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Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is a popular activity nowadays, which adds members to its ranks each season. The amount of lakes and rivers in Southern Chile, as well as the quantity and variety of species in the water, make of Patagonia a paradise for those who practice this sport. Fly fishing is also known as "fishing with rat's tail" (pesca con cola de rata, in Spanish).

It is a non-competitive sport, in which who gets the more fish out of the water is not the objective. The purpose is to enjoy the surroundings, encounter peace, find the best specimen and send it back to its habitat in the best possible conditions. In Chile, you can find salmon, tuna, bonito, sawfish, pejerey, carps and trout.


In Patagonia, the special guest is the trout, which appears in big numbers and species in the lakes and rivers in the area. Some people have caught trout that are 14 pounds heavy. There are salmons living there as well, swimming against the current to go back to the place they were born.

Considering that many of the animals that live in Chile are exclusive, meaning that they exist mostly on this side of the world, here you can find a list of the most important types of trout that can be found in Patagonia.

Rainbow Trout: (Onchorhynchus mykiss) This fish is one of the most abundant in the country, and can be found in the central zone as well as in the Southern regions of Chile. It's a robust animal, but it has a short head. It is recognized because of its brown-green color in the top of its body, and the silver shades in the inferior part. There is a violet strip on its sides, with over a hundred scales and small black dots all over its head and body. It can be up to a meter long, and they grow up fairly fast, feeding on smaller animals (they're carnivorous). They reproduce on common water, but prefer deep lakes and torrential waters.

Brown Trout: (Salmo trutta) Smaller than the rainbow trout, the brown trout or Fario can be up to 80 cm. long. It has a long and large head, and its snout is round. It can be of various colors, but the upper part is always darker, in shades of green and brown. It has red and black marks on its sides, which most of the times are surrounded by a lighter shade. It lives in torrential waters, but can be found in the sea or in fiords in Southern Chile. Its preferred habitat, however, are lagoons, where the temperatures don't rise above the 20 degrees. It reproduces in common water, and they lay their eggs in autumn.

Brook Trout: (Salvenilus Fontinalis) This kind of trout only appears in the Magellan's Region. It is a compressed fish, with big mouth and round snout. It is green with yellow spots, its inferior part is of a light yellowish color, but it turns bright red when its time for reproduction. It's about 25 cm long, but can reach two feet, and some specimens found have been 14 pounds heavy. It can survive waters with temperatures under the 16 degrees, and they are demanding animals when it comes to their environment; the water they live in must be crystal clear. They lay their eggs in autumn.

Ironhead Salmon: This fish has the same characteristics as the Rainbow trout; they even share the same scientific name, shape and colors. The difference is that the Ironhead goes back to the sea and is able to lay eggs many times.

King Salmon: (Oncohynchus Tshawytscha) The King Salmon is a robust fish. It has a pointy head, a long snout and a twisted mouth in the shape of a hook, with strong teeth. It also has small eyes. It is grey, and it has spots in the upper part and on its tail. It can be 80 cm long. It is a carnivorous animal and it lives in cold waters, so it is mostly found in the southern areas of the country.

Silver Salmon: (Onchorhynchus Kisutch) it's a carnivorous fish that lives in cold water, so it is found in Southern Chile. Its body is compressed laterally. It has a big head, especially the adult males, and small eyes. Its mouth is oblique and deformed, also in the adult male, with its ends crooked upwards. The jawbone goes up behind the eye line. Males have black spots on top and on their tails; they're silver in the inferior part and on the tail. They can be up to 98 cm long and weight 10 pounds.

Atlantic Salmon: (Salmo Salar) This salmon is found in the Puerto Montt area, mainly. It is a robust fish, and the males have black marks shaped like a letter X on the superior part. It can weight 10 pounds. It is carnivorous and it lives in cold waters.


To practice fly fishing you need a fishing rod, leader-tippet, fishing real, lines, flies and backing. As additional equipment, you should always carry proper clothes, sun protector, a hat and sunglasses.

Fishing Rod: They're the most appreciated element for a fisherman, and many of them enjoy exhibiting their collection of different materials, colors and origin, to other fishermen. They are important because they are the ones which allow the fisherman to throw and give direction to the line to get the fish. Therefore, each fisherman must find the fishing rod that suits him or her most, according to its longitude and weight.

