The Dolly Varden has a rounded body, being more plump than other Charr species.

Even the Bull Trout, which is often confused to be a Dolly Varden has a slender profile.

Dolly Varden Color & Features

They have an olive green body color. However, as you can see by the picture, they are darker on top, which helps them blend in with the river bed. The sides are pale having a more lime green colour.

On the sides, the dolly Varden is covered with cream coloured spots from the gils back to its tail covering the entire body.

The pectoral, pelvic and anal fins have white or cream color on the under side or edge of the fin, facing down from the fish.

When spawning, the male Dolly has a dark olive back, which is contrast against an orange or red underside. It has bright red spots and the white edges on the fins are fluorescent.

For Dolly Vardens that are not land locked, they are silver with faint spots.


The Dolly Varden is not a large fish. While the all-tackle record for the Dolly Varden is 20 pounds, 14 ounces/9.5 kilograms, the average size caught in most places is around two pounds.

Three or four pounds are not that uncommon, but these fish are generally caught in more remote parts of the distribution where they have not been over fished.

Dolly Varden All Tackle Record

As mentioned before, the All Tackle record for the Dolly Varden is 20 pounds, 14 ounces/9.5 kilograms. We recieved a lot of emails from people stating that the all tackle record is 19 pounds, 4 ounces/8.7 kilograms and was caught in Alaska.

While the all tackle dolly garden was caught in Alaska, In 2001, a Dolly Varden weighing over 20 pounds was caught in Alaska by Raz Reid. We believe that the another claims come from earlier material that have publish dates prior to 2001 or even 2002.

General Angling Tips

The Dolly Varden is not a hard fish to catch. It is not overly fussy when it comes to bait either. Right-sized spoons, spinners and flies work very well. The key is to choose the bait or lure that is most popular for the time you are fishing.

Also, choose the right size too. Picking a large bait will not have you catching any Dolly Varden.