Hi, I thought you might be interested in the trials and tribulations of my 2023 recent trip to Colombia. Here are the highlights:
Most of you know I used all my spare time at Kulik last season to tie IGFA legal leaders of Seaguar Blue and the new Gold fluorocarbon to Ande Tournament Green Mono class tippets with Fluro, and Rio and Cortland wire to the fly. I ended up buying 2 leader wallets for each of the classes, 20, 16, 12, 8, 6, 4, and 2. I added separation cards so that each wallet could easily store 30 leaders. After realizing how hard the 2s were to tie, I added a third wallet for them as I knew learning to cast and fish with 2-pound would necessitate having more. The last thing I wanted to do was to be forced to spend my evenings in Colombia tying leaders in poor light, extremely warm conditions, and being tired from a full day of casting. I left Kulik with 60 leaders in each of the classes but 90 in 2. I experimented with a few of the 2s in the Taquan hangar just to see how much it took to break one! Not Much!
I had a good assortment of flies left over from my trip to Brazil and a few from left from my 2022 trip to Colombia and tied a few in my apartment in Ketchikan. As a back-up, I ordered $400.00 worth from head guide Leo Cardella who likes size 4/0 hooks but tied some on 3/0 and even 2/0 for my light leaders. I had to pay him another $200 to rob his fly box again after my 2-pound class difficulties.
Leo Peacock Flies
Best Payara Flies
I was gone from Ketchikan a full month and fished IGFA legal every day for 22 days straight. Prior to leaving I did manage to do some practice casting and leader experimentation in the Taquan Hangar for the new rods I took. It took a while, but after some coaching from Kulik Guide Drew Griffith and tips from old acquaintance Tim Rajeff at Echo Rods, and watching lots of casting videos on You Tube, I finally developed a little skill with the 2 hand beach rods I got from the Buelah Fly Rod Company, a 11 foot 7-8 wt that requires a 10 wt. line, an 11 foot 5-6 that requires an 8 wt, and after discussing 2-pound class tippets with the Beulah owner, I also ordered a Beulah G2 single hand 9 ½ foot 6 wt. that I used exclusively for the 2-pound class tippets. Specifically, my target fish were Orinoco peacocks – records to break: 2-pound class – 2-pound fish, 4-pound class – 4-pound fish, 6-pound class – 4-pound fish. In addition, I felt I had a good chance at the 4-pound class Payara record as I needed a fish 6 pounds 12 ounces and the 2-pound class a 3-pound 12-ounce fish to break the existing records. While the largest Spectacle Peacock (Temensis) I caught in 2022 was just short of 20 pounds, I never considered that a spectacle peacock record was possible due to the large size and numbers of that specie being caught in Brazil. Stupid thinking on my part!!
At the end of my first 14 days in Colombia I had arranged a special trip to the Ciranoco River in Venezuela to fish for Black Stripe Peacocks with every record available. Unfortunately, I learned too late to get a visa thru the consulate office in Caracas that due to eased restrictions on immigrant travel to Colombia from Venezuela, they had closed the visa office that previously issued tourist visas right on the Orinoco River. Bottom Line- I could not enter Venezuela for any overnight stay let alone the 7- day journey to the Ciranoco. Rather than go home early, I fished another week at Tucunare Lodge. By the way, I paid $3500 per trip for the first 2 back-to-back trips, and $2600.00 for the trip to the Ciranoco which including my airfare, tips, and additional hotel costs was still cheaper than one week at the best Alaska fly-out lodges.
On arrival I tried to let everyone of the guides (according to lodge literature the guides speak Spanish and their native language Sikuani) which means they speak some Spanish but virtually no English. I can order a beer or two and get directions to the bathroom but that’s about it in Spanish for me. Because everyone on my mailing list is either a current or former guide (me included) I know how fishing guides want to deliver the biggest fish to our clients. The Colombian guides are no different. They relish the big fish! They are quite adept at handling big and toothy fish by hand and seldom – if ever- use a net. When a smaller fish is hooked, they waste no time in getting it off the line and the client back casting for a bigger one. It was difficult for me to explain that I was not looking for only great big fish – Nearly every fly caster the arrives has the rods and leaders recommended to pull the fish away from the structure. I gave each of the boatmen and guides a bit of 4-pound class material and they all laughed then frowned and said “No way”! I also had to get my guys to use a net for even the tiniest fish! it took a while but due to IGFA rules and requirements, I had to remind them often to be patient and small fish were just fine!
