Fly Fishing in Costa Rica
Guided Fly fishing trips in Costa Rica for tarpon, trout, and machaca fishing.
Fly fishing in Costa Rica is simply spectacular! You’ll be able to fish a great variety of freshwater species such as: tarpons in the jungle, rainbow trout in beautiful streams, or machacas that feed on tropical fruits. Not forgetting the amazing saltwater fishing for rooster fish and marlin! Ready for adventure?
These are the guided fishing trips our company offers in Costa Rica:
JUNGLE TARPON RESERVE
Tarpon fly fishing at a wildlife refuge.
TROUT FISHING NEAR SAN JOSE
Rainbow trout fly fishing in the mountains.
FLY FISHING IN GUANACASTE
Machaca fly fishing with imitation fruit in volcanic rivers.
ACTIVITIES FOR NON-FISHERMEN
Activities for non-fishermen such as bird-watching or visits to National Parks.
THE BEST FLY FISHING GUIDES IN COSTA RICA
Fly Fishing Costa Rica is a local company of fly fishing guides. We’re also a travel agency.
Charlie is the coordinator and guide while Adrian is the owner of the travel agency. The entire team of guides speak perfect English, have extensive experience as fly fishing guides and are very passionate about fishing and nature in Costa Rica.
Charlie (Coordinador and guide)
Adrian (Owner of the travel agency)
Are you interested in joining us for an exhilarating fly fishing adventure in Costa Rica?
The following table has been crafted to offer you insights into road travel distances to the primary airports in Costa Rica. We’d like to emphasize that our cab transfer service is readily available for your convenience.
OUR FLY FISHING LODGES AND ADVENTURES IN COSTA RICA
GUIDED FLY FISHING TRIPS
FLY FISHING LODGES
We offer fly fishing trips which takes place in 4 lodges. Each lodging offers a different type of fishing.
why choose us?
We offer several types and kinds of fishing destinations in Costa Rica.
We’re local guides who are very passionate about our quaint and beautiful country as well as its wildlife, culture, history, and the absolute best fly-fishing.
Charlie, our main guide and coordinator, is the son of the first fly fishing guide in Costa Rica. He’s been a guide since he was a child making him the person who knows the most about fly fishing in Costa Rica.
All guides have a good level of English.
In addition to being fishing guides, we’re a registered travel agency. We can offer all-inclusive fishing packages. We have extensive experience in organizing fishing trips. We’re a 100% legally registered company.
We offer a tailor-made service. We think of our fishermen and non-fishermen guests.
GUIDED DAY FLY FISHING TRIPS IN COSTA RICA
If you’re only looking to hire a guided day of fishing in Costa Rica, we want to be your guides! Tell us where you’re staying, and we’ll pick you up at the hotel offering you a guided day of fishing in the nearest fishing area. We know all the possible fishing areas in Costa Rica like the back of our hand!
- Fishing license and permit
- Transfer from the hotel
- Picnic meal
- Drinks and snacks during the fishing day
- Fishing guided service by boat or wading
- Fishing gear rentals
FLY FISHING IN COSTA RICA: All You Need to Know
Costa Rica is a paradise of exuberant nature and extraordinary biodiversity becoming the perfect place for those seeking adventure or a place to relax.
Nonetheless, Costa Rica is much more than that! Incredible tropical fish inhabit its fresh and salt waters of which more than 50 are of sporting interests.
There are many fishermen from all over the world who are very impressed by the possibility of fishing for so many species as varied and interesting as tarpon, machaca, trout, rainbow bass, and the sea rooster fish during a same trip.
Costa Rica has multiple fly-fishing destinations such as: Tamarindo, Guanacaste, Colorado River, Osa Peninsula or Jungle Reserve.
We assure you that there are very few adventures as exciting and exotic as floating down a Costa Rican river surrounded by vegetation, listening to a sonorous overflow of toucans, quetzals, amphibians, and howler monkeys. An experience suitable for those who want to leave the big city behind and have an exotic encounter with our inseparable companion, the fly-fishing rod.
