Fly Fishing in Brazil

South American Fly Fishing and Luis Brown of River Plate Anglers are true pioneers of Amazon fly fishing. Our efforts over the last two decades have resulted in the establishment of exclusive fly-fishing waters near the headwaters of river systems in key Indian Reserves. We know the standards American anglers have come to expect and have the experience, local connections and back-country savvy to provide an unparalleled fishing adventure.

Our fishermen consistently catch more fish than clients with other outfitters for a number of reasons:

  • Float plane and wheel plane flights, along with fast-boat transfers, are included in the rates. Anglers fly from Manaus to and from the fishing areas, with no time wasted.
  • Travel times to fish each day average 10-20 minutes for our clients. Other operators routinely travel one to two hours or more from fixed lodges or big houseboats.
  • Our small groups of eight enjoy personal service and access to waters that are not overfished. Other operators take as many as 36 guests per week.
  • We do not overfish — our mobility allows us to move to fresh water every few days or even every day if we wish.
  • Our fishing boats are custom-constructed for this specific environment. Twenty-one feet long and very stable, these boats are shallow-draft tunnel designs, which can traverse almost any level of water, including virtually landlocked lagoons.
  • Our guides are extremely knowledgeable and are literally partners in the business with us. Anglers fish two per boat with these cheerful and talented Brazilian guides that are well-versed in the nuances of fly fishing. They speak enough "fishing English" to communicate effectively and, of course, are intimately familiar with the fishing resources and how to find concentrations of peacocks.

What you won't find here are many pesky bugs. Due to extensive rain forest leaf decay, the pristine rivers we fish have naturally high tannin levels, which discourage the growth of biting insects and their larvae.

What technique do I use to catch peacock bass?

Like largemouth bass, peacock bass often prefer "structure" of some sort. Rocks, fallen logs, points and sand bars are hiding places for baitfish, so this is where the peacocks often lurk. Of course, you should always heed the guide's recommendations on where to cast. Peacock bass usually roam about in small schools searching for baitfish, often bursting into a feeding frenzy. When encountering this situation, get your fly in front of the feeding fish as soon as possible. The sooner you can cast to them after they've been spotted, the better your chance of a hookup. Peacock bass are greedy and highly competitive schooling fish. Always cast a different popper or fly right next to any hooked fish. Another peacock will almost always be close by (attracted by the commotion). If no strikes result, fish the surrounding area thoroughly. Novice peacock bass anglers tend to set the hook too fast when fishing poppers or flies. Often peacocks will just slap at the fly to stun it, and then come back around and firmly grab it on the second pass. It's hard to remember at first, but don't set the hook on the strike. If you can't see the popper or fly after about one second, drop your rod tip and set the hook as hard as you can with your strip hand. Big peacock bass have very tough skin around their mouths and tend to grip the fly firmly.

If the fish doesn't take the fly on the first strike, keep it moving. If you are patient, the fish will usually come up and hit the fly a second or third time. If it loses interest, quickly change flies. This often elicits another strike. Never try and "horse" a big peacock bass, and don't underestimate its power. If a big fish is headed for structure, apply side pressure to the rod trying to 'steer' the fish in another direction. If you crank your drag down too tight, they'll almost always snap the leader, or pull off. If a fish does make it into cover, don't give up. Give a little slack and wait for the boat to spook the fish out of its hiding place, they'll often untangle themselves. When a fish comes to the boat, never assume it is ready to give up. Always keep a high rod tip and a loose drag to absorb last minute runs. Fly color doesn't seem as important as fly shade. If it is bright out, use a light-colored fly. Dark-colored flies are more productive in low light conditions.

Peacock bass fly fishing double hookups are not uncommon. When one angler hooks up, keep a close eye on the fight. Other fish will chase and school around the hooked fish. Don’t hesitate to cast in the middle of the action to the following fish. You will catch many more fish using this technique. Peacock bass tend to swim together, often male and female. It is not uncommon to see a monster peacock bass following another big fish that is hooked. Casting your fly to the following fish will often result in double hookups and really enhance your peacock bass fly fishing experience.

Adult peacock bass protect their young by carrying them in their mouth, releasing the tiny fry several times a day to feed and swim. When released from the mother’s mouth, the peacock bass fry will congregate near the surface, creating a visible area of tiny bubbles slowly moving across the surface of the water. The best approach is to cast your fly past the bubbles, and retrieve it through or close to the fry/bubbles. This will sometimes produce a strike from the adult peacock bass protecting their offspring. These adult peacock bass are usually in the 12 to 15 pound plus range.

Depending on the time of year, and water conditions, you may have a chance to fly fish for peacock bass on their spawning beds. These circular beds vary in size from 18-inches across for "butterfly" peacock bass, to six-feet across for larger barred and paca (spotted) peacock bass. There may be several beds in the same relative area. Larger fish bed in deeper water but the beds are visible, usually because of their size. The adult peacock bass guarding the bed may be nearby off to the side of the bed. Two different peacock bass fly fishing techniques produce strikes and hookups: 1. Cast the fly across or very near the bed and strip the fly through or past the bed. 2. Let the fly sink and drag the fly slowly through or very near the edge of the bed. The adult peacock bass will often pick up the fly.

Catch and Release

To further ensure the survival of released peacock bass, we use rubberized mesh landing nets to protect the fish's outer skin. Trophy peacock bass weighing 16 pounds or more will be weighed in the net in a horizontal position. Never weigh fish vertically as this puts strain and stretch on a fish used to the support of water pressure. Weighing fish vertically can cause spine and other injuries to the fish. The Boga Grip is still used to control the fish, but never hold the fish in an unsupported vertical position from the Boga Grip. Hold fish horizontally while photographing and then quickly return them to the water. Take time to fully revive the fish and release it in shallow water (one foot or so). A tired fish that is not fully revived is vulnerable to predators such as dolphins and piranhas.