Fishing rods are sold in different numbers, which go from one to fifteen. Rods labeled with 1 are for smaller fish, while number 15 are used for bigger specimens and bigger water bodies, like rivers and the sea.

They are also constructed using different materials. They used to be made with bamboo, which is very flexible, but today its construction has been refined and most of them are made with fiber glass or graphite, which is lighter and more resistant, bringing a safer flexibility rate.

Hook (Leader-Tippet): It's the most important tool for someone who want to practice fly fishing, whom must have several types and numbers in their box. Its function is to tie the fly to its tip, in order to deceive the fish. It is see-through and it is made of nylon, mostly. Its literal translation is "tippet" but it is commonly known as hook.

Leaders are different from Tippets, the diameter and longitudes are not the same. An inch can be the difference between failure and success. The tippet's diameter is defined in inches and they are marked with a letter X.

Fishing Reel: It works to keep balance when you throw, to store the line and to produce tension when a fish decides to escape. You should have a spare reel, to use with different types of line, but the reel is able to work on its own. Its capacity depends more on the size and tenacity of the fish, which will fight to get rid of the fisherman by all means.

It has a pressure system which avoids the reel not to over spin when the fisherman throws the line, thus preventing the lines to tangle up and, also, to tire the fish with the pressure of the line while it tries to escape by swimming to the opposite side.

Lines: It's the one in charge of transporting the fly to the fish. It has three parts: the hook or leader, where the fly is tied up in; the line, which allows you to throw the fly; and the backing, which gives more extension to the line.

There are two type of line: the floating one, designed to use with dry flies, which float and imitate the form of dead insects; and the submersible one, which is heavier and goes underwater.

There are also lines which have different structures, like the Rock Taper (it has a bit of weight on the tip and it's fairly easy to throw. It's a category WF line), the Doble Taper (designed to fish in crooks and small rivers. Category DT), and the Shooting Taper (for distances, it also has weight on the tip. Category WT).

Flies: The perfect hook for this kind of fishing, made to imitate the insects that fish eat, the ones that attract them to the surface. Size, color and shape are important characteristics, which require dedication and craft for those who work to imitate them.

They're made out of feathers and fur. The head of the fly is right behind the hook, while the body occupies a bigger space on it. The abdomen sometimes creates a spiral, like the wings, which allows the fly to float on the water -in dry flies- or to imitate the legs of a real fly, in the case of a humid fly.

The flies are tied to the hook according to specific patterns, perfected by practice or taken out of books and conversations with other fishermen. Some patterns are a century old.

Trout, which is the main target for those who practice fly fishing, have defined patterns for reproduction, which makes them go back to a certain place to lay their eggs. That is when the fisherman has to go into their habitat to get them.

This type of fish, like salmons, feed on aquatic insects that live as larvae underwater. They're vulnerable when the wings begin to come out, which is the same time when fish take advantage and go feeding, in the surface as well as at the bottom of rivers and lakes.

Backing: It's the part of the fishing rod that makes sure your line doesn't escape. It is the longest part of the line, which is about 30 meters of reel, average. Sometimes you need more longitude when it comes to the lines, to fight against big fish.

The rest of the equipment consists of clothes appropriate for water, which is usually made out of PVC, neoprene or another impermeable material. Besides, you need to protect your skin from the sun, so you should add the following to the list: hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.


This sport develops as people and places get added to the list to practice it. That is how there are different styles to fish, and in this case we'll talk about fly fishing, which has specific rules to it.

The best well known style is "catch and release", which is a style for general fishing, but that is very popular in fly fishing. It means that once you catch a fish, you should release it immediately into its habitat, so it can continue to live. Those who practice fly fishing, in general, are committed to preserve the environment, so they understand the importance in this part of the activity.

On the other hand, there are specific regulations for catch and release that varies from country to country. In Argentina, for example, the book of rules states that all fish captured must be released into their habitat, unless there is a sign that states the opposite. It can happen, although it isn't common, so it is worth to consult about the rules each country has created when it comes to fly fishing.


