World Wide Fishing!

Welcome to Argentina

Part 2: Fish, Flies and Gear

by Alejandro Martello, Buenos Aires, Argentina

First I will introduce you to which kind of fish you could find in these waters should you decide to come down here.


The trout fishing season in Patagonia starts November┤s second Saturday to the second Sunday in April, every year. There are some rivers and lakes where the season ends on May 31 st. Others lakes like Pueyrredon Lake in Santa Cruz province is open to fly fishing all year.

In the Patagonia Region, you can find many species with sportive value. It's very important to say that in Patagonia there are no native salmonids, all of them were imported from several places, especially the USA and northern Europe, at the beginning of this century. Now all the fish you catch in Argentina┤s Patagonia are wild, none from hatcheries, but they are descendants of the imported eggs and smolts. This is a big difference with Chile┤s Patagonia, because in last 10-15 years the increase of trout and salmon hatcheries in lakes and in the Pacific Ocean made serious damages in wild trout population, because the hatchery fish is crossing with the wild fish, without any control.

Beautiful Rainbow

Artificial reproduction is being done now in many rivers in Argentina, especially in those which have heavy fishing pressure, just for helping the natural reproduction and to insure in the future a good and healthy population of fish in the rivers. The little baby trouts are released when they are just born, by this way the experts insure that the fish will be wild, with a minimum contact with the human being.

Rio Limay Marron

Ok, all the fish you can find in Patagonia┤s rivers are: Landlocked Salmon (Salmo Salar Sebago). The first litter of smolts were taken from Sebago Lake, Maine, USA. Brown Trout (Salmo Trutta), the first eggs were from Germany. There are also sea run browns, found mostly in Tierra Del Fuego┤s rivers. Brook Trout, (Salvenius Fontinalis,)imported from USA and Canada. Lake Trout (Salvenius Namaychush), Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), from California the first eggs. In the Santa Cruz River many of the rainbows are running to the sea, so they are a kind of steelhead.

Rio Galleogoes

We are very happy for this new 'partner'. Pacific Salmon (Oncorhynchus spp). They come from the Pacific ocean, crossing the Andes. They are found in Corcovado River and Futaleufu River too.

Perca (Percichtys spp): This is a native fish. It is like a bass with an average weight of 1-2 lbs. It takes all kind of flies. Pejerrey Patagˇnico (Odontesthes microlepidotus). This fish is native too. In the northern province its fishing is really popular and people catch them with bait. In Patagonia they are mostly in lakes and ponds but it's usual to find them in rivers too. It is really fun to fish for them with dries and nymphs. We also have Pejerrey bonaerense (Odontesthes bonariensis) and Carp (Cyprinus carpio).

There are also a lot of small fish that are the common food for bigger trouts and salmons, they are: little catfish, puyen and peladillas.

Ok, now you know what you can catch in Patagonia so I imagine you want to know how to catch them.

Rod, reel and lines: I guess no angler can fish all of Patagonia┤s rivers and lakes perfectly with just one gear, but if you want to carry only one rod, you should have a 6 wt., 8 1/2 to 9 foot with a medium or medium fast action in your luggage. I think this is the best all rounder rod for the Patagonia, but if you want to carry many other rods, Patagonia allows you to use rods from 0 wt. up to 8 wt. With 0 wt. to 3 wt. rods you will be able to fish small creeks and midge hatches in ponds and lakes. 4 wt. to 6 wt. rods are suitable for fishing in larger streams and to deliver streamers or weighted nymphs, split-shots, strike indicators, etc. The 7 wt. or 8 wt. rods are mostly used for fishing in big rivers or a river┤s mouth (the famous Bocas), places where you need to cast a big, bulky fly very far. On the Bocas it's common to need a 30-45 yard cast in extreme windy conditions so you must have a vigorous rod for that job.

For reels I prefer disc drag reels for rods from 4 wt. and bigger. You should have it at least 75 yards of 20 lbs. test backing in each spool.

Ok, let┤s talk a bit about fly lines. If you want to fish with great success along different types of waters here, I think you should have at least: a floating line, a slow sinking shooting line (Type II), an extra fast sinking shooting line (Type IV) and a line like a Teeny T-series, Cortland Quick Descent, Orvis Depth Charge or Rio Density Compensated.

This is the basic arsenal, it will help you to fish in almost all rivers, lakes and ponds but if you want you can add a sinking tip (10 feet tip, Type III) and a intermediate fly line, and if you like to fish in lakes a WF full sinking (type III) line would help too. As you can see I named Shooting Taper Lines. This lines are very popular here and are really useful too. With them you can make long distance shoots even in extreme conditions with a little effort and it has enough power to deliver really big flies.

With these lines (ST) forget a light presentation because that is not their mission in this world. They are designed just for distance-gain or windy fishing days. This lines are really short (30 foot) so you need to add a running line. Here plays your skill to handle this type of lines. We use it with 12 lb. (most experienced anglers) or 20 lb. test Amnesia nylon as a running line. If you never fished with this kind of system try a Cortland or SA .27 or .29 running line, these kind of running lines are easier to handle than the amnesia nylon.

