Jungle Flies. Sound awesome? I think so! The word “jungle” has a big, important and mystic feel. Most anglers who get to fly fish in the jungle appreciate the pure beauty and uniqueness of insects and aquatic life that live there. Jungle flies are basically imitations of this aquatic life. However, there are so many different species in jungle waters that the sheer diversity of patterns, color and texture is overwhelming.
Recently, on one of my fishing trips on a river in Columbia’s Orinoco River basin, we saw an amazing hatch of may flies- thousands and thousands of insects zooming their busy flight above the water’s surface. We joked about this crazy hatch, asking each other if anyone had the specific mayfly pattern to “match the hatch” in our fly selection. Of course the answer was no! There are too many species of insects living in the jungle for an angler to match every hatch! It would be another attempt we were well used to as jungle fishermen.
As anglers in the jungle, we carry flies that imitate peacock bass, payara and several other fish species. We use 8-weight and 10-weight rods. It is all about catching a big fish on a fly that has lots of flash, tall profiles and water-pushing features. Generally, when I’m guiding here in Central America I see my clients using flies they have tied or purchased elsewhere.
Although beautiful, many of these outsider flies are too big, tied onto very thick hooks, or made of materials that absorb and retain water. Fly fishing in these tropical conditions is challenging.
Tight aquatic spaces with thick growth and many obstacles make casting, catching and landing fish in the jungle a challenge! I find that if I have many fly choices available, the chance of landing a fish is best.
My advice for tying jungle flies is to try hollow tying, or “high tying”, which will create big, visible and easy casting flies that will generally match many bait fish in the area. Imagine a big colorful peacock bass or a jumping payara striking, fighting and finally leaving you exhausted, marked with a burnt stripping finger as the telltale sign of success. Jungle fly fishing is something every angler should experience.
I was born in Bogotá, Colombia pretty far away from any fishable waters. But at the age of six, I had the fortune of taking my vacations at my grandmother’s house. There sugar cane fields filled with lakes and rivers allowed me to baitfish for several species. At the age of 14, I learned how to fly fish and tie flies. Ever since, it’s been all about fly fishing for each and every species of fish I can find. Jungle fly fishing became my absolute obsession. The Orinoco River and Amazon River basin species of fish are big, wild and colorful. Plus the scenery, sounds and smells are nourishing for the soul.