Pre-trip Guide: The Fishing
Amazon Peacock Bass Characteristics
Peacock Bass (Cichla spp.): 'Peacock bass' is a generalized name for a group of large, bass-like gamefish native to an extensive range in tropical South America. They are not actually a bass, but belong to the genus Cichla, within the family Cichlidae. (For that matter, the largemouth and smallmouth bass found in North American waters are not bass either - they're sunfish.) Cichlids are a diverse family of tropical fishes found throughout South America, Africa, Madagascar, and India—all former components of the ancient supercontinent, Gondwana. Recently, taxonomists reclassified the Cichlid Family, placing it into a newly formed Order, Cichliformes. All peacock bass species are tropical fishes and thus temperature-sensitive, although several smaller species have been successfully introduced in sub-tropical areas from Panama to Hawaii, with transplants from Guyana swimming in many of the freshwater canals in Miami and Dade County, Florida. There are significant color and pattern variations within many of the species and there is much confusion about common and local names. Until 2006, only five separate species of peacock bass were recognized. A revision of peacock bass taxonomy in 2006 added 10 additional recognized species to the group and greatly aided anglers' understanding of their identification. In 2019, a sixteenth species was described. Peacock bass are called tucunaré in Brazil, while Spanish speaking countries use the term pavón. For more detailed information, see our peacock bass species guide.
These are the four species you’ll most
likely encounter on our Amazon trips.
The Giant peacock bass or “tucunaré” (Cichla temensis), also known as 'speckled', ‘three-barred’, ‘acu’ or ‘paca’ is the largest of all peacock bass species, reaching sizes of up to 30 pounds. This species is the primary target of trophy anglers and the focus of our Amazon peacock bass trips. Like all fishes, each successive age-group (year-class) is smaller in number than the previous, due to predation and natural mortality, thus fish size is typically described as a pyramid. Fish from 2 to 7 pounds are most common, while anglers can expect to encounter a significant percentage of fish ranging from 7 to 12 pounds. 12 to18-pound fish are less common, and 20+ pounders are considered the holy grail of peacock bass fishing. Anglers are often confused by the unusually variable color and pattern changes demonstrated by Cichla temensis as they move through their cyclical life history stages in relation to each year’s flood-pulse (see Peacock Bass Definition for an explanation of their complex color and pattern variation). Three vertical black bars are usually visible (intensity varies from fish to fish) beginning just behind the pectoral fin and ending underneath the soft portion of the dorsal fin. Often, horizontal white spots are present (running along the top two thirds of the fish's body). On rare occasions, there are neither black bars nor horizontal speckles, but the mottled patch directly on it’s gill cover always remains a distinct characteristic. This species has not been successfully transplanted outside of the Amazon (except for the southern end of Lake Guri, Venezuela) due to its greater temperature sensitivity.
The Butterfly peacock (Cichla orinocensis)- In Brazil, this spunky fighter is called “borboleto” (meaning butterfly in English). This name has unfortunately caused great confusion among anglers due to the fact that a very different species is called butterfly in Florida. In the Amazon, Cichla orinocensis is found in the same Rio Negro basin tributaries as Cichla temensis, although they generally relate to somewhat more lentic (still) waters and shallower structure within those rivers. Its most obvious identifiers are three black, ocellated spots (about the size of a half dollar depending on the size of the fish) in place of it’s larger congeneric cousin’s black bars. It lacks opercular markings. “Borboletos” are quite aggressive and provide great fun on fly or conventional tackle. Average specimens run about 2 - 5 pounds and top out at about 12.
Note* — In the U.S., the “butterfly” name refers to an altogether different species introduced from Guyana to south Florida (Cichla ocellaris), hence many angler’s confusion. This Florida import has rather variable markings, but consistently displays a single black ocellus (eye-spot) ahead of the usual one on the tail. Cichla Ocellaris generally also displays an abdominal bar, while opercular markings are absent. This species is able to survive in subtropical Florida since it is a more cold-tolerant species, having come from the mountain rivers of Guyana. This species is not found in the central Amazon lowlands where we fish for peacock bass.
Cichla monoculus, also known as the Red Bellied peacock, is called “papoca” in Brazil. It exhibits three stubby black stripes descending about halfway down its sides, with a distinct ink-blot horizontal stripe pattern running above the bright red belly. Perhaps the most strikingly colored of all peacocks, it has a very broad range and is common in most of our fisheries. Cichla monoculus typically attains up to 5 pounds but has been known to reach 10.
Cichla vazzoleri — This chunky, fast-water battler is one of the stars of our Multi-species trip in Brazil’s Guyana shield highlands. In this species, large ocellated blotches replace vertical bars in adults and blotchy, speckled cheek markings are present. Brilliantly colored, their background color ranges from bright gold to an almost psychedelic yellow, getting even brighter when spawning. Large adults present a very stocky torso, thicker bodied than the other species described above. Cichla vazzoleri is a powerful and pugnacious fish with a large average size, typically caught from 4 to 10 pounds and attaining sizes up to 15 pounds.
Several other species of peacock bass can be encountered in our occasional exploratory trips. None attain the sheer size of the giant Cichla temensis and few display their violent top-water behavior patterns. For more, detailed information, see our "Peacock Bass ID Guide". The guide will allow you to identify exactly which species you are encountering, wherever you fish.
