It's Gourami Time

It's Gourami Time

Paul Arden | Monday, 26 June 2017

I caught my first Giant Gourami on fly some three years ago. Back then I experienced very random encounters and found the whole adventure to be very hit and miss. I also had a huge problem landing the fish, out of the first 10 hooked I landed one, the other 9 either snagging and smashing me or just smashing me. The change came about because I had bought some braid PE fibre for fishing for Snakehead, which ultimately I didn't use. However for Gourami it was the game-changer I was looking for. I don't know anyone else using PE for fly tippet incidentally, but you can get some excellent presentations with braid, and if you need strength and serious abrasion-resistant materiel (when exchanged for mono or copoly, diameter for diameter) then this is the stuff to use.

I've tried many different brands now, the one that I've currently settled on is a material called "Shogun" which I believe is a Malaysian brand. It is waxed and for some reason can be made to sink easier. Sinking the braid is critical, for Gourami refuse the fly with braid in the surface film. I run the standard Fuller's Earth/Glycerine/washing-up liquid mud mix through it, as well as running it through a soap bar. I've tried different braid colours, including blue for when the Gourami are Cicada feeding in the bright sunshine. But best seems to be dark olive, even for these.

One of the major problems with these fish is the necessity of fishing very strong hooks, mostly I use bonefish hooks (size 10 at the moment), and so to actively float these flies need to be modified so that they have foam bodies or foam backs. I have various termites, ants, duns and cicada patterns, as well as figs and I have some ideas for weed flies too (I had one eat a static green tailed popper, that from below but have looked like algae). The benefit of having a positively buoyant fly is that immediately after the shot has been made, a short pull will sink the leader but the fly will either stay floating or resurface.


Two years ago when I had my first full summer here, I questioned various people as to what was creating the loud kissing noise around the stumps. One fishing guide here (lure fishing) told me it was catfish. It took me a while to realise that it was in fact Gourami sucking algae off the stumps. But it didn't take me very much longer to work out that they'll eat a dry fly! The Gourami are stumping now. And so from now through to the beginning of the Wet Season, when the lake level starts to rise again, there should be Stumping Gourami action. I can't begin to tell you how exciting this is. They are certainly not easy fish to hook. and they're extremely hard to land... but WHAT A FISH!!!

As well as Stumpers we have two other sorts of Giant Gourami activity going on at the moment, in the evenings when termites fall in huge quantities the Gourami can be found in wind lanes. It's a bit like brown trout fishing, but instead of difficult brown trout you have a more challenging eat, coupled with hitting a 4 or 5KG fish that does just not want to meet you. If you are in open water then the fight is clean, however if the fish are anywhere near stumps then you are in for a real tough fight.

The other sort of activity is occurring late morning through to early afternoon during flat calms, out in open water, where the wind lanes have been, and the insects still are, with Giant Gourami cruising just subsurface looking up for dries... under the bright sunshine! I haven't mastered this one yet, I'm sure a mono leader is the answer, coupled with highly accurate relatively long distance shots. It's very difficult to get close to these fish.


Who would have thought it that there was such an amazing fish waiting to be caught? You can forget the challenge of trout fishing once you've met a big wild Giant Gourami. There is nothing for me in fly fishing more amazing than catching a sighted 4.5KG Giant Gourami in a jungle lake. Of all the fishing I've done, this is the best.

For the total leader I use a tapered braid leader as tied by Graeme Hird in Perth, which is 4ft of 50lb braid spliced into 80lb braid with spliced loops either end. This is then coated in a mixture of varnish and linseed oil to give it weight (I need the weight to turn over a braid leader of anything over 9ft!). This "butt section" is then loop to looped to the fly line. To the other end I attach 35lb braid using a Bimini Twist Loop, and finally my tippet of 20lb braid is connected to the 35lb with a Bimini Twist into a Slim Beauty. The fly knot is the Eugene Bend. If anything goes wrong in this set up it will be the bonefish hook opening.


Paul Arden is the fly rod designer for Sexyloops and has been fly fishing for over 35 years and teaching fly fishing and fly casting for more than 20 years. Paul has extensively fished for trout in Europe, New Zealand, Australia and North America and for the past 25 years has been fly fishing more than 300 days every year. He currently lives in the North Malaysian jungle, fly fishing and guiding for Giant Snakehead and Giant Gourami. A competition caster, he has reached the finals in the World Championships in 5-weight distance on three occasions, winning a Bronze medal last year. Paul has appeared on Discovery Channel in the USA co-hosting a fly fishing programme shot in New Zealand. He is full-time manager of the Sexyloops website and brand. Websites: and 

Paul's "Jungle Fishing Sponsors" are RIO fly lines:  PowerFilm Solar: Lawson Hammocks: and of course he fishes the incredible Sexyloops brand of fly rods; The Hot Torpedo.