One thing every savvy traveler knows is that packing the right gear is a key factor to enjoying a trip. When you’re headed down to Baja to chase Rooster fish with a fly rod, this is especially true. Even for seasoned fly fishers, there’s a definite learning curve, and while we always have more to learn, we’ve learned a lot, so, here’s our current best recommendations for what your luggage should hold, from our founder Donnie Price himself.
Start with the right bag
WIth most airlines you’ll probably get one-to-two checked bags and a carry on, and one personal item, included in the price of your fare, but you’ll want to confirm your carrier’s policies to make sure you know how much luggage you can bring, and what you’ll need to make additional arrangements for.
For my money, a large mouth, long soft side bag is a great place to start. Since most rods break down into 30 inch segments, or smaller, make sure you’ve got room at the bottom of your bag for the rod tubes for however many you plan to bring. My advice, go versatile with one good rod and borrow from our equipment locker if you want to change it up at any point.
If you haven’t already, you need to get a protective case for your reel to make sure that any impact your bag goes through won’t damage it.Check wherever you buy your fishing gear, I like to use local shops whenever possible to get the best recommendations, and that goes for everything I’m sharing here.
Let’s talk rods.
As of this writing, I was just down at the lodge and catching a ton of great fish on a Taylor flyfishing Truth, Z series 11 weight, which that’s the biggest rod they make right now. I’m trying to convince them to make a 12 weight, because we absolutely need it here. If you’re not familiar with Taylor, try one out while you’re here, or if you’re in the market for a good all around saltwater rod, it’s a great piece of gear for a lot less than the bigger brands high end rods, I really like it.
- Stick to 11 or 12 weights, especially for the bigger roosterfish and billfish.
- Nine foot length is what I like and recommend.
The key here is tiring the fish out a bit quicker so that their recovery time following release is shorter. A lighter rod, like a 10 weight might work in the slow season, but if you’re coming during prime times, it just works to your advantage much better. I’m a big guy, and even with that Z 11 I caught so many fish that I physically hurt. I doubt that I could have done that with a lesser rod.
Thit Truth Z series rod is graphene enhanced. I really like graphene rods a lot, which is why I invited them to partner with El Gallo. Graphene is the strongest material known to man, it is 300% stronger than steel, and really holds up. I punished the one I was out with the last time and had no doubt it could take more.
So, what about reels?
If you’ve never been after saltwater runners, like the Roosterfish, you may be surprised at how much backing you’ll need. These fish can literally run out a quarter mile of line, and leave you chasing them way past that. So, first thing I would say is large capacity, enough room for at least 400 yards of 30/40 lb test backing.
- Nautilus and Hatch are great brands.
- Make sure you have a sealed drag, salt will eat your gear.
- Brakes that could stop a runaway truck.
- Taylor Fly Fishing has assured me that they are going to release a new reel with this capacity.
I recommend using the same setup on the beach, or on the boat. Keep in mind that your setup needs to be quick and easy to maneuver. These fish move so fast, that when they hit the surface, it’s like watching a rapidly deflating balloon as they race for the horizon.
Here are some tips on tackle
All sorts of flies will work here, and don’t be afraid to try things. You might teach us something. But, here’s what we’ve found that seems to work well.
- Standard saltwater sardines of all kinds are great, 2/0, 3/0, and 4/0 sizes are good
- Light colors, like white/olive, or olive/sand color schemes seem to work well
- I prefer fluorocarbon leaders, especially for the big ones and bill fish
- I like to think about stepping my lines down at 50/40/30/20
- 12 foot leaders are best for roosterfish
For billfish, consider a 60/40/30 and a wire bite tip, their bills are pretty abbrassive. I have managed to catch them on a 60 pound flouro tippet.
As always, if you prefer to travel light and leave your gear at home, or don’t have an appropriate saltwater rig, let us know. We’ve got house Taylor rods and Nautilus or Hatch reels for you to use during your stay, all included in the price.
Let’s talk clothing
Here in the Baja region, the weather is always fairly warm, depending on where you’re from, but you wont’ need a lot of heavy clothing. If you’re worried about getting cold, think layers, because it’s likely to feel hot on the water, fighting fish.
Most fishers prefer lightweight clothes in sun resistant fabrics that breathe well and dry quickly. Look for something for a SPF 50 rating, especially if you live where sun isn’t a big factor, or you’re coming early when you haven’t built up a tolerance.
- Long sleeve sun shirts in a style that is comfortable to wear for you
- Long, breathable pants, you can wear shorts, but many don’t like them here.
- Remember you will be getting wet, and don’t want to stay that way, so heavy fabrics are not your friend.
As far as footwear is concerned, comfort is key, and remember, everywhere we are down here, the sand is a factor. If you’re beach fishing, you’ll likely want to be barefoot in the surf. Some like water shoes.
- Pack something that slips on and off easily, such as flip flops or sandals
- Deck boots or deck shoes are good on the boat, slip resistant soles are essential
- When fishing, you’ll be on your feet a lot, so make sure whatever you choose is comfortable and fits well.
One other critical piece for most fly fishers is a hat. For my money, I like a baseball cap. I also have bought and worn the locally made palm frond sun hats, anything to keep the sun off your face, and head.
- Think about comfort, something ventilated, or lightweight
- If you have a sensitive neck, get a wide brim, or a hat with a skit to cover that. Buffs are a must!
- Since conditions can be breezy, make sure it fits well, and consider a chin cord
Basically, your favorite fishing hat that meets these demands is great. You’ll also want chapstick or lip balm, and sunscreen, preferably something rated for wet conditions that is long lasting.
Finally, I recommend sunglasses. These can be whatever you’re comfortable with. I prefer something that wraps around a bit to cut the sun on the sides to gut glare.
- Quality glass, scratch resistant and polarized, whatever darkness you prefer
- Bajio makes great fishing sunglasses.
- A cord if you’re concerned about losing them.
- A cleaning kit, because salt build up will happen.
Another thing many anglers don’t think of is a pair of gloves. Your hands are in the sun all day, plus, between the salt water, and the rough lines, and the physical work, hands can take a beating. If you can find a good sun glove with a stripping finger it’s a good investment.
Unless you are wanting to experience night life in the nearby cities, you won’t need any clothing that isn’t casual and suitable for fishing or travel, other than a bathing suit or two. But, here are a few other items guests might find useful.
- A good waterproof phone case, most phones are rated for submersion, but may have issues until they dry out, better safe than sorry.
- Small amount of cash, which you can get here at an atm, dollars are fine, unless you’re in the remote areas, know the exchange rate and don’t change money at the airport unless you don’t mind being gouged on the rate.
- While masking isn’t an issue right now, check with us, as covid continues to be a presence.
- Pack walking shoes for hiking the desert, exploring local areas.
- Digital devices like phones and tablets, or kindles. We do have wifi at both lodges.
- We do have in room safes at the lodge to lock up things you want to secure, but what is not taken to Mexico is not lost to Mexico!
In short, this list is what we’d consider must haves, but bring anything you typically travel with, you know you and comfort is paramount. If you’re kind hearted, don’t bring anything you’re not prepared to give away, because the local area is very poor and you may find yourself feeling compelled to give it all away. Other than that, come on down, we’ve got you covered on gear, bedding, dining, and personal hygiene essentials.
If you have more questions, we love to talk about the experience that we provide, hit the button below, and we will reach out to you.