How it began
My new love affair with the old school art of fly fishing started a few months back during a fishing trip with John at Bor Num barramundi pond. After trying out his fly fishing gear I was hooked (figuratively speaking). The graceful art of fly casting, the delicate process of the fly retrieval combined with the raw feel of the line on the finger tips during a fight was unlike any other type of fishing.
Gotta love the gear
A few months and lots of cash spent later we fast-forward to the present. I now have my own fly gear along with my own fly-tying set. Oh did I mention how much I am liking the fact that fly-fishing is ridiculously cheaper than lure fishing? The average cost of a decent lure here in Bangkok is about B200-400. The average cost of tying my own fly is about B20-30 per fly. Gone from me are the feelings of regret when the line snaps. There’s also something very rewarding about tying your own flies. It is comparable to a good arts and craft project however the quality of the creation is decided by the fish’s eagerness to take a bite, and boy do they like to bite a good one.
Here are some of the ones I generally use that gets good results.
All my fly-tying material is bought from the same place as John’s. We both go to Tae (แต้) fishing shop in Nawamin soi 163 to occasionally stock up. For more info check out John’s write-up of the place here.
Testing it out
At Pilot 111 (yes… there again… I friggin’ love that place), I’ve been testing out my crafts on the barramundi and the giant snakeheads. It’s commonly known that barramundi go crazy for flies but the idea of fly fishing for giant snakehead is rarely heard of and relatively new in Thailand. There is however, an emerging school of thought that it is very possible. I know it is because I’ve tried it out and succeeded at Pilot’s giant snakehead pond.
The first technique I learnt for catching a giant snakehead, courtesy of khun Veera, involves successive long 10-inch jerks during the retrieve. To do this, one must cast out a big fluffy streamer fly to where the snakeheads are, wait for the fly to sink to the desired depth before the quick aforementioned jerks. This technique would trigger the snakehead’s natural instinct to aggressively chase down fast-moving objects.
The second technique is something I came up with. This technique works only when the pond is quiet and undisturbed. To begin, one must wait for a giant snakehead to surface for air. Then, cast the medium-sinking fly into the general vicinity and wait for the fly to dive down. I came up with this method to mimic the feeding that these snakeheads are used to. During feeding time the caretakers of the pond would throw in sardine chunks that slowly sink to the bottom. It’s first-come first-serve for these snakeheads so any snakehead moving too slow would miss out on a free meal. If you are lucky enough to cast into a shoal a greedy giant snakehead may take the initiative to snatch the fly before he’d have to share it with his friends.
The real goal
When I first started lure fishing I did it the wrong way round. Instead of practicing at stocked ponds I would spend weekends going all the way to natural reservoirs outside the city every single weekend in hope of landing a trophy sized snakehead in the wild. It was a long and very difficult process but in the end I did succeed at the cost of a lot of petrol money. See here for the story of that trophy fish. By going straight to the reservoir with limited skills, I was basically trying to score a home-run without ever going to batting practice. This time round I’m going to do it right. I’ll start by getting my technique up to scratch in a controlled environment like a stocked pond first before heading out to the reservoirs. The real goal here is to get good enough to trigger a bite and land the fish in natural setting. At the moment I have yet to have heard of anyone who has landed a giant snakehead on the fly so it would be nice to be one of the first to get that done. Should anyone have any photos of such fete please feel free to email it to me to post on the blog at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’d be a great inspiration for myself and anyone else who wants to get into fly fishing in Thailand.
I’ll be giving the whole natural snakehead fly fishing thing a go, hopefully in January the earliest, so stay tuned and keep on hookin’ the hooker way.