Monday, April 13, 2015

Costa Rica: DIY Trout Fly Fishing

The next time you head to Costa Rica, you may want to pack your trout rod.  Surprisingly, Costa Rica has a handful of rivers that hold beautiful Rainbow Trout.  The most popular river is the Rio Savegre. The river is located in a small village called San Gerrado de Dota.  It's an easy drive from San Jose and is a well known destination, with a variety of lodging options.  Speaking of lodging, I stayed at Los Lagos Lodge for $60 USD per night, including three wonderful meals per day. Wifi available in main salon and email is

Savegre River Facts
  • Length:  41 km total, but the trout section is less than 4 km.
  • Location: 2.5 hours from San Jose, Costa Rica. Take the Pan American Highway south, towards San Isidro.    
  • Fishing Season: Open year round.
  • Licensed Required: None that I know of.  
  • Floating: Walk-Wade Only.  White water rafting on the lower section. 
  • Species: Rainbow Trout from the McClould River, USA; and Canadian Kamloops. Hybrids are called Tico Trout. 
  • Average Size:  Expect fish to range from 6" to 10".  There could be a few larger fish, possibly up to 18".
  • Technical Fishing:  Casting can be challenging in densely wooded areas.  Nymphing plunge pools and fast micro-runs is an art; not many anglers do this on a daily basis. Fish are very spooky.  Be patient. Focus on slow steady body movements and maintain calm breathing.  Let the nymph sink to the bottom as quickly as possible; if you can, keep you fly line off the water; lead the leader through the pool/run, begin to life slowly = FISH! 
  • When:  Any time of year.  Rain season runs May - November.
  • Origin: 3,941 meters, Cerro de la Muerte, in the Cordirilla de Talamanca. 
  • Termination: Pacific Ocean.
  • Walk-Wade Difficulty:  Water is cold.  Depending on air temps, waders may be optional. Walking is not difficult.  
  • Fly Rods: 1wt- 5wt.  (I used my 5wt because that is all I had). 
  • Fly Lines:  Floating.  
  • Leaders-Tippets: I used a 14ft leader, ending with 6X tippet. Anything below 6X is too large. 
  • Flies:  The fly selection is not complicated. Think small, #16-#20.  Traditional small dries and nymphs.
  • Dangerous Insects and Animals:  No poisonous snakes or blood sucking bugs.  Climate is cool and temperate.  

Other Trout Rivers in Costa Rica
  • Chirripo
  • Toro
  • General
  • Lower Tapanti
  • Providencia (middle section of Savegre)
  • Orosi

NOTE: These rivers are not as accessible as Rio Savegre.  They are known to hold larger fish, but if your vacation time is limited, Savegre is the river of choice.

Day 01: 1st Costa Rican Rainbow Trout.  I missed a dozen or more strikes on the dry.  When I switched to a nymph, I caught a couple of dozen. 
Day 02: Fished all day long with nymphs (Red Copper John, Hare's Ear).
Day 02:  Largest fish of the day.

DIY Global Fishing Trips

At FCFF, I am running a business, but sometimes I love DIY fishing with friends. If you want to fish with me on one of my personal DIY trips, let's talk.

Final Thoughts

If you are like me and love fly fishing small intimate rivers, you may want to visit Rio Savegre. I think one or two days is plenty of fishing time here.  Plus, it's a nice break form the heat-humidity of the coast and it's far away from the tourist crowds.  

I hope you enjoyed this post.  Thanks for reading.