Big Flies for (Really) Big Fish

Big Flies for (Really) Big Fish
Oliver White recommends flies that imitate red-bellied piranha or small peacock bass, tied on Owner Aki 8/0 hooks. Beth Sweeting photo

https://youtu.be/8BlOpOGeMIY

Tying arapaima flies with Oliver White and guide Shun Alvin

When I came back from Guyana and showed friends and family photos of some of the fish we caught, the first question was often, "What kind of fly do you use to catch something like that!?"

Arapaima are the largest scaled freshwater fish in the world, but when you fly fish for them, they are just like any other predator. Your strategy is to use your creativity to make a fly that imitates the prevalent food sources. In the Rupununi wetlands near Rewa, Guyana, that means flies that imitate red-bellied piranha and small peacock bass.


The method is the same as with tying any large-profile baitfish pattern. You stack the EP Fibers on the top and bottom of the hook shank to create a fly that has a large profile when viewed from the side, but it's narrow when viewed from top and bottom. This imitates the shape of many baitfish species, and is crucial to making a "large" fly you can actually cast.


The key to a good arapaima fly, says Oliver White, is the Owner Aki 8/0 hook. Getting these fish to eat the fly isn't all that difficult, but sticking that hook into something solid is. White has caught more (and probably also lost more) of these fish on a fly rod than any other person alive, and he's very particular about the hook. If you're flying halfway across the world to catch the biggest fish of your life, it's a good idea to pay attention to these small details that will make a big difference in your success.

For more info on arapaima fishing in Guyana, see my story "1 Guy with a Fly Rod" in the Oct-Dec 2017 issue of FLY FISHERMAN or watch the film by Outside TV we shot on location in March 2017. The fly-tying short you see here is an out-take from that shoot. 

liver White recommends flies that imitate red-bellied piranha or small peacock bass, tied on Owner Aki 8/0 hooks.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

 Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Bahamas - Bonefish

Bahamas - Bonefish

Conway casts for his personal best bonefish while fishing the Grand Bahama islands.

Casting Backhand in Tight Quarters

Casting Backhand in Tight Quarters

A backhand cast is when you use your backcast to deliver the fly.

Black Beauty

Black Beauty

Master fly tier Charlie Craven discuss the tools and materials needed to tie the Black Beauty.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

As you explore your home water, keep in mind what they are eating to select the best carp flies! Flies

The 15 Best Carp Flies

Jay Zimmerman - September 27, 2016

As you explore your home water, keep in mind what they are eating to select the best carp...

Drift boats help you search through miles of river quickly and effectively. Here's the top models on the market today. Gear

Top Drift Boats of 2019

John Fedorka - April 02, 2019

Drift boats help you search through miles of river quickly and effectively. Here's the top...

Best Panfish Flies Flies

Best Panfish Flies

Skip Morris

Best Panfish Flies

Golden riches in Wyoming's high-country heaven of the Wind River Range. United States

Wind River Range Wyoming

Greg Thomas - July 27, 2015

Golden riches in Wyoming's high-country heaven of the Wind River Range.

See More Trending Articles

More Flies

Two caddis patterns for every situation, Butch and Goober. Flies

Two caddis patterns for every situation

Kelly Galloup - January 04, 2016

Two caddis patterns for every situation, Butch and Goober.

Tying flies on tubes is easy and deadly! Flies

Tying Flies On Tubes

Rick Kustich - July 24, 2015

Tying flies on tubes is easy and deadly!

This five-minute tie imitates one of the most common baitfish in trout streams across the country. Sculpin Fly Pattern Flies

Sculpin Fly Pattern

Chuck Stranahan - February 01, 2015

This five-minute tie imitates one of the most common baitfish in trout streams across the...

See More Flies

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.