Cuba is nothing short of extraordinary!
It’s no secret that the US is re-establishing relations with Cuba. It is only a matter of time before US citizens will have open access to travel to Cuba. There are 350 million people sitting at the doorstep of one of the world’s most intriguing and unique cultural landscapes. If you have ever dreamed of travelling to Cuba to experience the culture and the extraordinary flats fishing, the time is now.
Cuba is an enigma. For over 50 years Cuba has existed committed to its communist and socialist values, a short 90 miles from the bastion of capitalism, the United States. It is a country that has been isolated by the political and economic embargo enforced by its neighbour. Despite the embargo and the fall of its economic and communist ally, the Soviet Union, Cuba has not only survived but it has found a way to thrive.
The Soviet Union was Cuba’s primary trading partner prior to that country’s collapse in 1989. Without a market for sugar in Russia, Cuba was forced to find an alternative source of revenue. In the 1990’s the Cuban government invested some $3.5 billion into tourist industry infrastructure. Today tourism is the largest contributor to the GDP of Cuba.
The tourist area of Cayo Coco is located in the Jardines del Rey, “Garden of the Kings,” Archipelago located just off the north central coast of Cuba. The chain of islands is Cuba’s 4th largest at approximately 120 km in length. It is connected to the mainland via a 27km man made causeway built in 1988.
There are regularly scheduled charter flights direct from Canada and Europe to the Cayo Coco airport. Alternatively, there are international carriers that fly into Jose Marti airport in Havana. From Havana there is one daily flight to Cayo Coco. However, the best value is to book a hotel and flight package. This is by far the cheapest and easiest way to travel.
The hotels are a short 15-minute drive from the airport. The island is home to 15 resort hotels stretching along its beautiful white sand beaches on the north shore. These all-inclusive hotels provide a great base for fly fishers with or without families to stay in relative luxury within a short drive of some of the best flats fishing in the world.
Fly Fishing in Cuba doesn’t have to be expensive!
Fishing in Cuba has long been seen as one of the last real unpressured flats fishing paradises in the western hemisphere. Most of the fishing in Cuba is currently controlled by an Italian company that does a great job of providing access to the flats. However, the properties that they control are either isolated old sugar plantations or live aboard mother ships. A week at one of these locations can cost an arm & a leg. It’s not something that is accessible to the majority of fly fisherman.
There is a way to experience the best flats fly-fishing in Cuba without having to mortgage your children’s future.
All inclusive air and hotel vacation packages can be extremely reasonable. The benefit of these packages is that there are no hidden costs. Airfare, hotel, food and drink are a fixed cost up front. We can recommend carriers and hotels to assist you in your plans and arrange your daily or weekly-guided fly-fishing for a fraction of the cost of the alternative.
For many years we explored Cuba to find the right location and establish relationships with Cuban government agencies to allow us to provide what we think is the best value in flats fishing anywhere in the world.
The last unpressured Bonefish, Permit and Tarpon Fly-Fishing destination in the Caribbean.
Cuba is the forbidden fruit for fly fishermen. It is a country where time has stood still for the last 60 years. Imagine what the bonefish, permit and tarpon fishing was like in Florida, the Bahamas and Belize 60 years ago. That’s what you can expect from Cuba today. While the saltwater fly-fishing world was focused on these other well-travelled destinations, the expansive flats of Cuba were left untouched and unpressured. They are as they were 60 years ago. The flats are teaming with vast numbers of large bonefish, permit and tarpon cruising virgin flats where only a handful of fly fishermen have had the good fortune to experience the type of fishing that the pioneers of our sport may have witnessed a half a century before. The area that we fish is an enormous pristine area of flats, mangrove lagoons and channels. It is an area designated as a natural preserve region where commercial fishing is prohibited. The area is designated as a sport fishing area only. Our guides are the only guides allowed to service this area.
Cuba has more Bonefish per square mile than any location that we have ever been. It's a destination where schools of Bonefish are not unusual. But casting to double or single cruisers is more the norm. That means that you are almost always targeting big healthy fish. The average size of Bonefish in Cayo Coco is between 6 to 8 lbs. But casting to Bonefish over 10 lbs. is a common every day occurrence. The Bonefish in Cayo Coco are not generally as spooky as other Caribbean destinations. Instead they react to the sound of the plop of the fly, turn to see what just happened, follow and bite. Good casts are always rewarded. Hold on for an amazing battle.
We have the fishing rights for over 300 square miles of exceptional flats, mangroves and lagoons. Currently we limit this area to only 4 flats boats.
Permit have been called many things. Easy to catch is not one of them. They are a spooky, moody frustrating fish. I have witnessed fly fishermen who have been on a quest to land a permit for years brought to tears when that moment finally happens and they bring the first permit of their career to hand. Permit can be elusive. Your best chance of hooking and landing a Permit are in a location where Permit are abundant. The more shots that you have, the better the odds. The Permit population in Cayo Coco is extremely healthy. Permit are prevalent on the flats of Cayo Coco through out the year. They begin to show up on the flats in more significant numbers towards the end of March and can be easily targeted until the end of November. Have you ever had 5 or 6 shots at Permit in one day? How about each day for an entire week? Have you ever caught 3 or 4 Permit in one day? If Permit is what you want, why would you go anywhere else?
Florida is clearly recognized as the best place to go to hook up a big Tarpon. But one of the complaints about tarpon fishing in Florida is the sheer number of people doing the same thing. The flats and channels where the big tarpon frequent in the spring are more populated by expensive flats boats and fishermen than they are with tarpon. The spring migration of tarpon to the flats of Cayo Coco is truly world class. The difference between Cayo Coco and other great tarpon destinations is that in Cayo Coco you wont see another boat on the flats the entire day. Large Tarpon start to ascend on to the flats in the beginning of April and are usually present late into June and early July.
