Golden Dorado are a fish that should have been born in saltwater, golden yellow, acrobatic and strong they are the perfect game fish and one that is as exciting as any other to catch on a fly. In recent years more light has been shone on golden dorado and some of the extraordinary places you can fish for them, whether this is in the depths of the Bolivian jungle or in the million hector marshland of Esteros del Iberá.
On the whole golden dorado are not a complicated fish to catch, if they are in the mood and hungry a well presented fly stripped effectively will normally induce an aggressive take. On the other hand when they don’t want to feed these fish can get lock jaw and refused all manner of clever tactics.
As with many types of fishing the tackle used for dorado fishing relates to the size of water and size of fish you are catching. If you are fishing waters where the average size of fish is rarely over ten pounds a seven weight is more than capable. For most other forms of dorado fishing a eight or nine weight is most suitable, with a nine being the standard. In areas that are known to hold especially big fish even a ten weight may be best. People that are new to this kind of fishing may find that a eight or nine weight will make turning over these big flies easier than a with a lighter rod. While dorado are not know for especially long runs they are strong fish so make sure your reel has a strong and smooth drag.
Hot weather can make normal fresh water lines, soft gummy and difficult to handle, this makes saltwater fly lines far more suitable for this style of fishing. Although most dorado fishing is done with floating lines it is always worth carrying a full sinking line in 250 to 320 grains depending on what weight rod you intend on putting it on.This tactic of fishing deep can be especially effective on days when the river is high and coloured,
Try not to make them too long, the large flies you use can be hard enough to cast without having a excessively long leader. For most fishing situations a 7 ft leader is fine, this only has to be lengthened when the water is very low and clear. The breaking strain depends on the size of fish in system you are fishing and the clarity of the water. To keep things simple I tend to fish straight leader to the wire tippet with a large bimini loop on the fly line end. Due to sharp teeth it is essential to add wire to the end of the leader, both Rio Knotable Wire or American Fishing Wire work well. This can be attached using a of but I like either a albright or double uni knot, make sure you have at least 10 inches of wire, if in doubt more is better than less. The fly is then tied to the wire using a loop knot like a perfection loop.
Smaller fish or low very clear water: 20lb seaguar or 20lb maxima ultragreen – 20lb or 30lb wire
General fishing conditions: 25lb or 30lb seaguar or maxima ultragreen – 30lb wire
High coloured water or big fish: 40lb seaguar or maxima ultragreen – 40lb wire
Most patterns are large streamers acting as baitfish imitations, it is worth having a range of colours and sizes to cover varying water conditions. As a rule of thumb the clearer the water the more natural and realistic the pattern. In high coloured water or areas that have a peaty stain to them blacks, oranges and reds work well. In clear water, green, olive, brown and even chartreuse can work. Streamer patterns should be in a range of sizes between four and eight inches long. Along with streamers an exciting way to catch these fish is with surface patterns, such as poppers and gurglers and on their day they can prove more effective than standard streamer patterns. If nothing is happening, experiment, there is no hard and fast rule to fly choice.
Make sure all of your flies are tied on strong and sharp hooks, Gamakatsu SC15 or SL12 in sizes 2/0 and 4/0 are perfect.
Where to find golden dorado
Dorado are apex predators and feature junkies, clinging to sunken logs undercut banks, overhanging trees and mixed currents. This style of fishing is a game of who dares, wins, the closer your fly gets to that structure the better, be prepared to strip as soon as your fly hits the water as this is often the time when the fish charge. Along with fishing to obvious structure look for baitfish and commotion, if you see a lot of sabalo have a cast around the edges of the school even if you don’t see dorado. If the school is large enough it may be worth staking out the area and waiting for something to happen.
Most of the time the fly will be presented down and across the current, be prepared to strip as soon as it hits the water as often this is when the fish take. Long medium paced strips work well but don’t be shy of experimenting with your strip, some days a longer strip may work better others a shorter one. If you see a fish is chasing try to force it to commit by increasing the pace of your strip, the phase a dog doesn’t chase a parked car is very relevant when it comes to dorado fishing. If you are casting to structure and not sight fishing have five or six strips then cast again and get your fly back into the zone. Fishing with poppers, cast out, wait a few seconds then pop, have a small pause in between each pop, constant popping like a madman tends not to work as effectively. As with streamer fishing if a fish is following speed up the pops.
Setting the hook and playing
Golden dorado have hard bony mouths and the hooks you are using are not small, striking as though it is trout is not going to work. Like saltwater fishing hit him hard with a firm strip set and keep the rod low, keep pulling until you know he is well connected. It will only be a matter of time before the first jump comes and treat that jump as if its a tarpon, bow to the fish. Once the fish is back in the water don’t be shy and pull hard, if you don’t have plenty of tension there is a good chance all of that hard work will come undone and the hook will slid out.
Lastly, enjoy the environment, whether it is the Bolivian jungle, the vast marshland of the Esteros del Iberá or the Parana river, golden dorado inhabit some of the most extraordinary environments our plant has to offer, suck it in and make the most of it
If you would like more information then please do not hesitate to contact Olly Thompson or call our office on +44(0)1980 847 389.