The best months to fish in Costa Rica are often conditioned by the weather.
Noting that the best time to visit Costa Rica is from December to April, since this is the dry season. But if you’re a North American or European tourist and you have vacations in June, July, or August, these months also offer great fishing options.
Since we’re local guides, we recommend you write us, and we’ll advise you if you’re interested in selecting the best months of the year to go on a fishing trip to Costa Rica.
These are the 3 tips that you should keep in mind to select the best fishing months in Costa Rica:
- Rivers have less flow during dry season allowing for a better practice of fishing for rainbow trout, machaca and rainbow bass. Regarding trout fishing in the mountains, this a very technical type of fishing during the rainy season. Nymphs are utilized during these months, and dry fly-fishing is more occasional.
- The tarpon is a rather resident fish, but it’s way easier to catch in the rainy season because they enter the rivers to eat. On the contrary, during the dry months, you can fish, but the density of fish is reduced.
- Other fish such as saltwater fish depend on migrations. Broadly speaking, the best time to fish for rooster fish is between July and October. Between September and November is sea bass season. The best time to fish for sailfish is from November to May on both the Pacific Coast and the ‘Golfo Dulce’.
Plop!, Plop! The long-awaited moment has arrived when fig trees and other tropical trees release their fruit and petals which fall into the water.
These are the months of the year where “omnivorous piranhas of Costa Rica” go under the trees to eat the fruit on the surface. This phenomenon lasts from January to April.
Our guests will enjoy fishing these fast and aggressive fish called machacas. Fishing machacas requires the use of unthinkable flies like fig imitation, green fruits, or small poppers. This show is guaranteed as long as the conditions of the river are good, and dirty water isn’t flowing downstream.
These are the 5 tips that you should keep in mind to get more familiar with machacas in Costa Rica:
- Machacas spend most of their time eating a local fruit called ‘chilamate’ (wild fig). There are flies that imitate this fruit, they’re like a green golf ball on a strong hook; these fish also eat insects, small fish, flowers, and leaves. Their obsession with feeding at the surface makes them the perfect fish for fly-fishermen.
- The size of these fish varies greatly depending on the amount of available food, the size of the river, and the fishing pressure. The average fish on a Costa Rica fishing trip is between 1 to 5 pound (lbs.) range.
- The machacas are part of the piranha-family and have very sharp teeth that can break the terminal tackle. Therefore, it’s important to use thick fluorocarbon
- The machaca is an explosive and feisty fish which forcefully attacks while wildly jumping and pulling. These are the reasons many fishermen fall in love with this fish from the very first moment.
- Flies that make noise and break the surface of the water must be used to fish for machacas. Popper-type flies are excellent for fishing this species of fish.
One of the treasures differentiating Costa Rica from other fly-fishing destinations in the world is freshwater tarpon fishing. We fish this predator in small rivers and lagoons nestled in the heart of the jungle.
Fly Fishing Costa Rica fishes where others won’t since we’re one of the few local companies that offers tarpon fishing in the reserve in the jungle. A destination where famous fly-fishing travel agencies operate such as Yellowdogflyfish or Frontiers, but at much higher pricing than ours.
Our system of rivers, streams, and lagoons receive large amounts of enormous tarpon with the seasonal rains. It’s curious to observe how these enigmatic fish migrate to inhospitable places located hundreds of kilometers from the sea.
These are the 5 tips that you should keep in mind to get more familiar with tarpons in Costa Rica:
- The tarpon migrates and swim hundreds of kilometers until they reach the small rivers of the jungle where they feed on small fish.
- Despite existing migrations, the tarpon population is mostly resident mature fish. It’s not common to catch baby tarpons, so the fishing season in Costa Rica is not based on migratory seasons like the rest of the Caribbean. The best months to fish for tarpon are based on the weather and the rainy season which would be January to May and August to October.
