I googled “Fly Fishing in Patagonia” to step into the shoes of a curious angler. To my surprise there are about 493,000 possible entries.
Winnowing down I searched: “Fly Fishing Lodges in Patagonia Chile” my home country: This result pulled up 264,00 entries.
Third Try. I got a short “best of the best” list: which included three lodges which are now out of business. This made me wonder how people were going to make good decisions.
So, here's my take on what to consider for your adventure to the most beautiful country and amazing fishing in the world.
It’s true that everyone has different preferences, but here are several things to think about:
Guides and experience
Lodge infrastructure, services, beds and food
Boutique or Commercial Hotel?
The Fishing: The Coyhaique/Central Patagonia area is world famous for quality fishing. Hands down best fishing in the Southern Hemisphere! (my Kiwi friends can eat worms!!). The variety of water, remoteness, and six month season which runs from October to May offers winter respite to Northern Hemisphere fly fisherman and exceptional value. Chile and Argentina offer an unsurpassed combination of water, large browns and rainbows, good company, and excellent food. Questions to ask when considering your lodge: How far are they from fishing waters? Does the river “Run Through it?” ( the property). What kind of physical condition should I be in? Do I have to be an expert? What months during season match my ability, physical condition, and budget?
The Owners: I personally think this is the key. Are the owners on site and invested? Or is it a corporate outfit? Absentee ownership? As a rule of thumb, on site, local ownership, and general management cannot be beat. They know the area, the rivers, the culture and can solve all logistics. Are they citizens of the country? Do they employ local staff? Are they dedicated to fly fishing and Tourism or is it a side business? Are their testimonials up to date? Find out. It'll make the difference.
Guides and Experience: Guiding requires local knowledge and experience. Why fly all the way to South America to be with your Idaho guide, as good as he might be? Is his Spanish strong enough to negotiate with local farmers access to that special section of river? Skilled, bi-lingual, legally employed staff, and guides, make the difference. Our guides even have their own facebook pages and you will see they are obsessed with fishing. Check them out.
Lodge Infrastructure and Services: Online references found here on TripAdvisor will give you a helpful perspective. Good beds after long days on river are essential. An in house QUALIFIED chef make the difference. Wi-fi access is now a given but not always available. Ask. Can the lodge accommodate special requests? Is there a special “feel” to the Lodge? You have flown a long way. It should feel like “home” and an oasis? Does the lodge offer non-Angler support and activities?
Pricing: In Chile, the price range among professional fly-fishing lodges is very similar: Roughly $4,000-$6,000 dollars a week for 2016-17 season. About half of an Alaskan or Russian Experience. Early season and late season deals are often attractive to Lodge owners and discounts are available. Pre booking options six months or more in advance might offer discount opportunities. Ask!
Boutique or Commercial: Size does matter. Are you looking for an intimate South American private experience? Or does a larger Commercial “Hotel” with 20 plus beds wag your tail? Logistics and personal attention are challenging in South America, especially if you are remote. An experienced boutique lodge for 8, 10 rods or less, will always offer a more personalized, intimate, authentic experience.
Passion: You have it. So should your lodge! Do you feel the passion in the photos and language on the web site? In the phone calls? The customer referrals? It's not always about the fanciest car or drift boat. Or newest hot tub which looks good on website but doesn’t work in real life. Paraphrasing Rumi: “Let the Beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to walk water and be in the river.”
Use your intuition and look for the passion behind the glossy photos. If you find it, you'll not only be catching big browns, but will enjoy magic in Patagonia.
We’ve saved you a spot on the river.
Co-Owner Los Torreones Lodge