Just like Kendjam, Xingu is another multi-species jungle fly fishing destination within the Kayapó Indigenous lands, with one distinct difference – Xingu is the most prolific payara fishery in the entire Amazon jungle. A program developed by “The Jungle Experts” at Untamed Angling, the Xingu Project took three years to develop and has redefined trophy payara fishing.

Payara at XinguThe Xingu River, much like the Iriri River at Kendjam, flows over granite bedrock, and runs gin clear, allowing for exciting sight-fishing opportunities for a broad variety of species. Anglers will encounter fish sipping and rolling on the surface like trout – including insect-eating pacu and matrinxã – while aggressive predators like peacock bass, bicuda, and wolf fish patrol along the deeper edges of the river, ready to attack poppers or streamers.

Kayapó Indigenous child at XinguWhat really sets Xingu apart from anywhere else in the Amazon are the impressive numbers of large payara. These “vampire fish” are famous for their impressive orthodonture, and while they often make for spectacular photos, they are also one of the hardest-hitting, strongest-fighting fish in the Amazon Basin.

This is an adventurous trip in the middle of an extremely remote tropical jungle. The variety of different fish species you will pursue at Xingu makes having the proper tackle critical, and the following essential fly fishing equipment is what you need.

Fly Rods:
9-foot rods are by far the best for distance and accuracy, both of which are important at Xingu.  6 to 10 weight fast action rods are what to look for, as they have the proper taper to cast streamers and wind resistant dry flies and fight heavy fish. For payara we like to fish 9-10 weight rods and for the other species like matrinxã, peacock bass, pacu and bicuda, we prefer 6-7-weight rods. You might also consider taking a 5- or 6-weight trout rod for fishing pacu and matrinxã on dry flies.

Scientific Anglers Mastery Titan Jungle Floating Fly LineFly Lines:
Aggressively tapered fly lines, purposely built for the jungle, are what you need. Standard coldwater floating fly lines will not cut it and become soft and limp in the jungle environment. Most of the payara fishing is carried out on the water surface, although having sink-tip fly lines is important.

Abel SDS Saltwater Fly ReelsFly Reels:
You’ll need a quality saltwater fly reel for Xingu. A quality large arbor reel with a smooth and sealed disk drag, machined from bar stock aluminum, with a large, easy to adjust drag knob is what to look for.

Reel Backing:
Hatch PE 8-braid premium backing is rated at 68-pound test and is the undisputed champion in the world of backing. You get what you pay for with this stuff. It is three times the strength and half the diameter, so you can get twice as much on the spool, and we like only having to buy backing once for the life of the reel.

Scientific Anglers Leaders for XinguLeaders:
The fish you target at Xingu are not normally leader shy; however, the water is very clear, so fluorocarbon leaders and tippet make a difference. Leaders should be strong and heavy enough to turn over big wind resistant flies, so leaders with stiff butt sections are important.

Flies:
A wide variety of flies are needed at Xingu including baitfish, minnows, terrestrials and even algae imitations.

  • Payara: Heavily dressed flies in lengths from 5 to 12 inches in barbless 3/0 to 6/0 (high quality hooks) are required. The most typical flies used are tied with synthetic materials in a wide variety of colors, light to dark (white/black, all black, black/red, black/purple, black/orange, and black/chartreuse). Large baitfish imitations have proven to be very successful and it’s very important to have flies with trailer hooks, as payara are tail biters. Tube flies work well as you have the option to adjust the hook distance. Flies to consider include Girl Next Door (6/0), Cruisers (3/0 – 5/0), Brush Fly (6/0), Bad Attitude Baitfish (4/0) Major Bunker (4/0), Tarpon Snake (4/0), Cuda Killer (4/0), Swingers Convention (4/0), PSP Bubblehead (4/0), Big Boy Trevally Popper (2/0).
  • Peacock Bass and Bicuda: Saltwater streamers in white, yellow, chartreuse and combinations of these colors are very effective. Flies with a good amount of flash make all the difference in our clear waters. Light colored Clouser Minnows or Flashtail Whistlers with flash in the tail work well.
  • Wolf Fish: We usually cast weighted flies with dark color combinations like black/red, black/purple or all black. Andino Deceivers are a great choice. Flies tied with synthetic materials last longer on toothy fish. Glimmer Minnows, Sardina Cruisers. Enrico Puglisi Flies, Whistlers, Umpqua’s Tarpon Snake, Deceivers, and Half and Halfs all work well.
  • Foam saltwater poppers in light colors variations with flash along with Gurglers and Divers in 1/0 to 3/0 are good surface choices.
  • Terrestrials are very productive for matrinxã and pacu. Fly patterns like the Fat Albert, Umpqua’s Pool Toy, and Chernobyl Ant are excellent choices. These terrestrial patterns need to be tied on strong hooks, as normal trout hooks will not hold these fish. The hook sizes are #6 for pacu and #4 to matrinxã.
  • For algae flies, we use small-weighted olive Woolly Buggers tied on strong hooks sizes #6 to #10. The #6 Milky Magic fly fished for milkfish is an excellent choice.

Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily HoodyClothing:
You’ll want three pairs of fast drying pants and one pair of shorts (swim trunks) – the same type of garb you would wear while flats fishing.

You will also want to bring four or five tropical, long-sleeved shirts for fishing and relaxing around the lodge.

Simms Flyweight Wading BootWading Boots:
You’ll be wet wading in rocky freestone rivers all week while fishing at Xingu, so wading gear is critical, and a pair of sturdy, felt-soled boots with carbide or aluminum studs or cleats is a must. Rubber-soled wading boots don’t work on the thin algae film that covers the rocks and gravel.

Simms Neoprene Wading SockPlan on bringing two pairs of neoprene socks, and bring a tube of anti-fungal cream and a small bottle of Gold Bond medicated powder to keep your feet happy.

Wading Staff:
If you use a wading staff on your homewaters, then bring one to Xingu. It will come in handy.

Astral Loyak M's Water ShoeBoat shoes:
For footwear, a boat shoe with a non-skid sole will give you plenty of support and traction in the boats. Astral Loyaks or Crocs are a good choice. Be sure to bring a couple pairs of lightweight, lightly-colored socks to protect your feet from the sun.

Patagonia Great Divider BagLuggage:
There is a strictly-enforced 40-pound weight restriction per person for the charter flight to and from Xingu, divided as follows: one 10-pound carry-on piece of luggage and one 30-pound checked bag (soft duffel bags with no rigid bottom except for rod cases).

Electrolytes:
Bring a reusable water bottle (Kleen Kanteen, YETI or Hydro Flask) along with packets of Gatorade, EmergenC, Liquid IV or another electrolyte mix. The jungle is hot and humid, and you will sweat a lot. Water is great, but if you are constantly sweating, you will lose salt and minerals, which will cause cramping. We like to drink three full water bottles mixed with electrolytes – one in the morning, one at lunch and one after fishing. Believe us, this is a game changer.

Other ancillary items to bring include: