The Top 10 Most Mystical Fish to Catch on a Fly Rod, Part Deax. The Top 5 Revised.

December 6, 2012

Dream Destinations

Frenzy Top 10

A little over 3 years ago I wrote a post about the top 10 most mystical fish to catch on a fly rod.   It was well received for the most part, and although I don’t want to rewrite that blog post, I do wish to revise my top 5.

Now, this is my top.  Others will have their top 10.  After experiencing more places and more species of fish my thoughts have evolved a bit.  Some of my ideas on the most mystical fish have remained the same.  Some have dropped lower while some higher.  I guess the lesson for me is, the more time I fish, the different species I catch, and the the places I travel, will sculpt my views on which species are the most mystical to catch on a fly rod.

Just a little info from the original blog post for reference:

“As I was coming up with this Top 10, I knew the concept I was looking for, but couldn’t come up with the word to use.

  • I wanted to portray the fish that gives an angler that once in a lifetime experience.
  • An experience so amazing that it is difficult to put into words.
  • The only way to truly understand what it is like to catch that certain fish is by experiencing it first hand.
  • It is something that causes the anglers to travel the globe for that adventure and spend his/her hard earned money to do so.
  • It has something to do with the fish.
  • The fish is respected on the highest levels and it is sought after, but difficult to catch.

It is almost a spiritual experience that once attained is hard to repeat.  As I looked for words to describe the above ramblings I chose the word mystical.  Not in the wizards and hobbits sense, but as defined below:

Mys-ti-calhaving a divine meaning that transcends human understanding.  beyond ordinary understanding.”

As that for the background we will jump into the ‘Revised Top 5′.  Before I do that however, I’d like to mention that based off some of the feedback and comments from my first blog I’d add Striped Bass to the top 10.  I had many people say few things compare to Striped Bass in the shallows.

5.  Big Brown Trout New to the List.Maybe it is because I’ve been spoiled my whole life living in Big Brown country, but over the last few years my admiration for these fish has sky rocketed.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved catching Brown Trout, but I’ve really started targeting big browns on streamers around structure and, good night, I’m addicted.  I’ve often thought that if I am this crazed about searching for big browns, then I wonder how crazed those would be that don’t live in places to do so would be?

There are few feelings equal those feelings you get when you cast that nasty junk under a cut bank and see a brownish flash in the water followed by a bang.  Pure Awesomeness!

4.  Tarpon Up from #10.  The almighty Tarpon is considered one of the greatest fighters in the water.  Their amazing aerials have hooked many o’ anglers, and their stamina won many o’ battles.  It isn’t that these fish are rare or isolated to one area to catch, but the fact that they are one of the oldest, most prehistoric fish out there and have been roaming the waters longer than humans have occupied the earth draws considerable interest.  Giant Tarpon take even the most seasoned anglers from the Western Coasts of Africa to the Caribbean!

Since the last post I’ve traveled to Mexico and Costa Rica for Tarpon and if resources and time permitted I’d travel even more to hunt these awesome fish.

Check out this video from the Costa Rica Challenge with Rowdy roping a Giant Tarpon.

The Costa Rica Challenge – Exclusive Sneak Preview from N.S.A. on Vimeo.

3.  Milkfish – Up from #4.   I first heard of Milkfish when I was browsing a Global Fly Fishing Guide Service website called Fly Cast Away and one of their target species was a Milkfish.  A little further research showed for many years people believed it was impossible to catch a Milkfish on a fly rod because they feed by nibbling algal growths and by filtering micro plankton.  However, the above mentioned company had a guide that actually figured out how to do it.

Since this post I’ve had the opportunity to target Milkfish in Costa Rica for our Costa Rica Challenge.  It was beyond awesome.  You could have drop me there and I’d still be doing it.  Drake Munson and I fished for 2 straight days hooking up on many Milkfish, but couldn’t get one in the boat. Drake fought a big one for an hour and had it to the boat, but not in.  They are shaped like torpedos and seem to have an intelligence above the common Salt Water fish.  When hooked they seemed to go crashing through their school snapping many o’lines.  In the words of Drake after fishing all day for Milkies, he said, “This is the best day of fishing I’ve ever had, and I haven’t caught a thing!”
Check out the crappy video I filmed of Drake with his first Milkfish in Costa Rica.