Other Fishes - Although peacock bass are the main attraction in the Amazon lowlands, there are many other Amazon species that also display unique physical beauty, impressive size and fierce fighting capabilities. Depending upon location, matrinchão, pacú, pirapitinga, jacundá, traida, apapá, tambaqui, pirarucú (arapaima), piraiba (goliath catfish), bicuda, piranha, aruanã, suribim, pirarara (red-tailed catfish), trairao (wolfish) and pescada can be taken and enjoyed. See information about our Multi-species lodge for the ultimate in Amazon variety.
Enjoying the fish - Catching a peacock bass trophy is a memory that will stay with you forever. Photograph it, marvel at its beauty, then return it quickly to the water. Enjoy the pleasure of feeling its power return as you resuscitate and release it. When you return to your yacht or bungalow or lodge, share the experience with your mates; feel free to exaggerate, maybe even lie and boast if you have to, because they'll probably do the same, but you won't be able to resist enjoying the afterglow of landing a big peacock. It's a true fisherman's must-have experience.
Peacock Bass Angling
A Quick Overview of Tactics and Techniques
How do I catch peacock bass? —Well, first, you have to get to them — and that doesn’t mean Florida or Panama or Hawaii. The giant peacock bass (Cichla temensis) is found only in the Amazon. And even when you get there, every inch of the Amazon looks like it holds fish to the peacock bass novice. But, ever-changing conditions, such as water level, temperature, oxygen content, food availability and spawning cycles all impact where peacocks can actually be caught. Too much water? - the baitfish (and the peacocks right behind them) will simply go into the jungle - we just can't catch peacocks there. Too little water? - they'll head for the river channel - it's pretty tough to catch them there also. But, as water levels drop just below banksful (the level of the river's natural banks), peacocks become concentrated in back waters, lagoons and floodplain remnant structure - this is where we love to fish for them. This is Acute Angling’s single most important function to you, the angler; it’s our job to know where peacocks can be found; in water where they can be caught; and to take anglers there.
That being said, let's assume you've booked your trip and made it to the holy grail of peacock bass fishing - optimal water levels. You still have to get them on a hook. Peacocks make it interesting because there are two ways to do that - get them to eat your bait - or get them to kill your bait. Both tactics work exceedingly well. This is our guide’s single most important function to you, the angler; it’s his job to put the right lure in your hands; to show you where to put it; and how to use it. Your job? Listen to your guide! See our Peacock Bass Primer for additional detailed information on tactics and techniques.
Where do I cast? — Peacock bass are "keystone" predators (species critical to an ecosystem’s balance) in the waters they occupy, to the extent that their presence or absence can change the ecological balance of an aquatic system. Like largemouth bass, peacocks often prefer 'structure' of some sort. Rocks, fallen logs, points and sand bars are where peacocks will usually be lurking. Larger peacocks, however, may often be found feeding or baby-sitting in open water, so it is wise to heed your guide's recommendations on where to cast. If there are dolphin or other large predators in the area, peacocks will tend to hold tightly to structure. Make sure to cover productive water as thoroughly as possible. Sometimes, the difference of a few inches in your cast can be the difference between an immediate strike or complete disinterest. During spawning periods, peacocks vacate 'structure' and spawn on sandy bottoms in three to six feet of water.
Peacocks often roam about in small schools hunting baitfish, periodically bursting into a frothing feeding frenzy. When this situation is encountered, get your lure or fly in front of feeding fish as quickly as possible. This may sound easy, but peacocks tend to move fast as they tear through baitfish. The sooner you can cast to them after they've been spotted feeding, the better your chance of a hookup. Peacocks are greedy and highly competitive when in a group. Always cast a free lure or fly right next to any hooked fish (unless your partner is hooked up to a giant, when it's best to reel in and get out of the way). Another peacock will almost always be close by (often attracted by the commotion). If no strikes result, probe the surrounding area thoroughly before moving on.
During extended periods of very hot, dry weather, high water temperatures combined with low oxygen levels may force peacock bass out of the lagoons and into the main channel of the river. Here, they will tend to locate themselves around rock piles, bushes, sand bars, points, and log jams, which offer both protection and ready access to hunting grounds. The mouths of lagoons are often extremely productive also.
How do I hook them? — Set the hook — hard - and make sure it’s in the fish. First time peacock anglers, when fishing topwater lures, instinctively react to the startling explosion of a peacock by triggering a hook set, even though the fish may not actually have the lure. Peacocks will often swirl at or slap a lure or even blast it out of the water and then come back around and firmly grab it on the second pass. It's hard to remember at first, but don't reflexively set the hook or jerk the lure away on the strike. Wait until you feel the fish's weight, then set the hook, hard. Big peacocks have tough mouths. Don't be fooled into thinking you are hooked up just because a fish is taking line. Even if not hooked, they'll often hold on to a lure or fly and run for quite some time before spitting it out.
If the fish doesn't actually take the lure on the first strike, keep it moving. Peacocks will almost always lose interest in a lure or fly that just sits on the surface. If you continue to patiently work it however, the fish will often follow and hit the lure a second or even a third time, sometimes following it right to the boat. If they do lose interest, quickly cast a jig or subsurface lure or fly in the immediate area. This often elicits another strike.
