Costa Rica Fly Fishing Packages


Fishing Info


Available Species



For fly anglers, there are few countries that can offer the variety in species and venues that Costa Rica can. We organize the best Costa Rica Fly Fishing Packages thanks due to all the different species and destinations we offer. The billfish are so plentiful here Costa Rica has become one of the best destinations in the world to fly fish for sailfish and marlin. Once offshore, flies can also be cast to dorado (mahi) and feeding yellow-fin tunas. Lighter tackle 5 and 6 wts can be used for freshwater species like rainbow bass and machaca when doing fly fishing float trips down our jungle rivers or bass fishing on Lake Arenal. For those looking for the ultimate challenge, you can try your hand at fly fishing for giant tarpon along the Caribbean Coast. Once you contact us we’ll work with you to customize the perfect Costa Rica fly fishing package for you based on your budget, experience, and target species. See why 40% of all CAF anglers are repeat & referral guests!

Fly Fishing in Quepos
Coast 2 Coast
4-in-1 Fly Fishing Trip
Fly Fishing In The Jungle
Tarpon Fishing in Tortuguero
Los Suenos Fishing

Costa Rica Fly Fishing Info

You can travel the world and might not find a country that offers as much diversity in fly fishing venues and species as Costa Rica. Costa Rica boasts a Pacific Coastline over 600 miles long, a Caribbean Coastline over 125 miles long, the huge 33 sq mile Lake Arenal, and countless jungle rivers – and we fly fish them all. Fortunately for us, sport fishing and international tourism in general has been popular in Costa Rica for over 40 years so in that time the best fly fishing destinations have been discovered, phenomenal fly fishing captains have honed their craft, and the top fly fishing boats have made a name for themselves. Whether you want to tackle big game species like billfish and triple-digit sized tarpon or if you prefer lighter tackle freshwater fishing, you can accomplish any and all of that with a week in Costa Rica.

Offshore Fly Fishing

Perhaps more than any venue, the incredible offshore sport fishing on the Pacific is what made Costa Rica a popular saltwater fly fishing destination decades ago. Few places in the world can offer as many chances to cast a fly at a sailfish swimming in your spread as double digit bites are common during the peak season in Costa Rica. With the advent of marlin fishing at the FADs/seamounts, this is also perhaps the best shot you’ll ever have at landing a marlin on the fly. In addition to the incredible billfish action, offshore fly fishing in Costa Rica also offers opportunities to present flies to schooling dorado (mahi) and frenzied yellow-fin tuna when they are feeding in a surface boil.

How to for Fly Fish for Billfish: The tried and true method is the ‘bait and switch’. When fly fishing for billfish, most boats will clear the side of the boat where you will be making your back casts. On the other side they will typically run one or two plastic squids and/or a squid daisy chain as teasers. Once you see a sailfish or marlin come into the spread behind the teaser the mate will try to get it as close to the transom as possible to make your job of placing the fly easier. Typically the captain, watching from above, will shout the signal at which point the mate rips away the teaser while the angler immediately presents the fly to the agitated fish. Unlike fishing with circle hooks on conventional gear, the fly must be set with a couple of hard pulls in the opposite direction that the fish swims off to. Fly fishing for billfish is the ultimate team game, so letting us hand pick an experienced fly fishing boat for you is of the utmost importance.

Billfish Fly Tackle: Most offshore fly fishing outfits will use a 12-14 wt rod for sailfish and 14-16 wt rod for marlin. The casts needed are short, usually no more than 20-30 ft, so this is more for the fighting power than long distance casting. You will want a large arbor saltwater reel with a strong drag that can hold several hundred yards of 50 lb backing. Leaders vary by boat and target species, but a common leader for sailfish consists of 8 ft -10 ft of 80 lb butt section, a class tippet of 16 lbs – 20 lbs, and a short 80 lb – 100 lb shock tippet. A few select boats will provide fly tackle for you if you do not bring your own.