During the first 6 days at the lodge, I joined the group of 11 people who were supposed to fish with me at Tucunare Lodge in 2022 but all had cancelled due to the Covid pandemic and civil unrest in Colombia. As a result, I fished with either the head guide, Leo Cardella, or with the lodge owner, Alejo Diaz, and was the only client for my 16-day 2022 adventure. I must say the group I joined were all nice guys, but most were conventional fishermen, only 3 other dedicated fly guys. I was partnered with Ricardo from Chicago. Mexico born; he is a fluent Spanish speaker so a great advantage for me. With his help I was able to convey record pursuit rules and regulations even though I didn’t get a fish worthy of a record that week. We went through the ritual a couple times with fish that I thought were close, so they got used to the process.
On Day 1 we fished my favorite lagoon, Pirariame (Orinoco Lagoon). That is the lagoon that yielded my world-record 10-pound Orinoco on 20-pound class tippet in 2022. I also caught many 5 to 8-pound Orinoco Peacocks there and was confident I could find and land more. I’m quite certain Pirariame lagoon was at one time a channel of the Orinoco River. It is about 4 miles long and seldom more than 250 yards wide. The best area for bigger peacocks seemed to be the southern half of the lagoon and that is where we e spent most of our time. Ricardo and I both landed several 2 to 3-pound Butterfly Peacocks and a couple smaller Orinoco Peacocks but none greater than 3 pounds and no large Spectacle (Temensis) Peacocks. Last year I did not catch a butterfly peacock in Colombia and assumed there were none close by. I was surprised to catch one. I cast the Buelah 7-8 with an Abel Super 11 and a 10 wt Outbound Short Jungle
Butterfly Peacock – mottled spots but none on gill plates
intermediate sink line and used a 12-pound class tippet all day. I cast till lunch siesta and cast again all afternoon and did not have to stop due to shoulder pain. I quickly realized my rod purchases were successful. The 2-hand overhead casting was much easier on my shoulders. Last year with a single-hand rod I had to stop casting about every 30 minutes and rest for at least that or more. I was taking aspirin and Tylenol every evening and again in the mornings just to keep fishing. I can say with certainty I never stopped casting due to shoulder pain – to have a cerveza or two yes- but not from pain!
On Day 2 I retired the Beulah 7/8 for the much lighter 5-6 wt Beulah with an Abel Super 8 reel with a Rio Outbound Short 8 Intermediate Sink head. I used that same line on an 8 wt Gary Anderson Sage Rod last year while in Colombia. While I did have that rod in my case, I never used it. While I caught Orinoco in every lagoon, I didn’t manage to land one big enough for a record. I did, however, loose a lot of fish during the learning process of light line class fishing. Personally, I had never fished any IGFA class but 20. Trust me, there is a huge difference going down to 6, and even more when casting the tiny 2s. For peacocks I fished a 6-pound class and when the opportunities presented themselves for Payara I used 4-pound class with 15-pound Cortland wire to the fly. I lost fish so many fish I was tempted to give up and go up to 16- and 20-pound class leaders but I didn’t. I am proud to say none of my Biminis failed and the breaks were mostly in the class tippets. I do think, however, a couple of the breaks in the bite tippets could have been piranha attacks. Piranhas are widespread and sometimes attack fish hooked and struggling. The other fly-fisher’s boat reported they had a fish attacked and only got the head to the boat. The piranhas got the rest of it. Piranhas are not so much of a problem in the lagoons. The big lagoon problem and even on the Vichada and Orinoco rivers were the sunken trees and snags hidden from view. Due to heavy rains at the head of the rivers, the water came up about 5 feet during my stay. That put the peacocks on the bottom and closer to structure than in low water. Retrieves had to be slow. The preferred method of retrieve at Tucunare Lodge is to make the cast and then put the tip of the rod under the surface and strip the fly slowly all the way to the boat. This procedure seemed much easier with the 11-foot Buelah than any 9 ft rod I used in the past. When a fish hits all that needs to be done is to give a slight tug on the line with the stripping hand to set the hook and then raise the rod. The boat is constantly moving along the shore about 80 to 100 feet from the lagoon edges so the longer the cast the better. I had fish