Fly fishing in Sudan you might wonder? Honestly we thought the same when we first heard about it a couple of years ago. But there is no ignoring it any longer; the former British colony by the Red Sea offers excellent saltwater fly fishing – and for a lot of species.
Our partners have been exploring the flats and reefs off Port Sudan since 2011 with amazing results. At first, the hype was all about about the world class trigger fishing this destination offers. Then we started seeing more and more fly caught GTs from Sudan and once we were digging deeper, we realised that they have an impressive amount of other species. The variety of fish here is extraordinary.
Port Sudan is a very sparsely populated area and far away from the security issues in South Sudan: The neighbouring country where political unrest has cast a shadow over the Sudanese tourism potential. For years, thousands of tourists have visited Port Sudan and its friendly people, and today Sudan’s diving industry is growing rapidly.
Sudan is a mothership operation where a couple of smaller boats will take anglers and guides to the flats. Once you have left Port Sudan you will have six long days of saltwater fly fishing ahead of you.
If you’re up for it – check your backing and join us in Sudan!
FLY TO: Fly to Port Sudan via Dubai (direct flight from Dubai).
Day 1: Afternoon departure to Dubai, stay at airport hotel.
Day 2: Morning flight to Port Sudan, transfer to the mothership and departure for the fishing grounds.
Day 3-8: Six full days of fishing.
Day 9: Transfer to Port Sudan airport and flight back to Dubai.
PRICE: From around EUR 3200 without flights and visa for Sudan.
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Nicola Vitali, owner of the mothership M/Y Scuba Libre and the “inventor” of fly fishing in Sudan explains the huge amount of fishing possibilities:
When I came to Sudan, I knew nothing about flats fishing and had no idea that you could even find GTs there. On the very first fly fishing trip we ever did, we got a dozen triggerfish, a bonefish – and we saw some huge bonefish and even permit. We lost a big GT and we saw other GTs in shallow water. I realized we had something special here.
Today, we can put visiting fly fishermen on an unbelievable variety of species. The most common species on the flats is the triggerfish. Last season, we discovered a huge flat with really big bonefish, and we found an island that frequently had permit around it – and of course we found new spots for GTs. We have hooked some monster bumphead parrotfish and some really big milkfish too. We have lots of bluefin trevallies, snappers – all the coral species. We have even caught two dogtooth tuna; as far as I know the only two fly caught doggies ever caught anywhere in the world from the shore!
Of course, my favourite species on the fly is the GT! We have a lot of GTs in Sudan but it’s important to remember, that a GT on fly is the ultimate catch. You don’t catch many of them but you’ll usually get many good shots every week. When I go fishing myself I always get a GT, simply because it’s my job and I know how to deal with them. I don’t get distracted by all the other species but simply have the 12-weight rod ready at all times, so I don’t miss the shot. If you’re casting a 9-weight for a trigger and a GT suddenly shoots by it’s a pretty narrow window of opportunity to change rods and make the cast.
I think we will see a lot of our clients focusing on GTs and those who have fly fished for GTs elsewhere – on well known GT destinations like Farquhar in the Seychelles or Christmas Island in the Pacific, tell us they get more shots in Sudan. The biggest GT we have hooked on a fly was easily 40 kilos, probably more.
With the abundance of species to be found on the Nubian flats, you’ll need a versatile fly box. The GT’s demand huge flies on large hooks. Popular patterns are Semper, Brush and Poodle flies and the NYAP popper. GT’s are big fans of black and purple but make sure to include some lighter colours as well.
Fishing off the reef you’ll need some sinking baitfish patterns. Options in this category of flies are endless nowadays, but most species still seem to be attracted to old school flies like, for instance, a chartreuse Clouser Minnow.
Bonefish in Sudan are no different from bonefish anywhere else in the world and you’ll do well with a selection of lightly coloured proven patterns. Variations tied on heavier hooks will double as triggerfish flies. They love small flies with delicious rubber legs – but their teeth can easily crush a standard lightweight hook.
Triggerfish and permit are into crabs and tan flies like the Avalon Permit Fly, and the Velcro Crab will often do the trick. It’s always recommendable to bring crabs of various sizes and weights for different spots and tides.
The Nubian flats in Sudan offer a immense diversity of species and ideally we would bring a ton of gear to cover all fishing possibilities within an #8-14 range. However, since most of the fishing is done while wading, there is a need for compromise: Both regarding tackle and objective. Most people enjoy the variety of fish and have a #9 rod at hand – ready for triggerfish, bonefish, barracuda and more – and carry a rigged #11 or #12 rod on their back to be ready for the random shots at GTs. Die hard GT fly fishers often choose the opposite, since they do not want to miss a shot at a trailblazing GT on the flats. Ever!
No matter how YOU PRIORITIZE the fishing, you need to be serious about your gear. A large GT might call for a #14 rod or more, but that is not a rod you would want to carry and cast all day. You will be much better off with an #11 or #12 rod – and with a strong and reliable fly reel packed with heavy-duty backing, a fly line with an extra strong core and a very heavy leader it is actually possible to land that dream-come-true GT on the flats. Remember, modern fly rods have a lot of power in the butt section!
When planning your trip don’t make the mistake of focusing on the hardware only. The right clothes make a big difference when wading and fishing in 30 degrees Celsius. Make sure your wading boots are sturdy and fit you well. A waterproof backpack or chest pack will come in handy when wading through deeper areas or crossing channels, and of course we encourage you to protect yourself with quick-drying UPF30+ clothes. And when you finally get to pose for the camera with that big GT or bluefin, your smile will be a whole lot wider if you remembered a handling glove, protecting your hands from the sharp scoots on the tail.
The go-to rods for the Nubian flats:
9’ #11 or #12 saltwater rods for GT, grouper, snapper etc.
9’ #9 saltwater rods for triggerfish, bonefish etc.
Possible additional rods:
9’ #10 for bumphead parrotfish and large triggerfish
8’-8’6” #13-14 off shore rods
#12 saltwater reel with 300 m 80 lb braid backing
#9-10 saltwater reel with 200 m 50 lb braid backing
#11 or #12 floating tropical saltwater lines with extra strong core – 50 lb or more
9’ #9 floating tropical saltwater lines
9’ #10 floating tropical saltwater lines
Additional – sinking offshore lines #13-15
Tapered saltwater leaders 16-25 lb
100-150 lb mono or fluorocarbon
Fight- / stripping gloves
Long-sleeved shirts (UPF30+)