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About Costa Rica Quepos Main Photo

Some of Frenzy's customers like to try their hand at catching a billfish, tuna or dorado on a fly rod. Catching a fish, particularly a billfish, "on-the-fly" as we say, involves numerous challenges and requires definitive skills. Frenzy's team has consistently proven our proficiency at fly fishing, with three consecutive wins in the prestigious annual GIFT Tournament, held each January in Quepos. The "Gray Invitational Fly Tournament" is one of the world's premier fly-tackle-only billfish tournaments (strictly catch-and-release). It takes teamwork to be successful at fly fishing for billfish.

This involves several key components:
• The rod, reel and flyline must be set up properly.
• The proper fly must be used.
• The configuration of teasers has to be set up for flyfishing.
• The mate must tease the fish to the boat at the correct speed and to the proper position.
• The angler must be prepared to cast to the hungry lit-up billfish when the mate says "Cast".

Sound impossible? Not at all, with Team Frenzy. Our captains and mates are among Costa Rica's elite when it comes to fly fishing. In fact, that reputation is international in scope. By booking at least a 3-day package with us, the angler will have ample opportunity to learn the skills necessary to catch billfish on the fly. Because Frenzy Sportfishing is so fanatical about fly fishing – and about introducing our saltwater big-game version to novice fly fishermen – let's examine in a little more depth some aspects of the equipment necessary to chase billfish on the fly.

Rods – Many folks are familiar with some of the brand names like Sage, Winston, etc., which make 14 weight "billfish" rods. These will work, as evidenced by the hundreds of billfish that we have caught on these rods. It is our recommendation that if the anger is serious about catching billfish, including marlin, on the fly -- then a custom rod made by Bill Buckland at The Fisherman's Center in Florida is the ticket. Our "tournament" rods are probably 18 weight. They will dead-lift over 20 pounds. Using such a rod allows us to catch big fish in short order, putting a lot less strain on both the angler and the fish. These rods actually cast well, using a water-load spey cast.

Reels – We have owned them all over the last 5 years, and settled on Waterworks' ULA series of reels. These reels have several key design features which make them the best for billfishing. These features include: (1.) large arbor for gathering line back quickly, (2.) almost zero start up inertia for protecting tippets when an angry billfish blasts off, and (3.) zero maintenance required. Now we do send them back to the factory once a year for the tech guys to examine them, but the drag is sealed so there are no user-serviceable parts. Other reels on the market simply don't compare.

Backing – Lots of it! We use Dacron topped with spectra, at least 250 yards of spectra. You have to be careful with this backing as it can physically cut you, but the benefit is that it has virtually no drag in the water. An added benefit is tippet protection and a greater opportunity to catch double headers!

Fly line – There are a number of "billfish" fly lines on the market. Some folks like to use a slow-sinking line, but we generally prefer a floating line – and we cut the whole thing back to about 30 feet (from a typical billfish-on-fly length of 100 feet). Doing so dramatically reduces line drag when the billfish is tailwalking at light speed!

Butt Section of the Leader – We exclusively use clear 100lb Jinkai.

Tippet – We use RIO's IGFA saltwater tippet in 10kg (22.2 pounds) for all tournament billfishing. We'll use lighter tippet for sport, though we always fish utilizing IGFA rules and regulations. This tippet material is easy to tie in a Bimini Twist, our preferred knot for making the class section of the leader, as well as connecting to the 100-lb. Jinkai shock tippet with a Huffnagle.

Flies – One color: PINK! (don't laugh, we're serious!!) Having said that, we also consistently catch billfish on blue over white streamers. We just favor pink. We vary our fly choice depending upon the fish's reaction. For example, on calm days the fish generally prefer a popper with a pink fly. Sometimes though, we have to take that popper off and sink the fly right down into their field of vision. Here's what we know for sure: after almost 20 years of chasing billfish on the fly, we have settled into two basic patterns. The pink popper, and the pink-over-white or blue-over-white streamer. Frenzy's team member Brian Thielicke is a master at tying these flies. If you have any questions regarding flies, feel free to e-mail Brian at

Hooks – We exclusively use Owner offset Octopus hooks in size 7/0. These hooks are connected to the 100lb Jinkai shock tippet with size "J" crimps.

That's the basic setup. As we pointed out, once hooked up on a billfish an expert captain and crew are vital to get the boat, fisherman and fish into position to allow a legal catch and release. Where it comes to Pacific big-game fly fishing, we feel there are non better than our crew. We are working on videos to show how the rod and reels are configured, how the flies are tied and the basics behind catching billfish on the fly. If you have any questions at all about fly fishing for billfish or saltwater fly fishing in general, don't hesitate to e-mail your questions to either Jamie ( or Kerwin ( We'll get right back to you with an answer!

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