Blue Marlin on the Fly – The End of a Curse

by | Aug 9, 2018 | fly fishing for blue marlin | 4 comments

fly fishing Costa RicaIt seemed like a normal morning other than the fact that I was on a 43 foot marlin boat 40 miles off the Costa Rican coast.  There were clouds blocking the sunrise and some rocking waves from the Pacific Ocean.  The crew filled my Yeti with coffee and I watched daybreak arrive.  Kind like on the back porch in Idaho – right?


flyfishing for billfishThen out went three hookless teasers and the giant diesel engines fired up.  This snapped me into reality.  Where was Sammy in case a blue marlin attacked the teaser?


Sammy came out when he heard the engines vibrate.  And he didn’t greet me as expected.  He rubbed his eyes and looked around.  Then very casually said, “Jeff you’re up”.


fly patterns for billfishI wasn’t planning to fish until Sammy got at least a few good cracks.  Now I had to figure out where to put my coffee if a marlin came and get some nutrition in my body fast in case I was lucky enough to do battle.  I busted open a Kate’s Bar and made a practice cast with the 15-weight.  Then I looked at my fly and imagined what it would be like if it was in the mouth of a blue marlin.


teasing marlin for fly fishingIt didn’t take long for the **** to hit the fan.  My Yeti was still full and I was chewing the last bite of my energy bar.  The far teaser got hit.  Mono screamed from the gigantic spin reel.  Even without hooks the marlin wouldn’t let go.  Finally the teaser broke free but as one of the mates retrieved that one another got devoured.  This marlin was hot and the chaos began!


fly fishing for blue marlin

Photo by Tom Enderlin

I lunged for the sturdy fly rod.  By the time I looked behind the boat the closest teaser had a bill tossing it around.  Holly crap!  One of the mates heaved the last teaser from the water and the boat shifted to neutral.  I made my cast and in a split second the irritated blue marlin grabbed my fly.  I strip set and he ripped off about 250 yards of line and backing in less than three seconds.  Then as fast as he was on, the blistering fish was gone.  Damn!


I’m not sure where the calmness came from but I was the only person on board that seemed calm.  I reeled in and checked the fly.  I was surprised to see the glob of pink feathers intact.  The hook simply didn’t penetrate.  I got things ready again and said “Ok Sammy you’re up”.


“Nope.  Try again” replied Sammy while still rubbing his eyes.


Jeff Currier fly fishing for blue marlinMinutes later the far teaser got thumped again.  Everyone was awake this time.  The crew got all three teasers from the water exactly as I was ready to cast.  The boat hit neutral and I let it sail.  When the bulky fly hit a large bill slashed at it.  I popped the fly and in an instant the fish was on.  This time the marlin didn’t run.  He jumped three times.  Each jump edged him closer to the boat.  His last jump had us concerned he may end up on board.  It was wild!


Once the blue marlin knew he was attached to me and the boat he ran.  And I’m not talking 250 yards of line.  I’m talking like, when he jumped only seconds later, the marlin was so far away he looked tiny.  This was an unreal fish!


blue marlin on the fly

Photo by Tom Enderlin

Capt. Oscar shifted the boat to reverse and a high speed chase began.  I reeled so fast it was like I had a motor attached to my arm.  Water drenched me as it crashed against the transom.  Magically within minutes I was within 75 feet from my marlin.  The signature marlin “greyhounding” began.  Some may say such a fish isn’t made for fly fishing.  Guess again.  This experience was absolutely magnificent!


Its vastly important not only to me, but to Tom Enderlin, Capt., Oscar and his crew to release these outstanding creatures unharmed.  It helps to get them in quick.  “In quick” sounds impossible, but you’re not bringing the marlin in the boat.  Such action wouldn’t be safe for the marlin or any humans aboard.  For a billfish to be considered landed on the fly you need to get the leader in the fly rod.  After you do that you can continue to fight them but most anglers break them off as fast as they can.


Jeff Currier blue marlin

Photo by Tom Enderlin

I kept reefing on my marlin while Oscar helped with timely boat maneuvering.  We worked like a well-oiled machine.  In less than 15 minutes I reeled the leader in the rod. I was so pumped I nearly reeled in the entire leader and touched the marlin with the rod tip.  Everyone cheered then I leaned back and held my reel tight.


The marlin, which was estimated at around 180lbs, cleared the water literally ten feet from us and broke off.  An image etched in my brain forever.  The marlin curse was broken!


fly casting for marlinIt turns out we’d found blue marlin headquarters.  In the next couple hours Sammy had eight shots.  Eight!  But we had fish that wouldn’t eat.  Some spit the hook.  And two broke the leader off at the nail knot.  Bad things happen when chasing one of the largest game fish in the world.


fly fishing for dorado

Photo by Tom Enderlin

About when we were wondering if anything could go right we saw some floating debris.  Any sort of structure far out to sea will hold fish.  I climbed up on the bridge with Capt. Oscar and looked to the debris with my polarized glasses.  There they were, hundreds of Dorado swimming below.  I scrambled back down and Tom had already pulled out my two big 12-weight Winston’s rigged with Dorado flies.  “Cast!” Tom shouted.


flyfishing for mahi

Photo by Tom Enderlin

Dorado (Mahi Mahi or dolphin fish) are one of the most aggressive fish in the ocean.  As soon as our flies hit the water the Dorado attacked.  These fish have one of the hardest mouths of all fish.  Driving the hook can be difficult but if you miss one, on comes another.  Then another.  And another until finally you’re hooked up.


