Fly Fishing Destinations 7 min read

Fly Fishing Mongolia: Trout and Taimen in Genghis Khan’s Land

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

February 7, 2024

fly fishing for Taimen in Mongolia

Calling all fly fishing enthusiasts! Are you yearning for an exceptional adventure amidst vast plains, sparsely populated lands, and meandering rivers? Look no further than Mongolia! In this article, Fly Fishing Mongolia, the local leader known for its budget-friendly trips, proudly invites you to discover this unique fishing destination.

Mongolia, home to the formidable Taimen, a fierce predator considered the world’s largest trout, also hosts beautiful Asian trouts, ideal for the exciting dry fly fishing technique. All of this unfolds in a remote and captivating environment, enriched by its fascinating nomadic culture.

Why is Fly Fishing So Spectacular in Mongolia?

Mongolia, with an area that surpasses that of France by more than three times, is renown as the legendary homeland of the fierce nomadic warrior Genghis Khan.

This country hosts a population of only 3 million inhabitants, with approximately 2 million residing in the capital, leaving the rest scattered across a vast expanse of 1,566,000 square kilometers.

Located in northern Asia, Mongolia borders Russia to the north and China to the south. Although largely unnoticed by tourists, it wasn’t until the 1990s that the first Western tourists began to explore its expansive lands.

Despite the notable growth of the capital, Ulaanbaatar, in the past two decades, the rest of the country still retains its original essence.

Home to the World’s Largest Trout

Mongolia stands out as the ideal destination for fishing the world’s largest trout, but what many tourists are unaware of is that it is also the perfect place for fly fishing Asian trout or lenok and dry fly fishing for grayling.

In its numerous medium-sized rivers, there are fish that have never seen a fly, making fishing in these places truly spectacular. These experiences evoke the stories of the early fly fishermen exploring the rivers of Montana.

The Hucho Hucho Taimen, known as the “river wolf” by the Mongols, emerges as an extraordinarily voracious predator famous for its diverse diet, ranging from fish to ducks, mice, and even small prairie dogs.

Do you enjoy the thrill of fishing formidable predators and value the quality of the catch over quantity, then this destination is for you.

Fishing for Taimen in Mongolia is not just about counting fish but experiencing the adrenaline when a river fish of three, four, or even five feet ferociously attacks your fly, tightening the line and connecting you with the very essence of fishing in Mongolian rivers.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that when pioneers ventured into Mongolia in 1995, they encountered authentic river giants devouring mouse imitations and streamers in a way never seen in any other country.

Our intrepid exploration companions recount how, in just minutes in the Eg-Ur basin, they not only broke a fishing rod but also managed to capture a Taimen of epic proportions, while a group of Mongols watched them from the riverbanks with smiles from ear to ear.

What Kind of Fish Can You Catch Mongolia?

The Taimen, or Hucho taimen, is a remarkable species of freshwater fish that resides in the rivers of Siberia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China, with Mongolia hosting the world’s finest populations.

Taimen are the largest salmonid globally, reaching up to 80 inches in length. Its diet, focused on fish but including terrestrial prey such as mice, squirrels…, and its fly fishing technique on the water’s surface have popularized Taimen fishing, especially in Mongolia.

Taimen fishing has become a unique experience, attracting those looking to catch and release these impressive fish. The thrill of facing these 4 to 5-foot-long fish, attacking the fly in a slow or explosive manner, makes every trip to Mongolian rivers worthwhile.

Lenok or Asian Trout

Two varieties of trout are native to Mongolia: the Amur trout (Brachymystax savinovi) and the Asian trout (Brachymystax lenok), also known as Macuria trout or lenok.

These trout are not well-known in Mongolia, but many tourists discover them, making for a fun addition to a fishing trip focused on Taimen. During the summer season, these trout exhibit aggressive feeding behavior on the surface, attacking large dry flies and even small mice.


Esox is a genus of freshwater fish, the only one in the Esocidae family, commonly known as pike. They inhabit rivers of the northern hemisphere, specifically in the colder regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.

Pike are highly voracious predators that hunt by ambush, feeding on a wide variety of fish and small mammals.

In the rivers of Mongolia, Pike position alongside Taimen at the top of the food chain in the rivers they inhabit. Mongolia, being an Asian country, has two species of pike, the Amur pike (Esox reichetti) and the Common Pike or Northern Pike (Esox Lucius).

  • Amur Pike (Esox reichetti): This pike species lives in the rivers of the Amur River basin and the basins of the Onon and Kerulen rivers in Mongolia. Its distinct black spots are reminiscent of Dalmatians.
Amur Pike Photo Credit: Big Fishes of the World
  • Common Pike or Northern Pike (Esox Lucius): Locally known as Tusurjai, it is a species with a circumpolar distribution, found in the northern hemisphere; its range extends across North America, Europe, and northern Asia. Northern Pike occupy a significant portion of rivers and lakes in Mongolia outside the Amur basin.


Mongolia is a paradise for fishing unique species worldwide. Specifically, this country hosts five species of grayling, including:

  • Arctic grayling
  • Mongolian grayling (Altai Mountains region)
  • Golden grayling (northern taiga region)
  • Black grayling (Lake Khovsgol region), and
  • Amur grayling (eastern Mongolia).

