Catching a Pacific sailfish on the fly

The nitty gritty on how to prep your gear for one of the ocean's most exhilarating quarry
Stu Apte tangles with a leaping Pacific sailfish (photo: Jeannine Apte).

How would you like to cast your fly to a fish that might be longer than your fly rod? That’s right, longer than your 9-foot fly rod. If you want an adrenaline rush almost equal to landing on an aircraft carrier, you might want to try a pacific sailfish on fly. You will be close up and personal with your adversary and it’s not as difficult as you might believe. In more than 40 years of fly fishing for Pacific sail, I’ve helped scores of people catch their first. My first was at Club de Pesca de Panama, now called Tropic Star Lodge, in 1964.

Review: Douglas Outdoors Upstream Plus fly rod

Douglas's beefed-up version of its well-loved original offers a surprising combo of strength and grace
Photo: Johnny Carrol Sain

The sweet spot for a fly rod is found at the intersection of power, precision, and playability. “Playability” is a great word to use here because it allows a continuation of my alliteration, and stringing words together in entertaining combinations is what I do. But what I’m referring to is the feel of a rod while the fish is on the line. That’s what we’re out there for, right? You can say it’s all about the eat, but then we can tally the four-letter words spewed forth after a fish comes unbuttoned and call you a liar.

Fly fishing Patagonia's famous trout rivers

A guide to touring northern Argentina's most renowned trout water
Casting to a rising trout on the Huaca Mamuil, a tributary to the famed Malleo (photo: Chad Shmukler).

I watched closely as my over-tied size 12 Adams tumbled off the gravel ridge and dropped atop the bucket at the head of a long run. The big dry swirled into the river’s current, forcing me to mend my line to extend the drift. A massive head the size of a grown man’s fist pushed from the water and sucked in the hapless fly. The floating fly line yanked tight, and the heft on the end of the line was admirable. I lifted the rod and knew I was into a big Rio Chimehuin brown. Like … really big. And then, just as quickly as the line had snapped tight, the fish was gone.

Review: Skwala RS waders

Across the board, top-tier performance
Photo: Skwala Fishing.

Relative newcomer Skwala entered the fly fishing market earlier this year with a stated goal of upping the expectations fly anglers have for their gear. Thus far, their limited product lineup has turned heads, offering anglers notable and welcome innovations.

Need a lightweight pair of waders that feel more like pants? The Carbon waders fit the bill. Need a coat that’ll keep you warm and dry in anything and that moves with you while on the water? Skwala’s RS Jacket may be the answer.

How outdoor enthusiasts can help scientific research about climate and wildlife

Can anglers help scientists learn more about climate and wildlife in remote locales?
Water quality testing on the North Fork of the Smith River in Oregon (photo: Ellie Friedmann).

When Gregg Treinish set out to hike the length of the Andes Mountains at age 24, there was a lot he didn’t know. For starters, he didn’t realize he and his hiking partner, Deia Schlosberg, would be the first to do it. Or that their 22-month, 7,800-mile trek would gain them international recognition.

He also had no idea what he would do next — but he sure had a lot of time to think about it.