Now, about flies. The Patagonia angler is a real fan of streamers and bucktails. I don┤t know if this is for their great efficiency with big fish or because they are easier to be fished than nymph or dries and it is a good technique for beginner anglers. So if you want to come here, please do not forget your streamer boxes. I will give you a brief description of the most effective patterns in Patagonia┤s trout streams.

Sportsman's Muddler

  • Streamers: -Marabou muddler (olive, white, black or yellow) is a great pattern in these waters. Try them in #2 to #10 size hooks. Woolly buggers are a must, the real work horse in Patagonia. All olive, brown or black woolies work great in almost all streams and lakes. Also yellow and orange woollies work well in many rivers. Tie them in #2-#12 hooks. The bead head wooly buggers and crystal buggers are very efficient patterns too. Matukas are good too. Try them in grizzly, black, olive or brown. The old but still current Muddler Minnow is a good pattern too. Tie them in #2- #12 hooks.
    Rabbit We use a kind of zonker, we call it Rabbit. Is the same fly but instead the weighted braided body, we use a thin chenille body, #4-#10 are the most effective sizes. The best wing colors are: black, natural, olive, white, gray. The body color is your choice but remember you are trying to imitate a bait fish. The black/orange, white/orange, olive/orange are great combinations in big, fast current rivers. This fly is tied (and has a great success too) also with muddler heads or with wool hair heads to match some small fishes like puyenes or little catfish.

    Catfish Fly

  • Bucktails: Are very useful in fast current rivers. The best patterns are the Mickey Finn, Blonde (honey blonde, white blonde, black blonde), the Clouser┤s Minnow work well too. Hi-Ti patterns are also good. Try these patterns in #2-#10 hooks.

    Chimehuin Fly

  • Nymphs: In Argentina┤s trout streams the variety of aquatic insects is not as wide as in Northern Hemisphere, so you will need a reduced number of artificial nymphs as your basic arsenal. The patterns I will tell you are well known the world over so they are classic patterns in all trout streams. For mayflies: Prince #8-#22, Pheasant Tail (peacock herl thorax) #14-#22, Carrot #8 -#18, Hare┤s Ear (natural and olive) #6 - #18. You can try the bead head variation of some patterns. Some floating nymph (specially with the shape of a pheasant tail) work great as emergents. For caddis: The Skunk hair caddis #4 -#8 is the best pattern for cased caddis larvas.

    For swimming larvas try them in curved hooks (like Daiichi 1150) in size #12 to #18. The best patterns are pale green body with a brown or black thorax and cream body with a brown thorax. Also tie these same larva patterns with the addition of a bead head. As pupas the Soft hackle pattern (Partridge and Yellow) is great. I use with good success the La Fontaine┤s Sparkle Pupa series too. For stoneflies: these kinds of insects are really rare in these waters. You can find the big stone flies only in rivers with fast current and big stones on the bottom. In deep pools you can use large stone nymphs as attractors and they work really good. Charles Brook┤s Montana, Kauffman┤s stone patterns and especially those big bugs with rubber legs are great for this kind of fishing.

    Of course you have to add some midges, damsel and dragon flies patterns if you want to do lake fishing.

  • Dry Flies: I┤m not an expert in dry fly fishing so I try to use only some attractor patterns like Irresistible, Royal Wulff, Madame X, Trude, Yellow Humpy, Stimulators in sizes #8 - #14 and they work great even with selective trouts. If you think that this is not enough and you want to enjoy great dry fly fishing, add patterns like Adams, Comparaduns, BWO, Black gnats, damsel and dragon patterns, Griffith gnats, No-hackle patterns. For the sizes just match the nymph sizes I mentioned before. For caddis dries, the Elk Hair caddis is the best pattern, with gray, cream, tan or black body. The King┤s River caddis is a good pattern too for slow moving waters.

    If you come here in late summer you must add some patterns to match some terrestrials, like ants, crickets, hoppers and a kind of worm who lives in the willows, this worm is fluorescent green.

    Before you leave, please remember that Patagonia is a whirling disease free area, so if you have fished in infected waters please buy or try to borrow new waders and boots.

    Rolling Flies

    Well, I think this is all for this week. Now you have an idea of what you need if you want to come and fish in these nice waters. The third article will have a basic entomology report so you can tie more accurate patterns and it will include a nice fishing tale. ~ Alejandro Martello (aka Ale)

    For more on fishing South America visit Ale's website!

    More South American Fly Fishing:

    Peacock Bass in Brazil (Brasil)
    Dorados in Argentina
    Argentine Patagonia - Introduction
    Argentine Patagonia - Part 2
    Argentine Patagonia - Part 3
    Argentine Patagonia - Part 4
    Argentine Patagonia - Part 5
    Argentine Patagonia - Part 6
    A True Chilean Adventure
    Futaleufu, Chile, Part 1
    Futaleufu, Chile, Part 2

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