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What is Fly Line
Fly line is a common term for the weighted line that, in conjunction with a fly rod and reel, delivers the relatively weightless fly fishing lure, or fly, to the targeted game fish in the sport o f fly fishing. As described by the 17th Century fly angler and writer, Sir Izaak Walton, and others, fly fishing line originated as spun or braided lengths of natural silk. Although these early silken fly lines were quite effective, they were not known for their ability to cast flies long distances or for a lasting overall durability.
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desc::Fly line is a common term for the weighted line that, in conjunction with a fly rod and reel, delivers the relatively weightless fly fishing lure, or fly, to the targeted game fish in the sport o f fly fishing. As described by the 17th Century fly angler and writer, Sir Izaak Walton, and others, fly fishing line originated as spun or braided lengths of natural silk. Although these early silken fly lines were quite effective, they were not known for their ability to cast flies long distances or for a lasting overall durability.
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detdesc::What is Fly Line?

Fly line is a common term for the weighted line that, in conjunction with a fly rod and reel, delivers the relatively weightless fly fishing lure, or fly, to the targeted game fish in the sport of fly fishing. As described by the 17th Century fly angler and writer, Sir Izaak Walton, and others, fly fishing line originated as spun or braided lengths of natural silk. Although these early silken fly lines were quite effective, they were not known for their ability to cast flies long distances or for a lasting overall durability.


Since fly fishing's earliest period of development, fly line has grown and morphed into a highly sophisticated component of an angler's tackle strategy. Today, fly lines are available in a wide range of styles and designs; the prevailing theory in modern fly fishing is to match the functional design of a fly line with distinct fishing situations and/or targeted fish species.

Accordingly, there are several common varieties of fly line: full-floating fly lines, partial-float fly lines, sinking fly lines of varying sink rates, full-sinking lines, and a range of specialty lines that are too numerous to mention. The most commonly utilized fly line type, however, is the full-floating line, a line designed to sit atop the water's surface for the full length of the line. Full-floating lines are often referred to informally as "full-floaters" and are the best choice for all-round fishing situations and are perfect for the execution of classic dry fly fishing techniques.
featdesc::MODERN FLY LINE CONSTRUCTION

Today's fly lines range in length from 80 to 105 feet and are constructed of a single-stranded, spun, or braided synthetic core material and a high-tech plastic coating. The stiffness of the core material is of paramount importance when considering the climate of your fishing destination. Softer and more supple materials are perfect for colder weather, while stiffer braids excel in warmer climates. Selecting the right core stiffness will ensure that loose loops or tight coils between your guides will not hamper your cast.

Floating fly fishing lines are able to actually float because they are less dense than water. During the construction of a floating fly line, hollow microspheres imbedded in the PVC plastic coating, lowering the overall density of the line while maintaining the line's unique shape or "taper." Sinking fly lines are more dense than water and are constructed in the opposite way than floating lines. A sinking line's construction generally employs a coating of varying amounts of tungsten mixed with the plastic. Different ratios of PVC to tungsten yield different sink rates, a technology that has created a new market for highly specialized sinking lines, especially for striped bass and steelhead fly fishing which often require the use of sub-surface streamers, wet flies, and nymphs for successful results.


FLY LINE WEIGHT

Fly lines range from the very thinnest and lightest for making short casts with tiny flies with tiny rods on small water, up to the heaviest, thickest fly lines designed to cast over-foot-long, massive flies with powerful big-game fly rods to catch giant fish in the ocean. All fly lines are numbered, on a universally accepted scale, by the physical weight of the first 30 feet of the forward, delivery end of the fly line; the bigger the number, the heavier the fly line. Fly rods are numbered in the same way, to balance the proper line weight with the rod's relative flex or stiffness. The heavier the fly line, and the respective fly rod, the greater the capability of casting larger flies, combatting the effects of wind, and, up to a point, casting greater distances. So, in a sense, the fishes that we pursue actually determine what line weights we anglers use to catch them. The fish prefers natural foods of a certain size range, and we try to select the line weight that is best able to a cast our hand-tied imitations of that food in a manner that, hopefully, won't scare the fish.

The smallest fly lines are the ultra-light lines, all floating, a category created in recent years for those that enjoy fishing with the lightest tackle conceivable. Ultra-light fly lines range from the tiniest, 3/0, or '000', to '0' or zero. From there, fly lines are numbered by weight from '1' to '15'. Line weights 1 to 3 are still pretty "light" and are generally used by anglers that fish primarily on sheltered, small water with small flies.

Most trout fly anglers prefer to use either a 4, 5, or 6 weight fly line, and the correctly matched fly rod, for most of their all-around trout fishing. The 4 weight would be for an angler that fishes small to medium water with smaller flies. The 5 weight line and rod combination is the most popular, by far, and should be considered the all-around choice for fishing most sizes of trout flies on most trout water. The 6 weight line and rod may benefit trout anglers fishing larger rivers, in wind, or casting larger weighted nymphs and bigger dry flies.

Although these categories are somewhat arbitrary, as all anglers have their individual sense of technique and style, some other general recommendations would be 6 or 7 weight for smallmouth bass, 7 to 9 weight for largemouth, 7 to 10 weight for steelhead and salmon, and 8 to 10 weight for striped bass. Although some saltwater light tackle enthusiasts are now picking up the 6 weight, most saltwater flats folks use 7 to 10 weights for speckled trout, redfish, bonefish, permit, and many other small to medium salt water species. The 11 to 15 line weight category is in the realm of giant ocean critters, from fifty to several hundred pounds. The bigger line weights, once again, are for casting progressively larger flies.


FLY LINE TYPES

Weight Forward Fly Lines

Most trout fishing and other typical fly fishing situations call for a floating, weight forward fly line. These tapers are designed to carry the greatest mass at the front of the line, exploiting the laws of physics to send casts outward and load rods quickly and easily. Weight forward tapers are the most versatile of the bunch, covering fishing situations requiring everything from delicate dries to monstrous blue water flies. Depending on application, the length of the head on weight forward tapers varies widely, from massive, thick bass tapers under 28' in head length that turn over huge, wind resistant flies, to long belly steelhead lines with heads over 65' in length to allow line control at greater distances. However, most freshwater and saltwater anglers use weight forward fly lines with head lengths from 30' to 45'.

Shooting heads

Shooting heads are very short fly lines, 24' to 41' in length, designed to be cast, or "shot," the greatest distances using fast action fly rods with minimal false casting and minimal backcast room. The shooting head is attached, usually by a loop-to-loop connection for a quick, convenient exchange, to a thin running line that has minimal surface contact with the fly rod guides, thus achieving the long distance casts. When considering the geometric taper of a shooting head, think "cannonball at the end of a string." Shooting heads are also usually designed to sink, and a selection of various densities allow the angler, with one reel and spool, to fish a variety of water depths and water speeds. Shooting head systems are most often used by steelhead and salmon anglers, with either single-handed and Spey rods. Lake fly anglers as well as striper fly fishers will also benefit from casting a shooting head system.

