FLY FISHING STRATEGIES
OUR APPROACH TO FISHING STRUCTURE
Look closely at the photo above. Where will your first cast land?
OK, let's try an easier one. Look closely at the photo below. Where are your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd casts going?
Here's how we break it down:
PRIMARY target area:
This is a prime lie, and the largest of our fish will always hold the prime lies. This area offers the best cover for ambushes as well as provides protection from predators. It gives them a place to sleep at night and an unlimited food source haplessly swimming past. Dominant peacocks will defend these areas ferociously.
The key to success in this area is all about where your fly lands. If it lands deep inside the cover, then that peacock will react and will often chase your fly all the way to the boat to eat it. If it lands outside of the cover, he will still see, but he will treat it like the other hundred bait fish that are swimming around his water. He doesn't need to eat it, or push it out of his area. He could care less.
SECONDARY target area:
Unless there are larger fish cruising through this area, this area is often held by small to medium sized peacock bass. There is less cover, fewer places to hide and ambush, and less food here. Because of this, you will often see schools of fish in secondary target areas. Their numbers offer a slightly better chance at survival. The good news about this area is that if you hook one fish in here, you will very often see multiple fish following. Sometimes they will swipe at the fly that is already hooked in your fish!
The key to success in this area is how you fish your fly. Schooled-up peacocks need to be teased into striking. HUNT your fly, really work it. You will see multiple fish dart out at it the after the first strip, but none of them want to be the first to strike. MAKE them strike, then have an absolute blast trading off doubles with your fishing partner.
Once you've landed a few fish in here, watch closely for larger fish that have been attracted by all the commotion and have been drawn out of their primary lies.
OUTSIDE target area:
Have you noticed that the further we move outside, the larger the target area is? What does this tell you about the importance of an accurate cast in our waters?
Our fly usually lands here by accident. We're stepping on our line, or the fly line is a twisted mess pushing up against our stripping guide, or we've hit a monkey on our back cast. The bottom line is that the fly did NOT go where we wanted it to. Even though we call this a failed cast, fish it all the way back to the boat. DO NOT PICK UP AND RECAST, or you could spook the entire area. Remember, your Guide worked really hard to get you here.
The key to success in this area is how you fish your fly. FISH IT THROUGH. Just because we can't see anything in here, remember that our waters are full of fish and there is a good chance something is looking at your fly. Make the best of a bad situation, and you just might have an epic fish story to tell at dinner!
Closely watch the video below (click the music note to hear the dialogue). See how Kristi lands a fish, fires another cast back into the same places and misses 2 more strikes until her fly is fouled. Her Guide Antonio runs a teaser back through the same spot. Without hesitation, Kristi casts right back in the same place and hooks another fish on the first strip.
This is all taking place in a Secondary Target area where a school of smaller fish are holding tight to submerged structure. See why we love this fishery!
OUR FLY FISHING STRATEGIES
Large prop baits like the famous Rip Rollers or Woodchoppers are used routinely in the Amazon for hunting trophy peacock bass. They certainly work, and often land the biggest fish of the trip. You can bring these trophies up on a fly as well, but it will be more difficult. If this is your focus, then you need to understand the theories behind trophy fishing in the Amazon.
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 fly. These fish are top predators in an extremely hostile environment. They have grown to trophy size because they are masters at surviving here. 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. Most of our guests are good at a few of these skills but need a few days to get up to speed with all of them.
Michael's trophy strategy is to cover the water with a proven searching fly pattern that has a silhouette similar to a Peacock Bass' diet. He will cast to likely cover along the banks, as well as key trophy spots like points, ledges, and drop-offs. Often a trophy Peacock will appear from the depths (halfway between the bank and the boat) to take a closer look. These fish will only show themselves once, and only for a split second. They are extremely wary, and you must be hyper-focused on the water around your fly to spot them. This is the time to immediately switch to your 10 weight and large fly and cast until you hook him. Be patient. It may take 5 casts, it may take 50.
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 fly right behind that fish. There is a high chance that there will be 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 rigged 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 fly right in the "smoke" or bubbles behind his lure. 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. Your fly will be easy pickings. 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 can be 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 fly landing 3 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!
THE BIGGEST PEACOCK BASS IN THE RIVER LIVE ON THE POINTS
NOTE: Every one of our Guides approaches these points differently. That's a good thing! Watch and learn their methods.
Below is Michael's preferred approach.
The primary zone is always along the submerged point. With the water being so black, it can often be difficult to know just how long the point us underwater. We prefer to start from the outside and work our way in. This tactic moves fish towards shallower water, and pushes them together. BIG FISH LIVE HERE. Be ready for anything.
The secondary zones are the edges along the point. These areas offer great opportunities to cast to cruising fish that are often on the hunt. You need to be ready, and to be able to cast accurately in front of the fish, leading them to your fly.
SECONDARY - EDGES
SECONDARY - EDGES
We recommend casting towards structure at a 45 degree angle from the boat.
Why? Our fish are usually found holding in one particular depth zone. This is often dictated by the time of the day (and the heat of the sun). Once that zone has been identified, a 45 degree angle'd cast will keep your fly inside that zone for longer period of time.
Remember to try to keep your casts parallel to each other to maximize your ability to work together.
LOOK CLOSELY AT THE LAST PHOTO IN THIS SERIES...
What do you notice? Chase has a beautiful paca peacock bass literally jumping 6 feet away from him, but he's not even looking at it. Hmm, why do you think this is?
Well, always watch the Guide first. What is Tino doing...he's pointing!
What is David doing? He's already in mid-cast! Not a word has been spoken, but everyone in the boat knows exactly what is going on. The more our anglers work WITH their Guide, the more in-tune they become with what is happening around them. Our Guides are not boat drivers, they are Fishing Guides. Their insights are absolutely essential to your success in our waters.
Here's what's happening: Remember, always look behind a hooked fish, there is often a second (and much larger) peacock bass that has been drawn out of his primary lie by the commotion. That is exactly what has happened here, and David has been able to respond quickly and accurately. Everyone working together, that's what our experience is all about!
BOAT POSITIONING AND BOAT ETIQUETTE
(This is important)
Imagine a dividing line that begins at the console of the boat. This dividing line is always 90 degrees from the console, regardless of the angle of the shore. The angler in the front (red) should never cast behind the center console, and the angler in the back (blue) should rarely cast in front of the console. The theory behind this strategy is all about allowing the Guide to maneuver the boat in order to maximize the angler's coverage of the structure.
Each angler has his own responsibilities. The job of the angler in front is to work closely with the Guide, listening to his suggestions. If the Guide is using a teaser, Angler A should be casting right behind or along side the teaser. The job of the angler in the back to work closely with the other angler, timing his casts and making sure the lines do not cross. Avoiding collisions is Angler B’s responsibility.
SLIDE 1: Working together as a team. Focused. Engaged with the fish that the Guide is attracting. This boat will catch the most fish, the biggest fish, and will have the best experience with their Guide.
SLIDE 2: Not working together. Anglers are oblivious of the Guide and of the fish that the Guide is attracting for the them. This is very common!
SLIDE 3: Angler A is oblivious of his Guide's efforts. Angler B is trying to work with the Guide, but is crossing lines with Angler A. It is extremely difficult for the Guide to properly position the boat for these anglers.
SLIDE 4: Focusing on the spots he missed, fisherman A continues to fish behind the boat. This forces Fisherman B to fish even further behind the boat. Neither Angler sees the fish that the Guide is attracting for them. Now the Guide has to back a boat into an area to get the Anglers to cast in the right place. This is a dumpster fire, and this is very common!