For the freshwater fisherman, visualize one 15-pound Smallmouth Bass or one 25 lbs. Silver Salmon fresh from the ocean on steroids with absolutely no sense of humor, and you have an idea of what a Peacock Bass brings to the game!
It is not unusual for fishermen to bring down a 2 piece fly rod and take it home as a 4 piece rod aft.er a week of fishing for Peacocks! These are ambush fish that will feed on a wide variety of life including baitfish, juvenile Peacocks, snakes, lizards and most any small wildlife that happens into their watery world. Thus, Peacock Bass can be caught on a wide variety of topwater and subsurface flies.
Heavy fly rods, high quality salt water type fly reels featuring good smooth drags, strong tippets and monster flies are the norm when fly-fishing for big Peacocks. Heavy saltwater fly equipment is the norm when fishing for Peacock Bass, if you want any chance of landing a big one. 6 – 8 inch streamers of extruded nylon tied on 3/0 – 4/0 heavy hooks are necessary as are 30 - 40 pound tippets and 9 - 11 wt. fly rods.
If you are used to using a 5 – 7 wt. fly rod with size 16 dry flies, you will quickly come to the recognition that casting with a 10 wt. fly rods while throwing huge streamers will take a toll on the body! One hook-up with a big Peacock will make you realize it was all worth it!
The majority of Peacock Bass you will catch on the fly rod will be in the 2 – 6 pound class. We had one angler catch over 150 Peacocks in the 2 – 8 lbs. class one-day fishing with a small white Bunny Leech pattern. He sized up to a 6 inches streamer fishing the same area the next day and only caught 24 fish, but three of these fish weighed 12 lbs. or better.
80% of the Peacocks you will catch, an 8 wt. rod is plenty heavy. But should you hook into a 15+ pound monster, your 8 wt. will be history! One 9 wt. rod will work for 90% of the fish, but if you hook one 20 lbs. Peacock Bass, you will have much better chance of landing it if you are using a 10 wt. rod.
For years we recommended anglers bring a 2 piece fly rod rather than a 4 piece pack rod. But with today’s technology, the 4 piece rods are plenty tough enough and much easier to travel with. High quality rods such as G-Loomis, Sage, Orvis and Temple Fork rods are worth the money if for no other reason than they have a lifetime guarantee.
Capt Peacock offers to its clients Temple Fork Outfitters fly rods for the last few for Peacock Bass. TFO rods are hard to beat! For one-third the price, complete with a lifetime guarantee, this is the rod of choice for any fly-fishermen around the globe.
Peacock Bass do not make long terrifying runs, they are structure oriented fish and fight like a Rottweiler, “right here, right now!” Once you stick them the game is trying to keep them out of the cover they live an and ambush baitfish from.
“Baby Blue” TFO rod was rated for 300-400 GR lines. This rod is a great piece of engineering, with the butt of the rod being built of S-glass for lift.ing power, the second and third sections being built of medium modulus graphite and the 4th section being built of high modulus graphite for the finesse of presenting the fly just where you want it! This rod teamed with the TFO375 large arbor reel with its smooth strong drag was just the ticket for any Peacock I could con into
Fly reels are not the place to scrimp when fishing for Peacocks! You need a good quality reel, with a smooth drag and preferable and outside brake on the spool so you can palm the reel when a big fish makes its powerful runs.
Peacocks usually do not make long screaming runs like a Bone Fish or a Snook, they tend to make short very powerful runs that can be hard to control! With their abnormally large tail for their body size, they generate a huge amount of power when they turn to go.
Make sure you have 200 yds. at least 20 lbs. backing behind the fly line……just in case. When a fish gets on the reel…. It’s rodeo time!
We would strongly recommend Temple Fork Outfitter’s large arbor TFO 375 fly reel. With a large really smooth drag and lightweight for its size, this reel compliments a 10 wt. rod very well.
Salt water fly lines and leaders are stiffer than the same weight in a fresh water line and tend to work better in the heat of the Amazon. This “stiffness” helps to roll over the big streamers you will be using and the heat of the Amazon will not make the lines wilt.