- Tarpon fishing is carried out with 2 fishermen per boat. Mainly utilizing #11- or #12-line rods with floating line. Casting accuracy is very important.
- Tarpons have large, extremely hard jaws. This is one of the reasons why many tarpons get lost or unhooked right after the first jump. If you’re novice tarpon fisherman you must assume that for every ten tarpons you hook, you may catch one or two.
- One of the best moments in tarpon fishing is watching them jump in the air sometimes even over 2 meters (6.56 ft) above the water!
- Some of the best flies for tarpon fishing in Costa Rica are: Doug McKnight’s Home Slice, Tarpon Toad, Black Death, or Enrico Puglisi’s Black and Purple Peanut Butter.
Can anyone imagine that it’s possible to fish for rainbow trout, golden trout, and brown trout in the jungle? That’s right friends, this is possible in Costa Rica! Please watch the video, you’ll be captivated with this unusual fishing.
“Having fished for freshwater trout in Costa Rica is something that still impresses me. I have fished trout in many destinations such as Argentina, New Zealand, the Spanish Pyrenees…but I never imagined that I could fish for colorful rainbow trout surrounded by a jungle landscape and seeing rainbow-billed toucans, quetzals, forest thrushes, blue-crowned hummingbirds, orchids, ferns, and even several species of monkeys!”
The trout are in a jungle valley that’s located less than 1.5 hours from San Jose (Costa Rica’s capital). Although the trout don’t reach large sizes, they have very striking colors and dry fly fishing for them is great fun!
A 30-minute walk accompanied by our guides is required to access these streams.
These are the 5 tips that you should keep in mind to get more familiar with the history of trout in Costa Rica:
- Several small rivers in the mountains bordering Panama were repopulated with trout over sixty years ago. These trout populations have acclimatized becoming a great tourist attraction for fishermen from all over the world.
- The US military conducted the repopulating to be able to enjoy fishing. The eggs used to repopulate the mountain streams were from Washington, US.
- The success of this ‘accidental’ introduction of trout into Costa Rica encouraged the Costa Rican Department of Agriculture to continue with more repopulating of trout with strains from the US, Canada, and Mexico. These repopulations that were carried out thru several decades in the rivers of the Talamanca Mountains.
- Currently, the most famous rivers for trout fishing in Costa Rica are: The Savegre River, the Chirripo River, the Toro River, and the Copey River.
- The size of the trout that can be caught in these rivers is around 10 inches and some will reach around 17 inches in the river’s deepest and lowest reaches where waters are slower.
- Fishing in these rivers means you must fish with short casts while exerting good control of the fly’s drift. Achieving good fishing using either a dry and / or nymph. One of the most used techniques is the dropper.
- The recommended gear for fishing these trout are 8.6-foot rods, a #3 line and a 6x tippet.
- These types of rivers are perfect for those who love to trout fish with tenkara rods.
- Cold River: we’re talking about one of the best rivers in Costa Rica for migratory tarpon fishing. This river belongs to the Caribbean’s Sea slope. Born within the slopes of the Tenorio volcano flowing into the San Juan River in Nicaragua.
- San Juan River: if you’re considering a trip to fish for large tarpons, this is your ideal destination. This river is in the north of Costa Rica, part of it borders with Nicaragua flowing into the Caribbean Sea.
- Tempisque River: the third longest river in the country. Belonging to the Pacific Ocean’s basin. This river and its tributaries are an excellent spot for rainbow bass fishing.
- Tenorio River: born on the slopes of the Tenorio Volcano National Park in the province of Guanacaste. This watercourse is a great setting for machaca fishing from a boat. The best months are from January to April when the machaca fish eagerly await the fall of the fruit and flower petals to feed themselves.
- Corobici River: tributary of the Tempisque River. Originally from the southern slopes of the mountains of the Tenorio Volcano. In this river, you can enjoy machaca fishing from a boat and its incredible fauna: jaguars, crocodiles, kingfishers, storks etc.
