Fly Fishing in Thailand
- an Introduction
Capt. Max Mackenzie Skues
- Fly Fish Thailand IGFA Certified Guide -
offers a plethora of unique fly fishing opportunities & experiences.
Many waters await discovery, while recognized venues provide exceptional
fly fishing in remote, scenic & peaceful environments. Primary fly
fishing target species include Barramundi, Giant Snakehead, Red Tail
Catfish, Striped Catfish, Alligator Gar, Arapaima, Striped Peacock Bass,
Pacu, Black Pacu, Featherback and Jungle Perch. Thailand currently holds
56 IGFA World Records - with many record breaking fish caught but not
A typical fishing
situation in Europe & America. Crowded waters, restricted
permits, waiting lists to join syndicates or clubs and stress.
Overfishing and declining fish stocks. All at high cost to the
angler and the environment.
A typical start to
a days jungle fly fishing in Thailand. A private traditional
Thai fishing boat awaits the angler, boatman and guide. If there
are 2 anglers fishing, an additional boat and boatman is hired.
Fly fishing provides a vital income for local boatmen and their
families; promoting environmental awareness through catch &
release policies to preserve fish stocks.
A remote jungle
destination, the anglers paradise Khao Laem Dam lies deep into
the jungle. Famed for it’s record breaking Giant Snakehead and
Jungle Perch. Fly fishing here has minimal impact upon the
environment whilst bringing much needed revenue into the local
agreeable climate, abundant multispecies fish stocks, value for money
and a multitude of high quality fly fishing destinations allow for
yearround fly fishing in Thailand. The
fly fishing beginner and the world travelled, trophy hunter are always
surprised and delighted with the fly fishing opportunities enjoyed in
Thailand. Fly fishing is available in ponds, lakes, vast jungle
reservoirs and rivers, all at a modest cost and open for 365 days a year
(366 days for 2008!) Unlike migratory salmonoids - Thai fish are caught
here every day and their presence is not reliant upon rainfall and / or
Thailand caters for visiting
anglers with a variety of budgets. Six of the worlds top 100 hotels are
located in Bangkok, three of which have been voted “Worlds Best Hotel”.
Some of the best fly fishing in Thailand (if not in the world) is within
a short 45 minute drive from Bangkok. Three current IGFA World Records
were taken within this area.
seeking the ultimate Thai fly fishing & hospitality, a stay at
Fly Fish Thailand’s luxury Bangkok Villa is recommended. Where
Everything for the visiting angler is provided. Their Package
Deals offer exceptional fishing & value for money.
Bangkok is the ideal fishing
base for single or multi-day fly fishing excursions. Returning to
Bangkok between fishing trips to enjoy this vibrant city’s unrivaled
world class exciting, exotic night life adds to this unique fishing
holiday destination. Fly fishing can be physically and mentally tiring,
especially when fighting numerous trophy fish throughout the day. By
dividing the fishing into manageable one or multi-day day excursions,
the rest days in Bangkok (with the aid of a Thai massage) are both
restorative and refreshing.
Why Fly Fish in Thailand
Increasing worldwide fishing
pressures upon diminishing migratory salmonoid stocks; coupled with ever
greater fly fishing demand from an expanding number of fly fishermen
creates an impossible situation. The fly fishing angler is quick to
condemn other activities which may affect the quality of fishing, yet
slow to take responsibility for his / her own impact upon migratory fish
High quality freshwater game
fishing is available worldwide. By choosing a vacation destination,
other than traditional migratory salmonoid destinations; the angler
expands his / her fishing horizons and engages with new and exciting
quarry species. This informed decision relieves excessive angling
pressure upon migratory salmonoids. Thailand is the first choice fly
fishing vacation for the discerning fly fishing traveller.
Fly Fish Thailand - Fly Fish
Stable water conditions, an
abundance of food and a tropical climate facilitate the successful
introduction and propagation of numerous game fish from Australia to the
Amazon. This makes Thailand the world’s top multi-species fly fishing
At one venue there are
- Arapaima (Pirarucu) to over 300
pounds (136 Kg)
- Amazonian Red Tail Catfish over
100 pounds (45 Kg).
