Sunday, March 30, 2014

DIY Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: Hidden Hook Walks the Rio Malleo

The Patagonia fishing season is almost over.  With the exception of a few leaf peeper's, the tourist folk are gone. The weather is changing.  The leaves are changing. The nearby mountains just a got a dusting of white stuff last night; it's cold and windy, but beautiful.  Fishing tends to slow between the transition of summer and fall (at this moment, it feels like fall is coming sooner this year).  But, if you are willing put a few layers of warm clothing on and if you are willing to walk-wade, we can put you in some amazing spots; with plenty of healthy fish to be had.  In fact, I just finished six days of walking-wading with a young gun from the states.  

Turns out, this young gun, Rudy Babikian, is the owner of Hidden Hook; a 100% made in the U.S.A fly  tying/manufacturing company.  Total Employee's = one poor soul, hopelessly addicted to fly fishing, with the initials RB.  I also discovered, upon his return to the U.S.A., that he will be newly employed by the Snake River Angler Fly Shop; located in Jackson, WY (stop in and say hello).  I also learned:

  • Originally from Falmouth, Maine. 
  • Started fishing and tying flies at age five (seriously, good job mom and dad).
  • Graduated in 2013, from Salve Regina University, located in Newport, RI.  Why SRU? He could walk out the door and fish before and after class.
  • Currently living in Jackson, Wyoming.
  • 100 miles north of Fernie, British Columbia, within the last twelve months, he was attacked by a grizzly bear.  As a result he has one crazy story and a large scar on his left arm.
  • In Rhode Island, he dons a wet suit, swims out into the ocean, climbs up onto rocky islands, and catches monster stripers.
  • In the summer months, for the past three years, he has lived out a Ford Transit.  Why?  He has a severe personality disorder that drives him to sleep as close to the best fishing spots as possible; and spend every nickel he earns on anything fishing (fishing equipment, fishing adventures, etc).
  • Goals:  At age twenty-four, he has already acknowledge that he has a pathological fishing disorder, and without hesitation, plans to live happily ever after, fishing his way around the world.
  • Most importantly, I learned Rudy is a good kid and will go far with his fly fishing and an eventful life.

Four Day's Walk-Wade Rio Malleo

Rio Malleo Facts

Location: Junin de los Andes, Argentina.  Approximately, +/- 1 hour from Junin.
Province: Neuquen
Fishing Season: Generally, November 01 till May 31st.
Licensed Required: Yes, general fishing only.
Floating:  Floating the Malleo is prohibited.
Entrance Fee:  Currently $40 pesos (per day) to enter the lower section or Mapuche reservation.
Camping: Yes, only on the Mapuche reservation, $15 pesos per night.
Length: 64 Kilometers or 40 miles.
Origin: Lago Tromen (third major lake tributary to the rio Alumine).
Termination: Alumine.
Fly Rods: 9ft/4wt through 9ft/6wt. Switch = 11ft/5wt.
Fly Lines:  Floating for dry flies and nymphs.  Seasonal use of sink-tips for faster-deeper water.
Flies:  Sorry, but we only share this information with our guest. 

So, before I get to the Malleo information, I just spent two days watching Rudy streamer fish the Alumine (see other blog post: Hidden Hook Walks the Rio Alumine).  He had limited success, so before we started fishing the Malleo, I talked about how he might want to change some of his streamer tactics. We talked a bit and he said, "I would really like to use the streamers that I tied, but for some reason, I am not catching the quantity and quality fish that I had expected." My reply, "think smaller streamer; don't strip so fast; dead drift more, and cast to where I tell you - not to the places that you have been casting for the past two days - it's different here, trust me."  For the curious DIY angler/reader, and with respect to the specific fly and where to cast it on the river, I am being purposely vague.


On our DIY programs, we allow you plenty of personal space, to succeed or fail.  When we see you failing, we kindly step in and give you advice.  More often than not, our advice produces immediate results.  If he had another 365 days, Rudy would have eventually figured it out, but conventional streamer tactics, especially at this time of year, don't work well in Patagonia.  The great thing about Rudy = I told him once what to do and he got it! 
Once we had a discussion about what streamer to use and where/how to fish it, no fish were safe.
Great photo taken By Rudy.  Rudy carries a Canon DSLR with zoom lens up to 135mm. 
Rudy was impressed with the amount of fish in the Malleo.  I am no expert, but this has to be one of the best trout rivers in the world.  If your not catching fish on the Malleo, it's you, not the river. 
On our last days of walking-wading, I took Rudy to several spots that have produced PBM (patagonia brown monsters).  In one spot, on his first cast, the monster came out to play.  A split second had passed and the monster was gone.  Rudy exhaled in grief = I knew he saw every inch of what he just missed...I hope this does not haunt him for too long.  We'll get'm next time! But when you hunt for these monsters, expect the unexpected and be ready, even if it's your first cast of the day.   

Fishing with FCFF in Patagonia

We feel very fortunate to host anglers from all over the's a wonderful experience sharing our angling cultures. We also feel very fortunate to host anglers from the USA; in this particular instance, a twenty four old fish addict from Maine.  Rudy, thanks for working with us and we hope to see you again. 

Please feel free to read client testimonials at

Many Thanks.


PS. Our business is 100% organic and by referrals only.  So, please feel free to share amongst friends, or reply with comments.  We also have a Facebook page.