Fly Fishing for Peacock Bass
There is no more exiting quarry for the fly fisherman than the wild and brutish peacock bass. This is where subtlety and finesse meet sheer physical power - a true test of tackle and techniques. Here are some general guidelines:
Patterns -Extra-large streamers fished on a sinking line are generally most productive (not only in terms of overall numbers of peacocks, but for larger-sized fish as well). We highly recommend Sidewinder's Peacock Rattle Fly. Other popular streamers include 6-inch (5/0) bicolored, heavily-dressed bucktails in red/yellow, olive/white and red/white. Big Deceivers, Bunnies, Saltwater Zonkers, Clousser Minnows and other flashy baitfish imitations all take fish. All patterns should have generous amounts of matching Flashabou or Crystal Flash. Big saltwater poppers are exciting to fish, but can be extremely exhausting to cast and retrieve for a prolonged period. Also, fish over 10-pounds are difficult to coax to the surface with fly rod poppers. Only extremely-large (6-inches or larger) sliders and poppers will bring up trophy fish. Gaines saltwater poppers in red/yellow and pearl/olive hold up well and are hard to beat in terms of their 'action' in the water. 'Sliders' are productive in clear water situations. Popovic's 'Siliclone Mullet' in olive and white is effective. Fly shade is just as important as color, depending upon light conditions. For this reason have an adequate selection of light and dark patterns. We recommend that you bring at least two dozen streamers (half light, half dark) and several poppers. Hooks should be razor sharp -- dull hooks significantly reduce hookup rate. Flies can be obtained from www.Tackle-Box.net
Fly rods should be fast action models, because they load sinking lines more efficiently and generally have more 'backbone' than softer models. Bring at least two fly rods, because rods can break under the 'jungle stress.' Reels don't need to hold a lot of backing because peacocks don't make long runs, but a smooth, strong drag is essential. Recommended 'heavy' fly rod & reel combinations: A 9-weight rod is first choice but you can be OK with any stiff/fast action, 9-foot, eight, nine or ten - weight rod (Sage 990-3RPLX or G. Loomis FR1088-4) with Scientific Anglers 'System 2 -89' or G. Loomis reel. Recommended 'medium' fly rod & reel combination (for floating lines): A stiff/fast action, 9-foot, seven or eight-weight rod (G. Loomis GL3 or GLX) + matched reel.
Sink tip lines are much more effective for streamers than floating lines. Don't bring just any old sink tip line. A Teeny '250 T-Series/Sinking line or a Rio 24-foot 300-grain Density Compensated line (these lines can be fished on anything from an 8 to 10 weight rod - although a 9 weight is just right) are our top choices. If you like, bring a floating line for poppers and sliders but be aware that big fish are more readily caught on sinking lines. A line with a drastic weight-forward taper (like Scientific Anglers' 'Mastery Saltwater Tarpon') matched to your rod weight will help handle wind-resistant poppers.
Leaders: Peacocks are not the least bit leader shy. If you are not pursuing line class records, most fly anglers use a straight shot (approximately 8 feet) of 40-pound (or stronger — but not over 60 — they’ll break your fly line) monofilament leader material. Anything lighter can be snapped off like sewing thread if that fifteen 'pounder' runs you into a tree or rock pile. You will go through a lot of leader material, because of the peacock's extremely abrasive teeth. We recommend buying a spool of soft monofilament leader material. We like Jinkai 50 lb. soft monofilament. If you're trying for an IGFA record, you'll have to follow their leader specifications.
A Suggestion - Fly fishing for peacocks is extremely productive, but can be tiring if you're not used to blind casting (and then rapidly stripping) a heavy-weight fly rod all day long. If you don't think you have this type of endurance, we strongly recommend that you be prepared to use casting or spinning tackle to give yourself a break.