Jeff Currier fly fishing for Dorado

Photo by Tom Enderlin

Dorado leap and twist in the air madly the second you hook them.  Then they steal line from you at a furious pace and jump several more times.  If you survive these first ten seconds of battle you have a good chance.  If you don’t, usually as you reel the loose line back in you’ll hook another.  That is unless your fish tangles with your buddies!


Dolphin Fish

Photo by Tom Enderlin

The fight of these brightly colored fish is mind blowing.  At times you expect to see a marlin on the end of your line.  But out comes the mere 10 to 15lb blur of rattling gills and shades of green, yellow and blue.  Colors you don’t find in an ordinary set of Sharpies.


Sam Vigneri fly fishing for dorado

Photo by Tom Enderlin

Dorado get far bigger than 15lbs.  Dorado up to 80lbs were once common.  But the species is plagued by being fine tasting.  The once plentiful numbers of these fish worldwide fooled many anglers in to thinking populations could never be depleted.  However in my short 30 years of blue water fishing I’ve seen the size of these fish and the abundance of these fish shrink worryingly.


fly fishing in Costa RicaWe took four of these awesome pelagics.  Then we caught and released a half a dozen more.  The ones we kept turned into a delicious lunch of ceviche and tonight a grilled fish dinner.


Jeff Currier fly fishing for almaco jackSammy and I picked up another species of fish during the Dorado blitz.  We each caught a few almaco jacks (Seriola rivoliana).  These are fish of the amberjack family and are often mistaken as baby amberjacks or the lesser amberjack.  They can be easily identified from the other amberjacks by the second dorsal which is much higher.  While today was the first time catching them in the Pacific, I caught some off Glovers Reef in Belize nearly thirty years ago.



Photo by Tom Enderlin

It was time to return to the marlin fishing and when we did the opportunities kept coming.  At 1:30 pm, Sammy got a solid hook up to blue marlin.  But this wasn’t an ordinary blue marlin.  This marlin sipped Sammy’s fly like a trout next to the boat then went down.


blue marlin on the fly

Photo by Tom Enderlin

Line peeled off the reel at an amazing pace.  It seemed the fish was going straight down.  Then a half mile away and far to the right Tom spotted Sammy’s marlin.  He’d gone deep, out, to the right and then back to the surface where he was now greyhounding.


Sam Vigneri blue marlin on fly

Photo by Tom Enderlin

We could tell immediately this fish might be trouble.  Tom was quick to say that for every easily caught marlin there was a stubborn one.  Mine was easy and Sam’s might be stubborn.


After the minute of greyhounding ended, Sammy’s marlin disappeared.  He was still on, but he was so far away we couldn’t tell if he was down deep or just under the surface and far away.  Our mate Jesus was driving and he was in reverse and following Sam’s line.  The way the Pacific smashed the transom reminded me of a Jaws movie!


fly fishing for billfishEventually we caught up to this furious fish.  It took a good 30 minutes.  Unfortunately for Sammy, the blue marlin was straight down in the fathoms of the ocean at least 400 yards.  It’s the worst scenario there is for any marlin angler because you need to fight them back up.


blue marlinSam began his tedious challenge.  It’s a good thing he’s been going to his local gym.  It took an hour to get this marlin within 100ft.  We all sighed in relief but our joy came too soon.  The marlin made one crazy jump then smoked Sammy all the way down again.  At least as far as it did the first time.


marlin flyfishingA long story short.  The first time Sammy got even close to reeling his leader into the rod was 2 ½ hours in.  He didn’t quite succeed.  His next opportunity came after 3 hours and 15 minutes in.  He didn’t quite succeed.


I, Tom and the crew thought for sure the 20lb class tippet would give.  But after almost 4 hours of battle, the most distraught, exhausted Sammy I’ve ever seen in the more than 30 years I’ve known him, reeled the leader into the rod.


fly rod marlinYou would think because this fish played down and dirty for most of the four hours of battle that Sammy could lean back and break him off and he’d return to the depths.  But no.  When Sammy reared back with what little energy he had, this marlin of fly fishing nightmares greyhounded into the twilight.  Hands down, the most incredible battle with a fish I’ve ever witnessed in my life!


sam vigneri blue marlinIt was nearly dark after Sammy’s blue marlin swam back to the wild.  Sam was so wrecked he downed three jugs of water before he could drink a beer.  But gradually it hit him that he too had caught a blue marlin on the fly.  And we estimated Sammy’s at nearly 300lbs!  Un-Freaking-Real!




Costa Rica fly fishing

Today may very well have been the best blue water fly fishing day of our lives.  We raised twenty blue marlin, hooked seven and landed two on the fly rod.  That’s not even to mention we could’ve caught a hundred plus Dorado and other fun fish around the floating debris.


Unfortunately for me I just got done puking over the side of the boat.  And I mean bigtime.  The strange thing however is so is Capt. Oscar.  I’m not sure what the heck is going on in this body but it’s time to collapse in my bunk.  But no matter how sick I feel this day still is one of the greatest!


Back at it in the morning. . . .


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Kevin Yoshida

    Congrats Jeff, so happy for you and Sammy!!! Now go get a few more!

  2. Jeff

    Thanks Kevin. Have a blast in Kendjam!

  3. Lance

    Nothing to say but great day! Congrads to you and Sammy! Have a feeling this story doesn’t end here.

  4. Tad Einloth


    Wow – that was a great day.



Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!