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Best Traveling Flies

September 23, 2011
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Q: “I have been saltwater fly-fishing for quite a while and am considering some trips out of the country. What advice would you give me about flies I should take?”

Stan Jefferson
Atlanta, Georgia

A: Contact your travel agent or the lodge, and they can supply you with the needed patterns. Obviously you don’t want bonefish patterns if you are after sailfish or barracuda.

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Having traveled much of the planet, I learned years ago to always take along some flies other than those recommended, but in a variety of sizes. Included would be Clousers, Surf Candies and popping bugs.

I’ll cite one example why. Years ago Bob Clouser and I visited Casa Mar, the famed tarpon camp in northeast Costa Rica. We were loaded with standard tarpon and snook flies. Once we arrived at the camp, we were told the tarpon fishing had been slow but should pick up. Bill Barnes, the camp owner, said: “Here are some 4-weight fly rods — go catch some small snook. They are going crazy right now on chee chees [tiny baitfish] that swarm by the millions into the river system this time of year.”

We cruised the shoreline until we saw 12- to 16-inch snook crashing into the chee chees exploding above the surface in showers to escape. Tying on 1-inch Clousers, we caught snook on almost every cast. Those small snook felt like tigers when fought with those fragile trout rods. We were two experienced tarpon fishermen using light 4-weight rods and 1-inch flies — and enjoying one of our best tarpon treks. Had we not brought those small flies, my companion and I would have missed a highlight of the trip.

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