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.
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.
Archille Valenciennes, 1847
- 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
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
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!
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
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
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.
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.
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
For this Project you will need:
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).
by N. J. Richardson
photos by N. J. Richardson
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
“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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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