Today, we’re going fly fishing in Costa Rica with Tom Enderlin. We discover a few different species in the jungle including a fruit-eating fish called, machaca – cousin of the piranha but vegan. We break down the species to target for each season and we touch on some of the wild habitats such as jaguars, monkeys, and birds.

Tom tells us how they ensure maximum benefit to the local communities there, equipping them to become excellent guides. Find out why Costa Rica is described as “one of the happiest countries in the world” and why they don’t even need a military.

What is it like to fish tarpon in freshwater with monkey audiences cheering on you? Welcome to the jungle!


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(Read the Full Transcript at the bottom of this Blog Post)


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fly fishing in costa rica

Fly Fishing in Costa Rica Show Notes with Tom Enderlin

05:15 – Tom started out as an intern for a coffee company in Costa Rica and then got into tourism. Then he went to Europe and worked as a coffee trader. Then he joined a conservation group, Rainforest Alliance and worked with them for a number of years. Then back to Costa Rica with his Costa Rican wife and that’s when Fly Fishing Costa Rica was born.

07:15 – Greg Collett was on the podcast at WFS 242 where we talked about Ecuador Conservation

07:30 – Tom describes Costa Rica as one of the happiest countries in the world. They don’t even have an army.

10:50 – Their main program at this time this year is the jungle tarpon reserve. It rains up until November then the rain slows down from December up until April.

12:30 – December to April is their dry season and that’s when they fish Machaca. These are related to piranha but eat fruit and flowers.

fly fishing in costa rica


14:55 – Tom loves fishing Tepemechín (Mountain Mullet). They’re small but powerful.

fly fishing in costa rica

16:30 – Marlin fishing in the Pacific Ocean is great from May until November

fly fishing in costa rica

18:00 – There are 2 different types of Machaca in Costa Rica – one lives in the Caribbean and the other lives in the Pacific. In March and April, the wild cashew tree produces fruit that the Pacific Machaca feeds on. For the Caribbean machaca, they feed on Chilamate tree fruits.

20:00 – They have rainbow trout all year but the best time to fish them is the dry season

fly fishing in costa rica

21:00 – The Costa Rica Grand Slam is a tarpon, trout, and billfish fishing

25:41 – Tom breaks down what a 1-week itinerary looks like

27:15 – Tom tells us how they make that perfect “kerplunk” – a funny term they use for putting the fly on the water that drives the machaca crazy. Click here to learn how to tie a Machaca fly pattern.

fly fishing in costa rica

29:25 – They typically use a 3 wt or a tenkara for the small rainbows. For machaca, they use a 6 or 8 wt with a floating line. For roosters, they use 10 or 11 wt. For billfish, sailfish, and marlin, they fish up to 16 wt.

fly fishing in costa rica

30:20 – Jake Jordan was on the podcast at WFS 204 talking about the billfish

31:10 – They have a film about machaca with the F3T – scroll below to watch the video

33:00 – Another draw to the area is the bird-watching hub where there lives a bird called, the resplendent kestrel

Photo courtesy of

33:30 – There are lots of jaguars in the jungle. They’ve set up some camera traps to watch the jaguars and a lot of other biodiversity activities in the area.

fly fishing in costa rica

36:00 – Costa Rica has 4 different monkey species and 3 of them they see every day – white-faced capuchin, howler monkey, spider monkey

38:45 – Louis Cahill was on the podcast at WFS 206 where he told a story about the aggressive monkey that attacked him and almost ripped his arm off

43:30 – Hunting is prohibited in Costa Rica

44:15 – The jungle tarpon reserve is where they fish for tarpon. They work together with the national park office.

fly fishing in costa rica

48:10 – There’s a specie called Guapote aka Wolf Cichlid or rainbow bass

fly fishing in costa rica

51:30 – Tom uses bead head nymphs or hopper droppers

54:05 – Costa Rica is also an amazing destination for ecotourism – Tom breaks down the activities to do there

55:10 – Tom’s son got his first machaca all by himself – he now holds a small fry world record

fly fishing in costa rica

58:45 – Tarpon fishing in the jungle river is from August until December and a small window in May

fly fishing in costa rica

1:00:27 – Sport fishing is illegal in Ecuador

1:01:30 – Tom tells us how we can connect with the local community there. The guys from Indifly came over to Costa Rica to talk about a possible collaboration with Tom’s crew.

fly fishing in costa rica

1:05:00 – Shoutout to Yeti for raising funds for the Bristol Bay project. Their coffee cups work great.

1:06:10 – They work with the company, Zen Tekara


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Fly Fishing in Costa Rica Videos Noted in the Show


Related Podcast Episodes

WFS 204 – Getting Started Fly Fishing for Billfish with Jake Jordan – TFO, Lefty Kreh

WFS 249 – Fly Fishing Ecuador with Javier Guevara – Arapaima, Galapagos Fishing


Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below

Fly Fishing in Costa Rica Conclusion with Tom Enderlin

So there you go..

If you want to have that jungle fishing experience and target different species, Costa Rica is the place to be.

If you want to connect with Tom, you can send him an email at 

Tom and the Costa Rica fly fishing crew is doing a great job at supporting the local communities through fly fishing.

This trip is definitely going on the bucket list. I’m thinking of visiting there during the dry season to land my first machaca.

Maybe we can go together. Let me know so we can set up a trip next year? See you there.