Tuesday, February 24, 2015

DIY Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: The man from Georgia

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The man is named Mike Trunzo.  Like me, at age 29 years old, he quit his job and decided to travel South America.  Before he left Atlanta, Georgia, he packed a fly rod, reel and a few flies (he decided waders and boots were too heavy for his backpack).  I only had one day with Mike.  Our time was short, but I could sense that fly fishing was becoming something very important to him.  He's an intermediate beginner angler, wanting to catch BIG fish first, and learn skill and technique second (that reminds me of angler I once knew...me!). Working with clients who posses this attitude can be extremely challenging, especially in WINDY Patagonia. Beginner anglers simply do not understand how Patagonia fishing will challenge themselves mentally, physically and spiritually.  For example, the wind will expose every casting flaw you thought you did not have!  I have seen clients lose it and take out their frustrations on our guides.  Fortunately for me, Mike's skin is a little tougher than most. Despite an afternoon breeze/gust (+15 mph) and slow feeding conditions, he hung there and got the job done.  Most anglers would have given up.


Mike wanted to learn a few things about nymph fishing.  So, I introduced him to my Patagonia rod/weapon of choice: 11ft TFO Deer Creek 5wt Switch Rod.  I started using this rod because my neck and back could no longer take long days of highs stick nymph fishing, with a 9ft/10ft rod. I also introduced him to my Patagonia Tango Nymph Rig.  This nymph rig is simple, effective, and ideal for beginners.  It's also highly effective in wind and long distance presentations.  If you master the use of this rig, I also believe it will allow you to easily transition into tight-line nymph fishing. Here's why:

  • The bobber is lead downstream by the current.  The tip of the rod is placed slightly ahead of the bobber. Tip of the rod is high in the air.  Elbows are resting by your side and shoulders are dropped/relaxed.  Setting the hook is done with an extremely quick jerk of the hands, not the arms.  The switch rod absorbs the strike and fish is on. 
  • The weight drags on the bottom of the river, slowing the bobber, traveling in/on the fast surface current.  This action creates a 45 degree angle in the line, from the bobber to the weight.
  • If you don't see you bobber 'ticking,' your split shot and flies are not on the bottom.  Simply add weight, adjust your bobber, or the combination of both.
  • The result:  flies Tango dance together in Patagonia water and trout can not resist.
  • The combination of rod length and my tango nymph rig allows you to cast in Patagonia wind and nymph fish at greater distances.  

When you make your own rig, you can easily adjust lengths of mono-line to fish various depths.  Also, you could easily use this rig for steelhead and salmon. 
Adjusting from a 9ft to an 11ft rod is not easy. In several battles, Mike lost very BIG fish, but he managed to land a few. Nymph fishing is all about taking it on the chin and wanting more!  For my personal amusement, I now count how many strikes I miss, not how many I catch.


From 12:00pm to about 3:00pm, the action tends to slow down.  Today was different, it was DEAD from 12pm to 7:30p.  But, as I was eating lunch, I spotted a fish feeding on emergers. I could see it's back/dorsal fin, as it gently dimpled the surface.  This was a BIG fish and based on recent feeding patterns, I knew this fish would not take a dry fly. What to do?  We simply added a split-shot 8" above a #16 soft hackle nymph, on a 10ft tapered leader.  I instructed Mike to cast 1/4 downstream and swing the fly into his face.  Before his first cast, I told him to get ready to ride the bull.  He looked at me with a weird puzzled face.  A few cast later Mike took a K.O. strike from this monster and unfortunately, between the strike and the set, the tippet broke.  It was over in seconds, much like riding a bull :)

In the last few hours of the day, we targeted a section of the river heavily forested with willow tree's. The water is deep and slow.  The use of a single dry fly is best and the fly must be presented millimeters from the willow branches.  Why?  The trout like to rest just under the branches, on the edge of cover and open water. The trout love to ambush their prey, from their camouflaged position. The strikes are typically fast and furious. You must be ready.  

On his first cast, Mike made a great presentation, but he was not ready.  He severely underestimated how fast the strike would be.  Between rounds, I got Mike to re-focus and he quickly got back into the fight.    

Final Word

I think Mike lost more fish than he caught.  Some people would consider that an honor.  He's a competitive guy, so I don't think he was happy with this fact.  From my perspective, given the conditions and his casting/angling abilities, he did great.  I also believe this was a great learning experience for him.  He now knows what skills need improvement and understands that at any skill level, you can't expect not to be kicked off the bull!

To Mike and all future anglers visiting Patagonia, please read the following: http://firstcastflyfishing.blogspot.com.ar/2015/01/fly-fishing-patagonia-beginner-anglers.html

Thanks for reading and hope to see you in Patagonia.