Flyfishing 4 Peacock Bass   "101  "

Wyndham Garden Manaus

This website was developed to provide valuable information to the novice peacock bass fly fishermen.  I often get calls from first-time peacock bass fly fishermen, and a ten or fifteen minute phone call cannot possibly address all the questions that need to be answered.

 I have been fly fishing for peacock bass in the Amazon basin since 2002.  In September 2018, I just completed my 15th trip.  During that 17 year period I’ve caught over 2,000 peacock bass on my fly rod.  My largest peacock bass to date is a 16 pound beauty that I landed in 2008.  A 20+ pound peacock bass continues to allude me, but if I had $500 for every big fish that snapped 30 lb. or 40 lb. tippet, I could put a good down payment on another trip.

When I first published this web site in 2011, I had 9 years experience fly fishing for peacocks in the Amazon.  Now, 8 years and 7 trips later, I believe it is time for an update.  One of the factors that has greatly influenced sport fishing in the Amazon is the ability to have stable water conditions.  High and/or rising water are a fishermen's worst nightmare.  Years ago you could make 5 consecutive trips, and 4 out of the 5 would have ideal water conditions.  Now, it seems that every other year high or rising water is a problem.  Blame it on global warming if you must, but whatever the reason, high water levels in the Amazon basin have become a regularly recurring problem.  You can still catch fish, but it requires a lot more patience and work.  The second factor that directly affects fishing in the Amazon is "fishing pressure".  In 2009, I fished the Rio Uatuma and the Rio Jatapu for the first time.  During that 6-day trip, I never saw another sport fishing boat.
I fished these same 2 rivers again in September 2018, and I saw no less than 5 other boats fishing the same area.  Each boat had 6 to 16 fishermen.  You can do the math.  I read an article years ago that stated that peacock bass were among the most "intelligent" fish in the Cichlid (tropical fish) family.  If that is true, then 30 years of fishing pressure, with both conventional tackle and flies, have made them wary.  Am I saying, "It's no longer worth your time and effort to go to the Amazon for peacock bass"?  Absolutely not. 

Peacock bass are an amazing fish.  They are the world’s most challenging freshwater game fish.  Pound for pound nothing strikes harder than a peacock bass.  Many peacock bass fishermen think that fly fishermen are at a big disadvantage when it comes to hooking and landing a big peacock bass.  I hear this all the time.  How could anyone land a big peacock on a “perch pole”?  However, I believe that the opposite is true.  A 9’ fly rod vs. a 7’ bait casting rod – more leverage; one 4/0 hook imbedded in the fishes mouth vs. 3 treble hooks flying all around; the ability to measure your cast and put a fly exactly where it needs to be; a fly delicately presented to a fish vs. the crash of a 10” woodchopper on top of a fish.  Give me a fly rod every time.  As delicate and graceful as fly fishing is, make no mistake, fly fishing for peacock bass is not a delicate or finesse affair.  Long, accurate casts are often the norm.  This style of fly fishing is hard work, but the rewards are incredible.

My recommendations for the first time fly fishermen are as follows:
1)  Since you have no control over water conditions in the Amazon basin, and since it is not prudent to cancel your trip at the last minute, you can salvage your trip by making some equipment adjustments.  In ideal water conditions (4' to 6') a floating fly line and slightly weighted flies are sufficient.  In situations where water levels are 7' and deeper, I highly recommend using 
sink-tip fly lines and flies with sufficient weight to get them deeper in the water column.  They are slightly more difficult to cast, but will make all the difference in deeper water.  I will go into greater detail in the "Equipment" section of the web site.
2)  Plan to go with a reputable outfitter, preferably one who has exclusivity on a particular river or in a particular area.  Do your homework.  This may eliminate excessive "fishing pressure".                 

On my first trip to Brazil in 2002 I sat next to a fellow fisherman on the plane from Miami to Manaus.  During the course of our conversation he informed me that this was his 23 trip to Brazil to fish for peacock bass.  I respectfully asked him why he would go back to the same place so many times.  His answer was, “You are about to find out”.  I may not make 23, but if I never go again I will cherish every minute that I have spent in the Amazon.

I hope that you enjoy the web site as much as I enjoyed putting it together.  If you have any questions or just want to talk fly fishing you can contact me at:

Ric McNulty