How do I land them? — Never try and 'horse' a big peacock; Don't underestimate their power. Even moderately-large peacock bass are powerful enough to break heavy line, pull screws out of plugs, straighten saltwater hooks, and mutilate split rings. If a big fish is headed for structure, apply side pressure to the rod (sweep it in the direction you want the fish to go — keeping the tip low). This can help 'steer' the fish in a better direction. If you crank your drag down too tight, they'll almost always snap the line, or pull the hook out of their mouth. If a fish does make it into cover, don't give up. Back off on the pressure, your guide will drift over the fish and wait for the boat to spook the fish out of its hiding place -- they'll often untangle themselves. If your drag is set too tight when they bolt, a break off is usually inevitable. Even when a fish comes to the boat, never assume it's ready to give up. Always keep a properly set drag to absorb a last minute run. Never change the guide’s setting.
Like all fishing, lure and fly selection can be a complicated matter due to variable fishing conditions. Water clarity, weather, brightness, and time of day will all dictate what type of lure or fly you should choose. Some argue that lure size is essential. Usually you will catch more fish with jigs, smaller lures or flies, although a high percentage of trophy peacocks are caught on larger baits. Lure or fly color doesn't seem to be as important as lure shade. If it's bright out, use a light-colored lure or fly. Dark shades can be more productive in low light conditions. Generally, anglers will do best by relying on their guide for these decisions. For more information see our Peacock Primer - Part II.
CATCH AND RELEASE - To insure the best fishing possible, we are firm believers in a strict catch and release policy. Peacock bass species are very robust fishes. Studies have shown that they have a very low mortality rate after capture, however there can be a higher mortality rate on mishandled or carelessly released peacock bass (mainly due to dolphin and piranha predation). We strongly encourage all anglers to fully resuscitate fish and be patient while guides release them in a secure place near structure. Our guides are well trained in fish handling and care. If you want to photograph, measure, or weigh the fish, the guide will hand the fish to you using a device called a BogaGrip, which does not harm the fish. Please keep your hands out of their gills. Your understanding and cooperation will ensure that all our fisheries remain as productive as ever.
Lure and Fly Guidelines
The Lures - When peacocks are busting on baitfish in full feeding mode, anglers could probably toss their shoes into the water and get strikes. Lure selection, however, becomes critical as soon as real-world conditions make the fish a little more selective. The following four classes of lures tend to provide the greatest productivity: If you’re fishing with Acute Angling, all lures are provided as part of our “all-inclusive” package. Your guide will make sure you’re using the right one at the right time and in the right way. But, if you’re fishing with someone else, you’ll to buy and bring your lures with you. You can buy all of the recommended lures on our Tackle-box website.
Prop Baits - The classic peacock fisherman's tool, these big, gaudy plugs are best known for the spectacular surface explosions they elicit. Anglers should bring at least a half dozen assorted samples, concentrating on the larger sizes (up to 2 oz.). Among the best choices are Highroller's Magnum Riproller. The larger models might be a bit harder to cast and work but they pay back big dividends with better hook-ups and greater durability when fighting big fish. Lighter versions of these lures may trigger strikes just fine, but they carry smaller, less durable hooks. It might be easier to use, but may break your heart when you finally hook up with your trophy.
Jigs - This is the ultimate peacock bass bait. Nothing catches as many peacocks as a properly fished 1/2 oz. peacock jig (strip it-don't jig it). Either tie your own or buy a high quality pre-tied model, such as Sidewinder's Peacock Bass Rattle Jig. Of course, if you’re on an Acute Angling trip, we provide all the jigs you’ll need. For more information on the peacock bass rattle jig and for the recipe to tie your own visit our Peacock Bass Jig Guide. Bring at least a dozen or two (more if you'll be fishing piranha laden waters).
Swimming Plugs - A great all-purpose peacock bass lure. These baits are easy to use and work well under most conditions. Recommended models include; Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow (3/4 oz., floater), 7 inch Cotton Cordell Red Fin, large Bombers and floating Rapala Magnums. Bring a half dozen.
Walking Stick Baits - Sometimes a slowly sashaying stick bait will trigger some of the most violent peacock strikes. Brands include; Zara Spook (3/4 oz.), Super Spook (1 oz.) and Mega-Bait (2 oz.). Bring 3 or 4.
Other Lures - The great majority of the peacock bass on our trips are caught by the 4 types of lures detailed above. Sometimes, however, conditions might call for a specialized tool. Carry at least one or two large spoons (Johnson's silver minnow - 1 and 1/8 oz.), a big Rattletrap lure, and perhaps a small, deep diver. Of course, every angler has their favorite lure, one that they just know is going to change the face of peacock fishing and land them a world record. By all means, bring it, but don't bring too many. Weight limits and space considerations demand that you focus on the most productive items.
If the water is even slightly off color or there is a slight chop, a propeller-type topwater lure (like the big RipRollers) will effectively attract the fish's attention. If the water is completely calm (and/or crystal clear), it may be wise to try a more subtle topwater lure like a 4-1/2", 3/4 oz. Heddon 'Zara Spook.'. If the fish refuse to take topwater, switch to a subsurface lure. If the water is clear, lures without a sound chamber (i.e. Cotton Cordell's 7", 1oz. 'Red Fin' ) are very productive. If the water is off color, use a lure with a sound chamber (A Peacock Rattle Jig or a Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow) . In hot/bright light conditions a deeper running lure (or more deeply fished jig) may be your best choice. Yellow/red or red/white 1/2oz. peacock bass rattle jigs (tied on wide gap/6/0 extra strong hooks) are also extremely effective even when the fish are not feeding aggressively. Try varying the retrieve until you start getting strikes. Most commercially-tied bucktails are not suited for peacock fishing. Custom-tied jigs are available from Acute Angling's Tackle-box.