Every fisherman has their own style, their own technique to share with other fishermen or anybody who is interested in fly fishing.

The general technique of this activity means to project the decoy when the fishing rod is moved, so it is passed to the line. The movement is based on the line, not on the fly. To throw the decoy, you need a flexible and light fishing rod.

The decoy is the one used to attract the fish. To achieve this the decoys imitate insects, in nymph form, which can be dry or humid, trying to mock nature as much as possible to trick the fish in lakes and rivers, as well as in the sea.

There are several types and their use will depend on the depth at which fish live in the lake or river you have chosen, if they are found near the bottom or closer to the surface.

Fishing with dry flies: The decoy floats above water, just as insects do when they fall into the water and can't fly again. To get this effect, they are made with fur and feathers, which help the decoy stay afloat. The most popular dry flies are known as Elk Hair Caddis, Adams and Royal Wulff.

Fishing with Streamers: It's the easiest one to use, so it is recommended for those who are beginning to practice fly fishing. It is shaped to imitate small fish or shellfish, insects and smaller animals that are part of the trout's diet. The most popular ones are Wooly Bugger, Marabou Muddler y Zonker.

Fishing with Nymphs: It imitates the shape of fly larvae while they're at their aquatic form. It is the thickest decoy, with less fur and feathers, so it can go underwater. The nymphs used are Hare's Ear, Woolly Worm y Zug Bug.

To be successful with these articles and choosing the right one for each occasion, you need to practice, practice and then practice some more. It is recommended to read a lot, to go into the fly fishing world and exchange ideas and advices with others. Fans of this activity consider it an art, saying that it is the purest form of fishing where men and animal face each other in the most basic form.


We've already said that fishing needs practice, experience, gathering data and suggestions from other fishermen and from personal trips, to develop an activity which brings together men and nature.

To be successful in practice, you need to know a lot about the activity itself. The water, the place you choose, the type of fish in the water, these are all things you need to consider so you can predict movements and be always one step ahead in difficult situations.

To begin, we describe sectors or areas that you can find while fishing in a river, for example. There is the pool, which is a deep area of fast water at the beginning and end, but quite in the middle part. You also can find riffles, which separate a pool from another, are not very deep but are moody at the surface.

Then, there are pocket waters, which have big stones in them, which make the water break abruptly. Finally, there are under banks, which are formed by the riffles forming a hole in the middle.

Now that we know the sectors you can find when you're in a river, we can talk about trout in general, which is the main objective for those who go fly fishing.

The trout, especially the ones in rivers, in an animal which needs a determined habitat to develop and reproduce. It's a picky animal, and the water must have a certain temperature for it to live there, and it must be crystal clear as well. They usually pick rivers with strong currents, to find food there and, also, to be able to hide from predators or get rest while they wait for food to go their way. It is also a nervous fish, which has two sensors that let it know of danger around: its vision and its lateral system, where it has vibration sensors.

At the same time, it is necessary to know about the surface of the water, before throwing the line, to anticipate the movement of the hook will have in it, if it'll catch a fish or not. The best way to do it is to throw it at an angle of 90 degrees, river down, so the fly in the hook swims with the current towards the trout, which is waiting for food in the current.

The wade, which means tipping the rod to tense the line, must be done only once the animal has bitten the fly, not before because then the fish will spit the hook immediately.

When it comes to fighting with the trout, once it has bitten the hook, it is only recommended to fight with bigger specimens, they resist more time and in better shape. Smaller trout will have less opportunity of ending the fight alive if you fight them for too long.

The less time you manipulate the fish, better opportunities it will have to survive. The fly, if it does not come out easily, can be taken out by grabbing the fish with your hand, so you don't hurt it. You must get your hands wet and take out the protection, grab the fish by its abdomen, without squeezing it or putting your fingers near its gills, which allow it to breathe. You take the hook out and put the fish back into the water.

If the fish is floating on its side, you must try to revive it immediately. You do that by grabbing it by its tail, with its head looking river up, so the water can go in through its mouth and come out through its gills.


This is a list of places you can go to practice fly fishing in Patagonia, in rivers and lakes. We'll show you lakes first.