can catch.

Belfast Fly Fishing in June

June is a great time for brown trout fishing. The longer nights and slightly warmer water temperatures encourage brown trout to feed more actively. They are particularly active at night, but I wouldn’t recommend night fishing for them unless you are highly experienced.

Belfast Fly Fishing in July

In July, most of the saltwater species have arrived around Belfast and Bangor, offering excellent opportunities for fly fishing. You can catch a wide variety of species such as mullet, mackerel, pollock, coalfish, and more.

Belfast Fly Fishing in August

During August, many Atlantic salmon have entered the river systems and are moving well inland. These salmon are great to target, but they can be quite elusive. I recommend fishing with a salmon fly on your point and a brown trout fly on your dropper to keep yourself entertained while waiting for the salmon to strike your fly. 

Belfast Fly Fishing in September

In September, the salmon have moved well inland and are no longer around Belfast. However, brown trout fishing remains superb, and there are still opportunities to target coastal species. After September, the coastal species begin to dwindle as temperatures start to drop around Belfast.

Belfast Fishing Report

My most recent outing near Belfast was on the River Maine. During this trip, I landed a significant number of brown trout. The largest one I caught weighed around three pounds, and they all put up quite a fight. 

The river had recently experienced a flood, and the water level was just starting to recede, creating an excellent feeding environment for the trout. The fishing was consistently fantastic, with a fish caught approximately every twenty minutes.

 After four hours of fishing, I decided to call it a day and headed home for a warm cup of tea.


Overall, Belfast serves as an excellent base camp for those interested in fly fishing. The area offers a wide variety of rivers and lakes to explore, along with numerous species to target.

Before planning your trip to Belfast, I would highly recommend getting in touch with a local guide. Navigating the rivers can be challenging, but with the guidance of a knowledgeable local, you can discover superb fishing spots hidden within the city’s surroundings.

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.

As a part of the Amazon Associates Program and other affiliate programs, Into Fly Fishing® may receive a comission if you order products through links on this website.


Meet Daniel O'Neill, a writer and angler from Northern Ireland. With a love for fly fishing, he excels as a fishing guide and instructor, bringing abundant expertise to his writing. Daniel has taught beginners all over Ireland and guided anglers pursuing Ireland's mighty salmon. At the beginning of Daniel's angling journey, his fondest memories revolve around the joy of catching brown trout with his friends on his local streams. The thrill of experiencing subtle takes on a dry fly and successfully landing the fish brought them immense satisfaction, regardless of the size of the catch. Daniel's early love for fishing has paved the way for many ventures resulting in impressive catches such as bass, sturgeon, double-figure pike, and Atlantic salmon. His angling journey has taken him to various locations worldwide. Daniel has targeted saltwater bass in the Canary Islands, chub in France, carp in Poland as well as trout and salmon in Scotland. As Daniel continues to journey through the world of angling, he remains committed to sharing his experiences and knowledge through his content creation.

You may also like...

Photo of the Mahe Island
Seychelles: crystal-clear waters, vibrant reefs, and thrilling fly fishing. Every cast is a dream in this tropical paradise
A little fishing island in iceland, aerial view.
Fly fishing in Iceland is a dream come true with pristine waters, expert techniques, and unforgettable angling experiences.
South Wales – my personal angler's haven. The prime spots and expert techniques here have made for unforgettable fly fishing adventures.