Any rod/reel combo in the 11 to 14 weight class will do the job for sailfish and dorado. 350+ yards of 50-pound backing is good. With marlin one might want to be a little more robustly equipped, say a 15 or 16. Your marlin reel should have 500+ yards of 50-pound backing.

There are two key items on the equipment side:

  1. J hooks

  2. 90-degree 2-hook tackles

We would love to say that circle hooks work well for this kind of fly fishing, but they don’t. We recommend J hooks for fly fishing for billfish.

90-degree 2-hook tackles seem to significantly increase hookups, too.


The Gitana and Gitana II most often fish with two teasers on flat lines, and rarely if ever use flying lines. The teasers are fished fairly close together. Distance to the boat varies according to trolling speed and other conditions, but is often a fair distance from the boat.

An angler benefits from the ability to make a 40-foot cast with a sailfish fly.

Once a fish shows behind either teaser the empty rod is quickly reeled in, and the active rod is brought to starboard.

The fish is teased all the way to the transom after getting as much time to get excited as possible. This helps keep the fish in the mood for several attacks on the fly.

cast and hook set

Once the fish is on the starboard transom the engine is taken out of gear.

The angler makes a 30–40 foot cast straight back along the boat’s port side, and begins a medium fast and steady retrieve towards the boat.

The fish is now located off the starboard transom, and is looking for something to attack.

The fish discovers the fly and intercepts it at a 90° angle to the direction of the retrieve, and usually then turns away.

The final hook set consists of giving the fish a little slack to complete the turn— make a short strip set to finish the job.

Keep a tight line at all times during the fight—hooks tend to have a loose hold.

Santiago and Adan have developed a fly fishing system for billfish that is simple, easy, and delivers the desired results: better hookups with more fish. Here Santiago is guiding a fly caster.

fly fishing the Valdovinos way

All indications/directions on this page are for right-handed casters. For lefties simply reverse.

fly fishing