Inshore Fly Fishing

It’s not all big game offshore fishing that attracts fly anglers to Costa Rica as roosterfish are high on the wish list of many – if not all of us. In addition to roosterfish, on our Pacific Coast we can catch over 20 species of fish including three kinds of jacks, mackerel, barracuda, grouper, several species of snapper, sea bass, and large Pacific snook in the river mouths.

How to for Fly Fish Inshore: First and foremost, it’s important to keep in mind that inshore fly fishing is not usually a numbers game. If you want to catch as many fish as possible there is no doubt that slow trolling live bait with conventional tackle is the most effective way to catch large numbers of fish inshore. Inshore fly fishing is as much about the opportunity to land a dream fish as it is the fish in hand. The hunt to find fish, perfect cast, the turn, the follow, the strike – all those should be as exciting as boating the fish itself. Inshore fly fishing along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica involves a lot of blind casting. Unlike the saltwater flats of the Caribbean, inshore fly fishing on the Pacific typically means very little sight casting to fish you or your guide have picked out. There will be days with large schools of fish, boiling bait balls, or even your guide teasing a fish up with a hookless popper or live bait – but you need to be prepared to blind cast the majority of the day. You should be prepared that either your boat and/or the fish you are casting to will be moving 100% of the time. Quick, long, and accurate casts are important to present your fly into the small window the fish gives you. It’s very important that you know how to double haul, and even better if you are able to water haul. Practicing these before you arrive is always a good idea!

Inshore Fly Tackle: Most inshore fly fishing outfits will use a 9-11 wt rod with matching reel. The casts needed for inshore fishing need to be long, accurate, and fast so using your own rod that you are familiar with is always recommended. You will want a large arbor saltwater reel with a strong drag that can hold several hundred yards of 50 lb backing. Most often you’ll want a intermediate sinking fly line to get your fly a bit deeper into the water column, although popper flies lead to plenty of strikes as well. Leaders will vary by target species, but a good idea is to have 20 lb, 30 lb, 40 lb, even 50 lb fluorocarbon with you so you can easily build and taper your own leader based on conditions. A few select boats will provide fly tackle for you if you do not bring your own.

Fly Fishing for Tarpon

Few species draw the attention of fly anglers like the mighty silver king. On Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast, the tarpon fishing is considered world class – but be ware, this isn’t for the faint of heart. The tarpon population in Costa Rica is not highly migratory like other Caribbean destinations and therefore it is mainly mature adults that we find here. When you say you want to fly fish for tarpon in Costa Rica be prepared to do battle with 80-100 lb fish (or bigger) in the open ocean, you won’t find a lot of juvenile tarpon hanging out in calm mangroves here. Costa Rica is blessed to have tarpon fishing lodges and English-speaking tarpon guides that have been putting anglers on fish for over 30 years, so you’ll have a solid team behind you on this monster quest.

How to for Fly Fish for Tarpon in Costa Rica: It’s important to keep in mind that fly fishing for tarpon is not typically a numbers game. Even with conventional tackle, tarpon are hard to bring to the boat for a clean release. Fly fishing for tarpon is as much about the opportunity to hook and jump one of these prehistoric fish as it is getting your hands on them. Fly fishing for tarpon in Costa Rica involves a lot of blind casting and usually very little sight casting to fish you or your guide have picked out. Unlike the saltwater flats of our other destinations like Belize, fly fishing for tarpon along Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast is 100% from the boat as you fish the river mouths and coastline in 40-100 ft of water. There are most certainly sunny days with flat seas where you can see hundreds of tarpon rolling at the surface – but you need to be prepared to blind cast the majority of the day. You should be expecting that your boat and/or the fish you are casting to will be moving 100% of the time. Long, accurate casts are important to present your fly into the small window you have to lay eyes on a rolling tarpon. Since weather on the Caribbean is unpredictable, it’s very important that you know how to double haul in case there is wind.

