In a new episode of The Venturing Angler Podcast, Marcelo Pérez of Untamed Angling sits down with Tim Harden and discusses jungle fly fishing for golden dorado at Tsimane. This is the second time Untamed Angling has been featured on the podcast.
Click here to listen to the podcast.
We are pleased to announce that the Kendjam film is now available to watch in its entirety online.
Kendjam follows anglers on a unique fly fishing adventure deep in the Amazon. Exploring crystal clear rivers running through a wild land protected by Kayapo Warriors, the crew take on a wide range of species. Check out this first-ever film about fly fishing on these previously forbidden Kayapo waters.
Kendjam is located near the headwaters of the Iriri river, in one of the most hidden areas of Brazilian Amazon: the Mekragnoti Indigenous Territory. Kendjam is a hidden treasure protected from despoliation by the last guardians of the Amazon jungle: the Kayapó warriors. This environment offers the first multi-variety Amazon fly fishing destination where an angler can target over ten different species in crystal clear fast waters. The river system runs over a huge granite base, which facilitates wet wading and many sight casting opportunities. See all of this and more in the film above.
There’s plenty to love about Tsimane! Enjoy.
Rio de Gigantes!
We’re thrilled to unveil the trailer for the new film — Rio de Gigantes — from Todd Moen and Catch Magazine. The new film features fly fishing for peacock bass at Rio Marié. The film truly captures this spirit of Rio Marié and also includes some incredible footage of peacock bass attacking flies. The film will also be featured on the International Fly Fishing Film Festival.
Check out more from Catch Magazine HERE.
A new issue of Catch Magazine is now live online, and we’re thrilled that a feature on fly fishing for giant peacock bass at Rio Marié has made the cover. Big thanks to Todd Moen and Brian O’Keefe for the Rio de Gigantes feature. And stay tuned for a new video from Todd Moen coming soon!
CLICK HERE to check out the new issue of Catch Magazine.
Dr. Meng Son recently made his way to the “River of Giants” and documented his trip with a great journal and some excellent imagery. His journal:
The Amazon is the largest drainage system in the world responsible for almost 20% of the entire worlds fresh water discharge into the ocean. The Rio Marie is a tributary of the Rio Negro River which is the second largest Tributary of the Amazon River. Three years ago Untamed Angling built “the Untamed Amazon” to navigate and fish 500 miles of the Rio Marie and it’s 60 lakes and 180 tributaries. Only accessible by float plane, the mother ship with its navy of custom made 21 foot skiffs, fish virgin water by moving up river daily covering around 500 miles of prime Peacock Bass habitat. The Untamed Amazon can generate 100% of its electrical power from its own solar cells and batteries. Imagine having 24 hour electricity, hot showers, daily laundry service and internet on one of the most remote rivers in the world. It is perhaps the most unique fly fishing vessel of its kind and the food and accommodations are amazing. This trip ranks as one of the best fishing expeditions Ive ever taken.
Steve and I were lucky enough to fish with some great anglers this week. Along with long time fishing friends, Victor, Judy and John Leonard, We got to fish with Michael Michalak (owner of the Redding Fly Shop) and two great new friends — Joe and Juan. Together we landed 531 Butterfly Peacocks and 47 Temensis (Giant Peacock bass GPB). Of the nearly 50 GBA we caught, 11 were 10-15 pounds, nine were from 15 to 20 pounds, and three were over 20 pounds. The largest one caught this week was 25 pounds, just 3 pounds off the current terminal tackle world record.