Flies — Acute Angling provides Peacock Bass Rattle Flies for its anglers at no charge. Although a broad range of flies will attract peacock bass, not all are suitable for actually landing peacock bass, particularly trophy sized fish. The key to success is an extra large, extra strong hook. Large streamers (like the Peacock Rattle Fly) will provide productive and successful fly fishing and are effective in attracting larger fish. Topwater fly fishing is also great fun and a variety of poppers and sliders can be effective. Again, the hook is critical. Also, be aware that it is typically more difficult to attract trophy sized fish with topwater flies.
Where to Buy - All of the individual items recommended here, as well as complete destination specific packages are available at www.Tackle-box.net or call 866 832-2987 or 866 431-1668 for assistance. Lower priced or higher value alternatives are also available.
Peacock Bass Gear
Please note that we provide everything listed here
as part of your “all-inclusive” package
Fishing Rods and Reels - Acute Angling provides properly balanced spinning and baitcasting gear for its clients, at no charge, in each of its operations. It is not necessary to bring your own gear. All of our operations have fishery specific, quality equipment on hand for your use. That being said, many anglers love their personal fishing toys and hate to leave them behind. We also realize that anglers are often more skillful with gear that they are accustomed to. With that being said, anglers are perfectly welcome to bring their own rods and reels.
If you're bringing your own, a good rule of thumb is that if someone who’s never been to the Amazon recommends it for peacock bass, it’s probably too heavy. Tackle shops unfailingly make this mistake. Because of this fish’s legitimately well-deserved reputation, the knee-jerk reaction is that it must be fought with extra heavy gear. Not a good idea! Anglers will quickly discover that peacock bass fishing means a long day of casting lures, making fast, aggressive retrieves and fighting numerous pugnacious fish. After cast number 200, or retrieve number 350, heavy gear will begin to take its toll on anyone.
Peacock bass gear should be tailored to the size of the lure thrown, not the reputation of the fish pursued. Ranging from ½ to over 2 ounces, the principle lure types demand a broad range of tackle capability. Anglers often ask, "Which is better for peacocks, spinners or baitcasters?" The answer is both. Each type can perform satisfactorily alone, but a mix is even better. Casting accuracy is important for successfully catching peacock bass in the structure they frequent. If you're comfortable and skillful with both types, you can truly tailor your tackle to your pattern and presentation. Our best recommendations are as follows;
If you’re bringing your own gear, we recommend quality 3 piece pack rods such as those available from G. Loomis or St. Croix. One piece rods are a nightmare to transport on international and charter flights. Two rods will serve the purpose. Three will fill just about all likely applications. With reels, quality is important. Bring something that will hold up under a week’s worth of abusive use. Stay as small and light as possible and select for fast retrieves.
Most necessary – Jig Rig - A Medium-Light, six to seven foot, fast action graphite spinning rod with a line rating of 6-12 pound test and a lure capacity of 1/8-3/4 ounce. Pair it with a lightweight, fast retrieve (6.4:1 or better) spinning reel (Shimano 2500 size) loaded with 30 pound test braided line (mono just won't work well here). This is the precise rig we provide for your use at no charge. You can cast 1/2 oz. jigs a mile and reel them in all day long. Yes, we're exceeding the rod’s line rating, but hopefully, you're setting your drag carefully.
Most necessary – Chopper Rig – A Medium-Heavy 6 and 3/4 foot (or shorter), fast action baitcasting rod coupled with a quality casting reel (Shimano Curado 200 or 300 size) with the fastest possible retrieve (7.0:1 or better). This is the precise rig we provide for your use at no charge. This outfit is designed to sling big surface prop baits with ease and accuracy. Use a rod with a line rating of 10 to 30 pounds and a lure capacity of ½ to 2 ounce. Load this rig with 65 pound test braided line and you're ready to probe tight cover, brush and logs with big woodchoppers or riprollers.
Optional addition - A stiff, seven foot medium baitcasting rod with a supple, fast action tip, a line rating of 8-17 pounds and a lure capacity of ¼ to 1 ounce is fine. Mount a lightweight, fast retrieve (7.0:1 or better) casting reel with 50 pound test braided line. This gives you a light but tough rig, perfect for fishing smaller stick baits and swimming plugs.
Line - Peacock bass fishing in the Amazon requires braided line. Peacock's tough mouths call for a solid, stretch-free hookset. Great tensile strength is necessary to withstand their violent strikes. The need for casting accuracy demands a thin, light, flexible line. Monofilament's characteristics just do not serve this fishery. Even if you've never used braid before, don't worry, our guides know the knots and how to use the line. You'll quickly become comfortable.
Braid Options - For spinning tackle, we recommend a quality thin braid such as Power Pro. Use at least 30 lb. test for medium and light gear. Lines of at least 50 lb. test are appropriate for your heavier gear. For baitcasting gear, a heavier test thin braid (50 or 65 lb. test Power Pro) is recommended . These will prove to be more resistant to backlashes and "digging in". A hint for new braid users. When tying your line onto your reel's arbor, place a small piece of electrical tape over the first turn of line. Subsequent wraps will dig into the tape and help to anchor the braid firmly onto the arbor. This will prevent the line from spinning on the spool and will assure that your drag works properly. Don't overdo line strength. Thicker line makes casting more difficult and shortens casting distance.
