We've tested many rods on the Rio Grande and Rio Gallegos. For a single-handed rod, we've found a 9, 91/2 or
10 footer for a No. 8 line to be the perfect setup for covering the water playing the fish comfortably. A
rod of this size makes casting easy with the normal downstream southwest wind, while an 8 or 9-
weight helps you to drive your line into a contrary wind when necessary. Given the rivers moderate flow and generally even gravel bottom, you'll find an 8 or 9 capable of doing battle
with even the river's largest sea trout (15 to 25 plus lbs.), while it insures the most action
with smaller sea trout (4 9 lbs.). Light two handed rods are increasingly popular and allow
anglers to cast a comfortable line with less effort, particularly on windy days. Mending and
controlling line is also easier with a 2-hander. We encourage you to bring one of 13 to 15
feet for a 9-11weight line. If you are new to 2-handers, our guides are expert instructors and
will help you learn quickly. It makes sense to bring a back-up rod as well.
A quality reel is crucial for playing big sea trout. A strong, smooth drag is a must. Reels (and
spare spools) should have capacity for the fly line and 100 yards of 20 pound backing. A reel may be more important than the rod!
To be well prepared for Tierra del Fuego, anglers should include at least three lines to
accommodate variance in water levels and wind conditions. Weight forward fly lines are
generally used on the Rio Grande. Floating lines are typically most useful in low water
conditions and during early morning and evening hours, when sea trout are inclined to be nearer
the surface. Also a sinking shooting taper is very important.The Teeny T-200 and T-300 lines
have proven to be excellent, and at least one or both of these lines should be considered as
must-bring items. Sinking tips, and sinking poly-leaders are also used a lot. Intermediate lines
are also effective in some conditions.
Even experienced anglers often find their running line snarls when buffeted by wind. Prevailing
southwest winds can be "harnessed" by roll casting or spey casting, which eliminates the need to
backcast - difficult with a trailing wind. We found that a simple roll cast carries even large
streamers 35 to 50 feet across and downstream, or far enough to cover the holding lies.
Weight forward lines can be roll cast effectively by stripping and shooting line during the
Experience on the Rio Grande indicates that sea trout aren't particularly leader shy. While
reasonable stealth should be exercised, your chief concern is to bring monofilament in sizes
that will turn over the array of fly sizes and patterns you'll be using. Spools of mono should
include 15, 12 and 10 lbs breaking strengths. Whilst fishing sinking lines, made-up leaders
aren't necessary since a few feet of mono will do fine. Maxima Ultra-green is a good choice as it
has plenty of stretch a factor worth considering when the sea-trout of a lifetime hits your fly!
While fishing, be sure to check your mono regularly for casting knots and abrasions, and after
each fish caught test your leader knots. For floating lines it's good to have knotless tapered
leaders from 9 to 12 feet with 0X tippets.
Flies: We have assortments in $50, $100, $150 and $200 sizes designed specifically for this destination, order online now! Some fly patterns as well as a modest supply of back-up tackle will be available for purchase
at the lodge, but plan to take a good selection.
Sea run brown trout are mysterious fish. The only constant in their tastes seems to be a
penchant for black, and the trout that accepted your small salmon patterns today may demand
flies with white rubber legs tomorrow. Historically, most Rio Grande fish were taken on large
streamers, perhaps because those were the patterns most used. In low water conditions,
however, more large sea trout are taken on smaller wets, nymphs and dry flies. We suggest
packing a range of flies in various patterns and sizes, and urge frequent changes when one
combination of line and fly isn't working, depending on light conditions, water levels, and
especially on your guide's advice. Barbless hooks are strongly encouraged. Double and treble
hooks are not permitted.
