After making 32 trips to Brazil’s Amazon Peacock Bass fishing utilizing fly & conventional tackle I have outlined below what tackle I recommend for an angler to take with them on a trip to Brazil. Many outfitters offer the use of rods, reels and a few of the upscale operations will even offer lures for your trip. The information below will give you my idea of what a first time angler should take should he want to do combat with the mighty Peacock Bass utilizing bait casting, spinning or fly fishing equipment.
Bait Casting Equipment
Rods: Two 6 ½’ - 7 ‘ medium heavy bait casting rods . I prefer the 3 piece travel rods such as Temple Fork Outfitters TRC 705–3 7’0” MH
Reels: Two high speed retrieve bait casting reels that will hold 100+ yds of 65 – 80lb Kevlar braided line. My preference are a small Shimano Curado 200HG loaded with 65 lb test Kevlar line or the larger Shimano 300 Curado E loaded with 80 lb test Kevlar line.
I strongly suggest you use bait casting equipment rather than spinning gear for Peacock Bass as the heavy braided Kevlar line necessary for this game does not cast terribly well off a spinning reel and drags are not as smooth when set tight on spinning reels as they are on bait casting reels. But if you are not user friendly with a bait casting reel use the spinning equipment.
Rods: Two 6 ½’ - 7 ‘medium heavy spinning rods. I prefer the 3 piece travel rods such as Temple Fork Outfitters TRS 705–3 7’0” MH
Reels: Two medium heavy spinning reels that will hold 100 yds+ of 65 – 80 lb test braided Kevlar line. My preference is a Shimano 4000 class spinning reel.
A braided Kevlar line is a must as even though Peacock Bass have no more teeth than a Black Bass about like 60 grit sandpaper. They are structure oriented fish and as soon as they feel the hook the war is on as you try to keep them out of the logs and brush. I prefer 80 lb Power Pro brand Kevlar line, but on some of the smaller reels like the Shimano Curado 200, I drop to 65 lb Power Pro as the reel will only hold about 80 yds of 80 lb
You don’t need steel leaders for Peacock Bass & stay away from swivels and snap swivels, they will cost you a big fish one day! If you plan on fishing for Piranha, bring some stout steel leaders!
Top Water: You will need two types, noisy propeller type lures and subtle “walking the dog” action type lures and you will need 2 or 3 of each type.
For Noisy Propeller type top water lures I suggest the 6.5” Rip Roller manufactured by High Roller. I like the 6.5” model as it has three 3/0 treble hooks on it where the 5.5” has only 2 treble hooks and the 7.5” is just to heavy and long to cast all day. I would suggest Clown, Fire Tiger or Halloween colors.
There are several other manufactures of these prop type top water baits like Pavon Prop, Temptress and Peacock Passion.
For subtle “walking the dog” type top water lures you will need a couple of 4-5” lures, with stout 2/0 or 3/0 hooks, like a Salt Water Zara Spook, Rebel Jumping Minnow, or a He Dog. Bone white, in white with a red head or chrome colors.
Subsurface: You will need a couple of subsurface jerk baits 4 – 5” long with stout 1/0 – 2/0 hooks. My favorite is the Yo Zuri Crystal Minnow in silver, blue & black or red & white.
Rapala makes an X-Rap that is good and there is a Brazilian lure called Pervesa that works good.
Jigs: I would suggest you take 12 – 18 one half oz jigs with you. They make these jigs with an extended tail on them especially for Peacock Bass. You can usually buy these at the Safari Camp for around $5.00/each. Red & White and Red & Yellow seem to work the best.
Rods: I would suggest you take two 9’ 9 wt fly rods. I use a Temple Fork 9’ 9wt 4 piece Mangrove fly rod. An 8 wt will get the job done unless you hook into a fish in the high teens or low 20 lb class. 10 wt works good but it is a bitch to throw all day.
Reels: Small salt water fly reels work well. You will need to have a reel that will hold 100 – 150 yds of 30+ lb backing as well as the fly line. I recommend Temple Fork Outfitters new Atoll 1 fly reel, it is a large arbor & has an excellent 15 lb drag on it.
Lines: I do most of my fly fishing with streamers and subsurface flies, therefore I use an intermediate sinking line the most. It is always good to take a floating line as well if you are going to use poppers and/or Dahlberg Divers. The Salt Water style fly lines work better than lines designed for fresh waters as they are harder and are easier to cast with big streamers in the heat of the Amazon. I use weight forward lines.
Leaders: I use 6 ft of straight 30 – 50 lb monofilament for leaders. Peacock Bass are not leader shy and the heavy leaders are necessary if the fish get back into the brush. Tapered leaders are not necessary as the heavy streamers you will be using will lay the line out nicely.
Flies: I would take a couple of dozen flies. I tie my Peacock flies on stout 4/0 hooks in a Lefty’s Deceiver style. Clouser type weighted flies work well too. I tie my flies about 4 inches long with some Flashabou in them, eyes are very important on these flies as well. Green & White, Red & White, Pink & White and Sardine colors are good.
Extras: A good stripping glove or sock to put over the index finger of your stripping hand is a must as pulling the fly line over it all day will burn the skin off. Good set of split ring pliers and a knife are handy. I always carry about a pint of powdered Gator Aid with me & add it to my bottled water to help with cramps in your hand, a day of casting and jerking top water and subsurface baits in the heat will lead to hand cramps like you have never experienced before. Be sure to bring a good pair of polarized sun glasses and lots of SPF 30+ sunscreen too!
The camp will have some extra bait casting rods and reels if you break or have trouble with yours. They also usually have jigs for sale a $5.00/. I tie and sell flies at $12.00 each or $120.00/dozen. I have been to the Amazon 32 times since 1997 and tie what works and stays together. I also sell lure kits for conventional fishing with what you will need at $300.00 for the kit that includes jigs, top water and subsurface lures. If you are interested in any of these let me know.
Jim Kern has a long history in the Peacock Bass world. Jim has fished in Brazil 32 times since 1997 with both fly and conventional tackle. Jim developed and ran the American office for Captain Peacock from 2010 thru 2013 was the Vice President and General Manager of Amazon Tours from 1998 thru 2003. Through Emu Outfitting, his outfitting company of 30 years, he managed Alaska’s Rainbow Bay Resort from 2007-2009 & Alaska’s Angry Eagle Lodge 2013 & 2014. Jim holds a Coast Guard Captains license, has been a registered fishing guide in Alaska, Montana and Idaho and has been a fly tier for 40 years. Jim also was a 3 time American League All Star baseball pitcher in 1977, 78, and 79 & the American League Relief Pitcher of the year in 1979.