New Tarpon Lagoon
In our never-ending quest to find new and exciting fishing opportunities we have found a fantastic freshwater lagoon with large resident tarpon. This is an amazing opportunity to target pods of big tarpon cruising the shallow lake or target 30 – 50 lb. baby tarpon on the edges of the mangroves. When the weather is too windy to be out on the flats or if you want to jump a big tarpon when the flats migration is over, this is a fantastic option.
Our Cuban Fly-Fishing Guides
If we were a company that was only interested in having as many fly fishing destinations as possible, it would be easy for us to overlook the quality of the guides, especially because of the quality of fishing is so great in Cuba. But that is not who we are. The quality of the guides is as important as the quality of the fly-fishing destination. We have spent an extensive amount of time and a lot of money to find the guides that meet our standards. Whether you are an expert or whether you are a beginner, our guides in Cuba will exceed your expectations.
Our fly fishing guides in Cayo Coco, Cuba are not only exceptional guides but they are exceptional people. Your day on the water will feel like you are fishing with an old friend, one that speaks with a Spanish accent. Most of the guides in Cayo Coco speak very good English. They are all courteous, friendly, knowledgeable and great teachers.
Like every new location it is important that you let your guide know your level of experience and whether you are open to advice. Every location is different. I suggest you ask them to give you advice on where to put your cast and how to strip for each species that you are hunting.
It is important to get acclimatized to the boat and the guide. Cuba is a metric based country. When the guide tells you that a fish is at 30 meters that means it is approximately 90 feet away. One meter equals approximately three feet. Don’t look to 30 feet or you will be starring at white sand as the bonefish passes you by. The guide will direct you from the polling platform based on the positions of the clock. Get comfortable positioning yourself to the hands of the clock prior to going. Positions between 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock can be confusing when an excited guide is trying to tell you where to look for the fish.
What to Expect
The day prior to your first day of fishing, our guides or our representative will contact you at your hotel to make arrangements for the following day. The day of fishing our guide will pick you up at the hotel around 7 am and you will be driven approximately an hour to the dock on Cayo Paredon Grande. At the dock area you will assemble your rods and board a 16-foot Mitzi flats boat and head out for a day of amazing flats fishing.
You will return to the dock around 4 o’clock and be delivered back to your hotel between 5 and 5:30pm.
Bonefish: 8wt rods with bonefish taper floating fly lines. 15lb. fluorocarbon tapered leaders.
Flies: Bead head weighted flies. Tan Crazy Charlie’s with rubber legs. E.P. Spawning Shrimp and Mantis Shrimp. Size 4
Permit: 9-10wt rods with quick loading bonefish/permit floating lines. 16-20 fluorocarbon tapered leaders.
Flies: Flexo-Crab size 2, Crab patterns with rubber legs, Avalon Permit Fly sizes 4 and 2.
Tarpon: 10-12wt rods with floating Tarpon taper line plus Intermediate Tropical Sink Tip. 30lb. fluorocarbon leader with 80-100lb. bite tippets.
Flies: Black Death, Purple Death, Tarpon Toad, Cockroach, Red/White Tarpon Fly. 1/0 and 2/0
Note that you will need to bring everything that you need with you. There are not any fly shops in Cuba.
We always recommend that you bring an extra rod and reel in the event that one happens to break.
What to Bring
- Good flats wading boots.
- Gravel guards to keep out the sand.
- Copper or Bronze Polaroid Sun Glasses.
- Long sleeved UPF rated shirts.
- Quick dry fishing shorts and pants.
- Light socks to keep the sun off of your feet.
- Buff or bandanna.
- Sun gloves.
- Sunscreen and hats.
- Rain coat and pants. Just in case.
- Waterproof camera.
- Dry bag/knapsack.
Guide rates in The Bahamas range from $500 US to $750 US per day. Usually a 50% deposit is required at the time of booking with the full amount due 60 days prior to arrival. Belize ranges from $450 US to $600.00 US per day.
Our rates in Cayo Coco, Cuba are the lowest you will find anywhere in the Caribbean. And the fishing is better than anywhere in the Caribbean!
Daily Guided Fly-Fishing: Approximately $380.00 Canadian per day per boat. Maximum of 2 people per boat.
Deposit: A $130.00 Canadian deposit per day is required at the time of booking.
Balance: The remaining balance of 250 CUC is payable following each day of fishing.
The hotels accept all non-American credit cards. Currently no credit cars with an association with the United States will be accepted. However, this may change soon. Capital One, American Express, MBNA and cards issued by Santander will not work in Cuba. Visa is the card with the greatest acceptance.
The currency in Cuba is the Cuban Convertible Pesos, CUC. It is pegged 1 to 1 to the $US. The best terms for exchanging money are at the airport in Cayo Coco. Bring $ Canadian, Euro’s or Pound Sterling to exchange. We recommend that you do not bring $US as you will pay a 10% premium on the exchange. The hotel can also provide cash exchange to the CUC but at a less attractive exchange rate. There is a bank at the Colonial Hotel on Cayo Coco that will exchange cash to the CUC as well as provide Visa cash advances for the CUC.
You will not be able to exchange money to the CUC at your local bank, as the currency is not traded internationally. The CUC is a Cuban specific currency. Exchange all extra CUC at the airport prior to leaving Cuba for home.
In the event that any of your days are cancelled due to weather, the guide will make every attempt to reschedule the cancelled day. If rescheduling is not possible, your deposit for the cancelled days will be refunded to your credit card.