hit near the shore, along the retrieve, and even right at the boat numerous times. During the retrieve, if you are not hooking submerged limbs and dragging up leaves you are not deep enough. I tried the standard 2-hand rod retrieve of tucking the rod high under the casting arm and stripping with both hands but wasn’t comfortable doing it. I think it puts the rod in totally in the wrong position for any possible strike. I much preferred retrieving in a rearward motion with my left hand. Again, the longer handle of the 2-hand rod held against my hip helped steady the rod on the retrieve. In the worst of the high water I went to a 400 grain fast sinking head and 35-pound Rio Slick Shooter to 20-pound micron backing with the Beulah 5/6. After much experimentation for the 2-pound class, at Ray Beedle’s coaching I cut back a 300 grain fast sink head to 20 feet and used 15-pound amnesia backing on the single hand Beulah 6 wt. simply to eliminate drag. While I never caught any peacock that ran very far – the drag from a full fly line snapped the tiny class tippets with ease. Also, with the 2-pound class tippets I snapped off way too many flies due to poor back casts. Poor back cast-you lose a fly! I had to really concentrate on proper technique while using the 2-pound class.
For each of the 22 days my schedule never changed. Just after dinner and before desert appeared, Head guide Leo Cardella would assign destinations. I managed to choke down a beer or two after dinner and tried to be in bed by 9 PM. Each day I set my alarm for 330 AM. Because the water for showers is heated by sunlight, I knew showering after fishing was the best time – not early in the morning as I do at home. Because the kitchen crew delivered coffee to the dining pavilion at about 3:45, I was the first to get a cup around 4 and then would prepare my rod for the day. Most of the other fishermen arrived for breakfast about 6 but I enjoyed the time alone to reflect of the previous fishing and ponder the upcoming adventures. Every day I started with a fresh leader and fly for the that day’s target specie be it Peacocks, Payara or some other fish. I then would double check that my bite tippet fly connection length did not exceed 12 inches to keep me IGFA legal, pack a box of crackers, check my waterproof bag for the required scales and IGFA measuring device, my leader measuring stick, ample flies for the day, and the camp issued hammock used for afternoon siesta. Next I’d clean my sunglasses and have more of that great Colombian coffee. We would leave the lodge just after daybreak (6:20 to 6:30) as most of the fishing areas were at least 45 minutes away and some destinations even longer boat rides. We would break for lunch and siesta about noon, start fishing again at 2 pm and then return to the lodge just at dusk and sometimes well after dark. Dinner was normally served about 8pm. During the day my own ritual was to have a Cerveza after landing my first fish, and sometimes that would be early morning, but it seemed the right thing to do. By 10 the sun was beating down and I had to get into the yeti coolers have another. On a few days when catching was fast, I’m sure I had more than 5 before siesta. Temperatures ranged from about 90 to upwards of 110 every day. It poured rain only a couple times during the day but like Hawaii, it seemed to rain mostly at night leaving the days hot and humid.
On Friday, March 10 we left at 6:30 and headed for a small lagoon just short of the Orinoco River. I had a fresh 6-pound Fluro leader and a Leo tied peacock fly ready for action. Our boatman-guide spotted some fish moving and we stopped along a rock wall not far down river from the lodge. Moments later the boat was tucked away on the rock and Ricardo and I started casting. I had fished there once or twice in 2022 and knew it was sometimes a great place for smaller Payara and even some Pacu. Had I known we were stopping there I would have set up a 4-pound class wire leader. I hooked and landed a Payara (biggest one of the trip for me) on Fluro leader and a peacock fly. I left my bag in the boat and didn’t get an official IGFA length but my boatman (Perro Loco – Crazy Dog in English) did have my IGFA certified Boga grip and he weighed the fish at 10 pounds. Oh well – live and learn. On the way to the lagoon I switched out leaders with another fresh 6-pound class and was ready to battle but to no avail. I did hook quite a few larger fish but snapped off most prior to getting them in the net. Ricardo was using straight 40-pound Fluorocarbon leader and landed and released nearly every fish he hooked.