Spey Lines

Spey Fly Lines are used with Spey, or double handed rods. Spey rods range from 11' to over 18' in length and the most powerful of these, in the hands of an expert, are able to unleash casts sometimes approaching 200 feet! Spey rods are typically seen on steelhead and salmon rivers, but the recent leap in the popularity of Spey casting and fishing finds them on trout rivers, lakes and saltwater, as well. Spey fly lines are much thicker and heavier throughout their taper, can be longer than their single-handed cousins and have their own numbering system; so an 8 weight Spey line, for example, is a lot bigger than an 8 weight standard, or single-handed fly line. There are many styles of Spey casting that exist today. For traditional Spey casting, making longer, fixed distance, D-loop casts choose a longer belly (57 - 71' head length) spey line such as the RIO PowerSpey. The Scandinavians have developed their own overhead casting method of Spey using very fast action rods and very short (31 - 40'), shooting head Spey lines attached to thin running lines.

Currently, the most popular Spey lines used in the States have head lengths, more or less, (34 - 56') that fall between these two previous categories. The RIO Skagit and Windcutter lines are considered by many to be the easiest of the Spey lines to learn with and are also preferred by the majority of experienced Spey anglers to match the conditions encountered on many North American steelhead rivers. The utmost in Spey versatility, however, is offered by a fly line system with interchangeable floating and sinking tips when Spey casting in a variety of conditions.

Sinking Fly Lines

There are two main categories of sinking fly lines: sink-tips and full-sinking lines. Sink-tips are sinking lines designed to only allow the tip to sink below the water's surface, and are quite useful for controlled subsurface fly fishing situations. Full-sinking fly lines, as the name implies, sink for their entire length. Full-sink lines are most often used for fishing flies in still water; lakes and ponds, or slow moving rivers are the favored full-sinker fishing environments. Flies cast and fished by sinking fly lines are usually retrieved, or “stripped” in by the angler to imitate prey swimming through the water. Both sink-tip and full-sink lines come in a range of densities for fishing at different depths in the water column, from a few inches below the waters surface, to over twenty feet deep.

The industry of fly fishing seems to be overdeveloping and overproducing too many product choices these days. This is very true when it comes to fly lines. To remain relevant, fly line manufacturers are creating specialty fly lines with unique tapers for just about every conceivable fishing situation. Even with good intentions, the result is an explosion of fly line choices and no clear solution for you the angler. At Leland, we've taken the time to cast and fish all available fly lines. We've assembled what we consider to be a selection of the best fly lines available today, using the criteria of casting enjoyment and fishing function.
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What is a Striped-Bass
In the last few decades, the striped bass has rapidly stolen the hearts of saltwater fly anglers along the eastern coast of North America. Members of the Percichthyidae or temperate bass family, “stripers” are quite simply awesome on a fly fishing rod. These energetic anadromous fish are native to the inshore regions of the western Atlantic, but enjoy a wide range (51°N - 24°n, 94°w - 80°w) thanks to a host of introduction and aquaculture programs throughout the world. More...
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desc::In the last few decades, the striped bass has rapidly stolen the hearts of saltwater fly anglers along the eastern coast of North America. Members of the Percichthyidae or temperate bass family, “stripers” are quite simply awesome on a fly fishing rod. These energetic anadromous fish are native to the inshore regions of the western Atlantic, but enjoy a wide range (51°N - 24°n, 94°w - 80°w) thanks to a host of introduction and aquaculture programs throughout the world. More...
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detdesc::
Morone saxatilis

Johann Julius Walbaum, 1792


“The bass, of course, have no idea of the delight they carry on
their shoulders for nearly four million striper fisherman on the east
coast.”


 
- David DiBenedetto, “On the Water”

 


In the last few decades, the striped bass has rapidly stolen the
hearts of saltwater fly anglers along the eastern coast of North
America. Members of the Percichthyidae or temperate bass family,
“stripers” are quite simply awesome on a fly fishing rod. These
energetic anadromous fish are native to the inshore regions of the
western Atlantic, but enjoy a wide range (51°N - 24°n, 94°w - 80°w)
thanks to a host of introduction and aquaculture programs throughout the
world.

 

The four major populations of striped bass along the eastern
seaboard of North America are: the Chesapeake Bay striper, the
Massachusetts Bay or Cape Cod striper, the Hudson River striper, and the
Delaware
River striper. Saltwater fly anglers on the Pacific coast – especially
in the San Francisco Bay area – have also enjoyed playing the striper
game as the fish migrate from the Sacramento River Delta to the Pacific
Ocean. Regionally, the striped bass may be called the striped sea bass,
rockfish, or “rock.”

 

In 1792, the German doctor, taxonomist, and naturalist, Johann Julius Walbaum, discovered and named the striped bass Morone saxatilis,
from the Latin “rock dweller” – quite an apt title as striped bass love
any kind of structure they can find. Stripers search for baitfish in
rocky areas and cut banks that provide shelter as well as in rocky
depressions along the bottom of inshore deltas, saltwater flats, and
tidal lagoons.

 

Striped bass enjoy warmer, more temperate waters and will follow
periodic heat fluctuations throughout the year. In the early spring,
along the eastern coast of North America, stripers sense the shifting
temperature gradient in the north. They will migrate in schools both
great and small from the Outer Banks of North Carolina all the way to
the rocky shoreline of Maine. The leaders of the migration are the
smaller fish, colloquially known on the eastern Atlantic coast as
“schoolies.” These smaller fish are trailed by their larger
counterparts. Migrating striped bass feed primarily on baitfish, and
hold a strong gastronomic penchant for alewives, and menhaden. Stripers
will also dine on sand eels, squid, clams, and crabs.

 

Saltwater fly anglers, almost as instinctively as the bass
themselves, follow the migration, emerging from their cold winter’s
fishing slumber to clean up their outfits
and cast flies again. Once the northern waters begin to cool later in
the summer, the migration reverses its direction and the striped bass
travel south again like the snowbirds of the northeast, looking for an
escape from the brutal Nor’easters of January and February. Intersecting
the migration as it moves along the coast is the name of the game in
fly fishing for stripers and, lucky for the saltwater fly angler, there
are many opportunities to play throughout the year.

 

The striped bass is a beautiful and silvery-sleek fish. It can grow
to impressive sizes of 80 pounds or more with a maximum recorded length
of just over 6 feet! The striped bass fly anglers will most commonly
see, however, are in the 5 pound to 20 pound weight range. There are
generally 7 or 8 dark stripes running horizontally from the striped
bass’ gills to the caudal fin or tail and the fish can take on a
striking light blue-green tint along its back.

 

Because of the wide range of environments in which stripers can be
caught, there are several strategies saltwater fly anglers will put to
use when casting to the striped bass. Commonly anglers will wade the
inshore areas of tidal rivers and saltwater flats with hard bottoms in
search of striped bass. Boats are employed when encountering flats with
softer bottoms or when more expansive areas of deeper ocean, deltas, and
larger bays need to be covered. Some anglers even enjoy surfcasting for
stripers from the shore, and if flies are presented properly, this
method can be an extremely productive way to hook a striped bass. For
those daringly innovative anglers who want to live on the true cutting
edge, spey rods and casting techniques are gaining popularity when surf
casting for stripers!

