AMAZON GEAR RECOMMENDATIONS
Arguably the most important part of the system. Invest your money in the best fly line you can find, and bring an extra. A tropical Intermediate sink tip line that is designed to throw large flies is our go-to. Our favorites include Scientific Anglers' Sonar Titan Jungle Clear Tip, Sonar Tropical Clear Tip, and the Mastery Jungle Titan (floating).
Master fly line designer Marlin Roush of RIO fished with us in 2017 and designed their new Jungle taper specifically for our waters. We fished the first iteration of these lines in 2018 and were blown away, they were perfection. We invested heavily in these lines for our rental fleet and all of Michael's rods for our 2019 season, but something very bad happened...they changed the line! The taper remained the same (still the best taper for our fishery), but these lines literally fell apart by day 5. Day 5!
By our third week of the season, we were in serious trouble. We were doing a photoshoot for Scientific Anglers that year, and they miraculously sent us a handful of lines as a thank you for the photoshoot. These lines literally saved our Season. The SA Jungle Clear Tip and their Tropical Clear Tip lines performed flawlessly in our difficult environment, and they LASTED ALL SEASON. Michael has been close friends with Marlin Roush and Simon Gawesworth of RIO for over 25 years, but in 2020 we made the difficult decision to move to SA. It was absolutely the right thing to do, they simply have the best product for our fishery.
(NOTE: We have Winston Jungle rods matched with Galvan Torque reels and matching Scientific Angler tropical intermediate lines available for rent. That's a $1,600 outfit for $150 for the week. Please let us know in advance if you would like to rent an outfit or two.)
We keep it simple and use 7-9 feet of 40 to 50-pound mono or fluoro for a leader, see below. The terminal tippet that is tied directly to the fly should be replaced daily. One nick in that line and you will never see that double-digit peacock that just inhaled your fly.
This is a challenge for our guests to understand until they hook into their first double-digit peacock bass: 40-pound mono is standard for most situations. That's as light as we go. These fish are not the least bit leader shy. Some operations fish 60-pound tippet straight to the fly. Careful here, as your fly line has a breaking strength of 40 pounds. Fluorocarbon will help your fly sink faster and is a bit more abrasion resistant, but regular mono is very effective as well. Our favorite mono is Maxima Ultragreen for beautiful turn-over and incredible knot strength. We tested Scientific Angler's new Absolute Fluorocarbon last Season and it was fantastic.
Roughly 70% of our guests are fly anglers, which makes us a very unique operation in the Amazon.
Please do NOT arrive with cheap gear, it simply will not hold up here.
WHAT WEIGHT ROD SHOULD I THROW?
A great rule of thumb is to match the rod weight to the size of the fly you are fishing. A 4-5 inch EP-style fly will throw like a dream on an 8 weight. A 5-6 inch deep clouser or half & half is perfect on a 9 weight, and anything larger should be thrown with a 10 weight. Simple.
An 8 weight, in experienced hands, can be a lot of fun to fish in our waters. You will see on our videos how our rods are doubled over and Guests are working very hard to get a fish in, then when it comes to net it doesn't really look that big. Believe me when I say that there are very few fish in this world that fight as hard as a peacock bass. You will feel under-gunned most of the time catching even our smaller fish with an 8 weight, but it is still very fun. It's great for fish from 2-6 pounds, but you will not be able to control anything bigger than 7 pounds on an 8 weight. You will not be able to turn them from cover and you will likely break the rod on a true double-digit peacock (we broke 16 rods last Season). Think of this rod as your 3 weight for catching a wild 18" trout. It can be done, but there are better tools available for the job. Hopefully, that makes sense.
A 9 weight is that magic sweet-spot between being light enough to cast all day and to feel the smaller 2-4 pounders, yet powerful enough to turn over heavy flies and land that double-digit peacock. This is Michael's preferred rod weight for most of his day. He will always have one rigged with a 5”-6” long EP or Whistler style fly tied to 8’ of straight 40-pound tippet, lined with SA's Tropical Clear Tip WF9F/I line. We absolutely love Winston's Jungle 9 weight or the Winston Alpha+ (8 weight rod matched with a titan/jungle taper 9 weight fly line). Other favorites include the Scott Sector and SAGE's Payload series (see note below regarding rods).