On March 11 my luck changed but I screwed-up big time in my favored Pirariame Lagoon. I had hooked and lost a fish and then got a couple snags. I decided I needed to change leaders. I sat down and opened my 6-pound leader wallet and pulled one out. Javier Guevara, the owner of Fly Fish Ecuador Tours and our host for the first week had joined our boat for the day and seemed ready to help. As I was grabbing for a fly, I handed him the leader and asked him to unfurl it for me.
Not much current along the rocky ledge. Peacocks, Payara and Pacu. This Payara weighed 10 pounds on the Boga grip held by boatman Perro Loco
Javier is a renown big time marlin guide in the Galapagos Islands and was amazed at how tiny the 6-pound class really was. I started casting again and felt a snag but then the unmistakable head shake of a big fish. Almost instantly, boatman Perro Loco paddled the boat well away from the shore and its sunken snags. Ricardo got his line out of the water, Javier started filming, and the fish and I battled. Several times I reminded myself it was only 6-pound tippet. Perro Loco hollered “Temensis”. Once I realized the fish was not an Orinoco but a Spectacle (Temensis) Peacock instead, my mind went numb. I was expecting the fish to be a great Orinoco. I was at best dismayed, but tried to shake my disappointment, and did my best not to screw-up the fight. Perro Loco grabbed the net, but the fish did not give up. More than once I thought he would surrender but at the net he balked. Because my rod was 11 feet long and not the standard 9-footer that Perro Loco was accustomed to, I had to coax him further forward to get the best angle on the fish. When taken from the net, Javier weighed it at 17 pounds on the certified Boga-grip scale. We got his formal length on the IGFA measuring device but when Javier asked if we should take him to the shore I quickly snapped
“Oh no, the records for spectacled Peacocks are much bigger than this fish”.
We released the fish without taking it to the shore for an official IGFA weight. The rest of the day was uneventful, but I kept thinking I may have been wrong. Once back at the lodge my worst thoughts were confirmed. While I was taking a shower, Javier reviewed the lodge copy of the IGFA record book and announced to the group that I had landed a 17-pound Spectacle Peacock on 6-pound class tippet and my fish was 2 pounds heavier than the current IGFA record but I released the fish before we got a required “on the ground” weight. I was too stupid to weigh the fish. Let’s just say that I was so caught up in dreams about Orinoco peacock records my mind went limp at a critical time. But, that great fish on 6-pound class tippet gave me the confidence in my knots and fishing skills I needed to continue my quest.
This Spectacle (Temensis) Peacock weighed by Javier was 17 pounds- a record that only lives in my mind because I made a bad decision
On Ricardo’s last day with me, our boat was sent to the farthest up-river lagoons for another try at big peacocks. We had some good fishing as Ricardo caught his largest peacock of the trip but left early so we could try one more time at Pineapple beach (a short stretch of the Vichada River where the local people harvest wild pineapples) for Payara and Peacocks. Ricardo chose to fish the big sand bar for Peacocks and I stayed with Perro Loco in the boat to drift the short stretch of current for Payara. Using 4- pound class tippet I hooked and landed a Payara I thought was close to the record size. On the beach we weighed the fish and got him on the measuring board. I felt happy on the way back to the lodge only to get a closer look at the scale in the photos to find my fish was close but short a couple ounces from the record. He was 66 centimeters long with a 15-inch girth and weighed just over 6 pounds 8 ounces. Just a couple ounces short!
Noted for their Teeth, Payara are usually found in heavy current which makes them hard to get on 2 and 4-pound class. I got this one in the Orinoco River on 6-pound class with a 20-pound Rio wire bite tippet. This fish weighed 8 pounds, well under the 6 pound class record.
