Costa Rica: Fly Fishing for Rainbow Bass, Machaca, Snapper and Snook!

Trying to “do it yourself” down here in Costa Rica is no cake walk. Hard to reach areas with lots of blind casting at river mouths, creeks, and points. Trying to tap into this place solo is by no means for everyone. However, being blessed with the opportunity to figure out a  new fishing scene via a cheap two man kayak and a fly rod has truly been a priceless endeavor.

Prior to my arrival here in CR, I had fished the waters of Central Florida constantly for over 20 years. I fished the oceans, beaches, gulfs, bays, lakes, and rivers and was able to be quite successful in landing some amazing fish to say the least. At any given time I knew where fish would be and what to catch them on. Now, exploring a totally new fishery for fish I have never caught before has been as frustrating as it has been rewarding.

Lately I have been focusing my efforts on smaller tidal creeks on the pacific coastline. Targeting snook, snapper, and jacks with the occasional catfish in the mix. These creeks are completely hit or miss. I have been having most of my luck fishing during an outgoing tide.

The fly of choice, by far, has been the Crystal River Shrimp. This fly seems to have the right color scheme and movement in the water to get these fish’s attention.

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I noticed small crabs on the mangrove roots that had the same browns and oranges on them as my fly. I think these are likely to be one of the main food sources for these snook and snapper.

My current setup for fishing these creeks has been my 7wt TFO Pro Series II rod, with a Sage 3200 series reel, and Rio saltwater line. To be honest, after hooking into a big snapper like this in the mangroves, I will most likely be casting my 9wt Sage Motive rod from now on.

The creeks have proven to be great snook fishing hotspots as well. Most of the fish are in the 12-20 inch range and have been caught using the same fly. This particular snook was technically a tarpon-snook, a very special first time catch for me.

Aside from fishing the creeks, we have been fortunate enough to make it up to Lake Arenal, a very popular fishing spot for rainbow bass and machaca. This spot didn’t produce any large fish for us during our recent trip; however, we were able to land a few rainbow bass (guapote) and some small machaca! Perhaps our next trip to the lake will yield some larger fish for us.

We hope you have enjoyed the photos and video on this post. To check out the flies that we fished with to land these fish, please check out our online fly shop at

Keep your hearts right, and your lines tight!

Capt. Jesse


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