When you think of Colombia, fly fishing, or any kind of fishing for that matter, does not spring to mind. But there are many opportunities if you find yourself in the country. Colombia has a coastline on both the pacific and caribbean oceans, a stretch of the Amazon and numerous river courses and waterways. I went to Leticia many times which is Colombia's port city on the Amazon. Commercial fishing dominates and the local fish market is full of unusual (to us) species such as the massive Pirarucu.
Travel to Lecticia from Bogota is easy by commercial airliner. The flight is almost as enjoyable as the destination. Make sure you get a window seat so that you can watch the seemingly endless jungle go past. Once you are there you will find a range of reasonable quality hotels and guides to arrange trips and activities. The innovative sports fisherman will find lots to do. Between the wet and dry seasons the level of the Amazon changes impressively. When the water is up it is heavily coloured which would make fly fishing harder, but in the drier months the water is clearer and you will have more luck.
If you are in Bogota you will also be in easy reach of Neusa Dam, which is about an hour’s drive north of the city. I fished it many times by boat and from the bank. People fish for a local trout, which from the looks of it was a close relation of the Europe's wild brown trout. Colombia brings steamy, tropical jungles to mind and in a lot of the country this is exactly what you would find. But Bogota sits at about 8000 feet above sea level in the Andes mountain range and it can get pretty cold. Neusa is even higher. I tried almost everything - from lures like the Wooly Bugger and Ace of Spades to Buzzers and Nymphs - but I found the most successful technique in Neusa to be a heavy wet line and traditional patterns. March Hair and Greenwell’s Glory seemed to be the best. The fish were not the biggest, but given the spectacular setting and the rarity (for me anyway) of catching them, it was an exciting sport.
In the north of Colombia on its Caribbean coast is the city of Cartagena. It is said that it has some of the best examples of Colonial architecture anywhere in the world. I am not in a position to judge, but it certainly is a beautiful city. An hour by speedboat from here are a range of islands with hotels which are geared up for the tourist. I used to go to Punta Faro which has all the amenities you would expect but, more importantly, much of the island was uninhabited and offered decent saltwater fly fishing. Baitfish patterns were the best. I’m sure there were other species about, but I only ever seemed to catch Snook. Try the EP Baitfish:
Thread: 3/0, red or white
Gills: Red EP fibers
Top: Dark EP fibers
Bottom: Light EP fibers
Flash: EP flash or equivalent
Eyes: plastic 3D
Further to the North still off the coast of Nicaragua you will find the Island of San Andres. A Colombian province, San Andres has a lot going for it. It’s beautiful, rugged, exotic and it lacks tourists. Accommodation is cheap and clean and there are a number of restaurants in the town. You can reach it by plane from Bogota.
Relatively undiscovered, it offers a range of challenging fishing. Although it has a number of beaches a lot of the island is ringed with volcanic rock, ready to shred the feet of even the toughest fly-fisherman. Forget your flip-flops, you’re going to need something more substantial here. The waters around San Andres are crystal clear and cover most of the sub-sea terrain you would expect to find in the Caribbean. Even fishing off the volcanic outcrops can be productive. Try the usual patterns. I had luck with the Cypert's Minnow:
Size: 4 - 8
Eyes: Bead chain pair
Body: Chenille wrapped over the hook and around the eyes,
Tail and overbody: Mylar piping tied in at the head, folded over the top and bottom and extended as a tail
The final and perhaps most adventurous place you could fly-fish in Colombia is Tayrona National Park. Inaccessible by road, you will have to take a speedboat for a couple of hours from Santa Marta, which is further up the Caribbean coast from Cartagena. You can fly there directly from Bogota or take the bus from Santa Marta. If you can get yourself as far as Santa Marta just ask at your hotel about taking a trip to Tayrona. They will be able to arrange everything for you. Once you are there you will find yourself in an untouched, beautiful, rugged fishing Mecca. Accommodation is basic - no running water and mostly thatched roofs. Take your fly rod of course, but I would also recommend having your spinning rod handy too. You can fish off the beach, rocks or the boatmen who shuttle people up and down the coast will take you out for a small fee.
Other things to do in the area include hiking to the Lost City (La Ciudad Perdida). Those that have been say it’s more of an experience then Machu Picchu. And if you have time and the constitution checkout La Puerta nightclub on your way home. It's as exciting a night out as you can have. Just one warning - it has no roof. When it starts to rain you, and the electrics powering the sound system, will know all about it.