- Red Tail Catfish, Alligator Gar
and Black Pacu up to 40 pounds (18 Kg).
- Surubi Catfish, Arawana, Pacu and
Barramundi reach 20 pounds (9 Kg).
- Striped Peacock Bass are around
the 7 to 8 pound (3 Kg) mark.
This venue is reserved only for
fly fishing and lure fishing. The relatively high cost of fishing here
ensures only light fishing pressure. The fly fisherman enjoys the
highest success rate because few flies are presented to the fish. All of
these fish will enthusiastically take the fly.
Many fly fishers associate
Barramundi only with Australia. Barramundi, however, thrive in Thailand
within the Chachoengsao district. 3 IGFA world class records have come
from this area - only a 45 minute drive from Bangkok. This has to be the
worlds most productive fly fishing venue for Barramundi. Such is the
confidence in this location, the two premier Thailand Fishing Guides,
Fly Fish Thailand
www.flyfishthailand.com and Fish Thailand
www.fishthailand.co.uk offer customers a 50% refund if they fail to
catch a Barramundi at this venue !
Jungle fly fishing presents the
angler with two primary native species. The Giant Snakehead, from 9 to
33 pounds (4 to 15 kg) and the Jungle Perch 4.5 to 11 pounds (2 - 5 kg).
This quarry is found in vast man made reservoirs deep inside the Thai
jungle and provide an unforgettable fly fishing experience. The deeper
into the jungle one ventures - the better the fly fishing.
Fly fishing in the rivers of
Thailand is almost unheard of. In association with Eddie Mounce (ace
bait and lure Guide
www.fishthailand.co.uk), amazing locations are being discovered
almost weekly. The current target river species is the Striped Catfish,
recently found at a location near Bangkok, where they were seen rolling
and feeding in the topwater. River confluences form natural pools which
hold an array of species providing an idyllic fly fishing venue.
Some Techniques & Tackle
Fly fishing techniques employed
in Thailand are the same as those used in Europe and America. For
example, boat fly fishing for Giant Snakehead in a jungle reservoir is
conducted in the same manner as fly fishing for salmon in a Hebridean
Loch. The boatman maneuvers the boat parallel to the shoreline and
islands whilst the angler casts to cover fish laying close to the shore
adjacent to rock outcrops and similar cover.
Red Tail Catfish and Arapaima
are caught both by stalking the margins or prospecting the water at
different depths using different retrieves. An excited flurry of
baitfish on the water surface indicates a feeding predator and is always
worth a cast.
Jungle Perch both shoal and hunt
in packs. The shoals can be located near underwater reefs and islands.
Whilst the hunting packs are stalked in a boat. Jungle perch will herd
the prey fish into a tight shoal and then attack. The attacks are
visible on the surface and a fly presented in the attack area results in
a vicious take.
Barramundi are frequently seen
rolling just subsurface and will often move to and take the fly
presented just sub-surface. Sometimes, the Barramundi will sulk on the
bottom and need to be winkled out with a sinking line and weighted fly.
selection of rods and reels to cover a variety of fly fishing situations
Top: Sage 9 ft 9 wt Xi2
rod matched with a Tibor Riptide QC Reel.
Middle & Bottom: Pair
Sage 9 ft 13 wt Xi2 rods matched with Tibor Gulfstream QC Reels. Note
the cork fighting grips for big species.
A 9 foot 9 weight rod will cover
barramundi, jungle perch, pacu, striped peacock and the smaller giant
snakehead and red tail catfish. However, when the arapaima, large
catfish and alligator gar are the target species an 11 weight or heavier
rod is essential. In all instances the rod should be capable of casting
large, heavy flies - 1/0 to 3/0. Saltwater rods have the best action for
these situations. Reels must be strong and capable of holding a minimum
of 200 yards of 30 lb. dacron backing.
A small selection
of useful flies for fly fishing in Thailand.
