Fly Fishing for Costa Rica Billfish

by | Aug 8, 2018 | Uncategorized | 4 comments

fly fishing Costa Rica5 am came early for me and Sammy.  But once our tired brains clicked on exactly what was going on we sprang to life.  We were catching a flight from San Jose, Costa Rica to Puerto Jimenez on the Osa Peninsula.  Then heading out in the Pacific Ocean to spend three days to try and catch a Pacific blue marlin on the fly.


blue marlinOur flight went smooth and in Puerto Jimenez we were met by my friend Tom Enderlin.  We loaded our gear in Tom’s truck and made the quick shuttle to our billfish boat.  Our boat is called the Maestro and Capt. Oscar and his three-man crew were anxiously waiting to get our marlin mission started.


fly fishing for marlin with Tom EnderlinI mentioned Tom briefly yesterday but if it wasn’t for him and me meeting while filming “Atlanticus” at his Jungle Tarpon Reserve Lodge last August, Sammy and I wouldn’t be here.  By chance Tom and I were chatting one night and he told me he does more than help anglers catch tarpon.  He was building a blue marlin on the fly program.


billfishMarlin on the fly hasn’t been my sport.  I in fact have a marlin curse.  But Tom was adamant that with him I’d succeed.  The only catch was the price.  Bluewater boats in general cost thousands of dollars daily to run and Costa Rican blue marlin require a long boat ride out to sea, further raising the price.  The price of the three-day trip Tom suggested was far beyond my wildest dreams.


Jeff Currier fly fishing with Sammy VigneriHowever, for kicks I had Tom email me the marlin info after I returned home.  My long-time pal and always my Baja partner in crime, Sam Vigneri, is a marlin fanatic.  I say “fanatic” lightly because Sam hasn’t a ton of marlin experience but he has caught five striped marlin all on the fly.  Despite the minimal marlin experience he goes bananas for tossing the fly at them.  He took one look at the email and told me to pick the dates for 2018.  Wow!  What are friends for?


marlin on the flyI worked with Tom and we selected the new moon period in August – excellent tides for marlin and a time when both he and I could join Sammy.  It was crucial Tom could be with us as he has the experience with blue marlin and the 15-weight fly rods and massive reels to handle them (I could scrounge my house for a 14-weight and old massive reel but for this trip there’s no room for error).


fly fishing for billfishIn case you don’t know how fly fishing for billfish works I’ll explain.  You don’t just head out to sea and start casting.  The open ocean is like a desert. You need to bring the billfish to you.  We do this by trolling hookless teasers, often times with a bait attached.  The billfish comes in and attacks the teasers and ends up in a frenzy.  The teasers are removed from the water and the billfish looks desperately to find then again.


fly patterns for billfishThe teasers don’t return to the water.  Instead, the fly fisher casts a massive fly resembling the missing teaser.  When things go right the billfish makes a beeline for the fly and eats it.  All billfish slash their prey with their bills to stun it, then eat.  Their mouths are hard as a rock so hooking them is difficult.  But when you do hook one, hang on as all hell breaks loose!


fly fishing for sailfishTom brought along two 15-weight fly rods matched with massive reels.  Reels that hold nearly a mile of backing.  The leader is made up of 20lb class tippet with 12” of 140lb shock tippet to the fly.  It’s the legitimate IGFA regulation set up, however for us it’s not to try and get any sort of world record, but rather we use this system so if something breaks we lose a fly and leader not an entirely fly line.


teasing for marlinWe put three teasers out at approximately 11 am.  We were about a mile from land and headed directly out to sea.  Capt. Oscar, knows the blue marlin fishing is excellent four hours (40 miles) off shore but hoped that perhaps we’d find some sailfish or a black marlin on the way out.  At 4 pm we were a bit bored to say the least.  We hadn’t raised a single fish in five hours!


flyfishing in Costa RicaAt 34 miles out we finally saw some life.  There were birds and spinner dolphin going nuts on a school of fleeing baitfish.  We dragged the teasers all through the area for over an hour but not one marlin showed.  There were some leaping yellowfin tuna mixed in and we stopped and Sam and I cast relentlessly for them.  Nada.


fly fishing for tunaAt 6 pm it got near dark. Oscar cut the engines and the crew put out the sea anchor and lit up the back of the boat with a night light.  Within minutes we had small yellowfin tuna and skipjack tuna all over.  Sammy and I were able to avoid the skunk on our first day by laying into the baby tunas with my 10-weights for about an hour.  This gave us fresh tuna for dinner.


living out at seaAfter the tuna rush I started to feel queasy.  I’d never been seasick in my life until three years ago while off Virginia Beach with the Mossy Creek boys.  We actually figured I had a bug.  But recently on the crossing back from St. Brandon’s Atoll in May I puked again.  It was a quick “one and done” and the seas were indeed rough.  One of the guides yacked as well.  But still, a lifetime of being fine and now a change in the body?  The good news is that once I relaxed in my bunk tonight after a SMALL portion for dinner I feel fine.  The body works in mysterious ways.


Costa Rica

Its time to finally get a good night sleep under what I’ll say is an extraordinary sunset.  Sammy’s and my cabin is very comfy.  Small but perfect.  We’re in the good blue marlin water now and the teasers go out at 5:30 am.  But I’m not going to lie, as I lay here in my bunk I can’t help but worry that the marlin curse is alive and well.  We should’ve raised at least a few marlin today!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Janet Holmes a Court

    Another great blog thank you !
    Sadly can’t come to Jackson this year as heart playing up
    Love to Grannie xoxoxo

  2. Jeff


    Granny and I were just talking about you. Literally an hour ago. Wondering when you would be here. This is a huge bummer to hear you can’t make it. Furthermore, we hope this heart thing isn’t something that can’t be cured.

    Good luck and we hope to see you next year!

    Keep in touch,

    Jeff & Granny

  3. Tad Einloth


    I hope tomorrow is your lucky day!

    Good luck.


  4. Jeff

    Thanks Tad. I hope so too!

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!