 

Regardless of the fishing environment, saltwater fly anglers may enjoy the rare
chance at placing a sight cast to schooling stripers, but most
commonly, anglers blindly ply the most likely looking waters with a
search and retrieve technique not unfamiliar to freshwater trout
anglers. When the rare opportunity at sight casting for striped bass
arises, knowing how to pick up the fish is key. When in shallower
saltwater flats, stripers will often push wakes as they search for
smaller baitfish. Learning to see this wake can be invaluable for
anglers who primarily wade inshore areas.

 

When putting the more common blind casting or search and retrieve
strategy to use for stripers, understanding how the fish feed is the
most important piece of the puzzle. Striped bass, like trout, prefer to
let their food come to them. Subsequently, stripers will often hold in
sheltered areas and turn their noses (and hungry mouths) into the
direction of the tide. Here they will wait for the tidal conveyor belt
to bring smaller fish into their holding area. It is thus important to
understand the nature of local tidal currents when fly fishing for
striped bass. Because of this similarity in feeding habits of stripers
and trout, common wet fly and dead drifting techniques work swimmingly
when fishing for striped bass in saltwater and brackish environments
controlled by tidal currents.

 

The trick to the search and retrieve strategy for stripers is
creativity. It’s important to try as many combinations of casting
distances, retrieving styles, and fly depths
as possible. Covering water can be a challenge, but it’s really the
heart of an effective blind casting attack. As with any saltwater fly
fishing, conditions are often windy and long, powerful, and accurate
casts are often necessary. Be sure to tune up your casting before
heading to the salt or brackish water for stripers.

 

Despite the importance of long casts, any salty veteran striped bass
angler anywhere on the eastern seaboard will tell you that you should
“never overlook the water at your feet.” So when your 70 foot casts
aren’t turning up a thing, pay some close attention to the rocky
coastline near your feet and at your flanks … this could be prime
feeding territory for that trophy rockfish!

 

A common and effective stripping method once a search cast is made
is the “over hand” retrieve. This method is similar to hand lining and
offers the angler a great connection to the fly line; even the most
subtle tug from a striped bass can be felt with this method. To use the
over hand retrieve, simply tuck the rod under the casting arm, and
keeping the rod tip low, slowly retrieve the fly, gripping the line with
alternating hands just below the stripping guide. Experiment with
different speeds and cadences when performing any retrieve. Once you’ve
found a technique the fish are keyed on, stick with it! In striper
fishing, it’s always worth retrieving the fly all the way back to the
rod tip as a striper will often chase the fly all the way to the rod
tip.

 

Saltwater fly anglers generally use lighter 6 weight or 7 weight fly
fishing rods for smaller stripers – the schoolies, and larger 9 weight
or
10 weight fly fishing rods when chasing the bigger fish. Striped bass
are tough and energetic fish, but do not generally make long, freight
train runs. Nevertheless, it is important to have a reel in your outfit
with a solid and dependable drag system, a large arbor for fast and
efficient line pick up, and space for at least 150 yards of backing.

 

Stripers will take a saltwater popper fly at the surface, but
saltwater streamer patterns fished on sinking lines often prove far more
effective, especially on brighter days, as stripers will dive to deeper
water to escape heavy sunlight. Overcast skies offer the greatest
conditions for striper fishing because the fish are more active and
their feeding habits and strategies become more daring. Because of the
variability in striper fishing, a fly angler interested in catching
striped bass should ideally carry three lines: a fast sinking line, an
intermediate sinking line, and a saltwater floating line.

 

A stacked arsenal of striper flies has been developed over the last
few decades. Streamers are the most effective and proven patterns, but
the occasional saltwater popper will move stripers to the surface.
Chartruse and white seem to be the most productive colors for striper
flies. Flashy materials also provide a little kick to striper flies.
According to fly fishing legend, Lefty Kreh, striped bass key in not on
the color of a fly, but rather are attracted to the size of a fly.
Listen to Lefty: Pay attention to the baitfish you’re trying to imitate
and select a fly of a similar size.

 

Popular fly patterns for striped bass are Bob Popovic’s Big One, Jack Gartside’s White Gurgler. Sand eel patterns
by Chuck Frumisky, Enrico Puglisi, and Page Rogers are deadly back east
and in the Sacramento River Delta, and Lou Tabory’s Sea Rat is a
classic and should be in your striper box. Not long ago, Leland Fly
Fishing Outfitters’ very own Keith Westra developed a killer striper fly
for Josh’s last trip back east. It was so successful in the Atlantic
salt, we thought we’d give it a couple of casts and strips on the Left
Coast. The result: Keith’s Yak Hair Bunker Fly gets big results in the San Francisco Bay area as well! It’s a bomber pattern to fish!

 

According to Barry and Cathy Beck in their must-read book
Fly-Fishing the Flats, “The east-coast stripers have brought more fly
rodders to the salt than any other fish in the history of fly fishing.”
This is probably true. Striped bass are accessible by anglers on both
coasts of North America, are a joy to chase, and even more fun to catch!
There are certain anglers who dream only of the first sign of the
northern migration. When spring hits and the schoolies are on the move
with the monster stripers a few paces behind, it’s all systems go! David
DiBenedetto was right … if only the striped bass knew the importance of
what each year rests on their shoulders …


                                                                               
                                                                        - Evan P. LeBon
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What is a Wet Fly
In fly fishing, wet fly is a general term used to describe a type of artificial fly (similar to a nymph) representative of sub-aquatic trout food. Where nymphs are most commonly designed, tied, and fished to closely and realistically imitate insects in their pre-adult or larval stage, wet flies are most commonly designed to be more impressionistic than precise imitations of specific types of food.
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desc::In fly fishing, wet fly is a general term used to describe a type of artificial fly (similar to a nymph) representative of sub-aquatic trout food. Where nymphs are most commonly designed, tied, and fished to closely and realistically imitate insects in their pre-adult or larval stage, wet flies are most commonly designed to be more impressionistic than precise imitations of specific types of food.
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detdesc::What a wet fly is: In fly fishing, wet fly is a general term used to describe a type of artificial fly (similar to a nymph) representative of sub-aquatic trout food. Where nymphs are most commonly designed, tied, and fished to closely and realistically imitate insects in their pre-adult or larval stage, wet flies are most commonly designed to be more impressionistic than precise imitations of specific types of food.

That in mind, typical wet flies can imitate drowned insects, small baitfish, sculpins, crustaceans, worms, squid, and other forms of sub-aquatic morsels appealing to larger, hungry, and aggressive fish.

Wet flies are commonly fished exclusively in freshwater except for those coastal areas with brackish channels, deltas, estuaries, back bays, and other saltwater-freshwater mixes -- wet flies can be effective in these water types as well.

Because wet flies are designed to ride beneath the water's surface, these fly patterns often incorporate some sort of weight. The added sinking weight of these flies is achieved with lead or copper wire, bead heads, and lots of water-absorbant fly tying materials. The larger, heavier-gague wire hooks also help to keep these flies in the sub-surface after a cast.

