Fly Fishing in Mexico: An Angler's Guide for 2024

May 15, 2024 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

There are few countries with such diverse and productive fisheries – with such easy access – than Mexico. The flights and travel logistics are generally simple and they deliver anglers to world-class fishing destinations. Multiple coastlines, oceans, and seas make for a variety of bucket list species to chase. And that’s before we mention the vast inland fisheries on offer.

An angler wades through shallow water close to shore holding a fly rod ready to go fly fishing

Beyond the fishing, Mexico has an incredible culture, and it’s a destination that everyone should experience. From the food and people to the nature preserves and wild coastlines, you can’t go wrong. And the best way I found to discover it all was by going fly fishing in Mexico.

Read on and learn from my experiences about what you can catch, where to go, and what you need. By the time you’re done reading, I hope you’ll be following in my footsteps to cast your line in these rich waters. 

Why choose Mexico as a fly fishing destination? 

First things first. If you’re an avid fly angler, you’re probably wondering what Mexico has in store for you. Well, if you’re looking for an exotic destination, there’s no place better. Accessibility is one of the first things Mexico offers for destination trips. Flights to popular destinations like Cancun and Cabo are affordable and abundant. Both of these major airports are conveniently adjacent to world-class fishing.

After landing, you can easily grab a bus or private shuttle to a number of destinations located within an hour or two of the airport. I prefer renting a vehicle as it’s very inexpensive and driving affords more flexibility for DIY fishing between days you have booked on a charter. Driving Baja California Sur is especially easy as there are only a few roads! 

The easy logistics and ability to land at a major airport and find yourself on remote waters on the same day is unique. This, plus the quality of angling opportunities makes Mexico the perfect destination for new and experienced anglers alike.

While much of this article will focus on the world-class saltwater fly fishing on offer, keep in mind that Mexico has a huge inland region. Bass fishing is really something to consider in this vast country. There’s also Trout and a number of other unique opportunities for anglers who are willing to drive and explore the interior.

Top Mexico Fly Fishing Targets

Now you’ve got your appetite wet, it’s time to see what’ll grace the end of your line once you wet it. Here, I’ll provide an overview of the species we all dream of catching in Mexico. The actual number of species is far greater than what I’ve listed here, however. I lost count how many fish I caught on my last trip to Baja but I likely caught over 30 species and barely scratched the surface of what’s possible!

If you want to maximize your opportunity for different species, spend the bulk of your hours chasing that dream catch as you hit prime locations for Roosterfish, Dorado, and more. Between those trips, though, go cast in the mangrove channels and fish closures around structure. My 8 wt rod got a good workout and there are tons of different fish to chase in these areas.

Marlin & Sailfish

An elderly angler sat on a fishing boat with the famous arch of Cabo San Lucas behind him, with a large Marlin on his lap on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of BlueSea Sportfishing

The Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez both offer Striped and Blue Marlin fishing on the fly. This is big water game, where you’ll need the heaviest bluewater rods you can manage. Magdalena Bay is the place to focus on Marlin for the most part, but you can catch them in a number of spots. 

Sailfish are also prolific and you can have big days in the both bodies of water. You want to find a great captain who knows how to rig, tease, and find the fish. When you do, raising a number of Sailfish in a single day is entirely possible.

Roosterfish & Jack Crevalle

A young man in a backwards baseball cap, holds a Roosterfish up to the camera on a Mexican fishing charter, with a woman standing next to him and some land in the distance on a cloudy day
Photo courtesy of Marietas Sportfishing

Catching Roosterfish and Jacks from the beach is one of the most unique things that can happen when saltwater angling. But in Mexico, it’s a common thing! Baja California is one of the best places on the earth to walk beaches and sight fish for these prized species. Sometimes you’ll encounter solo fish, chasing and hunting down bait, while other times, a big group will erupt into a boil. Have your line out and be ready to run and cast when beach fishing.

Hiring a panga guide is also a great way to fly fish for these species. The ability to reach deeper structures increases the chances of finding a trophy. Use heavy leaders and stout hooks because these fish pull hard.