A Warning - Despite their high tensile strength, even these powerful lines will not allow you to out-muscle a peacock. Their explosive initial bursts will break these strong braids like sewing thread if your drag is not properly set. Even if your line survives the initial onslaught, something else is bound to give. Hooks will straighten, rods may explode or reels may disintegrate. Peacock bass just cannot be "horsed". Use a properly set drag (you must be readily able to manually pull out line) and use your angling skills to lead or sweep fish away from structure and slowly and steadily tire them out.
Traveling Light - Be judicious with your tackle selections. All wheeled charter operators have a 44 lb. (20 Kilo) weight limit. Floatplanes are limited to 33 lbs.
Where to Buy - All of the individual items recommended here, as well as complete destination specific packages are available at www.Tackle-box.net or call 866 832-2987 or 866 431-1668 for assistance.
ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT RECOMMENDATIONS -- If you do elect to purchase and bring your own gear, be aware that fishing tackle prices can range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Although for the most part you tend to get what you pay for, it isn't always necessary to pay for the absolute best. Sometimes, 'pretty-good' will suffice. With that in mind, please consider our tackle recommendations and checklists with an eye toward your own budget. A Bogagrip costs about $150 dollars. You don't have to bring one if the device will adversely affect your budget. Your guide will have one and will handle your fish for you. Similarly, a decent rod and reel combo can be bought for $300, a good one for $500 and the latest and greatest high tech rig for $1000. They will all catch peacock bass. In short, don't spend more on tackle than you are comfortable with. By the same token, many anglers love trips like this just because they provide a good excuse to buy fancy new toys!
Whatever you bring or buy for your trip, some components shouldn't be scrimped on. Good quality line is important. Get a good selection of the recommended lures and upgrade the hooks and split rings. Whatever reel(s) you bring, make sure that the drags are smooth and effective.
The tackle described here is what we consider to be the optimum type for the conditions experienced. If you already have something similar, use it. Keep in mind that other tackle items used on largemouth bass may be too light for most jungle angling conditions (this includes lines, plugs/flies and especially hooks). Our recommendations are a concise combination of experience from guides and professionals who have spent a great deal of time fishing the Amazon.
All of these products and more are available directly from AcuteAngling's Tackle-box.
Fly Fishing for Peacock Bass
FLY FISHING: 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 most productive (not only for overall numbers, but for larger-sized fish as well). We highly recommend “Sidewinder's Peacock Rattle Fly in red/yellow (and provide them at no charge to our anglers). Other popular streamers include 6-inch (5/0 or 6/0, wide gap, extra strong) bi-colored bucktails in red/yellow, olive/white and red/white. Big Deceivers, Bunnies, Saltwater Zonkers, Clousser Minnows and other flashy baitfish imitations will also take fish. All patterns should have generous amounts of matching Flashabou or Crystal Flash. Although big saltwater poppers are exciting to fish, they can be extremely exhausting to cast and retrieve while not terribly effective at coaxing bigger fish to the surface.
Fly rods should be fast action models to load sinking lines more efficiently and provide needed 'backbone'. Bring at least two, because rods can break under the ‘jungle stress’. Reels don't need to hold a lot of backing since peacocks don't make long runs, but a smooth, strong drag is essential. Recommended 'heavy' fly rod & reel combinations for sinking line: A stiff/fast action, 9-foot, nine - weight rod (Sage 990-3RPLX or G. Loomis FR1089-4) with Scientific Anglers 'System 2 -89'. Recommended 'medium' fly rod & reel combination (for floating lines): A stiff/fast action, 9-foot, seven or eight-weight rod and matched reel.
Sinking lines are much more effective for streamers than floating lines. Don't bring just any old sink tip. An integrated sinking line such as a Rio 24-foot 300-grain Density Compensated line is easier to cast and can be fished on anything from an 8 to 10 weight rod. If you like, bring a floating line with a drastic weight-forward taper for poppers and sliders but be aware that big fish are more readily caught on sinking lines.
Leaders: Peacocks are not leader shy. Most fly anglers use a straight shot (approximately six feet) of flexible 50 pound monofilament leader. Anything lighter can be snapped off like sewing thread if that fifteen 'pounder' runs you into a wood pile. You will go through a lot of leader material, because of the peacock's abrasive teeth. We recommend buying a spool of soft monofilament leader material (we like Jinkai 50 lb. test soft mono). If you're trying for an IGFA record, you'll have to follow their leader specifications, of course.
Suggestions - We do not provide fly fishing gear. You must bring your own. Fly fishing for peacocks is very productive, but can be tiring if you're not used to blind casting and rapidly stripping a heavy-weight fly rod all day long. If you find yourself tiring, why not consider switching off to baitcasting or spinning tackle (which we provide at no charge) from time to time to give yourself a break.
Peacock Bass Trip Checklist
What to bring;
What to leave behind.
