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Do you allow IGFA leaders for fly fishing?

Question:

I liked your site I would like to try and arrange a trip for myself to your lakes. I am thinking of a five-day fishing trip, but I do not know the times of the flights so that might be six or seven nights. I have had six trips to the Amazon trying to land an arapaima on a fly. I have seen a few but never gotten one to take a fly. Your lake looks like the answer. Do you allow IGFA leaders? What is the best time of year to try for the arapaima? Do you have guides who have dealt with fly fishermen before? Also your Siamese carp look like they could be a handful on a 12-weight. Also what airport do I fly into? Do you have transportation available to and from the airport?

Thank you,
Bill from United States of America.

Stuart’s answer:

Hi Bill,

Many thanks for your enquiry, and glad you like our website. I have given you a price for a five-day fishing trip. I think for sure you would need six nights, so as you get over the long flight I have added an additional day’s fishing costs and an additional night’s accommodation costs in case you decide the flight could warrant longer. There is a lot to do here other than the fishing – there are some spectacular sights, etc. We have a good head of arapaima in the lake but the casting can be awkward due to the landscaping.

The best time of year to target arapaima on the fly are April through to mid December. The arapaima do not like the hotter months January to March, so the cooler conditions are perfect for fly fishing. Don’t get me wrong; they get caught at all times of the year, but that is when I think your best chance would be on a fly .

I can guide you at the start of your trip, as I am a fanatical fly fisherman, and I have caught many arapaima on the fly along with lots of other species. When I am busy elsewhere my son or other lads will guide you; they spend every day out on the lake, and although they do not fly fish very often their knowledge of the fish and their location is second to none.

The airport to fly to would be Krabi, but as it is a small airport you would need to come in via Bangkok or Malaysia, both of which are 1 hour 20 minutes away. We include in our prices transfers from and return to Krabi airport, which is 25 minutes from us.

Our arapaima are suckers for a fly big fry patterns dressed on 4/0 hooks with a slow retrieve. We insist on a 12-weight outfit; you will not manage on a 10-weight, the real big boys are 200kg and take so long to land that it puts them in danger.

My personal views on IGFA leaders is that I think the rule sucks. Why they have all class records then restrict fly anglers to 20lb tippets is beyond my thinking! When fishing for arapaima it is sight casting, and we do not weigh them because weighing them will kill them. (They are such a fragile fish considering they have been on the planet for three million years and grow so big). Therefore we state a minimum of 35lb line for the fishes’ safety. You need to be able to put maximum pressure on them – when arapaima are stressed and frightened they sulk on the bottom, and then it is a case of getting them moving before they drown, so you need those extra pounds in the line to budge them.

We do not claim arapaima records here, as they are the countries in the Amazon basin’s national fish, and many people feel the record should stay with a wild fish. We do not wish to rock the boat as the IGFA could become strict with impoundment-caught records, especially with imported species such as arapaima. Although arapaima have been in Thailand for around 35 years they are not indigenous to Thailand. I am actually happy to go along with these views, as our arapaima are rare and precious; we would never allow a fish to die just for a certificate and our fishery in a record book. Our big arapaima have been grown on here over many years; they are some of the biggest in the world, and if handled correctly they will get bigger and give many anglers the experience of a lifetime for years to come. For the arapaima here I personally use 44lb Seaguar fluorocarbon straight through.

We do weigh the rest of our species if they could possibly be close to IGFA record sizes. We have many potential fly records here but the IGFA rules clash with ours; we do have at least 14 all-tackle records lurking in our lake. The easy fish to target here are red tail catfish, which we have in excess of 45kg, and also sorubim over 30kg, both of which will break current fly records for the species. There are many other fish species that are bigger here than most other places, and I am sure a good fly fisher could break records here. I have personally broken many, but do not claim them as the doubters in the world, of which unfortunately there are many, would say the claims were false.

You mentioned Siamese carp on the fly, to my knowledge only Jean-Francois Helias has achieved this, so what a challenge these beasts are! They come up for floating baits, so big dry flies would work, or muddler-type patterns. I have also caught Mekong catfish on fly, try a white cats whisker pattern on a very slow figure of eight retrieve. To be honest Bill, there are so many possibilities here you should come and try.
We also allow wading the lake margins to fish alongside the floating weedbeds.

As it is the tropics you can either go barefoot, as we have no sharp objects, just sand and clay bottom, or use wading shoes. I hope our rules on arapaima do not put you off, and hopefully you will choose to fish with us.
Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Best regards,
Stuart.