Thick jungle, populated by monkeys and exotic birds, surround most of Costa Rica. The countryside is a mountainous region, hosting uncountable varieties of plants, trees, and other vegetation. The sheer biomass of this place is overwhelming, to say the least.

The far-out fisheries that I guide on are no exception and with views of ancient volcanos in the background, you are in naturally unique area unlike any other fishery in the Northern Hemisphere. Due to the amount of annual rain fall and running water, free flowing waterfalls pepper the hills and provide a wonderful backdrop for photography. When on the water and in the jungle, you get the feeling of being in a truly special place that offers more than a world class fishery. The landscape, wildlife, and scenery alone are worth the visit.

Many people don’t know it but Costa Rica boasts one of the of the largest congregations of tarpon on the planet. While most people think about Tarpon fishing in clear, blue water off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the Costa Rican Tarpon fishery occurs in the jungle. This is extremely unique to this area in Central America which includes other countries like Nicaragua and Panama.

Tarpon are likely responsible for more saltwater fly fishing converts than any other fish. Their attitude, strength, tendency to jump and make face melting runs is unmatched by nearly any other fish on the planet. Nothing beats watching a Silver King go completely airborne, violently thrashing and running like a freight train — an unstoppable force. Now, put yourself in the jungle of Costa Rica and experience a view that few anglers have ever seen.

For these fish, we use extra strong, fast-action rods like the Saltwater AIR 9’ 11-weight or 12-weight. The Salt AIR is an exceptional rod for these situations when you need to delicately hit your mark with extreme precision. It’s a smooth casting fast-action fly rod that still captures a classic “Winston Feel” but is also very friendly to picking up line quickly and laying it back down. The perfect rod for nearly any saltwater situation on the planet. 

Pair the Salt AIR with a Bauer Fly Reel RX 7 and you have a deadly combination. Watch out, Tarpon.

The other fish that we target is called the Machaca. Undoubtedly, this fish is one of the wildest and baddest dudes in the jungle. A cousin to the piranha, the Machaca sports a full spread of razor sharp teeth, capable of slicing open a finger…or worse. Don’t forget to bring a few pairs of your favorite pliers when targeting these toothy critters.

The Machaca have everything a fly angler could dream of in a sport fish — They bust topwater, jump, make hard runs, and live in beautiful places. Due to their stocky body and large head, these fish are surprisingly strong and don’t give up easily. After they are hooked, they typically head for the nearest structure, making it extremely important to take control as soon as possible. Because of this, we solely use rods with a solid backbone, like the Alpha+ 9’ 8-weight.

Flies for these fish are not your typical feathery concoctions. We use special flies that imitate the local fruits and berries — food sources that these fish can’t resist. Your typical dead drift presentation is perfect for imitating the berries that fall into the swift currents. Being almost exclusively a top water feeder, Machaca are a ton of fun on an 8-weight fly rod.

While the Machaca are not the most conventionally beautiful fish in the jungle, they feature amazing bronze and gold color patterns, often with highlights of teal blue on their gill plates and tail. Holding one up for a photo always puts a big smile on my face.

With such a rich history in fly fishing, you would think that Costa Rica would be on anglers’ bucket lists across the world. Back in the day, famous and influential anglers would flock to the jungle to take part in this world class fishery. It wasn’t until years later that fishing lodges became mismanaged and eventually shut down. The fishery and local economy collapsed. Anglers simply quit coming.

For the past few years, we have been working with local Costa Ricans to restore fly fishing travel in this area. Soon, anglers from all over the US will be happy to hook up in this jungle once again. Beyond the quality of the fishing, the greatest joy of exploring the jungle Tarpon fishery has been the ability to make epic memories with my good friends and guests.

It is a pleasure to be Costa Rica’s premiere outfitter for this amazing fish and I am happy to share it with anybody who wants to experience a truly unique fly fishing adventure.

If you would like to know more about fly fishing in Costa Rica, please feel free to reach me at or visit

-Jesse Males