Fly Fishing in Colombia

by | May 16, 2024 | fly fishing Colombia | 1 comment

fly-fishing-ColombiaThe 5:45 AM alarm didn’t sound soon enough.  I was already up.  We ate a quick breakfast at the Diez Hotel before Ben Furimsky, Jess McGlothlin, Scott Wessels and two newly arrived friends, a father son combo, Tony and Anthony Marrese headed for the Medellin local airport.  There we boarded a flight to the Pacific Coast village of Bahia Solano, soon to be fly fishing in Colombia.


flyfishing-ColombiaThe flight was short, around 45 minutes.  Upon arrival we were met by the Darien Lodge team.  They took us to a local restaurant and we hammered down our second breakfasts of the morning, which no one complained about.  Then we headed to a bay where two boats were waiting.



fly-fish-ColombiaDarien Lodge is exactly 66 miles north up the Pacific Coast from Bahia Solano, approximately 15 miles south of the Panama border.  Rather than waste time with a boat ride all the way there then unpacking then venturing out fishing, we put our rods together then stowed our luggage in the bow and spent the entire afternoon fishing our way to the lodge.  I boarded the boat with Ben and Jess.


Jess-McGlothlinIt’s been more than thirty years since I fished this part of the world.  I wasn’t in Colombia.  Granny and I were 25 miles north fishing near Jaque, Panama.  Though that seems like another lifetime, I never forgot the beauty or the peacefulness of this place.  It’s a region like few others.  The rolling mountains, the lush greenery and dense jungle of the Darien Gap border the rugged coast of the Pacific Ocean. We were supposed to be looking for bait balls and leaping tuna but none of us could get our eyes off the amazing terrain.


flyfishing-skipjack-tunaWe weren’t five miles in our ride before we were greeted by a feeding school of skipjack tuna.  Every fly fishing location on the planet has sort of its, “warm up fish”.  Skipjack are one the smallest tuna species and usually cooperative.  These guys however tested us for the first hour.  They surfaced for seconds slamming bait then dove from sight.  Then a quarter mile away they would start again.  We’d run the boat there and they’d be gone again.  This feisty little one was the only skippy we got.



Photo by Jess McGlothlin

The boat with Scott, Anthony and Tony left ahead of us and we could see them as a spec a few miles ahead.  It looked like they were stopped so we ran their way.  That’s when we met our first school of yellowfin tuna.  It was a fury of splashing with chunky tuna missiles darting every direction.




fly-line-managementBusting fish in the open sea wreaks havoc not only with all the bait fish they are killing and eating, but also to the anglers pursuing them.  This is when lines tangle on every object available including feet.  Wet decks on boats became skating rinks and some anglers actually forget how to cast.  I must admit, despite some pretty decent fly fishers on board, all the above came to life.


fly-fishing-Ben-FurimskyIt took some time to get a grip on things.  I was working from the back of the boat.  Ben was hurling long casts from the bow.  Jess was behind the lens trying to capture the chaos.  That’s about when Ben went tight.


If you’ve never experienced the madness of hooking a yellowfin tuna, hope that someday you do.  And hope it’s with a 12-weight in your hand.  Imagine going tight to a fish in strip set.  The weight you feel in that instant is no different then hooking a stump only the stump takes off like a laser.  All loose line streaks off the deck and fly line and backing leave your reel at a pace more impressive than being hooked up to the line winder in your local fly shop.  Even if your drag is set tight!


yellowfin-tunaThe run of a yellowfin most often goes slightly out and down.  It’s truly unstoppable.  Luckily they seldom run for structure.  I hook up with my drag somewhat tight but once the tuna is about 50yds in my backing I tighten it more.  And if it’s a real fighter that runs out over 100yds or more, I crank my drag down even stronger and hang on to my rig for dear life.


Winston-BauerMy exact set up today was my Winston Air Max 2 12-weight, a test reel from Bauer loaded with 250yds of gel spun backing, Scientific Anglers Big Water Taper Max Sink 500 gr, 6 ft of straight 40lb Fluoro leader and a size 4/0 tan and white Clouser-like fly.  The strong leader and 100lb core fly line is the key to being able to crank my reel drag without breaking the fish off.


Ben-FurmiskyRegardless of the oversized fly tackle, the battle time often exceeds ten minutes.  I’ve seen some anglers let the tuna beat them and the fight goes on forever.  Ben landed this one handily in the ten minute range.


We chased the yellowfin around for most of the afternoon.  We were traveling fast in order to cover our 66 mile distance to the lodge.  We didn’t have the opportunity to concentrate on any one school.  Happily we found enough to keep us busy.  Jess and I each hooked one and lost them.  Ben got a perfect shot at a school of free swimming Pacific sailfish.  I wish I had a photo as it’s a sight to behold.  Ben made the cast but a tuna acting as a body guard stole his fly and the sailfish all spooked.  Another ten minute battle for Ben.


Darien-LodgeWe arrived at Darien Lodge at around 5 PM.  Its located on the edge of a tiny fishing village.  We moored the big boat we traveled on then hopped aboard a panga and surfed into the beach.





Welcome drinks and a cold towel awaited us.  It was nice.  Then we headed for our rooms to move in and clean up.  Then it was the usual – a cocktail hour with the group full of today’s fishing stories.  We had fresh yellowfin tuna sashimi to go with followed by fresh grouper dinner.  I believe this will be a fantastic week fly fishing in Colombia!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

1 Comment

  1. Howie

    Damn, now I want to catch a tuna!

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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!