Wet fly fishing materials…
The use of long, wispy, or otherwise shaggy looking fly tying materials in wet flies is a necessary design element to their ultimate effectiveness. The characteristic shaggier or bulkier dubbing fibers and longer hackle collars common to many wet flies help them push water with lots of animated movement. Some classic wet fly patterns are: Leadwing Coachman, the Wooly Worm, the Grizzly King, and the Blue Bottle. These classic wet flies are easily recognized by their married wings and long webby hackles and tails. Wet flies can be brightly colored creations designed to grab a predator's attention or provoke aggressive action, or they can be fashioned from more drab, subdued, or realistic looking materials.

Wet fly fishing techniques…
Fly fishing techniques commonly employed when fishing with wet flies are often similar to those used when fishing with a nymph. Dead drifting and high sticking are common and fishing a wet fly on the swing is another classic presentation style. Wet flies can also be stripped like freshwater or saltwater streamers.

Wet flies have enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity over the last few decades and fly anglers and fly tyers across the globe continue to experiment with these important fly patterns on a range of target game fish species in all types of fly water.
featdesc::What a wet fly is: In fly fishing, wet fly is a general term used to describe a type of artificial fly (similar to a nymph) representative of sub-aquatic trout food. Where nymphs are most commonly designed, tied, and fished to closely and realistically imitate insects in their pre-adult or larval stage, wet flies are most commonly designed to be more impressionistic than precise imitations of specific types of food.
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Scott X2S Fly Rod Review
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detdesc::

Leland on Scott X2s Fly Fishing Rods






Designing a fly rod series
that meets every anglers casting stroke
is near to impossible, even for a company that has been designing fly
rods for more than 30 years like the folks at Scott Fly Rods. However, Jim Bartschi and his group of designers and expert field testers have come up with what we think is an excellent fly rod series that comes as close to perfect as any one team can get; the new Scott X2S. These powerful saltwater and big game freshwater
fly rods provide an easy casting style, the line speed to battle near
hurricane force winds and the muscle to control big fish, heavy sinking
lines and big flies. Although thought of as a fast action fly rod
series, the X2S fly rods have a special design that allows the rods
within this series to load easily for casting in-close, while
also supplying high line speeds needed for wind and distance.. Remember,
more fish are hooked within 50 feet of the boat than at 70., but
sometimes you just got to go that extra yard!



When fly fishing for big fish, be they saltwater or freshwater, you need a fly rod that has strength throughout the entire length of the rod. With a unidirectional graphite layup, the X2S is
a rod that distributes constant pressure from the tip to the butt. In
addition, Scott has treated the blanks with a UV coating that helps
preserve the strength of the outer power fibers, giving you an extremely
durable fly rod. This specialized ultra-lightweight layup generates
high line speeds to take on the big winds found on open flats, big lakes
and rivers. The Scott X2S fly rods are light in the hand and have light
tips for a low swing weight. They’re easy on the arm, and load quickly.
So, as you as see, the X2S Fly Rod Series provides everything you need
for a fun-filled day on the water.



Scott Fly Rod has always delivered a good looking fly rod and the X2s series is no exception. These Ocean Blue colored
fly rods look as outstanding as they are to cast. The components are
second to none, and are designed to withstand the power and torque associated with big game fly fishing. From the durable anodized aluminum reel
seat to the stainless coated tip-top, the X2s fly rods provide strength
and line speed, all with a delicate touch. This big game fly rod series
ranges from 6- through 12-weight at 9 feet in length, with a special
8’4” 15 weight bluewater fly rod. All Scott X2S rods are available in 4
pieces, with the exception of the special 2 piece, 12-weight. Reach deep
and apply all the power you want! The only ones that will be worrying
are the FISH!



• Fast action fly rods

• Lightweight but sturdy components

• Quick loading for short casts

• Easy casting with high line speed

• Six- to 15-weight fly rods with lengths from 8’4” to 9’0”

• 4-piece fly rods with special 2-piece 12 weight



PROS – Although classified as a fast action fly rod, these great
saltwater tough beast tamers have a soft loading tip that loads with
minimal amount of fly line out of the tip. The X2s has plenty of power
throughout the rod giving you line speed and fishing fighting strength. I
like the sleeve ferrule system which “in my mind” gives me confidence
to lay on the mustard when I need. Of course the 4 piece make traveling
nice.



CONS - Learning how to saltwater fly fish with a virtual
telephone pole I do like an extremely fast fly rod. I feel the tip is
just a bit too slow, but that is why I have my old STS…Other than the
tip, it is hard to find something to dislike about the X2s. As with all
top end fly rods plunking down $650 coin is hard, but X2s series fly
rods are darn well worth it.



BOTTOM LINE – When hard charging big game fish are your prey the
Scott X2s is a fine instrument to have in your hand. They are easy to
load and powerful while generating high line speeds. They were designed
big fish tough and follow through with that design. Oh, and they look
pretty good doing it!

Check out the best Scott Fly Rods.

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What is a Tarpon
The Tarpon is a giant among saltwater game fish. Although it is not the largest game fish a fly angler can catch and release, it’s known as “the silver king” throughout the warm lagoons, estuaries, thick mangrove swamps, and saltwater flats of southeastern North America, the Caribbean, and northeastern coast of South America. The tarpon: saltwater royalty. Adult tarpon can easily reach 6 or 7 feet in length and can weigh well over 150 pounds.
79
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desc::The Tarpon is a giant among saltwater game fish. Although it is not the largest game fish a fly angler can catch and release, it’s known as “the silver king” throughout the warm lagoons, estuaries, thick mangrove swamps, and saltwater flats of southeastern North America, the Caribbean, and northeastern coast of South America. The tarpon: saltwater royalty. Adult tarpon can easily reach 6 or 7 feet in length and can weigh well over 150 pounds.
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Megalops atlanticus
Archille Valenciennes, 1847
 

“Then the water split with a hissing sound to let out a great tarpon, long as a door, seemingly as wide, who shot up and up into the air … Five times he sprang toward the blue sky, and as many he plunged down with a thunderous crash. The reel screamed. The line sang. The rod, which I thought stiff as a tree, bent like a willow wand. The silver king came up far astern and sheered to the right in a long, wide curve, leaving behind a white wake.”

 
- Zane Grey, “Byme-by-tarpon.”


The tarpon is a giant among saltwater game fish. Although it is not the largest game fish a fly angler can catch and release, it’s known as “the silver king” throughout the warm lagoons, estuaries, thick mangrove swamps, and saltwater flats of southeastern North America, the Caribbean, and northeastern coast of South America. The tarpon: saltwater royalty. Adult tarpon can easily reach 6 or 7 feet in length and can weigh well over 150 pounds. The Megalops atlanticus is astonishingly powerful and is famous among anglers as the mythological silver beast that can walk on water. Tarpon, once hooked, are known for jumping and thrashing about, sometimes longer than 3 hours, their tails skitting across the flat.