Your peacock bass trip is getting closer and it’s time to pack. Our remote trips are all serviced by charter aircraft and there is a weight limit. So what do you pack? The simple answer is, very little! Our “all-inclusive” turn-key trips are designed to make it easy for you. Yeah, we know that many of you have a great selection of rods and a kaleidoscopic mix of lethal looking lures. We also know that many of you have no fishing gear at all. So we’ve got a solution that serves each of you perfectly well. We provide all of the perfectly suited gear that you’ll need. And it’s all top of the line, better than what 99% of anglers have at home. So, you can leave your gear at home and still be perfectly equipped; and if you have no gear at all, you too will be perfectly equipped. We know you want to bring that shiny, new, 9 lb. solar-powered automatic hook reforming and electroplating device that the manufacturer swears you can't do without? The best place for it is probably in your closet at home. Save your baggage allotment for the important stuff. Pack light, but pack right. Let's take a look at what gear should actually go in your baggage, step by step.
Clothing - Our operations all do laundry daily so you can keep your wardrobe to a minimum. Here are our suggestions; Bring 3 changes of clothing. One outfit for traveling (wear clothing that you can use for fishing also) and 2 more sets of fishing clothes. One pair of comfortable travel/land shoes and a pair of flip-flops or crocs or reef walkers for fishing. Bring a bathing suit. A lightweight rainsuit is a must and can also double as a jacket on cool morning boat rides. That's plenty! Leave the suit and tie at home.
Sun Protection - Our Amazon peacock bass fishing is done within a scant few hundred miles of the equator. The sun is more powerful at these latitudes than anywhere else on earth. The diminished angle at which its rays arrive reduces the filtering effect of the atmosphere. It's far more intense than California or Florida, or even Central America. Anglers should be equipped with complete sun protection. Select UV resistant tropical fishing clothes with long sleeves and long pants. Wear a hat with ear and neck protection. Sun gloves, fishing gloves or stripping gloves can protect your hands from the powerful sun.
Medicines - Bring all your necessary personal medicines. You’ll not be able to obtain medicines once you leave home — there are no pharmacies in the jungle. All of our operations have complete first aid kits.
Documents and money - Make sure you have a secure, dry place in your carry-on to keep them. You must have a current passport. Carry a photocopy of the first two pages of your passport. Make sure you have your Airline flight printout. Bring cash (for tipping and other incidentals while traveling); Use a credit card for everything else.
Personal Gear - A few small items will greatly increase your comfort during your trip. Bring a small flashlight, headlight or booklight; Extra batteries; Your personal toiletry kit (toothbrush, razor, etc.); Good quality, polarized sunglasses; Fishing gloves to prevent blisters (golf or baseball gloves also work fine). Water proof bags (zip locks) or durable containers for delicate items.
Camera and Video Gear - The trip of a lifetime deserves a good photographic or video record. Some of us can do great work with our phones and some of us wouldn't be caught dead without our full SLR system. Either way you choose to go, keep weight restrictions in mind and select gear that is relatively weatherproof or can be safely protected. Bring plenty of media. The photo opportunities are endless. If you use your phone, be sure to have a waterproof container for it.
Luggage Selection - The right type of bags can help make both travel and weight considerations simpler. We recommend a soft rolling duffel bag (no bigger than 30 inches) and a small carry-on. Select lightweight bags. A rolling duffel bag that weighs less when empty will give you greater flexibility in your gear selection. It's also much easier to handle while traveling. When you've checked in your duffel, a carry-on bag with a comfortable shoulder strap or a backpack will be easy to handle in the airport and on the plane. Make sure it fits airline size restrictions.
Baggage Organization - Today's air travel security regulations define the best way to organize your baggage. You will have a checked in bag and a carry on bag.
Your checked-in bag (a soft rolling duffel) will constitute your baggage limit (depending on aircraft). All tools, knives, hooks and other sharp items must be checked in with this bag. Use this bag for your clothing and bulky gear. If you must bring your own rods, we highly recommend pack rods to eliminate big, clumsy rod tubes. They will simplify your packing and probably outperform many one-piece rods. Pack rods will fit inside your duffel, simplify packing and significantly help reduce weight. - or simply leave your rods home and use our quality carbon fiber rods at no charge
Your carry-on bag should contain your camera equipment, reading material, medicines, other small personal items and your basic travel needs. This will ensure that you have the basic gear at all times, even if your checked-in bags are delayed.
Some anglers just can’t leave their favorite tackle at home;
That’s OK, but keep a few things in mind.
Fishing Tools - Our guides are fully-equipped with an array of every necessary fishing tool, but many experienced anglers still want to feel that Leatherman in their pocket or that hook sharpening file at hand. OK, feel free to bring them as long as you stay within weight limits. Here are some thoughts about how you have it both ways.
If you are traveling with a partner, you can both save some weight and expense by sharing certain items. Consider the Boga-grip for example. It's an indispensable tool for anglers. Not only is it a convenient landing and weighing device, but it's perfect for keeping big, angry fish calm and under control while photographing them. Of course our guides all carry one, but if you must bring your own (maybe you’ll want to photograph all of those doubles you land), consider sharing one between you.
Your guide handles all of the mundane tasks such as unhooking fish and maintaining your lures and lines (so you can maximize your fishing effort). They are equipped with everything needed. With that being said, if you wish to have your own tools, share some of these items; A Pocket Knife, Needle-nose Pliers and strong cutting tool (we recommend a Leatherman tool); Boga grip or other device to safely hold fish; Hook Sharpener or file; Braided line scissors; Keep weight restrictions in mind.