Tarpon Fly Tackle: Most tropical Caribbean destinations will tell you to have an 8 wt for bonefish, 9 wt for permit, and a 10 wt for tarpon. In Costa Rica the tarpon are so big we recommend 12-14 wt rods. These are big fish and they don’t care how much money you spent, rods get snapped here many times each season. You need a bigger rod not only for a stronger backbone, but also the casts needed for tarpon fishing tend to be 50 ft – 100 ft with large flies. You will want a large arbor saltwater reel with a strong drag that can hold 300-400 hundred yards of 50 lb backing. Since you are fishing deeper water that traditionally is dirty from the river mouths, a intermediate sinking and/or full sink tip fly line are recommended. Leaders can vary, and pre-built tarpon leaders make things easier, but if you build your own many have an 80 lb butt section, a 20 lb class tippet, and then a 100 lb shock tippet.

Freshwater Fly Fishing

Last but not least, if you enjoy freshwater fly fishing we have several different options for you here as well. The most popular freshwater fishing destination in Costa Rica is also the biggest, Lake Arenal. This 33 sq mile lake reflects the iconic Arenal Volcano like a mirror on calm mornings and offers endless habitat and structure for tilapia, machaca, and the prized rainbow bass. On the Caribbean Coast the huge tarpon and snook grab all the headlines, but the fly fishing in the freshwater lagoons offers beautiful scenery and a variety of exotic species like rainbow bass, machaca, mojarra, and tropical gar. Our personal favorite are the float trips down our jungle rivers where the main target is the hard hitting and high flying machaca’, which has earned it the nickname ‘mini tarpon.’ Costa Rica is so diverse we even have rainbow trout in our cold mountain streams, though the wild ones don’t typically get bigger than six inches.

How to for Freshwater Fly Fish in Costa Rica: There are numerous species to target on Costa Rica’s rivers and lake and techniques vary based on location and target species. On Lake Arenal the trophy-sized rainbow bass are often found in deeper water while the big machacas will hit on the surface. This type of fly fishing involves identifying structure and making blind casts to it, varying your strips based on the fly you are using. Many of the jungle rivers, especially during our green season, don’t have a lot of clarity so making your fly “splat!” on the surface works wonders for aggressive machaca while brighter minnow patters can elicit bites from rainbow bass (as well as small snook and snapper).

Freshwater Fly Tackle: Most of our freshwater fly fishing can be done on 6 wt – 8 wt rods. While the flora and fauna is probably vastly different than your home waters, freshwater fly fishing in Costa Rica has many similarities to fishing for bass and panfish. On Lake Arenal the fish tend to be bigger so an 7 wt – 8 wt rod with intermediate sinking and/or full sink tip fly line are recommended. On our river float trips, a lighter 6 wt – 7 wt rod gets the job done. Machaca tend to hit your fly once it hits the water or after the first strip, so a floating line is best on our float trips. Leaders vary based on location and target species, but a good idea is to have 12, 15 lb, 20 lb, and 30 lb material with you to be able to taper your own leaders on the spot.

Whether you are a seasoned fly angler or a novice, we will gladly custom design the perfect Costa Rica fly fishing package for you. From big game offshore fishing to huge tarpon to exotic light tackle freshwater species, Costa Rica is a fly fishing paradise.

When is the Best Time to Fly Fish in Costa Rica?

Knowing when to fly fish in Costa Rica is as important as where you fish. In addition to seasonal patterns of the game fish, Costa Rica has two main weather seasons and multiple different microclimates. The Northern Pacific has very different weather patterns than the Southern Pacific, meanwhile the Caribbean Coast follows completely different weather seasons than the Pacific Coast. Especially when fly fishing, you need to know when the fish will be there as well when the rains and the winds won’t so you have favorable conditions to cast in. Ultimately the best time to fly fish depends on what species you are targeting, so once you contact us we’ll help customize the perfect Costa Rica fly fishing package for you. You can read more about these details and nuances of the different fishing and weather seasons on our Costa Rica Fishing Calendar blog.