The silver king, although caught by indigenous tribes in the Florida Keys probably as early as the 1700s, was officially discovered and named in 1847 by the French parasitologist Archille Valenciennes during his work with Georges Cuvier on their Natural History of Fish, a whopping 22-volume work published between 1828 and 1848. Valenciennes placed the tarpon within the genus Megalops (Greek for “large eye”) because of its prominent and daunting black eyes. Since the turn of the century, a great body of literature, historical and otherwise, has been developed on the subject of tarpon. Fly fishing for tarpon is now a wildly popular sporting pursuit among anglers from Georgia to the Florida Keys, and tarpon are also highly sought after throughout the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Recently, giant tarpon in the 300 pound class have been caught on fly tackle off the southwestern coast of Africa. Tarpon have been so popular in the Gulf region of the United States that in 1955, by act no. 564 of the Alabama state legislature, the “fighting tarpon” became the state’s official saltwater fish.

Rolling and dashing through skinny saltwater flats and estuaries tarpon inhabit a range of 49°N - 44°s, 99°w - 14°e, but they have been recorded as far north as Nova Scotia, along the Atlantic coast of Southern France, and as far south as Argentina. The tarpon uses the thin water of the saltwater flats to feed on smaller baitfish and crustaceans. The deeper water of the open ocean is the tarpon’s spawning grounds. The tarpon does have a counterpart native to the Pacific Ocean (Megalops cyprinoids or Indo-Pacific tarpon), but this tarpon is a much smaller fish and not prized among fly anglers.

Tarpon are an ancient fish that has survived 125 million years of evolutionary tumult. One of the oldest living species in the ocean, the tarpon carries an almost otherworldly presence. Just catching a glimpse of a rolling school of giant tarpon is an intimidating sight even to the most confident fly angler. The tarpon’s huge bucket-like jaws and large black eyes compliment its thick, powerful body. When tarpon clear the top water during a jump, their massive set of mirror-polished scales clatter and clack audibly with the tremendous force of the maneuver. The tarpon’s fins are a dark, steely gray and the tail is deeply forked, providing the silver king with a tremendous amount of underwater leverage and speed.
According to historical accounts dating from the late 1800s, anglers have been able to catch tarpon on artificial flies with reasonable success. Since then fly fishing for tarpon has steadily increased in popularity owing to rousing tales of madly fighting fish from such popular authors as Zane Grey and, more recently, Lefty Kreh. The rising interest in saltwater fly fishing, coupled with tarpon-specific articles and books by other fly fishing greats have fueled the rush to master tarpon on a fly. Today, there is now an extensive network of guides fly fishing exclusively for tarpon from Florida to South America, and a number of tournaments and other competitions celebrating fly fishing for tarpon have also cropped up in recent years.

Fly anglers should understand that there are three classes or sizes of tarpon: baby tarpon, midsize tarpon, and giant tarpon. Baby tarpon range from 5 to 40 pounds, midsize tarpon fill the 50 to 80 pound class, and the giant tarpon weighs in at an astonishing 100+ pounds. Anglers looking to chase tarpon on the fly should think seriously about which weight class they are after before they gear up and head on that tarpon trip of a lifetime. Smaller tarpon are often found cruising on the edges of saltwater flats and in brackish inland estuaries and mangrove swamps. Larger tarpon are usually found cruising and rolling in saltwater flats.

Baby and midsize tarpon offer quite a fighting challenge on an 8 weight or 9 weight outfit. Giant tarpon, however, require much heavier 11 or 12 weight outfits. Fast action fly fishing rods are popular among tarpon anglers for their ability to assist the caster in creating the long, accurate casts (often into heavy wind) required when sight casting for tarpon. It’s important to have top-notch fishing tools when stalking tarpon of any size in the saltwater flats; an angler, even on the best day, may only get 3 or 4 good casts at fish!

Fly Rods
Loop Cross S1
Loop Cross S1 12 Weight Tarpon Rod

As with any saltwater flats game fish, spotting a tarpon can be a challenge. Sunny conditions on saltwater flats can produce some of the world’s most visually taxing conditions, and the sheer brightness of the glare on the water can be overwhelming. A good pair of polarized sunglasses with copper photochromatic lenses can – on some days – be considered the saltwater fly angler’s most useful fishing tool. Yellow photochromatic lenses can be useful for morning light conditions, so if you plan to fish from dawn until dusk, consider two pairs of shades. (Experience in spotting tarpon, or a guide perched atop the polling platform of a specialized flats skiff will also help!)

All Day Polarized Sunglasses
Low Light Polarized Sunglasses

There is a recent movement among saltwater fly anglers who chase tarpon to “dredge” deeper channels and estuaries for tarpon of all size classes. This dredging method is anchored in common blind casting techniques familiar to striped bass fly anglers of the North American coasts. Dredging for tarpon with a sinking line can be productive, but remains a relatively new and unproven tactic in the quiver of tarpon fly fishers.

Deep Water Fly Line

Perhaps the easiest way to recognize the location of a single, pair, or school of tarpon is by the characteristic “rolling” action the species exhibits. The tarpon is equipped with a swim bladder, allowing them to survive and thrive in brackish swamps and saltwater flats as well as the open ocean. Tarpon will periodically appear at the water’s surface to take in a breath, filling their swim bladder before rolling back into the salty depths. This process, although graceful, can cause quite a stir. Fly anglers should be on the lookout for large boils and bubbles in the top water accompanied by a silvery flash – this is likely a rolling tarpon.

Large tarpon in saltwater flats will aggressively chase and take a well-presented fly, adding to the species’ storied place in saltwater game fish mythology. Tarpon will respond energetically to a fly moving directly away from them. Creating this effect can be achieved with a hook cast or a reach cast, both practiced techniques used by freshwater fly anglers. Saltwater flats can offer a fly angler some of the most challenging casting conditions on earth. Long, tuned, and accurate casts of 60 to 70 feet are often necessary. Once the fly is properly presented to the tarpon, the stripping game is on. Anglers will invariably disagree on which are the most effective methods for retrieving the fly when fly fishing for tarpon in the saltwater flats. In one conversation on the subject, one might hear “fast, slow, smooth, jerky” … often in the same breath. Never fear, a local guide will often know just how to play and move a fly to produce results; listen to what they have to say! Be patient though, as tarpon have been known to chase a well-presented and retrieved fly all the way to the boat before striking!

Brackish inland estuaries and mangrove swamps offer saltwater fly anglers amazing chances to cast to, catch and release baby tarpon. Some canal systems – especially in southwest Florida – provide excellent shelter for juvenile tarpon, even through the slow winter months. When fishing these environments, work streamers as close to the mangrove roots as possible. As the tide goes out, more and more of these mangrove roots will be exposed, leaving behind an excellent feeding shelf for baby tarpon. Remember: well-presented flies will move silver kings!