Each species offers a unique experience for fly fishing enthusiasts.

Do You Need a Fishing License to Fish in Mongolia?

Taimen Permit: Key to Fishing in Mongolia

The taimen, an iconic fish in Mongolian waters, requires a permit for conservation, acting as the key to this exciting fishing experience.

Acquiring this permit is crucial and cost of approximately $500. The permit fees allow for reinvestment in local population surveillance, river and species conservation.

Providers endorsed by the Ministry of Environment, such as Fly Fishing Mongolia, can facilitate obtaining the permit legally.

Safeguarding Taimen: Regulations and Sanctuaries

Mongolia designates sanctuaries where only specific companies can to operate. Local residents are responsible for monitoring and enforcing regulations, and there is river police to contact in case of incidents.

Local residents play a crucial role in recognizing and protecting legal enterprises.

Mongolian children at play

Permits for Fishing Other Species

For fishing enthusiasts looking to explore national parks and catch other species, permits are available at the respective offices of the Ministry of Environment, valid for two days.

The approximate cost for a two-day permit is $20. Obtaining these permits in certain areas can be challenging, underscoring the importance of collaborating with legal fishing guide companies such as ours.

Online Licenses

You may obtain fishing permits for the Onon and Balj rivers in the Khentii aimag via the website

For licenses in other basins, it is necessary to go through legal companies working in conjunction with the Ministry of Environment.

When Is the Fishing Season in Mongolia?

The official fishing season runs from June 16 to November 1. Those who wish to arrange their fishing permit in winter can contact the relevant authorities for additional details.

What Are The Best Months For Fly Fishing In Mongolia?

Mongolia experiences an extreme continental climate with harsh winters and warm summers. Winters, from November to March, are freezing, with temperatures dropping below -30°C.

In contrast, summers, from June to August, are warm, with highs exceeding 30°C. The climate shows notable variability, featuring arid conditions and low precipitation throughout the year.

  • Spring (May – June):

The fishing season opens on June 16 in spring. During this time, the waters may still be quite cold as they flow through the rivers.

  • Summer (July – August):

The warm summer months in Mongolia provide perfect conditions for fishing. These months are excellent for catching Taimen, lenok, and other freshwater fish like Grayling.

  • Fall (September – October):

As summer gives way to fall, temperatures in Mongolia become very cold again.

September and October are the prime months for anglers seeking mature Taimen and lenoks. During these months, the autumnal hues paint the landscapes, offering a unique experience for fishing enthusiasts.

However, it’s important to note that snowfall can occur at any time, potentially complicating the weather.

Best Flies to Use for Taimen

Taimen are opportunistic feeders and will take most flies. Choosing the best flies for Taimen depends on several factors, including:

  • Water conditions: Are you fishing in clear, stained, or murky water?
  • Time of day: Are you fishing in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
  • Season: Are you fishing in the spring, summer, or fall?
  • Target fish size: Are you targeting smaller or larger Taimen?

However, here are some general tips for choosing Taimen flies:

  • Size: Taimen are large fish, so you’ll need to use flies that are big enough to attract their attention. 
  • Color: Some of the most popular colors for Taimen flies include white, tan, grey, black, and olive. You can also experiment with brighter colors, such as chartreuse or pink.
  • Action: Choose flies that have plenty of action in the water. Taimen love flies that move erratically. Streamers with bucktails, rabbit fur, or marabou will give you a lot of movement. You can also use articulated flies, which have multiple segments that move independently.
  • Hooks: It’s crucial to use strong, sharp hooks!

Here are some specific fly recommendations for Taimen:

  • Surface flies: Poppers, gurglers, and wounded baitfish patterns are all popular choices for surface fishing for Taimen. Large imitations of small mammals such as mice or squirrels are also effective.
  • Streamers: Egg-sucking leeches, wooly buggers, articulated streamers, and baitfish patterns are all effective streamers for Taimen. Streamers in the 4- to 8-inch range are a good starting point, and you can go even larger if you’re targeting trophy fish.

Gear Recommendations

It probably goes without saying but you’ll need a stout fly rod and reel to tackle Taimen.


  • Single-handed rods: 9’0” in length with a rating of 8 to 10-wt.
  • Double-handed spey rods: 13’0” in length with ratings of 8 to 10-wt.
  • Seek a balance between power and effort to prevent issues like tendinitis.


  • Light reels with a good brake, suitable for 8 to 10-wt lines.
  • Should have the capacity to add backing.


  • Floating freshwater for dry flies and sink-tip lines for streamers.


  • Quality fluorocarbon in 20- and 30-pound test.

Trip Planning

First off, Mongolia is not a DIY fly fishing destination. You are going to need a guide!

The Chinggis Khaan International Airport in Ulan Bator is the main arrival point for direct flights to Mongolia with flights coming from cities such as Beijing, Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Moscow, Berlin, Istanbul, etc.

If you want to travel to Mongolia from a country like the United States, it’s very likely that you’ll have a layover stop in a city like Berlin or Istanbul.

If you have interest in a trip of a lifetime, reach out to the folks at Fly Fishing Mongolia and they will set you up!