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Rio Getter Fly Step-by-Step:
Native to the Rio Grande valley in south Texas, the Rio Grande Cichlid is the only member of the family Cichlidae to naturally occur within the United States. Stunning fish with gray-blue flanks covered in turquoise spots, these fish have become favorites of both fly fishermen and the aquarium trade. The latter, unfortunately, as it so often does, has lead to these aquatic jewels spreading well beyond the crystal clear rivers and streams of their latter range.
Physiologically tolerant of conditions (salinity most important among them) that prove detrimental to our native sunfish, these cichlids have not only survived, but thrived since their presumed release into the canals of New Orleans in the late 1980s. And when Katrina inundated much of the region with storm surge in 2005, that aforementioned tolerance to higher salinity allowed Cichlid populations to boom throughout New Orleans.
Established as the dominant “panfish” species in the years since, there populations have continued to grow even as LDWF issued “Kill” Orders in an attempt to slow their spread. Even the local fly fishing clubs have stepped up to the plate as the New Orleans Fly Fishers continue to host annual Rio Grande Rodeo in New Orleans’ City Park early each fall.
This event, one I have yet to participate in, is what brought the Rios to my attention. While not native, they present a unique challenge on the fly rod, and one I had yet to attempt. Stunning fish capable of putting a significant bend in an ultralight fly rod, these were clearly a fish I wanted to check off my life list.
Perusing the web for patterns, it became apparent that nearly any panfish pattern could suffice. However, it was the one with “Rio” in the name that admittedly drew my attention. And that is where we will start today.
A creation of Matt Bennett, the Rio Getter, tied here in Olive, has become the go-to pattern for Rio Anglers on south and central Texas waters. With any luck, it will prove of equal value here in southeastern Louisiana.
|1x- 2x Nymph Hook (size 10 – 14)||Veevus 12/0 (Olive)||Bead Chain (Medium; Silver)|
|Marabou (Barred Olive)||Hare’s Ear Dubbing (Olive)||Marabou (Barred Olive)|
|Ultrawire (X-Sm; Gold)||Rubber Legs (Fine; Barred White)|
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Rio Getter Fly Step-by-Step Tying Instructions:
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Tips and Tricks
- Substitutions – As with cooking, substitutions will always have a place in fly tying. Whether dictated by necessity or situation, there are times when we need to deviate from the recipe. In this case, there are a few deviations that I’ve made from Bennett’s original pattern. Out of necessity, I have substituted Marabou for Chickabou in the wings and tail as I simply didn’t have the latter available. Due to the situation (stillwater versus stream), I’ve substituted Bead Chain for Dumbell eyes as the excess weight simply doesn’t benefit me in the shallow, still waters of City Park Lagoon.
Proof of Concept
Unfortunately, this pattern remains unproven for the purposes of this blog. While I did manage my first Rio on a recent trip to City Park in New Orleans, it was a fly known as a Bluegill Killer that did the damage.
Admittedly, the Rio Getter did elicit a few strikes along the way, but it simply wasn’t a good fit for the situation. With dense submerged vegetation throughout, the Rio Getter was often rendered ineffective as the bead chain eyes quickly pulled the fly below the weed line. In contrast, the slower sink rate of the unweighted Bluegill Killer (see next week’s tutorial) stayed above the weeds, and in the strike zone, significantly longer. That alone was enough to make the difference.