This Payara was just a couple ounces short of the 4-pound class record It weighed 6 ½ pounds
Only 3 new Guests, and Leo’s girlfriend, Maryanne, arrived that day to fish the next week. 3 Flyfishers one of whom paid extra to fish alone. I would get to fish again every day with Leo and Maryanne, an excellent fly-caster also from Argentina. I was disappointed to learn Alejo Dias, the Tucunare lodge owner, would not be able to fish with me during my last few days as his wife was expecting a baby any time and he had left Tucunare to get to his home in Venezuela to be with her.
The next six days I faced difficult water conditions as the rivers continued to swell. Despite the extremely hot and sunny weather at Tucunare Lodge, the rain must have been tremendous near the headwaters.
On our first day together, we fished a lagoon I had never fished but didn’t do much catching. MaryAnne got a nice Temensis but I did not land a fish in that lagoon. We left and went up river to another lagoon I had not fished, and I got a fish Leo said is almost never caught on a flyrod, a Corvinada.
Maryanne with her first Temensis
Leo & Maryanne
On March 13 we had high, murky water and the fish were lethargic. It seemed like the fish of 1000 casts saying used for mid-west muskies was turning true for Peacocks. I had chosen the Pirariame lagoon for our destination even though high water meant tough fishing. I cast over and over letting the line sink each time and waiting impatiently to start the retrieve. Trying to be hopeful, I mentioned to Leo that we were close to the spot I hooked the big Orinoco last year and he nodded as he cast about 100 feet. I tried to match his distance. As I had done so many times that morning, I felt my fly stop and thought I had another snag and called out ‘Rama de arbor” (tree branch) but suddenly my rod bent and the snag turned into a fish and bolted for some half sunken branches. I strained the 6-pound tippet nearly to its breaking point and let the Beulah 5/6 rod bend to slow down the dynamic charge. Leo moved the boat away from the shore and when the fish suddenly broke water I saw the Orinoco spots and knew instantly this fish was more than 4 pounds. I kept the line tight and made sure to keep my rod tip pressure constant. The fish circled the boat a couple times which gave Leo time to get his line out of the water and ready with the net. A few heart-pounding minutes later Leo netted the fish with ease. We both knew we had to get to the shore. We weren’t too far from a grassy point with some flat ground. Once there, we completed the required weighing, photos, and length and girth measurements. That fish was just over 6 1/2 pounds. Leo released the fish unharmed. I knew without a doubt that if my class tippet leader tested properly, I would have the 6-pound class world-record for Orinoco Peacock. Leo and I both had a cerveza and Maryanne a coke to celebrate. I removed the fly and leader from my flyline and safely stored it away to send to the IGFA. On my second cerveza I went to my 4-pound test leader wallet and selected one, then asked Leo to help unfurl it while I opened my fly bag for a smaller fly. My next goal was a 4-pound plus Orinoco Peacock on 4-pound class.
I liked the Colombian beer and had many during my stay. This fly is just like the one used to get the record 6 pounder, also the same fly for the 17 pounder on 6.
6 pound Orinoco on 6-pound class tippet. Previous record 4 pounds.
On March 18 I landed an Orinoco Peacock just over 4 ½ pounds on 4-pound class tippet. Length of 52 CM girth 13 5/8 inches and hopefully, a new record fish. Again, I used the Beulah 5/6 wt rod with Abel Super 8 reel with the Rio Outbound Jungle 300-grain intermediate sink line.
4 ½ pound Orinoco on 4-pound class tippet
Immediately after that catch, I broke down the 5/6 Beulah and put it back in its case. I broke out the single hand Beulah rod and the Finnor No 2 reel with a 20-foot shooting head and 15-pound green amnesia attached to a fresh 2-pound class tippet and a smaller peacock fly. I knew the smaller fly reduced my chances a little, but I had to use the smaller flies once I realized I just couldn’t handle the 6 and 7 inch flies on the lightest tippets.
The next days were hard on me and my equipment. It seemed every fish I hooked got away and more than a few times I made a cast only to find I’d snapped off the fly on my back cast. After going thru more than 45 leaders and no count of lost fish and flies, I finally landed a total of 8 fish on 2-pound class tippet including 1 great fish on Tuesday March 21 at 6 1/2 pounds, with a length of 52 centimeters and a 13 ¼ girth. That fish was by far the largest fish I got on 2-pound class and the fish I am most proud of on this trip. I can also say with the high water, I didn’t even try the 2-pound class tippet for Payara. Next trip I may have better conditions. Right after my cerveza celebration, I put the Beulah 6 wt back in the case.
