Across the border from Esquel, Argentina, and hemmed in by the dense Coihue forests of the Tenth Region of Chile, you’ll find the mighty Futaleufú River. A glacial-fed giant that houses a renowned Rainbow and Brown Trout fishery, its name in the native Tehuelche language means ‘Big River’, which is a very apt description. Beginning its journey in neighbouring Argentina but gaining its true character when it enters Chile, the river cuts through the valley floor like a green ribbon beneath the forested Andean peaks.
Amid some of the most unspoiled mountain scenery on the planet, the emerald waters of this giant river teem with aquatic life, and the vast populations of hungry Trout get fed by abundant hatches of mayflies, caddis, and stoneflies. A heavy resident stock of fish, great hatches and classic water make the Futaleufu a fly fisherman’s paradise.
Sitting high above the riverbank and overlooking the river’s emerald-green flows, the Trout-rich Futaleufú River flows right by the front door of the Futa Lodge. The Futa is a remote and relaxing riverfront home for the travelling fly fishing anglers who travel to Chilean Patagonia in their thousands every year. Futaleufu is a stand-alone fishery, and Futa lodge offers immediate access to some of the finest parts of the river. The Lodge is perfect for those who like a small lodge setting, excellent service and accommodation, and scenery of almost indescribable beauty; it is often described as the ultimate Trout fisherman’s retreat.
The Futaleufu is a classic freestone river, which nurtures good stocks of Rainbow and Brown Trout. These fish have established an extremely healthy population and are the envy of wild trout fisheries the world over. Fed by abundant hatches of mayfly, caddis and stonefly, most of the fish are in the 14-16inch class, but much larger Trout get regularly caught each season. There is even the occasional sea-run fish, guaranteed to put a bend in your rod. In truth, though, whilst the chance of a big fish is a daily occurrence, it’s hard to get focused on the fishing in a place so extraordinary.
Although primarily based around the Futaleufu River, the fishing from Futa Lodge offers the freshwater fly fishing angler spectacular diversity. There is plenty of fishing on the four floats on the main river that the Lodge frequents and on the famous Lago Yelcho and other smaller tributaries like the Malito. The fly fishing is primarily for wild strains of Rainbow and Brown Trout, and the fishery resembles Montana in its style and diversity, just without the competing anglers.
Seasonal expeditions from Futaleufu are possible, and some of these will also encompass some of the further-flung lakes and coastal fishing areas that Chile is also famous for. In these area’s you could be fishing hidden lakes and other waterways where the fish may have never seen a fly before. As well as this, Futa lodge also offers some excellent fishing right on its doorstep, which is perfect for after-hours fishing!
The majority of the fishing at Futa Lodge is a combination of floating and stripping wet flies back from the bank where Trout wait to ambush their prey. Wading and stalking the edges of the current where back eddies provide a constant source of food.
The Browns and Rainbows are wild and healthy and can range up to five or more pounds, eating a mix of streamers, dries, and nymphs depending on the season. Terrestrial fishing is a summertime mainstay, and big fish on ultra-buoyant foam flies is the rivers speciality. Sight casting to large pods of Rainbows is explosive and exciting, and the fish aren’t fussy, readily accepting a whole host of foam patterns.
Streamer fishing for the trophy-sized Brown Trout that inhabit the main river can be outstanding, and so can dry fly fishing. For anglers seeking diversity, then the Futaleufu is perfect for you, as you can fish completely different water on every day of your trip.
For the more adventurous travelling freshwater fly fishermen, the Lodge offers some remote fishing that you can only get to on horseback, where you can pretend to be a mix of gaucho and fisherman on the same day.
To find out more about the Futaleufu River and the Futa Lodge in Chile, visit our YouTube channel.
For fishing on the Futaleufu River, 9-foot 5-weight and 6-foot rods are perfect for the job. The 5-weights are perfect for the dry flies and the 6-weight is ideal for the larger streamers or when dealing with strong winds. All rods should be combined with a smooth drag reel capable of holding at least 100 yards of backing. Even though the average size of the Trout in the river is relatively small, much larger fish are present.
Weight-forward floating fly lines are the norm; however, it’s also worth having one or two integrated sinking lines for streamers. These lines should have anywhere from 10 to 20 feet of 200- to 300-grain sinking tips. For the lakes, use full-sinking and clear intermediate lines for streamers in deeper water and always include a floater for dries.
The Trout in the Futa aren’t particularly leader shy; however, in peak summer and with low-water conditions, they can become a little wary of heavy monofilament. So a mixture of 9-foot or 12-foot fluoro leaders in various breaking strains are recommended.
The Lodge has a good selection of local patterns for the Futaleufú and its tributaries; however, we recommended taking a good choice of your own. Wet flies like Wooly Buggers, Rabbit-strip Leech patterns, Sculpins, Dog Nobblers, Nymphs, Beadheads and a Caddis Pupa imitations, to name a few, all work well. Dry flies like Foam and Parachute Hoppers, Elk-hair Caddis, Humps, Stimulators and general foam-bodied terrestrial patterns are all popular.