Available Species Fishing in Quepos

Offshore Fly Fishing

Blue Marlin
Yellowfin Tuna

Inshore Fly Fishing

Cubera Snapper
Jack Crevalle
African Pompano

Freshwater Fly Fishing

Rainbow Bass

Costa Rica Fishing Lodges & Accommodations

Costa Rica has been attracting anglers for decades so there is no shortage of quality accommodations for your fly fishing vacation. Your choices include exclusive boutique hotels, luxury beach resorts, exotic eco-lodges, all inclusive fishing lodges, and even fully furnished private condos & villas for larger groups or families. As a luxury vacation outfitter, we only work with the nicest 3, 4, and 5-star properties that meet our expectations for quality, reliability, and service. Being local experts in Costa Rica, we have personally visited every single property we represent so we’ll use our personal experience to hand pick the perfect fit for your group.

Costa Rica Day Tours & Non-Fishing Activities

Our Costa Rica fly fishing packages don’t need 100% fly fishing every single day. Costa Rica is of course just as famous for its volcanoes, rain forest, beaches and incredible wildlife as it is sport fishing. Whether it’s an off day from fly fishing to rest a tired arm or for the non-anglers in your group, there are several great eco and adventure tours available. We can also customize your Costa Rica fly fishing vacation so you spend a few nights in different locations throughout the country so you can see how diverse it is. The list includes:

  • Canopy zip-line tour
  • White Water Rafting
  • Waterfall rappelling
  • ATVs
  • Horseback Riding (beach or rainforest)
  • Surfing
  • Golf
  • Guided tours of national parks
  • Waterfalls
  • Sunset catamaran cruise
  • Snorkeling
  • SCUBA Diving
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skis
  • Parasailing
  • Coffee plantation tour

What Our Guests Love
Costa Rica Fly Fishing


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What We Love
About Costa Rica Fly Fishing


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Costa Rica Fishing FAQs

Do I need a fishing license to fish in Costa Rica?

YES. All anglers need a fishing license to fish in Costa Rica. These are sold by the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Aquacultura, or INCOPESCA as they are known here. Unfortunately their website has functionality and language issues so it’s not easy to use, so you can buy the license in the morning right before you fish for the first time. The cost is $15 for one week or $30 for one month and it must be paid in cash.

How many people will be on my fishing boat?

All fishing charters booked by Central America Fishing are private, so the boat is 100% yours. We do not set up any shared charters.

What is the standard tip for a fishing charter in Costa Rica?

A standard tip for a charter fishing crew in Costa Rica is 10%-20% of the cost of the charter. Most captains are paid a low salary with the idea they’ll earn more tips the more they fish, but many mates rely 100% on tips for their income. Tipping in USD or Costa Rican colones is fine. We recommend giving the entire tip to the captain and let him divide it up with the mate.

Can I bring my own fishing gear?

OF COURSE! Even though our private charters provide all the fishing tackle and bait you’ll need, you are always welcome to bring your own lures, reels, and even rods if you want to catch fish using your own tackle. Fly anglers are always encouraged to bring their own fly gear.

Which fish in Costa Rica are catch and release and which ones can I keep to eat?

By law, all billfish in Costa Rica are strictly catch and release. While not a law, we also strongly encourage releasing all roosterfish, tarpon, and cubera snapper as they are such prized inshore species. Other species like tuna, dorado (mahi), wahoo, snappers, groupers, corvina, snook can be kept and enjoyed for a fresh seafood dinner.

Can I bring fish back home with me to my own country?

If you really want to enjoy your catch our best advice is to eat it while it’s fresh here in Costa Rica. We understand many of you love the idea of a Costa Rican seafood dinner in the comforts of your own home, so the good news is there is no law against it and people do it all the time. However – we do not have the final say in this so there are some things you need to keep in mind:

1 – Unlike some other popular fishing destinations, in Costa Rica there is no service that will package and ship fish home for you. If you want to bring fish home with you you’ll have to do it yourself in your own luggage. Our best advice is to bring down a soft sided, leak-proof cooler, have your fish frozen completely solid, wrap them in newspaper, and then check your cooler as part of your luggage since it will stay cooler in the cargo hold of the plane versus in the cabin as a carry-on. If you don’t have a cooler or forget to bring one, you can purchase affordable plastic coolers here in local grocery stores.