Because the water went up so much, most of the places that had suitable current patterns in low water for payara in the Vichada river disappeared and I had to fish a couple places on the Orinoco for them, but I think that most of the Orinoco River Payara are much bigger than the Vichada river fish. Over several tries there, I hooked and lost many fish over 20 pounds and even those a bit smaller were in too much current for me to handle on 4-pound class tippets even with just a 300-grain head and Rio Slick Shooter 35.
Fishing just below the worst of the Orinoco River rapids. Way too much current for light tippets. I’m standing in Venezuela, the opposite bank is Colombia.
On the last fishing morning of my trip, I was up again at 3:30 a.m. and had coffee at 4. While sipping coffee I gave some thought to not even going out but just relaxing at Tucunare lodge for the day. After all, I had fished 21 days straight and had been so lucky to have the three pending record fish. But a few minutes later Leo arrived for coffee. When he asked where I wanted to fish for the day, without any hesitation I said,
Let’s try the Pirariame Lagoon again to try for a little bigger Orinoco on 4-pound class tippet. If the lagoon is dead, we can make a few casts for Piranha Blanco in the Vichada near the Rocky Lagoon.
A few minutes later we left the lodge and headed down river. Leo and I started the last day casting for 2 ½ hours without a strike of any kind, but I was thoroughly enjoying the day. I was casting a consistent 90 to 95 feet occasionally more than 100. The 2-hand rod had changed my fishing and I knew it. I could not have been in a better place. The sun was just starting to heat up and I thought about stopping for a cerveza but continued casting. After a nonproductive retrieve I cast again but the line slipped away from my fingers and the fly clunked down and splashed only about 30 feet from the boat. I believe both Perro Loco and Leo thought that we were chasing our tail in the high water, but I didn’t care. I watched the local birdlife watch me fish. I caught lots of leaves and sticks and then as I pulled the fly close to the boat, a sudden golden flash. I saw the take. It was a fierce hit and the fight was on! Again, Perro Loco yelled “Temensis” but this time I wanted the biggest Temensis I could get. I couldn’t stick the fish nor apply quite as much pressure as I did with the 6-class but had fished the 4-pound class enough for payara that I was confident with my technique. I just had to let the fish tire himself out and not do something stupid like step on my fly line that was spread about the boat. This was a much longer fight than was the 17-pounder on 6. I wanted to land this fish. He looked big when I first saw him and was strong. Leo soon grabbed the net and waited for the fish to slow down. After four unsuccessful attempts to get him the last worked well. I got the fly line off the floor of the boat and back on the reel and I held the fish in the net submerged to keep him full of oxygen while Perro Loco maneuvered the boat towards a steep beach not too far from our position. We got our required measurements and photos as fast as possible to get the fish back into the lagoon after a short revival. That fish weighed 14 1/2 pounds was 70 centimeters in Length with a 19 1/4 girth – a big scrappy male fish. Previous record for Spectacle (Temensis) Peacock 14 pounds. A record I did not even consider possible when I started my trip, but one I will be happy to submit next week.
Perro Loco and my pending Spectacle Peacock
My 14.5 pound Spectacle Peacock on 4-pound class
Later that day I caught another Orinoco nearly the exact size of the fish I caught on March 18 on 4-pound class. Today I’m not even sure which fish is bigger so will have to do lots of study and photo evaluation to be sure I submit the correct fish, and fly.
I kept casting hoping for a little bigger Orinoco, but nothing hit that afternoon. On the way back to Tucunare lodge I switched leaders to 4-pound with wire to see if I could get a Piranha Blanco but got a Payarin (smaller relative of Payara same teeth but with yellow eyes) instead.
On this trip I got 3 species of Peacock, Payara, Black Piranha, Payarin, Corvinata – rarely caught on a fly, and a dog tooth fish. Last year I only saw 1 small alligator (black caiman) but this year more than 10 and some big ones.