From top left
Chartreuse Dilg Slider
Sato’s Blueback Herring
Red Black & Yellow Big Eye Clouser
White Zonker Clouser
Puglisi Articulated Black Popper
Black & Yellow Popper
Tropical fly lines are
mandatory. A floater, intermediate or intermediate sink tip and sinker
will cover all fishing situations. Your fly fishing guide will be able
to advise you. It is important to note that fly fishing tackle is NOT
available in Thailand. Ensure that your fly fishing guide carries and
supplies stocks of leaders, flies, backing, fly lines, wire trace &
mono. The most reliable brand of fly line and leaders for fishing in
Thailand is RIO.
Leaders & Flies
Fish in Thailand are not leader
shy, so leaders of about 7 to 9 feet long are suitable. Tapered braided
leader butts are not suitable, they lack the suppleness required to turn
over a large fly, they also tend to become somewhat soft in the hot
climate. By far, the best material to construct leaders is RIO Hard
Flies fall into two categories -
attractor lures and baitfish imitations. The common factor is they are
(except poppers) large - 1/0 to 3/0. A collection of poppers, zonkers,
frog nobblers, sliders, clousers and tubes will cover a variety of
situations. However, your fly fishing guide will supply a wide selection
of flies suitable for the different species and venues.
Finding Fly Fishing in
Fly fishing is not recognized in
Thailand, there are no fly fishing shops to give advice or assistance.
Every taxi driver in Bangkok will promise to take you to a “secret,
special or big fish” venue. You will invariably be profoundly
disappointed and lose a substantial amount of money. The only way to
secure a successful and enjoyable fly fishing vacation in Thailand is to
engage a professional, certified fly fishing guide.
Selecting a Fly Fishing Guide
in Thailand - 10 Hot Tips
The list below reflects real
incidents and situations which have occurred and / or are still
occurring in Thailand.
The list below reflects real
incidents and situations which have occurred and / or are still
occurring in Thailand.
1. Ensure the fly fishing
guide you engage is a dedicated fly fishing guide and not a general bait
2. Look for an IGFA
Certified Guide www.igfa.org/cap.asp scroll to the bottom of this page
and click on the search facility.
3. Check your fly fishing
guides credentials and professional affiliations with the cited
organization. IGFA lists on it’s website certified guides and official
4. Avoid guides who
operate on a “fishing group” basis. The maximum number of fly fishing
clients who can be correctly guided at any one time is 2. If not
careful, you can find yourself crammed into a mini-van along with 6
inexperienced tourists out for a fun fishing day.
5. Make sure your
potential guide is resident in Thailand. Avoid the “escorted tour
leader”. You pay for your vacation and his!
6. Email is inexpensive
and easy - so contact your potential fly fishing guide directly - and
ask him direct questions. Speak to him on the phone, find out if you
like the sound of him. This could save you both money and a
7. Be sure your fly
fishing guide can supply you with quality branded fly lines, leaders,
leader materials and flies.
8. Beware of cut-price or
cheap prices. Remember you get only what you pay for ! Book your
vacation early ensuring you get the vacation dates you want.
9. Ask your guide about
accommodation. Are you merely booked into a hotel and dumped there after
a day’s fishing ? If staying in a guides lodge / villa ask what
amenities are available - is there a rod room where you can make up
leaders, spool fly line and tie some flies. Check if your room is single
or double occupancy, whilst in the lodge / villa and when traveling
10. Be careful to
determine that it is the guide you are talking to and see in his
information packs who actually goes fishing with you. Beware of the
guide who “fronts” an operation and sends you fishing with a hired hand.
Getting to Thailand
Flights from Europe and USA to
Thailand are quite cheap. A direct flight round trip from London can be
found for around £500. FinnAir have started a new direct service.
Flights from New York are about $1000. A search of the internet flight
booking services will reveal an accurate figure. Remember - the earlier
you book, the cheaper the flight.
Big Fish... More to follow for
each individual species.
Yours Aye Max
Contact me at