Casting, Setting the Hook & Fighting the Fish:

‘Tis better to cast accurate than cast long.  Don’t obsess about casting great distances.  If a log is 70’ away and you can’t cast 70’ then just wait for the next log.  Logs are not in short supply in the Amazon. Of course, the further you can cast the more water you can cover with your fly.  Most conventional fishermen will tell you that they catch a lot of their big fish in the middle of small to medium size lagoons.  This is true because peacock bass are territorial and will travel 50 yards from their hiding place under a log to investigate the ripping sound of a woodchopper.  Since a fly cannot duplicate that ripping sound it is necessary to put the fly next to the log where the fish lives.  I have caught some of my biggest fish around big dead falls and under trees on the bank.  Peacock bass are “mouth brooders”.  Both male and female fish will stay with their young fry for a short period of time after they are born.  The fry will gather on the surface and make “bubbles”.  The female and larger male will position themselves under the fry ready to suck them into their mouth and defend them at the first sign of danger.  Always throw at the “bubbles”.

Another good technique I have employed is to let your guide throw a woodchopper from the middle of the boat on the same side that you are casting.  When his bait gets within fly casting distance throw directly behind or next to the woodchopper stripping your fly to keep up with his bait.  A big fish, attracted by the woodchopper, will often hit the streamer fly instead.  If a fish “blows up” on a woodchopper and misses, throwing into the swirl will usually result in a hoop up.  If you can convince your guide to do it, have him throw a woodchopper with the hooks removed.  You might get some funny looks, but it is a great technique.      

After a good cast, the tip of your rod should be pointed in the direction of the fly (try and maintain as straight a line as possible between the tip of the rod and the fly).  The rod tip should be aimed at the water.  The strips should be long and hard with a short pause in-between.  To get the most action out of my retrieve I tie all my streamers to the tippet with a “loop” knot (see the video section).  Unlike most big game fish that open their mouth and inhale a fly, a peacock bass will charge a fly with reckless abandon.  At the first sign of pressure, make a long strip to set the hook.  Do not raise the tip of the rod until after the hook has been set and the fly line is tight, and then only raise the rod to a 45 degree angle.   This will allow you to fight the fish with the strongest part of the rod – the butt section.  Most fly rods break when the fish is being landed.  As soon as your guide grabs hold of the leader or the fish lower the fly rod to take the bend out of the tip of the rod.  Remember, the tip of the fly rod is for casting, and the butt section is for fighting the fish.  

As I mentioned in the “Reel” section of the web page, don’t be concerned with getting the fish on the reel.  Feed line and retrieve line with your stripping hand.  Pay attention to the fish not the reel.  Don’t risk losing the “fish of a lifetime”.