Paul Arden | Monday, 27 February 2017

As you’ll see from this week’s Five Minutes of Fly Fishing I had a couple of Giant Gourami. caught not five minutes apart! These for me are the Number 1 fish in Malaysia and the most exciting, interesting and challenging dry fly fish you can ever imagine. They are surface feeders and Omnivore. I’ve seen them eating ants, large jungle duns, small buzzers (midge) and Cicada - as well as figs, weed on stumps and bankside leaves. In fact in the video you will see that the first Gourami was eating overhanging leaves and jumping out to grab them - I’ve never seen this before.

But despite having a wide diet that appears to be made for fly fishing, they are actually incredibly difficult to fish to fool. It’s rare that they “just eat” and often inspect the fly for what feels like an age, and indeed was an age in one particular case when fishing with Dirk last year where the fish inspected the fly from all angles for a full five minutes! Often I get a refusal from a fish, watch him swim away for 5-10 metres, only then return to the fly and then sometimes eat it.


Another curious thing about this species, is that a “twitched fly” sees the fish simply go down and disappear from the surface, never to return. These fish are excellent at travelling backwards too, so when they go down, they reverse down!


And if getting them to eat wasn’t challenging enough, landing them is incredibly difficult for they have a fast turn of speed, can put in long runs if you let them and often live in snaggy areas. Out of the first ten fish I hooked, I landed only one. This resulted in me changing my game, and I replaced mono tippet material with braid (PE fibre) which allows me to use a material that is both limp and diameter for diameter very much stronger. It also has fantastic abrasion resistance, which might surprise a few people. The problem with this material however, is that sometimes the Gourami see it and then instead of eating, they swim along it to the flyline, see the boat and spook!


Consequently I’ve tried a few different forms of braid, in various colours. I’ve also used marker pens to change the colour. Light green isn't good. Dark green seems OK, especially at night. I tried sky blue for the daytime Cicada activity, which hasn’t been successful thus far. I have a waxed braid that is easier to sink, but I always muddy it anyway, for there is no question that a sunk leader is always less visible and with these fish that counts for a lot.


Initially I had problems turning over a braid leader of more than 9ft, however my mate Graeme Hird in Perth, Australia, created some braided tapered leaders with weight (splicing or inserting various diameter braids together and then covering the result with a mixture of varnish and linseed oil. So using this I can reasonably fish leaders of twice the rod length, which seems to make a difference.


Gourami are interesting, they like to find the fly themselves. However so long as the fly lands gently they seem to like that too, but not on its nose - this spooks them every time. If it lands hard it spooks them too, but if it’s a gentle landing out of their vision, they will come and have a look, even if the fly lands behind them while they are preoccupied eating weed. 



I have a developed a few lightly dressed Humpy-like flies that look like Duns but with foam backs to float heavy wire Saltwater Hooks, but I’m most excited about Dron Lee’s foam Cicada pattern which he kindly tied for me after last year’s Cicada season. This is the fly I had two fish on this week, and I’ve tied a few more now (not as good of course!) and now since Cicada season is beginning, hopefully, as we say, “it’s all about to happen!”


Incidentally I shot another video in the middle of last week which you may have missed, this is the Four Snakehead Shots for fishing here in the jungle. If you haven't subscribed to us on YouTube this would be a great idea - thanks!  Also I’ve done a little work on tidying up embedding all the weekly video series. You can see all that here.


All of my Gourami have been caught on my trusty HT4 - this is such an amazing rod, initially designed for the very technical fishing in the Balkans where you need a sensitive tip because tippet diameter is .10mm, the stiffer than normal butt section also makes this a powerful casting and fish fighting tool. I have no problems fishing casts of 90ft and more with a DT4, which makes it a great all-round stillwater rod, with the ability to fish buzzers with great sensitivity, It will also throw light streamers and I’ve used mine to catch big Carp to well into double figures, Gourami to over 10lbs and Russian trout to 4KG. At no point with any of these fish have I felt under gunned and it outperforms any light-line fly rod I’ve fished! It is indeed my favourite!


This week Flavio from the Board joins us. Flavio is on a fishing/backpacking trip through Malaysia and Thailand. I’m hoping that all the Gourami switch on to Cicadas and that we get to bully a Snakehead or two. Have a great week!