Simply hooking a tarpon can be an operatic experience in itself. The tarpon’s mouth is extremely hard and has been likened to tough construction-grade concrete. Subsequently, successful hook sets are almost more challenging than actually getting an aggressive tarpon to take a well-presented fly. Practice in firm and confident strip setting techniques is extremely important when fly fishing for tarpon. When a tarpon finally chomps the fly, and the hook is set, the fish will put on an impressive aerial acrobatics show. Seasoned tarpon anglers, when trading notes on a day’s work, will often proudly include the number of “fish jumped” as well as the number of fish landed. Tarpon are consistently observed jumping 3 or 4 feet above the water after a hook up. During this aggressive jumping and thrashing, fly, fly line, and tippet are at their most vulnerable point. It is extremely important to protect rigging and tackle by keeping the rod tip as low as possible during the initial few jumps. This process is called “bowing” to the fish, and it’s no secret, bowing to the silver king will minimize the chance of losing a tarpon to a snapped line or leader.

Tarpon fly anglers presented with the challenge of keeping a tail-walking silver king on the line have developed a number of rigging techniques designed to stand up to what many think are the toughest and wildest fighters in the salt. Taking a nod from the rigging standards employed by bill fish and tuna anglers, anglers in hot pursuit of monster tarpon have experimented with extremely complex, heavy rigs. The standard 9 foot tarpon leader, however, consists of a heavy 60 pound butt section, a section of 16 to 20 class tippet, and finally a short, one foot section of 60 to 100 pound mono shock tippet. This rig is the standard for many medium to large tarpon, but there are other options for the really large fish. Be sure to ask your local fly shop about the leaders you should have ready to go before you board the plane for your chosen tropical tarpon destination. Keeping this general rigging rule for tarpon fishing can be helpful: When traveling to far-flung destinations, bring your rigging with you. When traveling to the Florida Keys, a good guide should provide all you need to jump and land the tarpon of your dreams.

Tarpon Leaders

Do not head to the saltwater flats in search of tarpon armed with a sub-standard fly reel. The stress a tarpon can place on even the strongest rods, lines, and leaders is truly impressive – to say the very least. The fly reel is the mechanical link for your connection to the fish and if it goes south, so does your time on the water. Be sure to find a reel with an iron-clad drag system and a large arbor for easy line pick up. The reel should also be large enough to store between 200 and 250 yards of backing; if you find yourself connected to a rolling fish, you’ll use it.

Ultimate Tarpon Fly Reel

When at home along the saltwater flats, tarpon will hunt and feed mostly on baitfish. When migrating and spawning, tarpon are more likely to feed instinctively on smaller crustaceans. Regardless of the situation, however, tarpon will aggressively chase a well-presented fly. Large streamer patterns are the most effective flies for tarpon of all sizes, but some smaller crab and shrimp patterns will yield good results on days when the silver kings are on the move or in a more selective mood.

A favorite classic tarpon fly from Florida to the Bahamas is the Cockroach, developed by saltwater fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh. Other proven tarpon flies include Lefty’s Deceiver, the Clouser Minnow, and the Sea Habit. When tarpon are migrating or on the spawn, the Tarpon Shrimp, Tarpon Crab, and the Seaducer are another trio of useful tarpon flies to have on hand, and the Campeche Special is a brilliant fly for baby tarpon in the mangroves of Mexico’s Gulf Coast.

Tarpon offer fly anglers a unique challenge; discovering the proper blend of power, strategy, concentration, and finesse is crucial when on the flats or in the brackish water in search of rolling tarpon. The majesty of the tarpon survives in a heap of literature from Grey to Kreh, and with good reason. Holding court, the tarpon truly is the silver king of the flats, offering excited anglers throughout the tropics the sport, the drama, the epic struggle, and the joy of the great kings of mythology.

                                                           - Evan P. LeBon  
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How To Clean Your Fly Line
Don't throw out that old fly line yet! Clean it us and get a few more months out of it! It won't take you long and will pay dividends on the river. Life is far too short to deal with a floating fly line that sinks.
76
id::76
thumbnail::Airflo_Whizz_Lube_Line_Cleaner_1.jpg
desc::Don't throw out that old fly line yet! Clean it us and get a few more months out of it! It won't take you long and will pay dividends on the river. Life is far too short to deal with a floating fly line that sinks.
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By George Revel


Let's first start with the question, "When is it time to clean my fly line?"

Well, I clean mine any time my floating line starts sinking. If you want to be proactive, every 4-5 uses is a good rule of thumb. This will dramatically extend the life of your line if done properly.


Other signs your fly line needs cleaning

  • The line holds memory
  • Small cracks begin to appear
  •  

For this Project you will need: 

  • Two buckets or a double basin sink
  • Washcloth
  • Soap
  • Airflo Whizz Lube


Step One: Soak the Fly Line:I use a double basin sink (2 buckets or tubs also work). Fill one with 2-3 inches of warm soapy water (use a mild dish detergent) and the other with 2-3 inches of warm water. Strip the fly line off your reel into the soapy water using long pulls and deliberate placement of the line. Let soak for 25-30 minutes. You only need to clean the portion of line that you use...but I figure, why not the whole thing?


Step Two: Scrub and Rinse the Line:

The next step is to run the fly line through a wash cloth, beginning with the line that is nearest your reel. Pinch the fly line with the wash cloth firmly in between your thumb and index finger. Apply good pressure and pull the line into the bucket of warm water. Empty the soapy water and dry that basin. Beginning with the front of your fly line (nearest the leader), dry the line with the washcloth while pulling it into the freshly dried basin.


Step Three: Remove the Tough Grit

Empty the freshwater basin and dry it out. Begin with the line closest to your reel and pull it through the doubled over washcloth, applying pressure with your thumb and index finger. Repeat pulling the line in between the basins until no more dirt rubs off onto the washcloth .


Step Four: Condition Your Fly Line

Apply a dime-size dab of whizzlube. Double over the washcloth again and pull the line through, applying less pressure than before. Your goal is to coat the fly line in the conditioner. Let the fly line dry for 30-40 minutes (we recommend at least five minutes and up to 24 hours).



Step Five: The Buff
After letting the fly line dry for at least five minutes, use a clean washcloth to pull the line back through for a polished finish. Before you reel the fly line back on the reel make sure the leader end is at the bottom of the pile to avoid tangles.


Step Six: Get out fishing with your grime-free, like-new fly line...

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Tibor: Riptide QC Spool, Black, Spool 2 (Spool Only)
Designed for 9 and 10-line weight rods. Spool Only!
5528
id::5528
thumbnail::Tibor-Riptide-QC-Spool-Black-1.jpg
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detdesc::Leland on the Tibor Riptide QC Spool 2 Fly Fishing Reel