It’s easy to get caught up in “Giant” fever when you are here because there is a lot of talk about the next world record. Even the guides seemed to set the “Big Fish Bar” at plus 20 pounds and don’t get too excited about sub 20 pounders. We only managed three all week and two were caught by John Leonard out of 8 anglers. Everyone got some fish this week over ten pounds which is realistically an amazing stat in itself. For me, it was about comparing the experience to a good day of striper fishing since it was my first experience fishing for Peacocks. A bad day of fishing for Peacock bass is better than a good day of Striper fishing on San Luis. Even with gloves, tape and stripping guards, I got line cuts through my protection. These are truly brutal fish (my favorite). The main classes of fish that are caught are the Butterfly Peacocks (Cichla orinocensis) which average 3-10 pounds and feature three distinct ocelli (Butterfly like markings) along its sides. They fight like San Luis Stripers on Steroids. The Cichla Temensis is the Giant of Peacock bass. They spawn in beds in the river holding there young in there mouths. When they get large, these lose their spotting and develop three black bars down their orange brown flanks. In this spawning state they are known as “Acu”. This same species can go into a non spawning state know as a Paca-Asu. The Paca don’t reproduce and focus on hunting and eating. The Paca are stronger and more vicious because of the lack of reproductive distractions. They are differentiated by purple blue flanks with white spots. On an average day, Steve and I put 20-60 fish to the boat and I can truthfully say that these fish hit harder and pull harder that stripers the same size. Over the last 6 weeks, anglers are getting on average 2-3 shots a day at large GPB or Pacas. Not only are they an awesome fish to hook on Streamers and Poppers, they are beautiful fish with no two the same. My biggest fish of the week was caught on the first day on the next to last cast of the day at 15 pounds. The monster hit my 5/0 streamer 3 feet off the bank and made a run for timber like a Lingcod for rocks, It was everything I had on my 8 weight to turn it and my running line cut through my finger tape like butter giving me a nasty line cut on the first day. Not to under-rate them, but like really big stripers, big peacocks are good for two or three great runs and then they give up. No one I talked to fought the big ones into backing. John Leonard who has been to the Rio Marie 4 times caught most of the large fish. His 25 pounder was caught on his now perfected technique of free drifting a Popper five feet from the boat while contemplating cutting the fly off. Victor, one incredible fly fisherman, caught an unusual 20+ pound Paca which the guides say fight harder than a 25 pound GPB. A 20 pound Paca is a rare fish indeed and I heard a few guides say its the biggest one they have ever seen.
The travel to the Amazon Explorer is arduous. We left San Jose on a 5 hour redeye to Charlotte. From Charlotte we headed to Miami and on to Manaus. The total travel time with layovers was 24 hours. The next day we took a 4 hour float plane to the mothership and didn’t start fishing till the next day. You would think that I would be use to this kind of travel after two Bolivia Amazon trips this year but it’s getting harder and harder to sleep in airplanes for me. I need some special pillows for the next trip. You need to get a Brazilian Visa 6 months in advance and a yellow fever Vaccine.
The boat is awesome- even better than Bolivia’s luxury lodge. We were delighted with the full picture window, air conditioned, double occupancy rooms with hot showers, The main socializing room has a beautiful lounge and dinning area as well as a outdoor lounge area with jacuzzis and a rear viewing deck. The food is excellent and the laundry service is fast and good. The Laundry service was so fast and efficient that you could bring only one set of clothes to fish in and they would be cleaned every day on time for the next morning. Which is what Mike Mitchell had to do since his luggage did not make it to Manaus on time. Mike ended up fishing the week on donated fishing equipment and underwear. There is 24 hour electricity. One of our group was able to use his CPAP machine every night. On top of all this luxury and comfort is a highly skilled and friendly captain, chef and staff. The group of guides are Brazilian and Argentinian. They work well as a team to optimize each fisherman’s chances at big fish. Guides are rotated daily and I enjoyed every one of them. These Brazilian and Argentinian guides are all extremely experienced and just great guys to fish with all day. There is not a place in the world that at least one of these guides haven’t worked a season. I learned about baby tarpon in Brazil and Icelandic brown trout fishing in lakes. When Steve got tired, I insisted that the guides fish. They are all great casters and you can learn more from watching them fish than practicing. Most admitted that fishing the Marie is in its infancy and things also change from year to year making it hard to develop a real system.
I suppose I thought the fishing would be automatic with virgin water and fish that have never seen flies, but its not that easy at times. The fish are sensitive to water temperatures and water flow. We fished over large areas of dead water to find the HOT spots. The big fish can happen at any time and especially when you don’t expect it. John second 20 plus fish was caught just dangling the fly under the boat. The 3-10 pound Butterfly Peacocks keep it exciting and we had many double hookups. It was a good strategy to rest and wait for your partner to hook up before casting. At our best spot, we caught 50 peacocks in one area till we were got tired and left looking for bigger fish. I calculated that each of us casts about 1000 times a day and its a challenge to cast flies accurately to the shoreline all day with out snagging excessively.
