Casting for Giants
Taimen are perhaps the world’s most incredible dry fly experience. Every taimen you encounter – whether you miss it or land it – will create a lasting memory.
Taimen are the ultimate mega-trout. They are the largest member of the salmonid family. Mongolian taimen can live for nearly fifty years and reach sixty inches (1.5 meter) in length. Taimen caught on the fly generally measure between 30 – 40 inches (.75 – 1 meter). Anything over 40 inches (1m) is considered trophy class. We catch and very carefully release several fish every season that measure over 50 inches (1.25 cm).
Mongolian taimen do not run out to the ocean or even lakes. These behemoths spend their entire life cycle in relatively small rivers. Taimen will migrate great distances to access spawning, feeding, and winter habitats. An adult taimen may use 60 miles (100km) of river each year, making conservation of vast stretches of water vitally important.
Taimen are beautiful fish. They have stunning coloration. Taimen are also ferocious predators. Their main diet is “small” fish and they do take well-presented streamers. That’s great fun, but the amazing thing is that taimen feed on the surface. They will nail beavers, ducklings, gophers, and mice. Taimen will aggressively – and we do mean aggressively – destroy surface flies.
Our group caught countless lenok, numerous grayling, and 23 taimen up to 55 inches in length. The biggest taimen were caught in white water rapids where the water temperature was cooler and oxygen levels higher than the surrounding water; and the gurgler was again by far and away the winning fly pattern. Five to six-inch long streamers imitating lenok also produced well, but gurglers caught everything from big taimen to average-sized (20 to 24-inch) lenok and even feisty grayling.” Tom G., USA.
Taimen will absolutely explode on the fly, sometimes coming completely out of the water on the strike. On witnessing this impressive smash and grab many anglers pull too soon and miss the hook up. The trick is to keep stripping until you feel the weight of the fish, then set the hook. If you miss the first strike, slam the fly right back on the water. That big, angry and very frustrated taimen will frequently come right back around and absolutely hammer your fly on the second, third or even fourth try. These taimen will often go airborne. Like a big tarpon, they will tail walk along the river’s surface. In skinny water, they will rocket across the river for greater depths. The four-foot long predator on the end of your line will charge around the pool, bore deep and shake its head violently like a very, very big brown trout.
Mongolia likely has the world’s healthiest taimen populations. We catch and release hundreds of taimen annually. Due in part to conservation efforts, the fishing has never been better. Every angler definitely has a chance to catch a trophy fish. However, taimen fishing is not easy. These fish are big, old and smart. A guest may have a double digit day. The next day the weather turns and the fish get very finicky. This is epic scaled fly fishing at its purist form. It’s a mental and physical game. This is where you get a chance to test the convergence of your skill, luck and angler’s optimism. Our guides are the best in the business and are absolutely fascinated by taimen because of the beauty and challenge. This is about the opportunity and privilege of sharing some of the world’s last wild rivers with the planet’s largest trout. If you come to Mongolia prepared for a wonderful angling challenge and celebrate every fish, you will have the fly fishing trip of a lifetime and you will want to come back for more!
Obviously what everyone comes for is the Taimen. You see pictures in all the magazines of monster fish and tales of great fishing. What they don’t tell you is the taimen fishing is hard!! Really hard!… We probably made many hundred casts a day, all day every day. All of us had hand cramps, blisters and sore joints by the end of it… Unfortunately I did not manage a big one – my fish were all about the size of the first one. The big ones are there though – I saw them. On the last day we were rowing through a shallow, slow flat when we drifted right on top of a monster. He took off from the side of the boat and pushed a big bow wave right across the river. It was hard to say how big he was but I would not be surprised if it was pushing 60 inches… We fished hard all day and then laughed hard all evening – it was a great group of anglers and we had a blast. The food was good, with hot meals cooked on the river bank each day by the guides and drinks and dinner waiting for us when we reached the next camp. It was much more comfortable and well run than I was expecting for sure. We even had vodka tonics waiting for us as we got out of the boats! All in all an amazing trip – great company, great fishing and a totally beautiful river in wild and still unspoilt countryside. I need to go back to find that big fish. Anyone want to go?” Matt B., USA.
The fishing is a combination of drift boat and wade-walk. This is a great river for both single and double-handed rods. The single-handed rods are used from the drift boats. The double-handed rods are generally fished from shore, but some guests use switch rods to great effect from the boat. Most guests bring a five-weight single hand for the trout and a seven, eight or nine weight single hand for the taimen. This river is great for double-handed rods, either spey or switch. It’s a wonderful thing to fire a Skagit line out across a camp pool at sunset and skate a big mouse pattern to a giant taimen.
When you sign up for a trip, we will provide you with a very detailed packing list. We supply all of the flies. You are responsible for bringing your own rods, waders, and other fishing gear.