The wading isn’t difficult on the Futaleufú, and most of the time, the fishing is performed from a boat; however, a good set of chest waders is recommended for warmth and to manage deep water when you need to. Given South America’s climate and the fact water temperature can be in the 40s, be sure to pack long johns, wool or fleece pants, and wool or warm synthetic socks.
Futa Lodge is a renovated, traditional Chilean farmhouse with a capacity for six anglers and two non-anglers, eight guests in total, in three comfortable twin rooms. Three nearby cottages, two close to the river and one beside the house allow for a private setting during your visit. The Lodge is delightfully exclusive, offering excellent service and all the homely comforts one could wish for in this remote outpost of Chile.
Each twin room has a private bathroom, wood-burning stove and plenty of room for all your luggage and tackle. The Lodge also consists of an ample dining room, living room and bar area with space for relaxing by the log fire.
A well-trained chef and his dinner staff prepare outstanding gourmet cuisine, emphasising local meats and produce, and much of the food comes right from the Lodge’s grounds. A traditional Lamb Asadios or BBQ is also typically enjoyed on at least one evening. Here you’ll be joined by a local dance troop who will demonstrate the Cueca, Chiles national dance; this is a unique feature and has been a long-standing tradition at the Lodge.
A collection of wines from Chile’s finest vineyards, and a range of local spirits and the famous Pisco sour cocktails are all available from the all-inclusive bar.
After a hearty breakfast, served around 7 am, anglers generally leave the Lodge early morning, around 8 am, to avoid the midday heat, before returning at lunchtime for some food and drinks around noon. After lunch and a siesta, the boats will leave again at around 4.30 and return at dusk. Fishing hours will change slightly depending on the time of year, and ultra keen fishers can fish throughout the day if they want.
Non-fishing activities such as horseback riding, canoeing and white-water rafting are available to allow guests to enjoy the fantastic wildlife and scenery of the area.
Although the fishing days are fixed, the below itinerary is still flexible should you require additional free days to explore at the beginning or end of your holiday; we can tailor this itinerary to suit you personally. Feel free to talk to our travel consultants who can explain all options available.
Depart UK (alternative routes available)
Arrive Buenos Aires
On arrival, take a taxi to your hotel in Buenos Aires. (Not Included)
Overnight Accommodation: Buenos Aires Hotel (Twin Room) B/B
In the morning take a taxi to the domestic airport (Not Included)
Depart Jorge Newbery
On arrival at Esquel, our staff will transfer you to the lodge.
Overnight Accommodation: Futa Lodge (Twin Room) F/B
Over the next 6 days, the fishing is very flexible, but will normally start after breakfast at 8.30 am. Fishing in the afternoon until evening follows amazing shore lunches. Seasonal changes will take into account the changing light, but early season fishing may be as late as 10 PM, late-season as early as 7 PM. Use a combination of floating and stripping wet flies back from the bank where Trout wait to ambush and wading and stalking the edges of the current where back eddies provide a constant source of food. Fishing is based on 2 anglers one guide.
Overnight Accommodation: Futa Lodge (Twin Room) F/B
In the morning our staff will transport you to the domestic airport for your return connection flight to Buenos Aires.
Arrive Buenos Aires
On arrival in Buenos Aires, take a taxi to transfer you to your hotel (Not Included)
Overnight Accommodation: Buenos Aires Hotel (Twin Room)B/B
In the morning take a taxi to the International Airport for your return connection flight home (Not Included)
Depart Buenos Aires
Average Customer Satisfaction Score 82%
"I just wanted to let you know what a fantastic time I had on my trip. Futa Lodge is a very special place and you are very fortunate. The staff were exceptional, without exception. Nico, Paula and Joaquin made the trip so much more special in their professionalism and attentiveness to me and all the guests. And Corey and Matt were great guides, that made the fishing that much more enjoyable. I look forward to the day that I can book another trip through you."
"Everything was perfect. The fishing was good, the food and wine were outstanding (very talented chef), and the company super. The managers are the best lodge hosts I have ever experienced after fishing all over the world. They are a delightful young couple who make guests feel at home. Someday I shall return."
"The Guides were the best I’ve ever experienced. Brian and Shane did an excellent job in teaching, putting us on fish, and putting the boats into a position where anglers of all skill levels could make the cast. The scenery and beauty of the river was incredible Looking forward to a return trip someday."
The season runs from November to April.
Season: 15th December to 15th April
Weight: 1LB to 6LB
Average Weight: 2.5LB
Season: 15th December to 15th April
Weight: 1LB to 6LB
Average Weight: 2LB
Remember that Sportquest Holidays' services are completely FREE! When you book a trip with Sportquest Holidays, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge and flights independently.
Prices are based on two adults sharing transfers, fishing and accommodation (unless otherwise stated) and are correct at the time of going to press. Subject to time of year or date and currency fluctuations, these prices may fluctuate slightly due to flight price increases or fuel surcharge.
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