2 – While Costa Rica does not prohibit you from bringing fish fillets home with you, your international airline might. We strongly recommend you confirm this with your airline (in writing if possible) or you may have the fish confiscated from you at the airport check-in.

3 – Even if your airline lets you fly the fish home, your local customs may have an issue with you bringing in meat products from a foreign country. In our experience most customs agents don’t seem too interested in you bringing back frozen fish fillets from your fishing vacation to Costa Rica, but it can depend on the agent and depend on the day.

What if there is bad weather on our fishing day?

First of all, it is extremely rare to have a fishing day cancelled due to bad weather. Costa Rica is too far south for hurricanes, and on top of that we custom design every single one of our Costa Rica fishing packages to factor in not only where you’ll have the best fishing but also the best weather & sea conditions for the time of year you visit us.

It does happen every once in a while however, so if the captain, local marina, or government deem the conditions are unsafe the trip will be cancelled.  The first course of action is to try and reschedule you, but if that is not possible you will be refunded in full.

Please note that rain and dark clouds are not considered bad weather. We are in the tropics and rain is a common occurrence here so that is not a cause for cancelling the trip. Many great fishing days happen in the rain – as they say the fish are wet anyway!

Why Fish With CAF?

We have been fishing, living, and traveling around Central America since 2003. Plan your trip with local experts to make sure you are in the right place, at the right time, and on the right boat. We’ll help you fish for what you want, the way you want.

Free vacation planning + the best direct rates. No booking fees!

Personalized service from pre-arrival to 24/7 in-country support.

Hand-picked accommodations, fishing captains, expert guides for the best vacation experience.


Nearly 40% of our anglers are repeat & referral guests. CAF puts you on the fish!

We are proud to have a global reach and have hosted anglers from 14 different countries here in Central America!

About the Author

I first visited Costa Rica during a semester abroad in 2003 and instantly fell in love with the language, culture, and natural beauty. I caught my first roosterfish on that trip, and ever since then I knew that I wanted to live here. After graduating in 2004, I worked for a year in the corporate world, but I was unhappy and unstimulated, so I returned to live in Costa Rica full time in 2005. Today I can proudly say that I’ve been in Costa Rica for half of my life, I met my wife here, and my two boys were born here so they are “Ticos”.

I’ve been working in the sport fishing industry in Central America for twenty years, I’ve had articles published in fishing magazines, hosted fishing TV shows, fished in several tournaments, and I’m a four-time IGFA trophy club member. I am however most proud to say that 40% of our anglers are repeat and referral guests. I’ve personally visited every destination, hotel, and fishing lodge that we partner with so that your next vacation with us is one of the best you’ve ever had.

Chris Atkins - Angler & Owner of Central America Fishing

All fishing vacations booked with Central America Fishing include the following:
  • Free Vacation Planning (no fees + direct rates)
  • VIP Airport Meet & Greet upon arrival into SJO
  • Private, air-conditioned transfers with English speaking driver.
  • Luxury, private accommodations hand-picked and customized for your group. Choose between private condos & villas, luxury beach resorts, exclusive boutique hotels, and fishing lodges.
  • Private fishing charters
  • All eco / adventure tours you’d like to include
  • All Costa Rican taxes
  • Free quotes on travel insurance
  • Pre-arrival assistance with dinner reservations, tee times, pre-stocking your condo or villa, hiring a private chef, and special requests.
  • 24/7 support once you are here in country
Inquire Now
Plan With Local Experts

Please fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours. If you wish to speak to us sooner please call us anytime at 1-855-414-FISH. Your 100% customized vacation starts here!

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