The Tibor Riptide QuickChange Spool 2! Not all albies are caught on the surface! When you head to North Carolina you better have a floating fly line and a sinking line. Now there is no need for two fly reels! The Riptide QuickChange Spool 2 fly reel by Tibor gives you the original cork drag of the old Riptide with the ability to change lines in quick hurry. Now you with the extra large arbor of Spool 2 you can out crank any speed demon that inhales you deceiver.  Read the Complete Review on the Tibor QuickChange Fly Reels
featdesc::
  • Weight: 10.5 oz
  • Frame Diameter: 4 inches
  • Frame Width: 1 3/8 inches
  • Line + Yards of Backing: 10 + 200 30# Power Pro
Leland on Tibor Fly Fishing Reels In Hungarian, Tibor translates to "Ted" (as in Ted Juracsik, the company founder). In fly fishing, Tibor translates to "high performance reels built like tanks." As with most accomplished innovators, Juracsik saw a problem; the lack of a substantial saltwater fly reel, and went out and solved it. An avid saltwater fly fisherman, Ted began fishing in Florida in the early 1960's. In 1970, he met Billy Pate and two became fast friends, and fishing companions. By 1976, the melding of these two minds resulted in the first Billy Pate Fly fishing Reel, forever changing saltwater fly-fishing. However, the Tibor story really begins decades earlier, in Budapest, Hungary. Born in Budapest, Ted Juracsik was raised fishing the Danube River. At 17, he became the youngest person ever to earn their Masterpapers in the Tool and Die trade. Shortly after embarking on his career, he joined the Hungarian freedom fighters in their attempt to overthrow the Soviet Union. The revolt was unsuccessful, and for the benefit of the fly fishing world, Ted fled to the United States. He lived in New York working for several tool and die companies. In 1961, he opened his own business, and by 1976 he was manufacturing world class fly reels. The first line of reels Tibor produced was the Billy Pate Anti-Reverse series. These reels made the once impossible task of landing world-class saltwater fish not only possible, but pleasurable. The Billy Pate reels are still being manufactured today. The design is so sound that nothing has changed since their inception. To date, over 20 world record fish have been caught on them. In 1995, Tibor introduced the Tibor Series reels. The same impregnated cork drag that performed so well in the Billy Pate Reels, is used in this series, as well. Models are available for giant sailfish to rainbow trout. In 1999, the company introduced the Tibor Light; a terrific line of freshwater reels that employ all the knowledge and know-how gleaned from producing the Tibor and Billy Pate reels. All Tibor reels are manufactured at their machine shop in Delray Beach, Florida. Made with 100% corrosion proof materials, every Tibor reel is saltwater friendly.
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What is a Golden Dorado
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Dorado

Rumble in the Jungle

by N. J. Richardson

photos by N. J. Richardson

Chasing golden dorado in the yunga forests of southern Bolivia is the angling adventure of a lifetime.
Searching for Golden Dorado in Bolivia
Our guides read the waters for likely holding spots for big golden dorado.

ALEJANDRO HANDED ME the rod. “Now,” he said, “you catch beeg, beeg goldfish.” The Argentine looked me hard in the eye, and the scent of the coca leaves in his mouth wafted gently to my nose in the noontime heat.

“Okay?” he asked.

“Yessir!” I said.

“So go!” he ordered. “Cast!”

We were standing on a rock above the swift tropical stream of southern Bolivia's Rio Grande de Tarija. Above and around us were mist-wrapped Andean foothills, clothed in a jungle that is home to more than 250 species of exotic birds, as well as spectacled bears, jaguars, tapirs, nutria, and capuchin monkeys. Below us, in the crystal water, flashed the spectral glint of a golden predator, lying in wait for its next unsuspecting meal.

And I could see that it was, indeed, a beeg one.

The only way to reach this fish was to cast upstream and then let the current sweep my streamer around the face of the massive boulder beneath which the dorado lay. I surprised myself with an accurate upstream cast and right away began a fast retrieve. As the leader reached the rock, a large fin broke the surface with a splash of gold.

Tackle/Equipment

Pursuit of the dorado requires tackle normally associated with saltwater fishing — a 9-foot, 8- or 9-weight rod and a good quality reel with a strong, smooth drag. You'll want at least two spools, on loaded with a weight-forward floating line made for tropical conditions, the other with a fast-sinking shooting taper and a running line.

For casting big, wind-resistant flies, sometimes with stiff cross-breezes, you will need leaders heavy enough to turn them over. With the floating line, us a 9-foot tapered leader. For sinking lines, the leader should be 4 to 7 feet of 20-pound-test mono or fluorocarbon. Most essential of all, you will need a length of 20-pound wire shock tippet to counteract the dorado's fearsome teeth.

If you want to be able to land your own fish without losing your hand, you will also need a Boca Grip.

The line trembled, my heart thumped, and I thrust out my hand to strip again. I pulled violently at the line, tensing my muscles to take the strain of forcing the hook into the dorado's bony jaw, but what had half a second before been there was no longer. The line, alas, had been too slack, and, spurning the inedible Deceiver, the now wary dorado had returned to its lair.

Alejandro hid it well, but he was, to put it mildly, disappointed. On the other hand, I was encouraged to actually see one of these wary fish come to my offering, even if I didn't hook it. It was only the first day of our trip. I could, I reckoned, reasonably expect that fishing a more typical downstream swing, I would eventually catch one.

Precious Metal

The golden dorado is known to science as Salminus maxillosus, and to romantics as “the tiger of the Amazon.” It sits at the very pinnacle of its food chain. The largest recorded example weighed in at 68 pounds of raw, carnivorous power, and it seems likely that they come a good deal larger than that. Typical sizes on the Tarija are in the 6- to 25-pound range, with the ever-present possibility of something that will rip your arms from their sockets.

Golden Dorado
Gustavo Hiebaum and Mateo Montiel show off the results of a double-header. The bigger fish tipped the scales at 15 pounds, the smaller at about half that.

Dorado have enormous heads, and their powerful jaws are full of gleaming, razor-like teeth. They generally move in small groups, chewing their way through a catholic variety of prey — fish and frogs, birds and mammals. In the Tarija, the dorado are particularly fond of sabalo, a schooling fish of two to six pounds, which a dorado can swallow in a single gulp. The presence of sabalo, detectable from the surface bubbles that they create, is an almost certain indication that dorado are nearby.

In spite of the Salminus in its scientific name, the dorado is unrelated to the salmonids — nor is it related to the saltwater fish also called “dorado.” It lives in the warm waters of the Plata and Amazon systems, in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Bolivia. In the slower-moving lowland streams and marshes, closer to population centers, the species has been a regular quarry for anglers for many years, and it is well known for the excitement it provides. But only a few pioneers, our guide Alejandro Montiel among them, have so far pursued it with the fly in the less accessible, but spectacularly beautiful, upper reaches of its range.

Our dorado-chasing party comprised Alejandro; his 16 year-old son, Mateo; two affable guides from Southern Cross Outfitters, Gustavo Hiebaum and German Finara; and me. The day I missed that fish, we'd driven in Alejandro's 4X4 until the road (a generous term) had breathed its last in a tangle of lush vegetation. We were deep in Bolivia's remote and seldom-visited Tariquia Flora and Fauna National Reserve, at an elevation of around 3,500 feet, in the midst of the largest example of Andean yunga — mountainous cloud forest — in the whole of South America.

Rushing over its bed of sand and boulders, the clear Rio Tarija cuts a gray-pink gash through the green of the surrounding forest. It was so far from my notion of dark and turgid tropical rivers, awash with leeches and unnumbered lethal creatures, that on first seeing it I was struck dumb. This pristine fast-flowing upland river is custom-made for anglers addicted to the pursuit of fish with fly.

And what a fly it is!