Most fly rods will allow you to go up or down one line weight and still function well. When trying to throw 5 – 6” streamers, I also recommend you load up your fly reel with a fly line one weight heavier than the fly rod is rated for. This additional weight will help fire out and roll over the big flies you will be using. Weight forward lines like a salt-water “Tarpon Taper” or a fresh-water Pike Taper will ease your labours when throwing big flies.
You will use an intermediate sinking line for the majority of water conditions, but a sinking line is a necessity for working the points that drop off into deeper water… where the big ones live! If you plan on throwing salt-water poppers or Dahlberg Divers you will need to bring a floating line as well. When you travel as far as Brazil to play the Peacock game, you always want to take along all your weapons.
Leaders in the 30 - 50 lbs. class are the norm for fishing for Peacocks. These fish are not the least bit leader shy, I’ve seen a lot of “good” fly fishermen use just a 6 or 7 ft. length of 50 or 60 lbs. fluorocarbon mono for tippet and these are the people that know what they are doing!
The old adage, “big lures for big fish,” is very true when fishing for Peacock Bass. The first time you see the big streamers used for Peacock Bass you will look at them in awe. You will catch big Peacocks on 3"streamers, but the smaller fish will normally have them long before the bigger fish have a chance to hit them.
Peacocks feed much like Black Bass and can be caught on poppers (big salt water ones are the best), Dahlberg Divers (deer hair floating frog like fly that has a slanted face that will dive a few inches below the water and make the water “gurgle” when they are retrieved, floating back to the surface when quiet), Bunny Leaches, Clousers and big Deceiver style streamers
Suggested flies for big Peacocks are huge streamers sporting big eyes and some Flash-a Bo or Tinsel in them. Finding big flies that are applicable for Peacocks can be tough. A 5 –6” streamer tied with feathers is virtually impossible to lift. from the water and false cast as they retain so much water. The best of these, what I call “Gorilla Streamers,” are tied using extruded nylon as this material sheds virtually all their water as soon as they are lift.ed to false cast. The extruded nylon I like to use is called Salt Water Yak Hair or Bozo Hair.
Both of these types of nylon are coarse enough to take a beating and survive catching several fish… that is unless the Piranha takes a liking to them! Aft.er using these big streamers with and without large holographic eyes, the presence of these eyes makes a big difference in a fly’s performance. Strong, quality hooks in the 3/0 – 4/0 class are also a must. Flies on 4/0 hooks, both in short shank and long shank.
Peacock Bass, although not a member of the Bass family, will feed and act a lot like a Large Mouth Bass. Think like you were fishing for largemouth bass, super-size your equipment and terminal tackle, and you will be on the right path. The big difference between the two fish is that a Peacock Bass has a red eye that does not seem to be the least bit sensitive to the sun and are active all day.
Peacock Bass actually seem to suspend during the night and do not feed. These are predatory fish and love to lie in ambush for an easy meal. Prime places to fish are around cover, not only on the banks of rivers and lakes, but also around islands, submerged trees and flooded timber, as well as sandbar points located away from the shore. Although Peacocks will school and push bait fish to the surface, the bigger fish will most oft.en be found lying in the shadows of brush, banks or sand bars in ambush mode.
This is the main reason that heavy fly rods in the 10 wt. class are necessary when “playing” with Peacocks in the 10 – 25 lbs. class. Once a big Peacock is hooked, he will head straight for the cover he feels safe in, and will give you more fight, pound per pound than any fresh water fish you have ever hooked before on a fly rod. Peacocks have an abnormally large tail for their body size, which generates tremendous power.
A great technique is to fish a plug caster and a fly fisherman in the same boat. With the plug caster in the front of the boat, he will make enough noise to raise a big fish. When he does, the fly fisherman needs to drop his fly near the swirl of the striking fish or even right behind a fish hooked by the plug caster. Peacocks will very oft.en travel in pairs and when one fish is hooked the other fish will make attempts to steal the bait away from the hooked fish. The second fish, or a fish that has struck at the plug and missed, will readily strike the fly if he sees it. Think of the plug as the teaser behind an offshore sport fisher trolling for Sailfish or Marlin. The teaser raises the fish, and then the fish sees the baitfish or fly that you actually plan on catching the fish with.