Have you ever listened to the song “You Make Me Wanna Die” by The Shivas? You are going to want to turn that track on after your first day chasing roosterfish on the beach. They will humble you and take your passion and love for fly fishing to the next level. It was all downhill from the minute I saw the comb of a roosterfish come out of the water and bash up a pile of bait. This fish is aggressive, intelligent, quick, and does whatever it wants to when it wants to. It shows you that it is the boss and you never have control.

Chasing these fish from the beach is the pinnacle of our sport. You will be sprinting and exerting a lot of energy just to get the chance to cast at these fish; if that fish decides to have a go at your fly… well you just had a spectacular day. Don’t be too hard on yourself just enjoy the hunt. My goal is to provide you with some tips and tricks that will help you have a better experience on your hunt.

Chasing Rooster Fish on the Boat versus on the Beach:

Rooster fish can be found from Baja Mexico down to Costa Rica. There are a lot of ways to go about chasing these fish. You are can approach them from land or boat, but the most rewarding and challenging way is from the sand. You will be able to find a variety of guides to take you from a boat, if you choose this path do your best to avoid chumming for these fish. This practice has vastly affected some of the fisheries in depletion of sardines and fish behavior. Teasing with a spin rod is a much more sustainable and realistic way of chasing a roosterfish from a boat.

Fly Fishing Gear for Roosterfish:

The Ross Reels Evolution R Salt doing work.

Recommended Rod and Reels:

Let’s take a look at our gear. To start you are going to want to equip yourself with a 10 to 12wt rod. I like to use a 12wt. I use a TFO Axiom 2X in both a 12wt and a 10wt. I find anything lighter than these ways to be very powerless if you hook a larger fish. For reels I prefer Ross Reels Evolution R Salt 11/12, this reel is fully sealed and can hold up to the power that Roosterfish possess.

Recommended Fly Line:

Fly line is the next important thing we must evaluate in this hunt. I have found Airflo fly line to be my personal favorite whether or not we are talking about fresh or saltwater. The biggest advantage to these lines is that they produce their fly lines with polyurethane instead of PVC. This allows the line to stretch more and I will usually have this line for multiple years before it wears out. They do not crack or break like PVC lines.

With that said you have a few different options, I have found to be effective. Most people like to use an Intermediate sink line, the Airflo Sniper 4 Season Line is a perfect Intermediate Sink Line that delivers a larger fly with ease. Airflo also will be making intermediate versions of the “Superflo Ridge 2.0.” Lines. The surf can be rough to cast into and you want your baitfish pattern to sink around 4in below the surface rather quickly as the fish is usually moving fast.

After discussing it with Jeffery Feczko and fishing it I have found the Airflo Depthfinder Big Game to be my favorite line on the beach and boat. It punches through the wind and allows you to shoot further quickly in big surf. Not only that but there is no delay on the fly sinking as it hits the surface you may immediately begin your two-handed retrieve. With the intermediate lines I find it makes quick shots with light flies tough, they often end up splashing towards the surface. I like the sinking line in a 300G and a 400G on my 12wt.

Purchase the Airflo Depthfinder Big Line Here.

How to Hunt Roosterfish From the Beach:

The approach to these fish on land is very methodical. It has intention and needs to be executed properly to get this fish to look at your fly. Jeff will often talk about how Roosterfish track they don’t move too erratic until they are slashing bait. As such you will mostly see these fish coming in from the deep water out of range with a fly rod. This is where you need to react, as soon as you lay eyes on that fish moving off the deep and coming in you must begin to sprint with it, not at it. Try to position yourself ahead of the direction it is moving. Sometimes they will not come in all the way but at least you are ready if they do. As the fish comes in and you are sprinting with it, once it is within range of a fly you need to get ahead of it by 20-50 yards and make a 45-degree angled cast to it. When they come in close they often move right to left and left to right.

Once your fly has hit the water ahead of them you may begin your double-handed retrieve. This retrieve is often vital as it keeps the speed of the fly consistent like the bait they are chasing; you don’t want to miss a strip! I have found starting your retrieve at a good pace is key, once they see it and want it – speed up! They will be coming at a 45-degree angle which gives them plenty of water to chase it, casting at a 90-degree angle straight to them rarely works. Typically once this fish takes interest they will accelerate toward your fly, once they want it that comb will shoot up out of the water. Your heart will be pumping, blood boiling, sweating, and out of breath from sprinting. If you get to this point, this is what this is all about. Even if you just get that reaction be content with yourself as you did your part. The fish has to do theirs.

This is not an easy game by any means, as an angler being physically capable of sprinting long distances and casting often back hand up to 40ft into swell with the wind are regular variables to the hunt. I would not suggest that this is for everyone, if you prefer to fish from a boat that option is available, it will have its challenges but you will not be sprinting and exerting maximum effort. The challenges of this game are unmatched. This fish is one of the most badass violent creatures in the ocean and to hook one will simply make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

If you choose to partake in this hunt please feel free to reach out with questions, you may email me at southernrootsotf@gmail.com or message me on social media (@fish_a_day). If you are looking for a guide do yourself a favor and contact Jeffrey Feczko (@tothegills) if you want the best. 

Additional photos by Zento Slinger (@zentosahn) and Los Locos Mag Bay (@loslocosmagbay).

Costa Behind the Guides: Jeff Feczko

The Best Saltwater Fly Reels, and How to Find Yours


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