THE RODS & REELS
Please do NOT arrive with cheap gear as it simply will not hold up here.
The Guests who have the most success in our waters bring two or three outfits:
1. Chopper rod (casting)
2. Top-water rod (casting)
3. Buck tail jig, jerk bait, twitch bait rod (spinning)
For very large top-water CHOPPER lures, we like to use a 6'6" medium heavy (or heavy) power, fast action casting rod. Match a fast retrieve (7:1 ratio) casting reel with at least 65 pound braid. This is the classic Rio Negro set-up, and is what our guides fish when they have a day off. It takes strength and endurance to fish this outfit all day. Practice and be ready, as this system is designed specifically for those 20+ pound peacocks.
For the classic TOP WATER "walk the dog" style lures, we prefer a 6' to 6' 6" medium power/fast action casting rod which is matched with a medium fast retrieve casting reel spooled with 50 pound braid. This is a great secondary rod to bring to the Negro, as it is significantly lighter to cast and you will catch higher numbers. If you are fishing the Uatuma with us (Sept., and Oct.) then this will be your main gun throughout the day.
For BUCK TAIL JIGS, JERK BAITS, and TWITCH BAITS: a 7' medium power / fast action spinning rod matched with a high quality spinning reel, spooled with 40 pound braid is perfect for our waters. Not only is this the easiest (and less fatiguing) of all the outfits to cast, but it utilizes the single most productive lures in the jungle. More on that below.
Remember, we have high quality casting and spinning outfits available to rent for $90 for the week. We offer St. Croix Mojo Bass rods, lined with Cortland Master Braid. Please let us know in advance if you'd like to rent an outfit or two.
Above: Look closely at these two photographs: there is a great lesson to be learned here. The first picture is how many of our guests wish they could pack for our trip. The second picture is the personal lure box of one of our most experienced guides (see the teeth marks?).
What can we learn from this?
We often have Guests arrive with suitcases full of lures. This is neither necessary nor efficient. Why?
Truth #1 An accurate cast is far more important than lure choice. Spending your precious time on the water changing lures instead of working on your presentation will result in a pretty tough day for you and your Guide. The difference between having a 50 fish day and a 5 fish day is dependent upon your lure LANDING IN THE PROPER ZONE or missing your target by 2 feet. If you spend the day landing your lure 2 feet away from your target, then you never really fished that water.
Truth #2 A Peacock bass' decision to attack is based upon the LURE'S ACTION AND SPEED far more than its specific color or size. Have your Guide show you the best retrieve for your lure, he'd be thrilled to show you.
Feeling a bit rusty with your casting? No problem! We love to teach, and are happy to offer an impromptu casting lesson anytime.
LURES in Detail
We have strong opinions regarding lures. We know what works, and we have full confidence in our selections. That said, if you have a favorite lure that you would like to try, please do!
Remember that White's Tackle is offering custom lure selections build specifically for our waters. With one email you can get exactly the right lures for your adventure with us. Contact and mention your location (either the Uatuma or the Rio Negro).
If you are focused on catching the largest of our peacock bass, then go with the highest quality gear and lures that you can find. HighRoller's RipRoller is literally the only lure you'll need to chase the largest of our fish. Best colors for the Uatuma are Firetiger and Clown, size: 5.5". Best colors for the Rio Negro are Halloween and Pearle / Chartreuse size 5.5"". We generally don't recommend the 6.5 or 7.5" sizes. Note: This strategy requires a great deal of endurance and patience, but THIS IS HOW YOU CATCH THE 20+ POUNDERS THAT LIVE IN OUR WATER. This can be a 2 fish a day lure, but 2 of your biggest. The video above shows a chopper in action!
Walk the dog style lures like Jumpin' Minnows or Heddon's Super Spook XT have been the classic, time-tested lures of the Amazon. These are used to cover the water fast and to catch a wide range of sizes of peacocks. There's a new lure in town, and it has quickly become OUR #1 SECRET top-water lure: Bomber's Badonk-a-Donk HP saltwater lure. You can fish this lure in our waters all day and catch fish. Best colors in the Uatuma are bone and citrus shad. Best colors for the Rio Negro are bone and redhead flash. Remember to bring replacement treble hooks (and split ring pliers), as our fish destroy even the highest quality hooks. Watch the videos above to see proper walk the dog technique alongside a chopper cast (note the speed of retrieve!).