- Sarapiqui River: this river of the northern sub-slope of the Caribbean Sea is also a great setting to fish for machaca fish while rafting down the stream.
- Trout Valley: small mountainous stream located in a jungle forest in the mountains where you can enjoy rainbow trout fishing. An exotic fish introduced in the 1950s.
|#||River||Beauty scenarios||Tarpón||Machaca||Trucha||Fishing pressure||Quality of fisheries||Observations|
|🥇||Frio River||✔️||✔️||✔️||❌||Low||High||Fishing in the reserve area.|
|2||San Juan River||✔️||✔️||✔️||❌||Low||High||Fishing in the reserve area.|
|4||Tempisque River||✔️||❌||✔️||❌||Low||Average||Rafting and tourists.|
|5||Tenorio River||✔️||❌||✔️||❌||Low||Average||Rafting and tourists.|
|6||Corobici River||✔️||❌||✔️||❌||Low||Average||Rafting and tourists.|
|7||Sarapiqui River||✔️||❌||✔️||❌||Low||Average||Rafting and tourists.|
Costa Rica is a country that has made a firm commitment for sustainable development and a tourism development model based on conservation.
This is one of the reasons why fishing is regulated. In the reserves, you can only fish thru authorized guide companies; a fishing license is not necessary to fish in the other river waters out of the reserves.
A fishing license is required for both local and foreigner fishermen for sea fishing from a boat. Fishing licenses or permits can be purchased electronically through the INCOPESCA (Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture) website, or in person at any regional office of this organization.
If you’re interested in fishing in Costa Rica, you should know that all our trips include the corresponding permits to fish in the exclusive access reserve areas.
Talking about Costa Rica is talking about one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Our small country is home for over 500,000 species representing 6% of the world’s biodiversity.
Biodiversity is also found in our rivers and seas, which is why we can enjoy fishing for more than 50 species for sport. Among them:
- Freshwater fishing: rainbow bass, machaca, bastard grunt, guavina, goatfish, trout, tropical gar, moga…
- Saltwater fishing: bass, bonefish, permit, snapper, horse mackerel, rooster fish, tuna, marlin, barracuda, tarpon….
Fly-fishing in Costa Rica is one of the most desired trips for lovers of adventure and fly-fishing in exotic destinations. These are the reasons:
- Paradisiacal settings: Costa Rica has 29 parks, 19 wildlife refuges, 8 biological reserves. Concentrating 5% of the biodiversity that exists on our planet.
- Tarpons, machacas, trout and much more: Costa Rica has over 50 species of fish of sporting interest.
- Fishing in almost virgin places: the jungle is home to places with very little fishing pressure. We work in very exclusive areas.
- Reverse season: most of our guests visit us from the United States. Can you imagine being able to enjoy fishing in the tropics while the United States remains covered in cold weather and snow?
- Destination designed for fishermen and companions: pristine beaches, tropical fruits, wild animals, gastronomy… Costa Rica offers a multitude of possibilities for non-fishermen.
- Security: this small nation has become one of the most stable, prosperous, and progressive countries of Latin America. Receiving over 1.5 million tourists per year.
It’s important to have proper gear to maximize your possibilities of success during a long fishing trip in Costa Rica. Fortunately, at Costa Rica Fly Fishing we offer fishing gear to our guests.
Despite this, if you want to bring your own fishing gear, these are our suggestions:
- Tarpon: we use 9-foot fishing rods with a weight of #10 or #12 for tarpon fishing. Regarding lines, it’s convenient to have floating, intermediate, and sinking lines. The most used flies are: Tarpon Cockroach, Tarpon Bunny Tan, and Brown Catcher.
- Machaca: we use 9-foot rods with a weight of #6 and floating lines for machaca fishing. We usually fish using poppers and fruit imitation flies.