Fishing Accessories - Keeping your gear organized and readily accessible can often be critical to fishing success. Our expert guides will take care of that for you. However, if you are bringing gear of your own, you’ll want to keep it organized. We recommend clear plastic fishing boxes (such as Plano 3600 and 3700) that fit into your fishing bag (like our Acute Angling tackle bag). In addition to your lures, add the following to your organizing system; Replacement Hooks (4x strong #1, #2 and #4) Heavy Duty Split Rings and a split ring pliers. Many of your lures come with black bass grade hardware. Peacocks will turn that stuff into mush with the first strike. You'll need to upgrade those hooks and split rings (our guides will do this for you when you arrive); Extra line - If you bring your own reels, in case you need to respool (for spinning gear just bring a spare spool already prepared).
Where to Buy - All specialized items are available at www.Tackle-box.net or call 866 832-2987 or 866 431-1668 for help.
Assistance - That's what we do best. Call us, toll-free, anytime with any questions. We've taken thousands of anglers to Brazil over the last twenty-five years and we've learned how to do it right. Let our experience and our proven expertise ensure that you have the trip of a lifetime.
|For the sun loving (along with lots of sunblock)|
|For the sun sensitive|
|Sun Hats and sun gloves|
|Slacks/Shorts -- 2 or 3 lightweight cotton.|
|Long-Sleeved Shirts -- for sun protection -- light color and light fabric.|
|Packable Lightweight Rain Gear- Two piece/coat and pant. This is a must! Doubles as a jacket for cool mornings & evenings.|
|Long Tropical Pants:|
|Long-Sleeved Tropical Shirts;|
|Shoes -- 1 pair rubber-soled, non-slip in-water shoes (Flip-flops, Tevas, Crocs, reefwalkers)|
|Fishing hat -- with a black under-bill to aid in sighting fish (enhances polarizing qualities of sunglasses).|
|Swimsuit -- it's a great way to cool off during the heat of the day (the piranhas are not dangerous)|
|Socks and Underwear|
|Don't overpack - we wash laundry daily|
|Sunscreen - bring lots of it, waterproof and with an adequate SPF!!!|
|Sun-Gloves -- Many people burn their hands, so we recommend 'Mangrove' UV Protector SunGloves.|
|Personal Prescription Drugs - You cannot obtain your prescription medications here.|
|Aspirin, Tylenol etc.|
|Documents and money|
|Passport and photocopy of first two pages of passport|
|Airline Tickets or printout|
|Cash - bring at least enough for tipping in camp, purchase of jigs and flies and incidentals in airports.|
|Credit Cards - Credit cards are accepted just about everywhere in Brazil.|
|Kindle, magazines, reading matter.|
|Small flashlight, headlight or booklight|
|Toiletry kit, toothbrush, etc.|
|Digital Camera (small, automatic, weatherproof w/zoom) - Start with fresh batteries and take an extra set.|
|Fishing Gloves; Your hands can blister after several days of cranking baits (golf or baseball gloves work fine)|
|Fishing Sunglasses - Good quality, comfortable, polarized sunglasses|
|Soft rolling duffel or Similar - This will contain the bulk of your gear, most of your rod tubes and your clothes. It will be checked onto the airplane.|
|Soft Tackle Bag - This can be packed with a minimum of necessities and your travel needs. and used as your carry-on bag.|
|Fishing Tools — Note that we provide these items and it is not required that you bring them|
|Pocket Knife/Needlenose Pliers -- we recommend a Leatherman tool|
|Boga grip or other device to safely hold fish|
|Scissors or line clippers|
|Extra line if your bringing your own reels (30 to 65LB. test suggested - depending on application)|
|Reel Lubricant -- apply to reels routinely|
|Scale -- None of our camps have IGFA certified scales. We've tried them all and highly recommend the IGFA endorsed, 'Boga Grip' scale [Eastaboga Tackle, 261 Mudd St., Eastaboga, AL 36260 -- Tel. (205)-831-9682].|
|Small Tape Measure|
|Small Fishing Towel or hand cloth.|
|Replacement Hooks (4x strong #2) and Split Rings|
|Tackle Bag or Box and Lures -- Remember weight restriction!|
|Need||Packed||Item — Note that we provide these items and it is not necessary for you to carry them|
|If you choose to bring your own, bring at least 2 or 3 (as suggested below), rods break!
The most important factor in determining rod selection is your ability to cast large baits with a minimum of fatigue.
