Saltwater flies, dorado flies, heavy duty hooks, best tying materials
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Dorado are one of the finest fly rod game fish species in the world. They are beautiful to look at, aggressive toward well presented flies and are extremely athletic when hooked. Below are listed the top six fly patterns for the Sea of Cortez, which offers very strong dorado fishing from June through October. The single most productive fly pattern during our nine trips to Loreto, Mexico have been flies that simulate sardinas, which currently is the Dabloon fly made from yak hair. This fly is usually used in combination with a slow sinking line and is presented to fish, which have been chummed with live sardinas. The next most productive fly is a size two olive and white Deep Eyed Minnow. This fly has an erratic, wounded minnow action, and is a good bet when fish are working smaller bait fish. Poppers are great fun when dorado are feeding right at the surface. Poppers and Crease flies have also been effective when presented with a fast sinking line below the surface of the water. Fast strips impart a swimming action.
Dorado means gold in Spanish. It's a reasonable name for a fish that can turn bright gold along the sides, but they are usually bright greenish blue along the back and have liberal amounts of blue spots and the pectoral fins are very bright electric blue. Dorado are one of the most successful fishes and are found in tropical waters, world wide. In Australia and most of the Atlantic Ocean the specie is call Dolphin (not to be confused with a family of sea mammals of the same name). In Hawaii they are called Mahi Mahi. Dorados are prime fly rod sport fish for a number of reasons. They are very strong and acrobatic. They spend a lot of time around the surface of the water where they are comparatively easy to reach while fly fishing. Dorado grow incredibly fast. At one year old, most Dorado exceed 6 pounds and may be over twenty pounds at age two. Three year old Dorado usually exceed thirty pounds. Few Dorado live beyond the forth year. The world record is 87 pounds. Once the fish reach maturity they spawn every six weeks and broadcast about 400,000 eggs. The eggs which are about the size of the head of a pin hatch in about 60 hours. The little fish start growing immediately. This fast growth rate keeps them eating constantly and they are very aggressive biters most of the time. They feed on bait fish of many sizes and are fond of sardines, flying fish, mackerel and squid. On a recent trip to the sea of Cortez several fish were vomiting up squid as they were being played. This attracted more Dorado which quickly consumed the free meal. Some of the squid were more than a foot long. When hooked a Dorado runs hard and often jumps spectacularly, then slugs it out all the way to the boat. They can exceed 50 miles per hour for short bursts. Ordinarily they save a bit of energy to thrash about madly as the angler tries to either release, or land the fish.
Dorado have multiple groups of wicked little teeth that can chew your leader and flies. It is advised that when large fish are expected that a shock tippet of 50-60 pound test is used. A simple leader formula is as follows: 12" or less #50 shock tippet, 16'" or more of #16 or #20 class tippet, 3' of #50 butt section. Sections of leader can be assembled with surgeon's knots. Smaller fish can be landed on straight twenty pound test tippets. Our favorite rods for Dorado are #10 to #12 weight.
Or favorite line for most fishing conditions is RIO's Tropical Outbound Short with a slow sinking clear intermediate tip. Fast sinking shooting head fly lines made from 26' of T-20 are a good bet for fishing bait fish and squid patterns when weather/water conditions keep dorado from feeding right at the surface. Intermediate or floating lines with intermediate tips, are best for fishing poppers. Dorados like to hang around anything that is floating on the water. Floating weed mats, debris, rays or turtles will often have Dorados under them. I once hooked a 20 pound Dorado from under a single floating Styrofoam cup. Many Dorados that are caught with flies have been chummed up to the boat with live or cut bait. Most Dorado caught from the sea of Cortez are chummed with live Sardinas, which are stored in well aerated live-wells.