The Peacock bass operation owned by Untamed Anglers has produced world record Peacock bass on the fly year after year and produces more 20 pound plus Peacock Bass than any other river in Brazil. Anglers live on a Mothership that rivals the luxury river cruises of Europe (on a smaller scale) and if you are one of the lucky few that books a spot on the Amazon Explorer (which only take 4-8 anglers. a week for ten weeks a year) you have the opportunity to fish 500 miles of virgin water on the largest catch and release fly fishing only reserve in the world. The operation is only three years old and the number of people who have EVER fished the Rio Marie can fit in the upstairs lounge—maybe less than 300 anglers. It’s truly a brand new destination and you are fishing for fish that have never seen a fly.
— Dr. Meng Son
Essential Gear for Peacock Bass on the Fly in the Amazon
When you travel to one of the world’s most remote fishing locations in search of one of the world’s most powerful, aggressive, and infamous gamefish, the right equipment is critical. In fact, certain gear items can truly make or break your trip. Don’t even think of venturing to the Amazon for peacock bass without the following:
1) The Right Fly Lines
All fly lines for the jungle should be warm water lines. Fly lines designed for cold water become soft, limp, and gummy in hot weather, and simply will not work in the Amazon. Saltwater lines work well, as well as lines designed specifically for fishing the jungle. These lines are made to maintain some stiffness and remain slick in hot weather, so they won’t tangle as much, will form the loop and turn over better, and will shoot through the rod guides with less friction under the equatorial sun.
Equally important is to bring several different lines — floating, intermediate, and sink tip lines. In very low water conditions or when lots of fish are spawning, floating lines are often used. However, intermediate lines are the go-to lines under most conditions for big peacocks. That’s because under normal water levels, the hookup rate on floating lines drops dramatically. Higher water means more current. Therefore, the fly not only needs to get down deeper, but it needs to get deeper faster and in stronger current. Switching to an intermediate line gets the fly to the strike zone quicker and keeps it there longer. The same principles apply if the water rises more, and a full sink tip line might be required for deeper water and stronger current. Properly weighted lines can lead to many, many more eats and hookups by monster peacock bass.
The correct line taper is also very important. Flies for peacock bass are large, bulky, and wind-resistant. Ultra-aggressive weight-forward tapers help to turn over big flies much more easily. Leave your bonefish lines at home; they’re designed for delicate presentations with small flies. When you consider that you will be casting more or less all day long for a week straight, this factor is even more important. A line taper that does most of the work for you can save your arm tons of fatigue — and leave you enough strength to fight these brutes.
Finally, peacock bass are renowned for destroying lines by running straight into the middle of snags when hooked. By bringing several different lines for different scenarios, you will always have backup lines if needed. Consider bringing two intermediate lines, as they are used most often.
Examples of good line choices are the Scientific Anglers Mastery Titan Jungle Floating, Scientific Anglers Sonar Titan Jungle Clear Tip intermediate 30 foot clear tip, and a 24 to 30 foot 200 to 300 grain sink-tip fly line such as the Scientific Anglers Sonar Jungle Custom Tip.
2) The Right Rods
More than perhaps any other species, you do not want to be under-gunned when targeting trophy peacock bass. Beefy, fast action rods are mandatory. Also don’t get cute by downsizing in line weight for “sport.” There are several reasons for bringing only stout rods to the Amazon.
You’ll be casting bulky flies with an aggressive weight forward taper line. These lines load fast action rods easily, whereas slower action rods may not hold up. It may sound counter-intuitive, but using a beefier rod will actually save you energy. The rod will do more of the work for you. This becomes very important when making hundreds of casts per day with aggressive weight forward tapers and big flies. Rods that lack the necessary backbone not only tire your arm quicker, but they may not even be capable of delivering and turning over a big fly coupled with a super-weight forward line.
These fish are not only big and very powerful, but they live near heavy cover. Rods that can handle that combination can be the difference between heartache and the fish of a lifetime. While it may seem self-explanatory, it’s difficult to overestimate the initial power of big peacock bass. The first few seconds of the battle are critical as the fish makes the first powerful dive for cover. You need all the help you can get in stopping the fish before it gets there. Your reel often won’t help because the fish will reach cover before the line is on the reel, but a rod with lots of backbone can make the difference.
For trophy peacock bass (Cichla Temensis) that can reach 30 pounds, a stout 9wt or 10wt rod is the best bet. A backup rod is highly recommended for the same reasons that backup lines are essential. Trophy peacock bass have a tendency to destroy gear, and you don’t want to travel all the way to the middle of the Amazon only to break the only rod you brought with you. For the butterfly peacock bass found in large numbers from 2-8 pounds, a 7wt or 8wt will fit the bill nicely.