2.  Taimen – River Wolf – Stayed the same at #2.

The lore of the Taimen runs deep.   In Russia it is called the River Wolf because of its fierce, attacking nature it exhibits in its habitat coming out of the water to strike rodents and/or birds.  The lore of the Taimen increased as AEG Media came out with Fish Bum I Mongolia: River Wolf which documents anglers passion to find and catch Taimen in the remote regions of Mongolia.  The Taimen is the largest salmonid in the world. The maximum size is not well known, but a fish caught in the Kotui River in Russia with a length of nearly 7 ft (83 in) and 231 lbs is the largest reliable record (Holcik et al. 1988).  The Taimen can also live up to nearly 55 years of age.   Taimen are typically found in upper Mongolia and Eastern Siberia but migrate some around those areas.  The thrill of fly fishing for these fresh water giants is unlike any other. They explode on the fly coming completely out of the water, or smashing the fly with their tail first.  They clearly intend to swallow their prey whole or otherwise stun and drown it first.  Yes, the lore of the taimen is one that is drawing more and more anglers to hunt this river wolf.  The mystique of the Taimen runs deep in the Mongolian, northern China  and Siberian culture with interesting folk lore.  As I studied about the Taimen, I found 2 bits of interesting folk lore that may or may not be true.  Enjoy

  • Mongolian legend tells of a giant Taimen trapped in river ice. Starving herders were able to survive the winter by hacking off pieces of its flesh. In the spring the ice melted and the giant Taimen swam away.
  • According to some popular Chinese folklore, a type of Taimen lives in Kanasi Lake in China and can weigh up to 4 tons, and although scientific evidence has yet to verify the claim, villagers near Kanasi have documented fish weighing upwards of 3000 pounds.

Since the post I still haven’t ventured out for Taimen, but after seeing Mikey Wier’s video and few episodes of River Monsters :) I’m still convinced this would be an epic adventure and high up on my bucket list.
Excerpt from The River Time Forgot.

The River Time Forgot-Mongolia from Mikey Wier on Vimeo.

1.  Golden Mahseer – Tor Putitora Remains #1. Maybe it is the fact that these fish reside just below the Majestic Himalayan Range or maybe it is because fly fishing in India is new to many westerners.  Whatever it is, the Golden Mahseer is our #1 most mystical fish to catch on a fly rod and stands as a legend in a very mythical part of the world.  It resides in the Northern part of India where breathtaking scenery abound.  The Mahseer is one of the world’s toughest freshwater fish.  The Golden Mahseer is heralded as the aquatic Tiger of the Asian sub-continent, it is a formidable opponent. Golden armor-plated scales line powerful flanks and bucket-shaped fins provide it with immense power both to hold its position in the fastest of currents and equally to strip line from a reel with unstoppable, finger-burning speed. Its voracious appetite and sheer strength has given it an almost mythical status, allowing it to obtain weights in excess of 100lbs. Even in the colder, faster-flowing rivers of Northern India it can obtain sizes in excess of 50lbs.  Traditionally Mahseer have been caught using either bait or lures fished with heavy-duty fishing tackle. It is fair to say that these methods have unquestionably accounted for the largest Mahseer. By contrast, fly-fishing for Mahseer is a relatively new concept and techniques are still very much developing.  The current record for a Mahseer caught on a fly stands at 27lbs but new techniques are being learnt and that record could be toppled in the near future.  Could be you.

Since this post I still have never had the pleasure of traveling to fish for these beauts, but the more I’ve studied them the more mystical they become.  After my last post I received a comment that I believe confirms my thought on the Golden Mahseer as #1.

From Bryant Dunn, “As a guide for Golden Mahseer in the Himalayas and someone who has landed these mighty ciprinids in both India and Bhutan (and Thai mahseer in Thailand), I can attest to their prowess. I have fished for most of the fish on this top 10 list and in all of my travels I have never encountered tor putitora’s equal. I can’t wait for my next expedition with my guests next spring!”

Thanks for reading and I’ve love to hear your top 5 most sought after, mystical fish to catch on a fly rod.


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One Response to “The Top 10 Most Mystical Fish to Catch on a Fly Rod, Part Deax. The Top 5 Revised.”

  1. Fly fishing Says:

    Well the Top 10 Most Mystical Fish to Catch on a Fly Rod, Part Deax is here in the post..We can read about all of them in this blog..The videos you share is also nice to see..


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