I saw only 1 snake this year swimming across a lagoon quite far from our casting position, although I missed an anaconda about 12 feet long as I didn’t know what the guides were yelling about as it slipped into the river near our boat. Last year I got a couple Pacu but this year I only fished them one morning with no results. They weren’t jumping nearly as much as last year. If the courts change their stance and sport fishing becomes legal again in Colombia, I may return to try for the Payara records I did not get. But Guyana has the same species in 2 rivers, and that country may be worth a try – but I hear the food and camping conditions leave a lot to be desired. I may also try to arrange a trip to the Ciranoco river in Venezuela for the Black Stripe Peacock. In the meantime, I’ll wait till our house sells and the courts make up their minds before I make any decisions. One thing for sure, I have a lot of very nice single-hand rods I need to sell and am also sure most of you need more rods. 907-230-3043 and send me a message or call and we can chat.
Personal Recommendations for the future:
My leasers have not been tested by the IGFA yet, but I have every reason to believe they will not over test. The IGFA still recommends Ande Tournament Line. If any of you will try for a record, that is the line to purchase for your class tippets.
After tying, testing, and fishing with the light (2, 4, and 6-pound test) class tippets, I will only use Seaguar Gold in combination with the Ande Tournament for the class tippets for the light leader classes. Although I tied some with Mason 8 to 20 pound test to the fly, I never got a fish to the boat with Mason and so don’t know how it held up. Although a little harder to tie due to the extra hardness, I believe the smaller diameters in the Gold Fluorocarbon are worth the effort. I will continue to use Seaguar Blue in 20, 16 and 12 class.
Also, while I used both 10 and 12-pound Gold Seaguar on my 2-pound leaders, I will only use 12 in the next batch I tie just to remain consistent. The leader I used when I got the 2-pound potential record had 12 pound to the fly and it worked just fine. I also got a few on 10 to the fly but bigger the better and less spools to buy and store.
On the light leaders I also hit the “Beadle Closure” with a dab of brush on type CA glue. I was careful not to get glue on the Bimini as it is supposed to stretch. I tied all my leaders the same. I used a nail knot to attach the bite tippet to the Bimini followed again by a 7 turn Beadle Closure. I did the same at the other end of the Bimini to attach the first segment towards the fly line and used a double nail knot to attach the next piece. Because I was only fishing with a sinking line or head, I did not want my leaders to be much over 48 inches as I think that defeats the purpose of fishing deep. I made all my perfection loops a little small. In the future will make them at least ½ inch plus to more easily pass the larger flies through the loop when flies are pre-tied. I had not considered that while making leaders at Kulik.
Specifically, in 2 and 4-pound class fishing, I realized I could not use any of the flies that had bucktail (most of those I had from my Brazil trip and all those I tied as the bucktail absorbs water and get too heavy. The next batch of flies I tie for any light line classes will be 100 percent synthetic. I want them to sink and absorb no water. They need to be as light as possible.
I will also be trying to find a 2-hand surf rod just a little lighter than the Beulah 5/6 – if one is made. In the final analysis, I think the 5/6 may be just a bit softer at the tip than the Beulah G2 I used for the 2-pound class, but not by much. I bought that rod specifically to use with the 2-class so that is what I did. I’ll be speaking with some other manufacturers soon. If you know of rod for me to try shout it out! If I concentrate more on the 2-pound class for other species, like Pink Salmon or smaller Silver Salmon which I think can be done, I think a softer rod might help. I have an Anderson built Spey in 5 wt. that may work but am not sure the action is fast enough.
A want to give a special thanks to my great friend Ray Beedle for introducing me to IGFA legal fishing, for teaching me the Bimini Twist at Kulik in the early 1990s, and the Beadle closure at his duck club while sipping some great Kendal-Jackson red wine. Thanks also to all the Kulik guides who helped keep me focused on IGFA legal leaders and shared my tribulations last season, and last but not least a very special note to the tallest guy I have ever met, Kulik guide Ben Boehmig, whose question still lingers in my mind –
Do you really think you can get a record fish with the 2-pound class?
I did, Ben, I did, and I want you to know I thought of you and your question several times during my 2-pound class struggles!
Hope all goes well for each of you this season and let’s compare notes when you have time to send me photos of some of the great fish you produced.