Sailfish & Coffee
Costa Rican Gold


By Danny Smith
The Captain yelled, "FISH FISH!!!! He is coming around at your three O'clock! READY!?" Terrified, I looked at Mike, my partner; he looked back at me terrified. We had no idea what was about to happen. Mike said "Ready Danny? Hand me your coffee!" "Umm, Sure" I said. I grabbed the 15 weight Sage Rod (or the broomstick with guides); I quickly pulled out about 40 feet of line and laid large coils on the deck of the boat. I held the rod tightly in my wet right hand, and clasped the sailfish popper fly in my shaking left hand. Then over the roar of the motor the captain yelled, "He is due in front of you 80 feet. Start casting!" Immediately I started casting into a double-haul, aiming at the one-and-a-half-foot teaser following the boat. With that the captain placed the boat in neutral (IGFA rules) and the boat mate started reeling in the teaser. When the teaser was about 50 feet away the boat mate yanked with all of his strength to pull the teaser out of the water. As soon as the teaser left the water I dropped the popper where the teaser had been.
"STRIP IT! STRIP IT FAST!" yelled the captain. With that, a sword about 3 feet in length breached the water after the fly. Now behind the sword is a shadow that is about 6 feet in length and has some serious depth. I have done quite a bit of fishing in my life, but I have never been so excited and scared at the same time. Thankfully, practice and training had taken over. I was strip-setting the hook, and the fight was on! The fish immediately took to the air with acrobatics and speed like I could not believe.

While an adrenalin rush had taken hold, I had a strange feeling that something was amiss. Something was burning. It was me! Still being a novice to a fish of this magnitude, and being so excited, I had my hand over the fly line when I first hooked the fish. The fly line was going so fast it melted my glove and blistered my fingers. So I had a white blister in a perfect line across all four fingers. That is the kind of speed I am talking about! This fight went on for about an hour and we boated the fish. I was exhausted!
The captain said, "Ahh, that was a good warm up. That was a baby at about 130 pounds." I turned to Mike "A baby? Warm up?" I said in a whimpering voice as I sat down, my legs shaking from excitement and exhaustion! Mike handed my coffee back and laughed at me.

Mike headed aft on the boat and grabbed his Scott 15 weight. He had enough time to get the rod to lean against the transom, pull about 40 feet of line off and lay large coils on the deck, when the captain yelled "FISH! FISH!" and it started all over again. Now Mike turned to me with a smile because he knew what he was in for!

Fly-fishing for sailfish is a unique and unforgettable experience. Your equipment is fairly simple. You will need a 14, or 15-weight rod with 8.5 or 9 feet in length. I used a Ross Reel Big Game Canyon 8. I was very impressed with the train stopping power of this reel and with almost a mile of backing! Make certain you have a reel with a drag that can stop a moped. Your fly selection consists of a sailfish popper.

The sailfish popper is a hard foam head with a hollow tube in the middle for the shock line to pass through. Grab all of the tail feathers off a chicken and shove that onto the foam head and epoxy. Wrap the foam head with a prismatic foil pattern, add eyes and you are done. This fly is anywhere from 6-9 inches in length and varies in color from pink and white to blue and white. The sailfish popper imitates flying fish to the sailfish.

Next you will need to PRACTICE! Practice casting. Practice double hauling. Practice casting. And finally practice casting, double hauling, and being accurate at about forty feet. You will want to be able to land a sock within a hula-hoop within about 3 casts. Did I mention you want to practice? These large rods are like nothing most people have ever thrown before.

Fly-fishing for sailfish is the big game hunting of fly-fishing. It is very fast, but when you hook up with your first fish there is so much adrenaline, and excitement, everything slows down and moves in slow motion -- until that fish realizes it is hooked and it takes off flipping, jumping a peeling line off your reel until it is almost a half a mile away, before the boat can begin to catch up with it.

For more information please contact Danny Smith at Front Range Anglers.