- Trout: we recommend using 8 – 9-foot rods and a weight of #3 or #4 using floating lines for trout fishing. Traditional trout flies (dry, wet, nymphs, and streamers) are effective on Costa Rican trout as well as some special patterns we have developed over the years for larger fish.
Costa Rica is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, it’s very close to the equator and has a raised relief. These three characteristics affect the country’s weather.
Costa Rica has a tropical weather that’s known for not having an actual winter season like other countries near the equator.
The rainy season lasts from May to November. The dry months are considered summer.
The temperatures are very constant and pleasant year-round. But in turn, this beautiful country is made up of many different climate zones which also creates many microclimates within the same.
Another noteworthy characteristic is that there are always around twelve hours of sunlight per day throughout the year.
For all these reasons, the weather dictates what cloth to wear while fishing. Therefore, you should know that:
- If you’re interested in going trout fishing in the mountains near San Jose, the weather is very pleasant during the day and cools down in the afternoons, making it necessary to bring a jacket.
- The tarpon and machaca fishing area are warmer being further away from the mountains. You should wear light and fast-drying clothing.
The clothing that we recommend bringing to any fishing trip in Costa Rica is the following: clothing with UV sun protection, light summer clothing, quick-drying long pants, long-sleeved shirt, a hat, and polarized sunglasses, flip-flops and sneakers. A raincoat is also important to bring and a coat or jacket for cool nights or fishing areas in the mountains.
Especially when traveling to Latin America for a fishing trip one of the most important aspects to consider is the safety of the destination. Therefore, we must ask ourselves: Is Costa Rica a safe country?
We assure you that Costa Rica’s safety should not worry you! In addition, all visitors highlight that the country’s native people are very nice.
Noting that Costa Rica’s known for its comfortable lifestyle, for being a very stable country with an established democracy, and its great beauty. This country is considered an oasis of peace in the middle of a hectic region which is why this small nation attracts 1.5 million visitors each year.
Two things that stand out in Costa Rica:
- Absence of an army: Costa Rica is one of only twenty countries in the world without an armed force. This being completely unprecedented in the region; the country abolished its army 70 years ago and decided to invest in education, health, and infrastructure.
- Commitment to the country’s sustainability policy: Costa Rica was one of the first countries in the world to sign a national pact for compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the 2030 Agenda. The country’s government jointly with the sector private have worked together to preserve the country’s resources as one of its greatest attractions.
As you can see, in addition to excellent fishing you can enjoy a 100% safe destination to travel with friends and / or family.
At Fly Fishing Costa Rica we pride ourselves on having the hardest working guides in the country. In a country so famous for its fishing, great fishermen are easy to find, but great guides are a precious commodity.
Charlie, our main guide and coordinator for our guides, has overseen selecting and training the rest of the team. The qualities that set our fishing guides apart are: fun, experts in the field, patient, enthusiastic, friendly, and with a very defined objective making your fishing trip in Costa Rica truly unforgettable.
Thanks to this excellent team of guides led by Charlie, more and more guests are returning to their favorite destinations, recommending us, and our company is growing every day!
In this article, we intend to let you know the reasons why you should hire a fishing guide in Costa Rica:
- They’ll select the best fishing areas in the country.
Costa Rica is considered one of the best destinations for fly-fishing. We must consider that we’ll be fishing in the middle of the jungle and mountains that may have very complicated access, hence requiring 4×4 vehicles, boats and motorboats. Therefore, only an experienced and properly equipped local fisherman can consider all the climatic, fauna and flora, security, fish behavior factors that make a place ideal at one time or another.
- You won’t waste your precious free time
Let’s say you have chosen a river where you know the flow’s optimal with a good fish population. How will you access the fishing areas, and know where to find the fish? The rivers of Costa Rica may be dangerous if you’re not familiar with them and even if you look and find an area with a lot of fish, they may not be there all the time.
- Safety on the river
Costa Rica is a very safe destination, yet to fish in the jungle or mountains, its important to be trained, aware of its dangers and risks and always be accompanied by someone who knows the area.
