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.

Recommended for You

Industry

Fly Fisherman Magazine Documentary Recognized by Outdoor Writers Association of America

Fly Fisherman - June 24, 2019

Fly Fisherman's documentary "One Path" was recognized with two awards.

Fly Tying

Perdigon Nymph

Charlie Craven - January 15, 2019

These dense, indestructible nymphs will improve your subsurface game.

Industry

Fly Fishing Community Stunned by Twin Slayings on Belize Saltwater Flat

Fly Fisherman Online Staff - June 27, 2019

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Breaking the Surface

Attack of the Bass continues as Breaking the Surface attacks bass with fly and lure 12:30pm ET Sunday, April 17th.

Black Beauty

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

Amazing Zipless Fly Vest!

William Joeseph introduced a remarkable zipper-free fly pack that features a surprising watertight magnetic seal.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Fly Tying

Best Panfish Flies

Skip Morris - October 17, 2016

Best Panfish Flies

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...

Trout

Alpine Lakes for Remote Monsters

Landon Mayer - April 18, 2018

You don't always catch large trout in these alpine lakes and streams, but even the small ones...

See More Stories

More Flies

Flies

B.C.'s Best Dry-Fly Fishing

Ross Purnell, Editor - January 01, 2016

The three best one-day floats on the upper Columbia are from Brilliant to Genelle, Genelle to...

Flies

Using Nymphs to Trigger Strikes

George Daniel - June 18, 2018

Fly fishers need to exhibit 'situational awareness' and fish nymphs designed to trigger a...

Flies

Two caddis patterns for every situation

Kelly Galloup - January 04, 2016

Two caddis patterns for every situation, Butch and Goober.

See More Flies

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

×