DIY Fly Fishing Argentina: Patagonia Dry Flies…Go Small Amigos!

How to search this blog for helpful information?  Use the blog search engine and type in key words such as Float Trip, Walk-Wade, Float Tube, Lessons, Pesos, Fy Rods, Flies, Best Months, etc.  The search engine is located on the right side, j…

How to search this blog for helpful information?  Use the blog search engine and type in key words such as Float Trip, Walk-Wade, Float Tube, Lessons, Pesos, Fy Rods, Flies, Best Months, etc.  The search engine is located on the right side, just below the weather.  FYI, there are over 100 post about fishing Patagonia... the information you are looking for, is probably on this blog. Thanks.

Based on my experience, the majority of anglers visiting Patagonia will use dry flies, day after day. The dry flies of choice tend to be the big exotic types.  They work, but not in all situations/conditions. For instances, when examining water temperature, elevation, humidity, hatch, feeding patterns, and light; at times, I would argue that a set of dry flies in the #18-#24 size would be a better choice. Allow me to explain.

We offer several DIY float/camping programs, but we also specialize in DIY walk-wade programs. Regardless of our program you may find yourself in a situation/condition where the big exotic dry fly will not work.  In fact, it might be the worse choice, and ruin your chance of catching a trophy fish. Let's brief talk situation and conditions:

Situation & Condition

  • On many of our DIY walk-wade programs we are fishing early A.M., which generally means temps are cool.   From my experience, you'll do much better with small dries.  My personal favorites are a variety of caddis flies with CDC, ranging from #18-#22. I also come to Patagonia with a variety of standard Elk Hair Caddis.  Bleached, brown/cinnamon will work perfect. 
  • If your fortunate to find trout sipping flies, perhaps behind a Willow, and if you can get a good cast/drift, think small!  
  • Reverse Water Flow/Eddies: I have had good success using an Airlflow poly-leader (hover or intermediate sink). Before using this technique, I study the flow of the water and the feeding habit/cycle of the trout; then I make the decision to use a poly-leader or not.  
  • On our 2 day/1 night float-camp on the lower Chimehuin, we have plenty of time to stop and explore side channels. These side channels (mini-aquariums) can be filled with HUGE fish. From my experience, they will not take a big dry fly; in fact, you'll spook them.  Again, think small.  Your biggest challenge will not be picking the right dry fly, it will be controlling your breathing, body movement (presentation) and praying that you 5X-6X tippet will hold the 4-8lbs trout that you are stalking.  In such tight quarters, I have gotten my fanny kicked many times! 

There is no way this trout would take anything less than #18.  In fact, in this situation, a #18 is a BIG fly... I got lucky :)

Final Word

As the only DIY outfitter in Patagonia, competing in a market dominated by lodges and global sales agents, we know we are the fly on the elephant's ass... a small fly, size #20!  In the world of big exotic dry flies, we know the majority of anglers may question and doubt the information that we share.  We know anglers gossip and may discredit our advice and the services that we provide. Honestly, we are more than OK with this.  We like doing things differently, and more importantly, our clients love it.

As always, thanks for reading and hope to see you Patagonia.

Abrazos Amigos,


DIY Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: Pack your Parachute!

We live in a fly-fishing industry that is constantly trying to re-invent itself.  In other words, new equipment and gear are introduced every 3 to 5 years.  Why?  Bottom line, manufacturer’s need to hold an audience and make money. &nbsp…

We live in a fly-fishing industry that is constantly trying to re-invent itself.  In other words, new equipment and gear are introduced every 3 to 5 years.  Why?  Bottom line, manufacturer's need to hold an audience and make money.  Personally, I have some critical opinions about some of the newly introduced equipment; however, I have no problem with companies making every effort to be innovative and maximize gross profit dollars.  In the end, for my personal needs, I counter the industry blitz of flash and glitter with old fashion thinking.  Say what?

In general, with the average Joe, thinking gets me into a whole lot of trouble.  From my experience, conforming is safe and by far, more popular.  To think, by creating your own opinion based on your experience, thus, becoming an individual, is a dangerous proposition and does not win the popular vote.  So, the question is: do you follow the industry, or do you create your own path?

If you have read a small portion of this blog and my post, you should instantly know that I am a thinker and I do things differently.  Let's take for example, the choice of flies I use in Patagonia. Allow me to frame the discussion: Small Classic Dry Flies vs. Exotic BIG Dry Flies.  

When you talk Patagonia fishing, BIG dry flies dominate the conversation.  Here are some facts:

  • They work. At times, I am not sure why, but when in Rome...
  • Can be great tool (indicator) for a dry-dropper combo.
  • At the fly shop, they are expensive.
  • You don't need to be a good caster...chuck and duck; sooner or later you you'll hook-up.
  • They are bulky and demand larger fly boxes.
  • They all work; some better than others.
  • Rubber legs are sexy and anglers swear by them.
  • Most anglers have no clue about the theory/design of their BIG dry flies. Again, they work and that's all that counts.
  • Good vision: you can see them.
  • For some, it can be challenging and more expensive to tie on the vise.

For the record, I use BIG dry flies, but I do so on a very-very limited basis.  Actually, in Patagonia, I believe you can catch BIG fish on small classic dry flies.  In the Patagonia fishing community, this statement makes me an outcast, but allow me to explain why:

  • In Patagonia, whether you are walking or drifting, there are thousands of locations that a BIG dry fly will put down a fish! Flopping and splashing a BIG dry fly is the best recipe for ZERO fish to the net!
  • At the fly shop, they are inexpensive.
  • To reach tight spots, you must be a good caster.  In my opinion, the use of these flies, over time, makes you a better caster.
  • Allows for lighter tippet in spooky H2O.
  • They do not take up much space.  I travel to the river each day with two small/thin fly boxes that fit in my shirt pocket.  There is no need to carry any more flies/boxes.
  • No rubber legs = easy to tie your preferred knot (those rubbers legs can drive me crazy).
  • Using smaller, classic flies, forces me to think about the macro-invertebrates in the water and the feeding patterns of the fish.
  • At times, visibility can be very challenging.
  • For some, it can be easier and less expensive to tie on the vise.

One of my favorite Patagonia dry flies is the Parachute Adams.  Size 10-20.  See below for results.
In the corner of the mouth, can you see the PA?  On this day, all on a Parachute Adams, I caught six trout between 18" and 22". The PA was delicately placed into areas about the size of a hockey puck, between rocks, in soft water.  What a thrill!

Final Word

As I evolve as an angler, I find myself focusing on my casting technique, presentation skills, and placing small dry flies in extremely tight spots.  Compared to the chuck and duck world of BIG flies, in my opinion, this process is extremely challenging.  In other words, I would much rather prefect a 30ft cast, that puts my fly in a 2" square area, than to blind cast like a buffoon, at 60-80ft.

The next time you go fishing, whether it's Patagonia or just down the street, I encourage you to focus on efficient short distance cast's, with small classic dry flies, in tight spots. If you do, two things will happen:  1) you'll quickly discover your true casting skill level; 2)  regardless of the quantity or size of the fish caught, I think you will find the process, both challenging and rewarding.

Suerte Amigos (good luck friends).

Thanks for reading and hope to see you in Patagonia.