3) Protection for Your Fingers
When trying to entice peacock bass to eat, you will make lots of casts, with LOTS of aggressive strips. When the fish does eat, you will set the hook hard and attempt to stop the fish as soon as possible — often well before the line is on the reel where the drag can do the work. For both of these reasons, gloves or stripping guards are critical. They will save you the pain and annoyance of small slices, cuts, and burns on your fingers. In a remote, tropical environment, avoiding cuts that can become infected is all-important. And even if these small injuries do not pose a risk of serious injury, they can sideline you and ruin your trip. Gloves or finger guards not only protect from annoying injuries, but they can allow you to put that extra pound or two of pressure on the fish to keep it from reaching cover.
If you plan to use gloves with fingertips cut off, make sure they cover the parts of your fingers you use for stripping before taking your trip. Better yet, use stripping guards. It is a great product made for this purpose.
4) Protection from Sun and Heat
When heading to an equatorial location, you probably do not need to be told to protect yourself from the sun. However, there are a few tips that may not be obvious. For example, your sunscreen should not have any fruity or sweet scents, as it will attract bees and other insects. It also needs to be waterproof, at least 30 SPF, and applied to all exposed skin.
Wear lightweight socks. They are cooler than shoes, save your feet from the direct sun, and still allow you to feel your fly line on the deck. Line often catches on or under shoes when shooting line or when a fish runs. For that reason we often fish barefoot when on a boat, but the intense sun in the Amazon can fry bare feet. Socks are a life saver.
Similarly, hands tend to get some of the most direct sun while fly fishing — especially when you are casting and stripping all day long. Lightweight sun gloves not only protect your fingers from the sun but also from cuts and burns when stripping line and fighting fish.
A full brim, lightweight hat with a moisture wicking band, such as a good straw hat, is highly recommended. It not only protects face, ears, and neck from sun, but it can provide shade for the rest of your body when the sun is directly overhead and keep your whole body cooler. A ball cap does not.
Long sleeve shirts and long pants are also more effective than sunscreen (which wears off over time), and can also help keep annoying insects off your skin. Light colored clothing seems more effective for insects. And obviously the lightest weight, coolest clothing made will help to keep you cool. Patagonia and Simms make comfortable, super lightweight, and quick drying shirts and pants.
The face always seems to get the most exposure even when wearing a hat. Remember, sun reflection off the water is almost as intense as direct sun. And the skin on your nose, lips, and ears is more sensitive than on other exposed parts of your body. A Buff or bandana protects your face from sun both above and reflected from below. Buffs or bandanas can also be dunked in cold water to cool you off during the day.
Finally, super high quality polarized sunglasses, such as those by Costa Del Mar and Smith/Action Optics, are essential.
5) Quality Camera
Keeping in mind that weight limits on small planes limit the amount of gear you can bring, try to include a high quality camera. You will be in an incredibly pristine environment full of exotic flora and fauna. The bird life alone can be worth the price of admission, with parrots, macaws, parakeets, toucans, cotingas, flickers, manakins, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds commonly seen. Similarly, the butterflies and flowers can be absolutely stunning. Plus, you stand a very good chance of catching record class peacock bass, which are one of the most photogenic fish on the planet. You will not regret taking lots of high quality photos in the Amazon!
This is not an exhaustive Amazon gear list, but the above items are essential when fly fishing for peacock bass — and many of them may not be obvious. Make sure you bring them along to be prepared and to fish as effectively as possible on what is sure to be an unforgettable trip.
Tailwaters Fly Fishing Co.
There are unique fishing destinations in the world – wild locations where getting there is half the adventure and one can experience life-changing angling experiences.
At Untamed Angling we dream about these waters, and pursue the most remote and difficult-to-operate angling destinations in the world, undeterred by the distances, difficulties, obstacles, and the naysayers. We are wholly driven by legends, myths, and the spirit of adventure.
It’s the unknown that drives us each and every day in creating and developing the most exotic, remote and spectacular angling odysseys that have ever been made available to the fly fishing industry.
It’s the soul of our being: venturing deep into nature.
- Untamed Angling Featured on the Cover of In the Loop Magazine
- Video: Fly Fishing for Dorado and Pacu on the Upper Secure River at Tsimane
- Untamed Angling Featured on The Orvis Fly-Fishing Podcast
- The Itinerant Angler: Brazil’s Three Kings with Rodrigo Salles
- Untamed Angling and Xingu Lodge on The Venturing Angler Podcast