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Fly Fishing’s Big Bad Wolf Fish Amazon

The Amazonian Giant Wolf Fish, or Anumara, is a beastly prehistoric gamefish! Often confused with deep dwelling oceanic wolffish, these tough fish are no joke. Name confusion aside, this aggressive species might just be the ultimate jungle fish for destination anglers! In our humble opinion, Wolf Fish in the Amazon should be added to every adventurous anglers bucket list!

There are a few subspecies of wolf fish, the most famous is the Giant Wolf Fish.

Giant Wolf Fish attract the most attention from fly fishers, who will travel to the heart of the Amazon to catch them. Maxing out at almost 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length and 80 pounds, these fish can grow to beastly proportions! 

When fly fishing for Giant Wolf Fish, anglers love watching wolf fish aggressively chase down flies. Even poppers! Once hooked, these devilish fish will fight extremely hard to the end.

Wolf fish Amazon
Wolf Fish Amazon // Patrick T

Wolf Fish Amazon Overview

Wolf fish are prehistoric, ancient fish. They have flat shaped heads with upward facing eyes. A wide mouth is set with canine teeth, sharp as daggers, that lock into anything that swims too close. Tapered from their large heads is a long eel-like body, armored with large sized and thick scales leading to a powerful tail.

There are a variety of Wolf Fish subspecies, some that max out at ten inches, others growing to monstrous proportions. 

Like Arapaima and Tarpon, Giant Wolf Fish can also breathe air! It’s not uncommon to hear them come up to the water’s surface and gulp air. This unique adaptation has helped them survive in stagnant waters that have low oxygen concentrations. Rumored accounts of these ‘air-breathers’ crawling from pond to pond over dry land exist! There is very little doubt that breathing has kept wolf fish a genetic success for so long.

What to Expect When Fishing for Amazon Wolf Fish

As an ambush predator, giant wolf fish prefer slow moving, low oxygenated water. Anglers often catch them in backwater channels, lagoons, or slow moving rivers. With this water preference, fishing often happens in off-colored or murky waters when intentionally targeting these badass fish!

Expect a hunt: During the daylight hours, wolf fish tend to hug tightly to structure – both to hide from direct sunlight and to ambush prey! The ideal type of structure may vary from rocky outcrops, underwater branches and logs, to underwater vegetation. As the light intensity diminishes through the day, wolf fish become more active and prowl about. Somedays, you just have to find them!

Expect tricky casts: They love structure, structure, and more structure! Often, this means wolf fish hang out beneath overhanging branches or cuts in the river bank. Anglers need to be prepared to thread tight casts in these situations. As wolf fish are mostly ambush predators, you need to get your fly some-what close to them to entice them to eat!

Expect aggressive eats: Fortunately, they are not picky eaters. While a good fly selection is important, wolf fish eat first and ask questions later! Flies with sharp hooks are needed to pierce their boney mouths.

Expect to strip-set: As with all jungle fishing – from fly fishing for golden dorado to peacock bass – a solid strip set is a must! Lifting your rod tip, or “trout setting” will not cut it on these fish. Plus, sometimes a wolf fish will miss the fly, so by continuing to strip, you keep your fly in the game!

Expect a hard fight:

They always put on a good display during the fight. We love watching them go airborne like a tarpon before fighting dirty with death rolls and deep water dives. Once landed, watch out for those teeth!

Where to Fish for South American Wolf Fish

With a distribution across South America and parts of Central America, there are plenty of places to catch wolffish. While they have a large native range, most fly anglers pursue giant wolf fish in Brazil, Guyana, or Venezuela. 

Most of the lodges that boast epic fly fishing for wolf fish are geared towards Brazilian clientele. However, western influence is beginning to be seen at some smaller scale lodges. We suspect, as wolf fish continue to become popularized that more western-style lodges will pop up!

Alto Rio Trombetas: Deep in Brazil’s jungle lies the legendary Rio Trombetas. This lodge has large numbers of trophy wolf fish, payara, and species of peacock bass. While they are not exclusively a fly fishing operation, they certainly could be!

Fly Fishing for Wolf Fish – Gear You Need!

There’s many different fisheries for Giant Wolf Fish. Each location has unique attributes and size range of fish. This simply means that there is a spread of gear and fly tackle that will work!

For the most part, a 7 – 9 weight fly rod is all you will ever need for jungle fishing. Well, at least this is true for wolf fish in the Amazon! We recommend fast-action rods for turning over the large streamers or poppers that these freshwater devils love. Accordingly, get yourself a matching reel!

As for fly lines, show up with a few! A floating fly line will be the go – to, but bring extra intermediate lines too! Some fisheries, especially during high water, might require a sink tip line. As always, bring a couple spares, fly lines shred quickly in the jungle!

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