ranging from 7w to 9w. Generally these are 13-foot spey or 11-foot switch rods. It's a wonderful thing to fire a Skagit line out across a camp pool at sunset and skate a big mouse pattern to a giant taimen!
Taimen are giant predators, renowned for a ferocious appetite and explosive strike. Their main diet is "small" fish and they do take well-presented streamers. However, taimen often feed on the surface, searching out small mammals and even ducklings. This means taimen aggressively take skated or gurgling surface flies, too. Taimen will absolutely explode on the fly, sometimes coming completely out of the water on the strike. On witnessing this impressive smash and grab many anglers pull too soon and miss the hook up. The trick is to keep stripping until you feel the weight of the fish, then set the hook. If you miss the first strike, slam that fly right back on the water. That big, angry fish will usually come back around and absolutely hammer your fly.
These taimen will often go airborne. Like a big tarpon, they will tail walk along the river's surface. In skinny water, they will rocket across the river for greater depths. The four-foot long predator on the end of your line will charge around the pool, bore deep and shake its head violently like a very, very big brown trout.
Mongolia is a world-class trout-fishing destination, too. Fly-fishing for giant taimen is the big draw. However, the same pristine and productive water that holds monster taimen also produces phenomenal numbers of lenok and grayling.
Lenok are an ancient and beautiful Siberian trout. They have golden bodies, bright red bands and black spots. Throughout the fishing season, these native trout feed aggressively on the surface. They wait along banks and beneath willows to slurp the abundant grasshopper, mayfly and stonefly hatches. A large Siberian trout will happily destroy a mouse pattern skated across a shallow run or behind a rock. They will smash bead-heads dropped beneath riffles. Fly-fishing for these native trout is as good or better than any trout fishery in the American West.
These rivers hold astounding numbers of grayling. Grayling are a main food source for taimen. In fact, taimen will often come from nowhere and attack the grayling on the end of your line. While wading, we often watch dozens of grayling casually sipping small hatches within a few feet of us. These fish are wonderful fun on a light rod, and amazingly they will even nail small mouse patterns!
Reel, Rod and Line:
The "classic" set-up is a single-handed 8 or 9w rod for Taimen and a second 4, 5, or 6w rod for trout. (Taimen can be over fifty inches and forty pounds. Many trout will be around twenty inches and right around three pounds.) Many guests also bring spare rods. A 7w is a nice addition for throwing smaller dry flies. Make sure your reel has a functional drag and is fully loaded with backing. Large arbor reels are useful.
We've found the best lines for taimen to be the Rio Outbound Short for a floating line, and bringing along a 200-250 grain sink tip is also a good idea.
This is a great river for spey and switch rods. Seven – nine weight is a good choice. Most guests have a tough time fishing the spey rods from the boat, so best to have a single hand for fishing from the boat and use the spey for working particular runs.
For trout and grayling, folks typically fish with a weight forward floating line for both wet and dry flies.
Bring a good supply of leader material. Nine foot or longer leaders suitable for salmon or big steelhead work fine for Taimen. Normal trout leaders are great for the lenok. Bring clippers, hemostats and tippet. The guides all have large landing nets.
There are usually extras of just about everything in camp. However, we recommend that you bring a back-up rod, reel and line just in case. Of course, one client broke his 9 weight, picked up his 5 weight, and straight away landed a monster Taimen.
The guides will supply the taimen flies. They have their own patterns and tying equipment on hand. The flies are user friendly and not obnoxiously large. Just like any trout or salmon, you don't need a giant fly to catch a giant fish. If you have patterns that you would like to try, please bring them. Taimen fishing is an evolving pursuit and we're always amazed by what works. For the trout, an assortment of general patterns works just fine.
Bring a fishing vest/chest pack with a drying patch, waist or chest high breathable waders, and comfortable wading shoes. (Please, no spikes on the boots. The spikes tear the boats). A waterproof jacket, good hat, and polarized sunglasses (on a keeper) are must haves.
Please bring a small waterproof bag that fits your personal "day's fishing" stuff, e.g., camera, spare coat, etc. We have life jackets and coolers on the boats.
You will want to pack as if going to float a river in Montana the first week in October. There might be snow or rain, but it's far more likely that the days will be sunny and warm (60 – 70 degrees F). As unbelievable as it may sound, be prepared for both snow and wet wading even during the early and late season. Evenings are generally cool, sometimes just below freezing.