Basic working fly list:
Collie Dog tube flies (31/2 -41/2" long, both aluminum and copper bodies, with hard plastic
tubing and #4 wide-gape hooks)
Bunny leech, Zonker, Woolly Bugger (black/olive), articulated string leech types, with
electric blue flash, on #2-4 hooks
Peacock (now a staple on Rio Grande, tied on #2-4 hooks)
Girdle or Yuk Bug rubber legs (#4-12)
Bitch Creek nymphs (orange and black for preference, #4-12)
Bead head nymphs (Prince, Hare's Ear, etc. #10-14)
Traditional Atlantic Salmon Flies
Bombers or other waking dry flies (natural deer hair, black&green on #4-8 hooks), for use
drifted or with a Portland hitch
Include 11/2 2 inch tube flies if you have them, as tubes can be very effective on the Rio
Also, take any large, dark trout or salmon fly in which you have confidence. Fishing a fly
that has worked for you in the past, and in which you have confidence, is half the battle.
Note: Larger streamers should be weighted and all should be tied on heavy hooks with good
gaps. Treble & Double hooks are not allowed on the Rio Grande.
Wading isn't difficult on the Rio Grande. However, we recommend chest waders for warmth, to
get to that occasionally fished cut bank, and to manage deeper water when crossing the river.
Capilene fleece pants are a must worn under Gore-tex waders, given that water temperatures
can be in the 40's (F). Thick wool or capilene fleece socks are also a must, and long johns
might also be required.
The river's gravel bottom isn't mossy but you might find that the security of felt soles aids in
concentrating on casting and playing fish by keeping your mind off your feet. So a good pair of
wading boots are a must, with felt soles or rubber cleats .
Gravel guards and be sure to bring a wading belt.
A wading staff is optional, but can come in handy during very windy days
The summer climate of this southernmost region of South America is extremely changeable, and
a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions should be expected. We recommend
layering clothing, enabling you to add or subtract garments during the day. Pack Polar fleece
jackets, thermal underwear, Polar neck, wool socks and a wool cap to be prepared for the
extreme. Flannel or chamois cloth shirts and Polar Fleece are ideal for the stream, although you'll
no doubt change to something lighter while in the lodge. Also take a reliable wind stopper/rain
jacket. Gore Tex is excellent. Its waterproof yet breathes and so is comfortable on sunny,
windy afternoons. Simms Gore-Tex and Patagonia SST wading jackets are popular. Most first-time
visitors are surprised at how dry this region is, more reminiscent of Wyoming than of Scotland.
Attire in the lodge is casual. Neat but casual is also the dress style in Buenos Aires. Laundry
service is available at the lodge.
Equipment and Gear Buying Guide
Always buy 4 or 5 piece rods - they are so much easier to pack and the technology in making ferrules means you cant' feel the joints anymore. Whether it is the latest and greatest evolution of graphite or technology that is 5- 10 years old, modern rods are a pleasure to cast.
I use large arbor reels for saltwater and fresh water. The retrieval rate is awesome and it helps the drag maintain a consistent pressure while a fish is running. ( The diameter doesn't change much as you lose line as it does on a standard arbor) There are some wonderful reels out there but the Mach Large Arbor is a great value, it is light, it is pretty, it is smooth and it doesn't cost a fortune!
Fly lines should be specific to the conditions - Broad categories include: Warm Water or Cold Water?, SaltWater or Fresh water? Lines can be full floating, full sinking, or partial sinking (sink tip). The tapers can vary infinite ways to help you throw different kinds of flies in different situations, or one taper may help you mend line easier than another. Almost every manufacture of high quality lines will offer a line for the specific species and purpose you are looking for.
I prefer to use fluorocarbon leaders for most of my fly fishing needs (salt or freshwater) as they have more abrasion resistance than standard monofilament.
I also always use fluorocarbon tippets for fresh and saltwater applications for it's invisible nature. Most of our destinations have pretty stupid fish but it still makes sense to use the most invisible tippet.
If you need flies for one of our trips we can provide you with a selection specific for the time of year and destination you are traveling to. We have assortments in $50, $100, $150 and $200 sizes designed specifically for this destination, order online now!