Use rods similar to those recommended below. All of these items are available from our Tackle-box
|Medium Heavy Spinner - recommend Loomis Escape / 7' Med/Hvy - Mod-Fast Action, use with 50lb. test line and with a medium size spinning reel (i.e. Shimano 4000 series) - for large lures.|
|Medium Heavy Bait Caster - recommend Loomis Escape / 7' MHC - Mod-Fast Action, use with 50lb. test line ? fast retrieve casting reel (i.e. Shimano Curado) for large lures.|
|Medium Light Spinning Rod - recommend Loomis Escape / 7' Med-Light Fast Action, use with 30lb. test line and small, light reel (i.e. Shimano 2500 series), for jigs and light lures.|
|Optional — Medium Bait Caster - recommend Loomis LR842 -3C / 7' Medium - Mod-Fast Action, use with 50lb. test line and medium size casting reel (i.e. Shimano Curado) for lighter lures (Zara Spook, Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow).|
|Need||Packed||Item — Note that we provide these items and it is not necessary for you to carry them|
|Reels - Reels should be good quality with adequate line capacity. Casting accuracy is important, so match rods and reels. The most important consideration is an excellent drag mechanism. Although spinning gear can be less tiring with lighter lures and fast retrieves, baitcasting generally provides greater accuracy and level trajectories to get under obstacles.|
|Need||Packed||Item — Note that we provide these items and it is not necessary for you to carry them|
|Line - 30 to 65 lb. test, when combined with a good drag setting and a little luck will catch most fish. Make sure you can tie a Palomar knot. Load your lighter rigs with 30 lb. test and the heavier gear with 65..|
|Need||Packed||Item — Note that we provide these items and it is not necessary for you to carry them|
|This is a general purpose listing and is designed to provide a wide enough selection to cover a variety of rivers, water types and conditions (See lure selection chart). Specially designed lure packages for our trips are available at competitive prices directly through Tackle-box.|
|Propeller type (6 to 10) — Riprollers,—Woodchoppers, in various colors and patterns.|
|Walking Sticks (4 to 6) - Super Spooks, Jumpin' Minnows (upgrade hooks and split rings) in various colors and patterns|
|Minnow/Jerkbaits (8) - Yo-Zuris, Redfins, Long - A, Rapalas, in a variety of sizes, colors and patterns (hooks and split rings must be upgraded for all smaller size lures),|
|Crank baits (2 - Rat-L-Traps, Mag-traps, in various colors and patterns.|
|Bucktail Jigs - (12 to 24) - Wide gap hooks, Peacock Rattle Jig,|
|Spoons - (2) Johnsons Silver Minnow or others, in a variety of sizes, colors and patterns.|
|Miscellaneous - Lures that you have extreme confidence in and that you might want to experiment with. All lures should have strong, sharp hooks and split rings. Soft baits don't last long. Bigger baits tend to catch bigger fish. Remember weight limits.|
|Rods and Reels -- A stiff/fast action eight, nine or ten weight rod.|
|Fly Lines -- One or two Rio 300-grain Sink Tip line.' One full-floating, weight-forward line for poppers and sliders (I.E. Scientific Anglers' 'Mastery Saltwater Tarpon').|
|Flies -- Bring at least two dozen streamers and ten poppers. Half should be bright and half dark shades.|
|Leader Material -- Either IGFA approved or 50LB. Jinkai leader material.|
|Reel Covers -- reels can get banged up in the boat|
|Stripping Glove or Finger Sock (Lycra Sheath that fits over stripping finger) -- essential to prevent line burn while stripping.|
|Immunizations - No immunizations are required, however, anglers should always consult their physician and decide with him which ones are appropriate for you.|
|Balanced tackle - If you’re bringing your own rods and reels, make sure to test the actual tackle you plan to use, on the water, with all the lures (including the heavy woodchoppers and rippers), and with the actual line. Sometimes two components just don't balance or work right together and something has to be changed. The practice won't hurt and you'll get a feel for the long term effort.|
|Passport - You need a valid passport .|
|The sun - on the equator is incredibly strong. Bring at least one set of protective clothes, expect to drink lots of water and use sunscreen lavishly. Sensitive individuals sometimes forget hands, feet, ears etc.|
|Luggage - You should be able to carry it all, by yourself, if necessary. Shoulder straps are good. It will get bumped, wet, muddy and otherwise abused, so be prepared and don't use fancy stuff.|
|You will undoubtedly have some of your own special needs.|
Lure Selection Chart
Remember, we provide all needed fishing tackle —
you don’t need to bring your own lures.
But, if you must bring your own, purchase your lures locally prior to your trip. Tackle-box.net offers complete packages specifically designed for the rivers we fish. Packages can be provides as complete as you like; rods, reels, lures, lines and accessories; or you can simply order a terminal tackle package. These packages are designed to save you time, money and frustration by providing everything you need in one place, and at better prices than other sources. Complete packages are in stock and available for shipment well in advance of your departure.
Or, you can assemble your own lure package by following the generalized guidelines shown here. Make sure to bring a selection of the recommended lures listed in each lure type -- in a mixture of both light and dark colors or patterns. Variable conditions can require switching through a lot of tackle. In many cases, there are lures listed under each classification. Those listed first are most popular, although the order might be disputed by peacock 'veterans'. Be careful not to load up on smaller prop baits. You will need some of the big ones.
* indicates that factory hooks should be replaced with Mustad 4X strong #1/0 or #2/0 trebles and center treble gang removed.
|Luhr-Jensen||Woodchopper' or 'Amazon Ripper||6-3/4", 2 oz.
Note large size
|Perch, Bl./Or, Red/Wh, Peacock, Clown, Fire Tiger|
|Highroller||'Riproller'||5-3/4", 1 1/2 oz.||similar to above|
|*Rebel||'Jumpin' Minnow'||4". - 5/8 oz.||Chrome/black, Copper/blk./or.|
|*Heddon||'Super Spook'||5", 7/8 oz.||Assorted, Florida Bass, Shad|
|Bomber||'Long A||6" hvy. dty.||Silver Flash|
|Yo-Zuri||Crystal Minnow Floater||4" 3/4 oz.||Gold/Flo. silver, rainbow trout|
|*Bill Lewis||'Mag. Rattle Trap'||3/4 oz.||Silver/black
|12+||Bucktail Jigs||Acute Angling||Peacock Bass Rattle Jig||1/2 oz.,wide gap||Red/Yellow, Red/White, Olive|
|2||Spoons||Johnson||'Silver Minnow'||1-1/8 oz.||Silver|