Just back from astonishing week fishing deep in the Amazon Jungle. Agua Boa is a tributary of the Amazon's major feeder-stream, the Rio Branco, and it is home to some of the very biggest peacock bass in the world. Peacocks are brutally strong, and are a fantastic fly-rod quarry. Swaggering around in the gin-clear water of the Agua Boa, they offer fantastic sight-fishing opportunities. They hit the fly hard, and fight with an astonishing degree of power. Peacocks come in a variety of shapes and sizes: the smallest are the exquisitely coloured butterfly peacocks, weighing in at 2 to 6 pounds and these little hoodlums can be found in rabid hordes that provide relentless action until one of the river's huge caiman, ranging up to eighteen feet long come sniffing around to disrupt the party. Then there are the extraordinarily strong Paca - the spotted peacock that are notorious for punching way above their weight and that range up to 16 pounds or so. Finally, top of the pecking order, are the "Tucanare". These brutes are the biggest and nastiest of the peacock genus, a big dose of violence, swathed in a surreally vivid scheme: green, yellow, and scarlet, with a rash of broad black stripes across their deep flanks. They regularly rush out to accost a smaller fish that was in the process of being played out, and can often be spotted as they maraud around the remote ox-bow lagoons looking for trouble. Tucanare can weigh well over twenty pounds, and the first few seconds of the fight is undoubtedly as violent as anything you can experience with a fly-rod in fresh water. I wouldn't dream of using anything less than a ten-weight.
There's more to Agua Boa than Peacock Bass: amidst a kaleidoscope of giant otters, remarkable birdlife and even a rare sighting of freshwater pink dolphins, we also targeted the astonishing Arawana, a flashing blade of a fish not unlike a small tarpon, that sit in shoals in the shade of the trees and that will race out to wolf down a well-presented surface lure with fearless and spectacular abandon. I managed a rare Surubi catfish and came close to hooking a huge red-tailed catfish that followed my fly all the way to the boat.
A number of flies were lost to the mobs of blood-thirsty, horror-show piranhas that live out their feverish lives in the deeper lagoons, and I even managed to briefly hook one of the impossibly huge Pirarucu - the much feted Arapaima - that like to roll their two and perhaps even three metre long carcasses through the shady waters of the large lagoons every now and again, but are seldom caught on fly.
Two flies stood out as absolute killers - one is Charlie Bishrat's remarkable topwater fly, the Pole-Dancer, a ten inch monster which drew some blood-curdling surface strikes; the other was US Muskie guide Blane Chocklett's brilliantly conceived Gamechanger. This large streamer, constructed using a series of Waddington shanks that taper down in size to create an imitation "fish-spine", is everything it claims to be - a genuine gamechanger. I have never seen such a lifelike fish imitation fly, and it managed to hook about a million peacock bass, with none of the refusals other anglers talked about, along with claiming both the supposedly uncatchable Surubi catfish and also the strike from the large arapaima that unfortunately managed to spit the hook.
Stunning Surubi Catfish. Note our Gamechanger hanging from its jaws!
The Gamechanger has worked for me before - it caught some huge Dorado in Bolivia last year and rose eight pike from the super-tough Cambridge town waters of the Cam on its first brief outing last week.
The fly is a complicated and time-consuming tie, but thankfully Martin and Jessica are now selling them at Selectafly.
The flies come in all white or all-black - I used permanent markers to colour some up to imitate the small peacocks - a favourite snack for LARGE peacocks - but the all white version was also an absolute slayer "straight out of the box".
Here's a fly that Matt has 'coloured in' (before being told by the camp manager that his favourite colour scheme is the white and red that the fly comes in!)
If you are an avid pike fly fisherman or targeting any large predator on fly, you really must get your hands on some of these remarkable flies- they really ARE Gamechangers!!!
A final photo from Matt:
How about one of THESE following your fly in on your local fishery?
Looks like we're going to need the wire tippet!
See more of Matt's stunning photography at mattharrisflyfishing.com
Back home it's Grayling time again! On Tuesday I'm off to the Welsh Dee for a masterclass from our very own Pro Team member Phil Dixon, England team regular - and recently captain - on both rivers and stillwaters. I've invested in a 10' #3/4 outfit, dug out the neoprenes, raided the Selectafly stocks - plus tied up a few more 'specials' - and I can't wait! Fingers crossed, Phil and I will be joined by Peter Gathercole and you'll be able to read all about it in Trout Fisherman soon.
Talking of magazines we have various selections featured in both Trout Fisherman and Total Flyfisher at the moment - one Weighted Winter Lures and two Grayling selections..The Grayling selections both reflect the very latest thinking on flies for these lovely fish - barbless hooks, tungsten beads, jig hook patterns etc. etc. All our selections represent a substantial discount over the cost of the individual flies - and you can be sure that the flies included will do the job they're intended for.
These latest offerings follow two previous selections, carefully chosen for and approved by Trout Fisherman - 'Fish the Weed Beds' and 'Minkies'. Both have been very well received. When a customer came back for more Minkies Jessica asked how he'd got on with the first lot. His answer?
"Well, I only got to use one of them - I had my limit of four fish in six casts and was home in time for lunch!"
Are our flies TOO deadly?!
Back to the Grayling. If you would like to get out and see why so many people can't get enough of these beautiful, challenging, wild fish - here are a few suggestions which should help you find some great fishing - in your part of the country:
Scotland - try the Tweed or the Annan
Yorkshire - Day Tickets in the Dales (and we do like the Red Lion, at Burnsall!)
Derbyshire - have a look at Go Fly Fishing UK
Wales - for the Dee Llangollen Maelor Angling and for the Wye, Irfon etc. The Wye and Usk Foundation
Hampshire/Southern England - Casterbridge Fisheries looks interesting as does Fishing Breaks. You could also call The Rod Box in Winchester - 01962 883600 or Orvis in Stockbridge - 01264 810017 - (as long as you buy your flies from us!)
There's lots more - these are just a few ideas.
If you are thinking of investing a little more than the cost of a day ticket we were talking with one of our regular customers recently - he was waxing lyrical about his syndicate's superb trout and grayling fishing on 2 1/2 miles of the Upper Avon and mentioned they are currently looking for one or two new members. If you are tempted have a look at The Chisenbury Fishing Syndicate and/or email email@example.com
Finally, please, please take a moment to help the Angling Trust look after the precious natural resources we have here in the UK. I'm tired of this country preaching conservation to the rest of the world whilst we lay waste to what's on our doorstep. The resource in question is the most beautiful and sporting of our sea fish - and a great fly rod target - the Bass. Click HERE to find out more and do what needs to be done. Let us know, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org , that you've written to your MP and your name will go into a Prize Draw for a selection of Bass & Mullet flies worth £40. Closing date 18.12.14 - just in time for a Christmas present from Selectafly!
Sorry if this has been a long one, or maybe Peacock Bass aren't your thing (although you have to admit Matt takes a fair photo). Feedback is always welcome - drop us a line at email@example.com
Wherever you're fishing - and whatever for - Tight Lines and very best wishes from
Martin, Jessica and James