Fly Fishing on the 'Real' Cutting Edge

After Bill Leuchten's article appeared in the local papers (see below) I came across a story published by Kirk Deeter (fly fishing author, photographer, guide and editor of Fly Fishing Trade Magazine) in the December-January issue of Field & Stream which described a trip by a group of Coloradoans fishing for Mako Sharks off the California Cost in small boats including sea kayaks. Think about this for a minute. We're talking about fish that can weigh 200 pounds and up, can jump 10 feet, and are capable of eating you!

Now we're really talking about cutting edge. You can download a pdf copy of this article by clicking here NOTE: The size of this file is 9mb. Depending on your connection, the download time could be lengthy.

Fly Fishing on the Cutting Edge
By Bill Leuchten

When I was putting together the series on saltwater fly fishing, one of the questions posed to Bill Leuchten, owner of Front Range Anglers, was how to make a decision on where to go. Bill responded "That's an article all by itself. Today we have new and exciting possibilities from Atlantic salmon in Russia to bonefish on the flats of Christmas Island." We agree that such an article would be of interest to many readers. -- Paul Prentiss
When most people think of fly fishing, they picture the traditional guy fishing a picturesque mountain stream, pursuing wary trout. In recent years, however that picture has changed dramatically. The amount of fly fishing opportunities becoming available all over the world offer choices of destinations that would appeal to the most die-hard adventure seeker.

Boulder's own publication Wild on the Fly is a monthly magazine that highlights diverse locations for fly fishing destination travel all over the world. The Seychelles Islands, Mongolia, Brazil, and Patagonia, to name just a few, are all emerging as wild, relatively untouched fisheries with huge rewards for the adventurous.

The Seychelles in the Indian Ocean 150 miles north of Madagascar off the coast of South Africa offers incredible flats fishing for trevally, bonefish, pompango, and a host of blue water species. The giant trevelly is the undisputed predator of the flats. According to Wild on the Fly, "They are able to visually track and follow a hardboiled egg thrown like a baseball 20 feet above the water, attacking the offering at the exact moment it enters the water 100 feet away." Much of this area can only be reached certain parts of the year and is only visited by a handful of fishermen.

Mongolia, located in Northern Asia between China and Russia, is a unique fly fishing destination. This land of rolling steppes and rugged mountains is home to hardy nomads who continue a traditional way of life, living in tents and moving their pastures with the season. Pristine rivers contain plenty of exotic species: Grayling, Lenok Trout, and the legendary Taimen. Taimen are known for their voracious surface strikes, and can reach a size of up to 20 lbs. (considered trophy size). Mongolia allows opportunities for excellent dry fly action. Mouse patterns are the ticket!
The Amazon basin in Brazil is another exciting fly fishing destination, affording the adventurous angler a chance to go after the incredible peacock bass. These huge fish are found in certain rivers, mainly in central Amazon. These rivers are characterized by dark, acid water, which provides the ideal habitat for the largest of the peacock bass. Peacocks are similar to largemouth bass in many ways, but they are tougher, bigger and meaner, with extraordinary strength. They sleep a full night, and then feed voraciously in the day. A strong hook set is required to drive the hook into their bony mouths. Once hooked, peacock bass will typically give you a powerful fight before being landed.
Patagonia, the southern region of the Republic of Argentina and Chile, is another destination for the adventurous trout fisherman. During the 1900's, expert Francisco Pascasio Moreno, explorer and life discoverer of the Argentinean Patagonia region, recommended the introduction of sport fish into the local waters. Young rainbow and brown trout were sent from the U.S. and Europe. These fish quickly adapted to the Patagonian rivers and lakes, breeding in the wild without intervention, resulting in remarkably unspoiled fly fishing opportunities. Patagonia is also home to the freshwater Dorado. While the Dorado has long been admired in the southern portion of South America, it is almost completely unknown in the rest of the world. Dorado's typically range in size from 5 to 10 pounds, and 15 pounders plus are not uncommon.
The Dorado has the hunting habits of a trout, as they will hold in water with structure such as sunken logs and undercut banks, and in the confluence of currents formed by islands. They will take big streamers, and are known to also take big surface flies like bombers and poppers when the conditions are right. Dorados are also known in Argentina as the "River Tiger" because of their strong jaws and sharp teeth, and for the challenging fight they put up once hooked. While the Dorado has long been admired in the southern portion of South America, it is almost completely unknown in the rest of the world.
Top to bottom from the left - Tiger Fish, Tarpon, Bonefish, False Albacore, and Hutchen
What's most exciting to me is that there are certainly undiscovered waters and fish out there. These species that are still waiting to be pursued are wide open for fly tying creativity. Who knows, if this species hits mainstream, your creation could wind up in a fly catalogue. This came to life for me when a customer wandered into Front Range Anglers. He bought a lot of fly tying material and said he was heading back to Zambia, Africa to fish some water that had NEVER been touched by a fly rod, pursuing species he had never heard of. Just the glimmer of excitement in his eyes made me look forward to my next foray out of the Rocky Mountain region.

Bill Leuchten lives in Boulder and owns Front Range Anglers.