The local natives call the buck tail jig the "hunger killer". If you fished here like your life depended on it, then you would fish a buck tail jig. Amazon jigs are unique: they are tied on 1/2 ounce 4/0 to 6/0 heavy-duty wide gap hooks and usually have a tail extension which gives them a length of 6"-8". If your jigs don't fit this description, then they are best kept at home.
Best colors for the Uatuma are all white, chartreuse and white, and all yellow. Classic Negro colors are red and yellow, yellow and green, red and white, and all white.
By popular demand, Michael will be tying his NOMAD jigs for next Season. They will be available on our web store soon!
JERK BAITS (above)
A great lure for early Season, high water, or trolling is a Yo Zuri Crystal Minnow (floating). Easily fished with a spinning rod, these are high confidence lures that are often thrown to working fish who have blown up on a chopper or top-water lure but have missed. As long as our fish don't taste the metal from your hook, they will continue to strike. This bait & switch technique can be an important part of your arsenal of strategies. Best colors are redhead, clown, and perch.
TWITCH BAITS (above)
The Brazilian-made PERVERSA by Borboleta is truly an incredible lure. This thing is simply magical underwater. With a highly erratic motion, you never really know how or where its going to move. It's mind boggling that a peacock bass can intercept it, but that just shows you the incredible burst-speed these great hunters have. This lure is best fished with a spinning rod with 40 pound braid.
Bomber Lures made an inexpensive knock-off of the Perversa last year. You can find it on their website. Michael tried it out last Season and did very well with it. Then he fished the Perversa again to compare. The results: The Perversa still wins. This high confidence lure and can be purchased on Amazon or in the fishing shops once you arrive in Manaus. We've seen locals walk into a fishing shop and by these 20 at a time!
This is important: Trophy hunting in the Amazon requires a great deal of skill, patience, and endurance. We certainly have 20+ pound fish in our waters, but don't expect them to just hurl themselves onto your lure. These fish are the top predators in an extremely hostile environment. They have grown to trophy size because they are masters at surviving here. How much you've paid for your gear or your trip is irrelevant to them. What matters here is YOUR skill level and focus. Success comes as a result of making the right cast at the right time, setting the hook properly, fighting him properly, and keeping him out of the submerged trees. The good news is that our guides will put you on to fish and are happy to help you with technique. Michael runs strategy clinics in the evenings that are designed shorten everyone's learning curve. We simply love to teach, so please ask!
Guests often arrive with expectations of easy fishing with high numbers. You earn every fish here, period. That said, we certainly have some successful strategies designed to increase your odds.
Doubles: work together! If your partner has hooked a Peacock Bass, immediately throw your lure right behind that fish. There is a high chance there is a second (and larger) fish following. After implementing this strategy in 2017, we documented a 30% increase in the number of fish hooked by our guests. Our average size went up as well.
Speaking of working together, your guide wants to help. If he picks up a casting rod with a large prop bait, encourage him to cast. He knows something. Likely, he knows about a large fish that lives in the area and he wants to call him up for you. Let him cast, then cast your lure right behind his. Right in the "smoke" or bubbles on the surface behind the chopper. You may not see it, but prop baits will bring fish from 50 feet away, and they will be lit up and swimming circles around that lure. This is a crazy-good strategy to fish with a buck tail jig or jerk bait. Hook the first fish, then have your partner hit the second (usually much larger) fish that is following along. This bait and switch tactic is a pleasant break in the day, and is absolutely deadly in our waters.
Be efficient, accurate, and effective with your casting. It sounds obvious, but it really isn’t until you get here. If you spend the day with your lure landing 2 feet away from your intended target, then you never really fished that water. We don’t want you to have a day full of missed opportunities. Don’t stress about this though, Michael loves to teach and is always available for an impromptu casting lesson. Just ask!