A 10 weight is the perfect trophy rod for our waters, and fits into a specific strategy. Rig this rod with a 7" or 8" long fly tied to a 7' 50-pound leader, lined with an SA Jungle Clear Tip line (WF10F/I or Type III Sink tip). This system is always on Michael's boat, rigged and ready in case he sees that 20 pounder crushing bait. Our favorite 10 weights are the Winston Alpha+ (9 weight rod matched with a jungle taper WF10F/I), Scott Sector, or SAGE Payload.
NOTES ABOUT RODS: Our personal favorite is Winston's Boron III Jungle rod, but sadly that rod is being phased out of production. The new Winston Alpha+ 8 weight is a fantastic jungle rod. We were honored to receive the first 9 weight in production to take down to the jungle, and we had an absolute blast with it. It throws our heavy systems like a dream and is incredibly light in hand. Remember that the Alpha+ series are extremely powerful rods, and must be overlined with titan/outbound style fly lines in order to load properly. The 8 weight is actually a 9 1/2 weight rod. The 9 weight is actually a 10 1/2 weight rod.
Jerry Siem fished with us in 2018 and designed the SAGE Payload series of rods to match our fishery. In 2019 SAGE sent us an 8 weight for our rental fleet, and it was used every single day of the season. After 90 days of absolute abuse, the cork and ferrules were still like new (for context, the cork handles on some rods starting breaking apart after the second day of fishing). These are powerful, accurate, and effortless to cast all day. The 8 and 9 weights are absolute perfection for our Uatuma fishery and the 9 is perfect for the Rio Negro. These rods were designed to throw exactly our system: a matching tropical Rio Outbound Short or SA Titan WF F/I line, 7-9 foot leader, and a 5-7" long fly. These are mid-priced rods, but we'd put them up against any other for their performance in our waters.
The least important of the system. Matching saltwater-grade reels will be able to sustain the hot conditions of this fishery. We rarely fight our fish from the drag (we can't let them run), but you need a reel that properly balances your rod and is designed to thrive in this tropical environment.
FLIES - MOST EFFECTIVE PATTERNS
Click the buttons below for a printable PDF version of our favorite commercially tied flies. Support your local Fly Shop!
They will be happy to special order these for you. Even better, have them tie some custom flies for your adventure!
MOST EFFECTIVE PATTERNS continued
Take a close look at our “Baker’s Dozen” fly package on our web store. Our entire selection is made up of Enrico Puglisi flies. They are easy to cast, are extremely durable, and our fish eat them like candy. These represent a few of our favorite patterns and colors, but by all means, they aren’t the only ones that work on peacock bass.
An absolute favorite is the flash-tail whistler in various colors. This pattern is a must-have in green/white and gray/white in the Uatama and red/yellow and red/white on the Rio Negro. Although these are readily available from Umpqua, they aren't 100% correct. Look at their website and see how their three colors options are actually three completely different patterns. Umpqua's whistlers certainly WILL work, but if you are a tyer, build these in the color patterns listed above, tie them on a 4/0 hook with a 6" total length and you're all set. Your local fly shop would be happy to custom tie these for you as well.
Large Clouser Minnows and large Deceiver style flies work extremely well. They should be tied on 4/0 hooks and be between 5-7 inches in total length. Last Season many of our biggest fish were caught on Half & Half style flies with bead chain eyes. Yes, this fly is basically the best of a Clouser Minnow/Lefty's Deceiver/Flashtail Whistler all combined into one absolute fishing machine. Chartreuse or green and white was the killer color combo in the Uatuma last year. Red and white, green and yellow, and olive and white where our confidence color combinations last Season in the Negro.
SPEAKING OF COLORS, here are some of our favorites in order of preference:
UATUMA: Chartreuse and white, gray and white, and peacock bass (or perch) coloration.
RIO NEGRO: Yellow and red, Fire Tiger, olive and white, all yellow, and all white (Michael's favorite).
INSIDER TIP: Bring red and black sharpies to add some critical colors to your flies.
LESS EFFECTIVE PATTERNS