Patagonia: 2020 is a Beetle Year. Big Dry Flies for Big Trout

Posted by yellowdog on 9/2/19 8:00 PM

Cantaria Beetle on Hatch Fly Reelcantaria beetle underside

Big fish grow big because they eat big flies. Our experience tells us so. If you're into casting large dry flies in pursuit of trout, Patagonia offers up an exciting opportunity to fish a terrestrial as large as our western river's salmonfly. Enter in the Cantaria Beetle. And with 2020 being a Beetle Year, now is the time to start planning to enjoy this fly-fishing phenomenon. 

Similar to the excitement created by a "mouse year" in New Zealand, our lodges and guides in Patagonia are already talking about this upcoming season's terrestrial fishing. If you’re like us and get a rush from big fish taking big flies, then put catching a trout on a Cantaria Beetle on your angling bucket list and choose a destination ripe with potential for plenty of these massive terrestrials. 


The Cantaria Beetle, indigenous to southern Patagonia, is a large land-dwelling beetle that can find its way into the rivers, creeks and lakes of Patagonia. The beetles average a little over 2 inches long, with some tapping out at 3 inches. They have a menacing appearance with two long protruding pincers and two mandibles that look like they would crush a grasshopper. Thankfully, the long mandibles are only on the males. They are primarily used for sparring with other males when it comes time to impress a potential female mate.

Patagonia is a land tailor-made for fly fishing for trout and since the 1980’s, Patagonia has continued to develop a reputation as one of the world’s foremost destinations for freshwater fly fishing. The increased infrastructure to access more remote fisheries proves it will only get better with time. Plus, with a variety of wade and float fishing opportunities, fishing the Cantaria Beetle is a real possibility on most Patagonia trout waters.

The season for the beetles starts around late January and can last through March. Because it is winter in most of the United States and for many anglers it has been months since a trout was last hooked on a large dry fly, this is an ideal time to get away and chase trout in the southern hemisphere. Beetle populations cycle through from low to high every two years and local knowledge has 2020 being a year of high-density beetle populations.


Fly patterns should be big, black, have plenty of legs and be in sizes 2 or 4. Yellow Dog favorites are Fat Albert, Grillo’s Cantaria Beetle and the Chubby Chernobyl. They are best fished dead-drifted, but be sure to try a small twitch or slow strip as that can induce a take. Fish stout leaders of 1X or 2X so that fly is more easily cast and it less likely to break-off if an errant cast lands on bankside structure.

Choosing the right destination is important to ensure Cantaria Beetle success. The following destinations offer a variety of waters and guides experienced with fishing the beetles. 


Las Pampas Lodge

Featuring waters with ideal habitat for the Cantaria Beetle and home to passionate guides, Las Pampas Lodge provides a diverse collection of wade and float fisheries to explore. Friendly staff and an intimate lodge atmosphere welcome guests as part of the family. Knowledgeable local guides lead anglers to rainbow, brown and brook trout swimming in spring creeks and small to mid-sized freestone rivers. The core focus of the Las Pampas Lodge fishing program is for anglers to experience a different piece of water every day in the most productive waters of both private and public fishing areas.


Carrileufu River Lodge

This operation is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the terrific fishing opportunities for the Cantaria Beetle. The Carrileufu River Lodge is located in the heart of the Carrileufu River Valley near the quaint town of Cholila. Anglers can target a variety of trout species on these fantastic fisheries. Under the careful guidance of owner, head guide and consummate host Pancho Panzer guests feel immediately at home at this intimate family-run lodge.


Cinco Rios Lodge

The Rio Simpson is known for producing large populations of beetles, and this lodge, situated directly on the banks of the river near the city of Coyhaique, offers one of the most premier locations for anglers looking for overall diversity in water types and landscapes. Anglers are transported daily by four-wheel-drive vehicles to rivers and streams on trips that range from 30 minutes to slightly over an hour.


Magic Waters Lodge

Coupled with great scenery is the opportunity to fish the Cantaria Beetle on waters surrounded by glacier-studded peaks overlooking a lush forest. The Lodge’s carefully-selected location is within easy reach of the coastal rainforests and the arid eastern Patagonian steppe, which provide guests with incredible opportunity to experience a diverse cross-section of the area’s amazing natural beauty and pristine trout waters.

Contact us today with any questions or to discuss with us your expectations for your next Patagonia fly fishing trip. 

Kyle Kolodziejski or call 888-877-5060

Chile Fly Fishing Insider

Cantaria Beetle Claws




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Topics: Freshwater Fly Fishing, Chile

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