You must be familiar with the vast jungle and its complicated accesses, and you also must know what to do if facing any unforeseen event.
If you’re interested in fishing alone, you must assess all these types of risks beforehand.
All licensed guides are certified in first aids, so no matter what, your guide is your safest bet for getting home in one piece.
- What fly to use when fishing in the rivers of Costa Rica?
Imagine that you have managed to locate the perfect river, you have information that the flow is correct; you have managed to reach a fishing area where you know that the fish are active at that time of year and you have enough gear and knowledge to fish safely and without the help of a fishing guide. After all this, do you know for sure which fly you should use to fish in Costa Rica?
You must keep in mind that an experienced fly-fishing guide in Costa Rica knows exactly which flies to use in a specific season, for each species of fish, and / or at a specific time of day.
- You’ll get abundant tips to fish better and more in Costa Rica.
If you fish hand in hand with a fishing guide, it’ll help you improve your technique and progress faster which will help you catch more fish.
Fishing in Costa Rica is very varied and different, so almost everything will be new even for the most experienced fishermen.
- The guided fishing trip to Costa Rica will become the trip of your lifetime.
If you select a guided fly-fishing trip to Costa Rica both you and the companions will have no worries! You’ll have time to relax and focus on what really matters: enjoying the trip! No more planning, worrying, and overwhelming feelings.
We take care of everything from the moment you arrive at the airport, so all you have to worry about is enjoying the experience!
- Investment in an experience.
The fishing guides have a cost that covers the guide’s income, gas, meals, fishing gear, boats, insurance etc.; perhaps some fishermen think that the price is high, but we assure you that it’s not as high as you think.
Spending on a fishing guide is an investment in an experience you won’t forget for the rest of your life!
Costa Rica is a country with a lot of mountains and jungles with a wide variety of fishing settings and types of fish to catch. In Costa Rica, although there are highways that go across the country, there are also many stone roads with difficult access to reach the fishing areas.
If you are looking to hire a fly-fishing guide in Costa Rica who will take you on an all-inclusive private tour from your arrival in the country (recommended), we recommend that the guide possess the following qualities:
- A 4×4 vehicle and they must be a very cautious driver with mechanical knowledge in case of a vehicle breakdown.
- Must have a boat to be able to offer guided days on the big rivers.
- Must have first aid knowledge.
- Must be an English-speaking guide.
- Must know the mountains and jungle like the back of their hand.
- Must be an experienced fisherman in fishing for different species such as tarpon, machaca, and / or trout.
- Must be punctual, attentive, and a good teacher.
Thanks to Charlie’s training and his work as chief of guide, all our guides at Fly Fishing Costa Rica meet the minimum quality standards previously listed.
The fly-fishing trip coordinated by Fly Fishing Costa Rica for my husband and I was amazing!
A few days ago, we returned from our vacations in Costa Rica and we have considered it necessary to write this review for the website of our guide Charlie. The purpose of this email is to thank you for the treatment and help received as well as to recommend the services of this company before planning any fishing trip to this Central American country.
It all started 10 months before the trip, when my husband and I considered that Costa Rica was an excellent destination for a couple’s vacation: my husband could fish while I could visit nature reserves and practice ecotourism, and it was also a 100% safe destination. So, we decided to look for information and get in touch with several local operators and American travel agencies.
First, we were surprised by how quickly we were taken care of by Charlie and his team. We exchanged a ton of emails and calls, they had exquisite patience and service. In addition, from the first moment they showed complete knowledge of the country and helped us with their experience to design a tailor-made trip adapted to both our interests! You can tell they’re a fishing trip company made up of local guides!
Finally, Charlie organized a 10-day private trip for us starting from the San Jose airport; during the tour we combined fishing with various side activities.
I’d definitely recommend contacting Fly Fishing Costa Rica before planning any fly-fishing trips to Costa Rica!