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Was our report last month on peacock bass fishing in South America (see pages 6-8) too slanted toward hardware fishermen? That’s the opinion of Tom Spang at Frontiers (*). At our request, Spang put his objections – “amplifications,” he calls them – into a fax, which we reproduce herewith. “I’ve just read your interesting peacock bass article in last month’s issue and I have a few comments on it that may be of interest to your fly fishing subscribers. I’ve fished with the author of that report, Larry Larsen, and he is indeed an expert on peacock bass. However, he is not a fly fisherman and, because of that, I think he underestimates the extent to which these fish can be taken on fly tackle.

“For starters, he says anglers typically catch 95 percent of their fish on the surface using loud, commotion-causing lures whose action cannot be duplicated with fly tackle. Actually, fly fishermen tend to take most of their peacocks on streamers below the surface with sinking-tip lines. To be sure, that means fly fishermen often miss the excitment of surface strikes, but that loss is more than made up by the number of fish they entice to hit. I have personally seen fly fishermen outfish surface-lure hardware anglers by a wide margin, catching not just more fish but bigger ones as well. To be sure, fly rod anglers also do well at times on the surface using fly rod poppers…. As for the size of fly rod needed for peacocks, I do not agree with Larsen that a 10 or 11-weight is essential. I fish an eight or nine-weight all the time and my five-foot four-inch wife Caroline casts her eight-weight all day. I’d never recommend that a fly angler use anything heavier than a nine-weight on peacock bass. You simply don’t need anything heavier than that.

“What the would-be peacock fly rodder does need on a peacock bass trip is an experienced camp manager or master guide who thoroughly understands fly fishing, and who has drilled his boatmen on its requisites, including correctly positioning the fishing craft. Fly anglers should make sure their booking agents send them where fly fishing is emphasized at least equally with baitcasting or spinning and where master guides can instruct and demonstrate to first-timers the effective techniques and the best-taking patterns. That is what Frontiers has been doing for several years now. At this point, well over half of the firm’s peacock bass anglers are fly fishermen, and the percentage is increasing.

“Frontiers’ prime peacock bass fly fishing destination right now is the Rio Branco and some of its tributaries in Brazil’s Amazon Basin. The water here is usually clear enough to make sight-fishing possible, which adds greatly to the excitement. The fish here range into the ‘teens, with 20-plus-pounders not unusual. The American camp manager Frontiers has installed speaks Portuguese and is a master guide with years of peacock bass fly fishing experience. He’s also an expert fly tier, able to craft the peacocks’ favored patterns on the spot.

“In sum, I enjoyed your article on peacock bass and I am glad to see this wonderful fishery finally getting some good ink. Please take my amplifying comments on the fly fishing side of this fishery in the friendly spirit they are intended.”

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