I'd been warned that fishing for dorado would be like saltwater fishing on a river. On our first morning, Alejandro produced a gaudy, 3-inch feather bundle tied on a 2/0 hook. I wanted to say (if only I spoke Spanish) You really expect me to cast that thing? Which was, of course, exactly what he expected, and exactly what, to limited initial effect, I tried to do on my 9-foot, 9-weight rod.

Deceiver Dorado Patterns
Saltwater streamers — especially large Deceivers — are the standard dorado patterns. I found orange-and-white to be a productive combination, while other time-tested colors are black, white, orange-and-black, red-and-yellow, red-and-white, and purple-and-white. Anglers have also met with success with Lefty's Half and Halfs, Whistlers, Cockroaches, and Clouser Minnows. Sizes for all of these should be in the 1/0 to 4/0 range. -N.J.R

David Klausmeyer photo

On dry land, Alejandro's streamer — made with the home-dyed feathers of roosters bought from local Indian farmers — looked like an accessory for a hooker's coat; but when I saw it wiggling fishily in the stream, it was easy to understand how such a thing would scream Eat Me! to a greedy golden predator. Alejandro tied it to the end of a braided-wire tippet, above which, in the nylon leader, he had put two bimini twists to absorb the shock of driving the hook into a dorado's jaw. To set the hook, you must strip-strike, tugging directly on the line, rather than raising the rod tip.

When I did catch a fish, this tactic worked well. But my fish, at 7 or 8 pounds, were “dinks,” although energetic enough for me to feel the long trip well worthwhile. With bigger dorado, more care is called for. Mateo learned this painfully on our first day out, when he hooked what was, without a doubt, a huge fish. As the monster took off, he failed to release the line from his retrieving hand, and the fish dragged it across his palm and fingers, searing his flesh so deeply and painfully that his hand was bandaged for the entire trip — a warning to the rest of us.

Into the Wild

Our base for our four days of fishing on the Tarija was at Santa Clara, an Indian hamlet three hours in the 4X4 from the nearest town of Bermejo, where we had entered Bolivia from Argentina. It was 90 minutes over even rougher terrain to the farthest point of our penetration into the Tariquia reserve. Santa Clara is relatively untouched by modernity. Roosters announced the dawn from every yard; cattle grazed freely at the roadside; and on our morning drive to the river, smiling children popped up out of the undergrowth on their way to the one-room village school. There's no electricity and no phones. Engines are rare, and there is no flight path in the sky above.

Occasionally as we fished, an Indian would emerge from the shadows of the jungle, one cheek bizarrely distended by a golf-ball sized bolus of coca leaves. Otherwise, we were alone with the sounds of the sounds of the wilderness — the afternoon breeze in the trees, the tropical river bubbling and roaring towards the distant sea, parrots squawking in the treetops, and, every so often, of one of our party excitedly announcing the presence, on the end of his thoroughly modern line, of another muscle-bound dorado.

Fly Fishing for Dorado

The loudest call of all went up as I was sitting on a rock at a place called Cajon Chico — a rocky narrowing, where the jungle comes close to the edge of the water. I was resting my aching arm after hours of casting and retrieving, watching the yellow-bills of the toucans as they hopped among the treetops and occasionally glancing admiringly at Alejandro, as he shot out a tight-looped line with a stylishness that would make him a big hit at any fly-fishing show.

Suddenly and urgently, Alejandro began to reel in. He turned towards me and held his arms wide apart.

“Mateo!” he shouted. “Beeg, beeg fish!”

With that he scampered off across the boulders and disappeared from sight.

I jumped up, too, and began to make my way, more gingerly than Alejandro had, to where I'd seen Mateo fishing a few minutes before. But the boy was gone. I heard shouts and looked downstream. True to his dramatic instincts, Mateo was leaping from rock to rock six feet or more above the foaming current, chasing a fish that had already stripped 150 yards of line and backing from his reel. I watched as Alejandro heaved his son up the sheer face of a house-sized boulder, and then I made my way downstream by an easier route.

Mateo's headlong rush ended at last about 400 yards from where he'd hooked the dorado. The river had opened out and was clear of obstructions, and there was nowhere left for the fish to hide or break off. Mateo's task now was to ease the fish towards him, keeping the line tight so that the fish could not chew its way up the wire tippet to the nylon.

Soon we could make out a shadowy golden shape, and then, a few minutes later, Alejandro was inserting the rubber-coated jaws of his scale into the fish's mouth. Its weight and length established — 17.6 pounds and 32.5 inches — Mateo cradled the magnificent creature in his arms for a few quick photographs and the crowd's admiration of its massive head and rich gleaming gold, red, and black coloring. Then he slipped it quickly back into the water and sent it on its way.

On the Frontier

Not many people have fished with the fly on the Tarija, and not many ever will. It's a long way away, at the end of an execrable road, in what is, after all, the poorest country in South America. The fishing is challenging and there are often long intervals between fish (although this causes none of the bleak suicidal desperation that, for example, a dead week on a Scottish salmon river can engender). Even with a 4x4 at hand, this is not a place for the infirm: in most places there are steep descents on foot to the river (and correspondingly enervating climbs back up again at the end of the day) and at least a moderate degree of agility is required to negotiate the river's rocky banks. If you have a non-fishing spouse or partner who insists on never letting you out of his or her sight, he or she, unless a dedicated ornithologist or botanist, would almost certainly find the conditions Spartan, the diversions few, and the nightlife disappointing.

If You Go
Read the author's trip planning guide.

Bolivia Dorado

All that said, these fish are special. The challenges of persuading a dorado to take your streamer in this crystalline water, and of firmly hooking it, are to be savored even by the most skilled and blasé angler. The adrenaline rush from fighting the most powerful freshwater fish of all is no ordinary one, and once it's landed, the sheer beauty of the fish is astonishing. You don't need to be catching a dorado every few minutes to see the point of the exercise. And these magnificent fish live in a place of almost magical beauty. The river itself is close to fly-fishing perfection, and the jungle around it is filled with wildlife and plant life of a rich variety.

The people of Tarija are untrained, thank heaven, in the art of pandering to tourists. When I was there, in mid-June, the weather was well-nigh perfect, with cool damp nights and days in the 70s or 80s with, surprisingly (considering the dampness of the nights and the ever-present hill-top clouds) low humidity. Biting bug populations were extremely modest, too, and the bug dope came out mostly when we broke for lunch in jungle clearings.

The charm and future conversational value of doing what few have done, in a remote and beautiful place that few have visited, is not to be sniffed at. For a North American it is, certainly, a long way away; but for anyone who would consider a trip to Patagonia, let alone New Zealand, the journey would be little hardship for a fly-fishing experience that is, in some very special ways, unique. The time, moreover, is a good one. With the approach to Tarija best made from Argentina, and the current peso-dollar rate, it is unlikely that the trip will ever be more reasonably priced.

~Ref: http://www.midcurrent.com/, NJ Richardson, Aug 2010

N. J. Richardson is a transplanted Englishman who now lives in New York. He can be reach via his Web site at www.nicholasrichardson.com or by email at njr@nicholasrichardson.com. This article first appeared in American Angler Magazine. Copyright © 2005 N. J. Richardson.
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