Yellowtail, Dorado, & Tuna

A man in a baseball cap and sunglasses sitting on a beach and holding a mahi Mahi with a fly fishing line visible next to him on a clear day in Mexico
Photo courtesy of Zach Lazzari

These species are prolific and, while you can occasionally catch them from beaches, a good captain is often necessary. Yellowtail are prevalent in the winter months while Dorado (Mahi Mahi) are more common in warmer weather. Both are incredible species to pursue on the fly. 

Yellowfin Tuna also come through in schools and, although they aren’t your most common fly fishing opponents, it’s good to prepare for anything. Baja California and the Pacific coastline are your best bet for these species, and they get bigger the further out you go.

Bonefish, Tarpon, & Permit

A man in a baseball cap and sunglasses kneeling on a boat in Mexico on a sunny day, holding a Bonefish in one hand and a fly fishing rod in the other

If you cross the country and head to the Yucatan region, chasing Bonefish, Tarpon, and Permit on the flats is a must-do experience. You can encounter fish of serious size and also find great numbers most of the year. These fish also have populations farther north, especially with juvenile Tarpon in places like the Tabasco region.

Anyone who has ever encountered these fish know that they might as well make up the holy trinity of saltwater fly fishing. Elusive, mighty strong, and responsive to flies, you’re sure to have a thrilling experience going after each of these species.

Other Common Saltwater Species

A close up of a Spotted Bay Bass being held by a left hand with a fly in its mouth against the calm waters of a bay in Mexico
Photo courtesy of Zach Lazzari

I’d need a whole book to cover all the species you can catch when fly fishing in Mexico. Barracuda show up frequently in the Yucatan, while Triggerfish and Snappers are common there and in the Sea of Cortez. 

On the Pacific side, you’ll find Broomtail Grouper, Spotted Bay Bass, Corvina, and a hodgepodge of other fish that love eating flies. I’ve even caught Halibut on the fly here, which is an exceptional experience! Throw in Trumpetfish, Pufferfish, and everything else swimming out there, and it’s a long list of possibilities. This is all part of the fun because you just never know what could show up.

Freshwater Species

An angler in sunglasses and a baseball cap standing with the water behind him and holding a Large Bass in Mexico near sunset on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Nato’s Guide Service

Freshwater fly fishing isn’t as big a draw in Mexico – mainly because the saltwater options are so appealing! Mexico does have some of the best Largemouth Bass fishing in the world, however. If you want to chase down monster Bass, look to the regions around Mazatlan and Guadalajara where reservoirs offer opportunity. There are other freshwater fisheries out there as well, especially in Chiapas, but they’re far more difficult to access.

Where to Go Fly Fishing in Mexico

While I’ve already mentioned some of the wider locations where you can go fly fishing in Mexico, it’s worth breaking them down for clarity. Within each sea, ocean, and body of water, there are a few towns and ecosystems that deserve highlighting, in particular. Some of these are spread out by drive times in excess of 10 hours, while others are closer to each other.

Sea of Cortez

A view from a hill towards a deserted Balandra Beach in La Paz, Mexico with clear skies at the end of the day and crystal clear waters visible on the left of the image

The “Gulf of California” is not a small body of water by any means and the locations you should focus on are largely on the Baja Peninsula. The East Cape, La Paz, and Loreto are three of the biggest fishing destinations here. Farther north, Gonzaga Bay and Bahia de Los Angeles are great places to catch Yellowtail, Dorado, and more.

The Sea of Cortez is very unique in that it has a very Caribbean feel with turquoise waters and rich marine environments. It’s stunning and has plenty of long sandy beaches to explore. This is great for shore fishing, while plenty of guides will offer to take you out to the deeper spots, too. 

Pacific Ocean (Baja Peninsula)

A fishing boat sails past the famous arch in Cabo San Lucas on a sunny day

In some places in Baja California, there’s just an hour’s drive between the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez. The ocean and sea are surprisingly close but the ecosystems and fisheries are entirely different. The southern end has excellent fishing from Cabo San Lucas to Todos Santos and beyond. Magdalena Bay, meanwhile, is the big draw for fly anglers pursuing Striped Marlin and other pelagic species.

This coastline is long and has prolific fisheries for Grouper, Yellowtail, and plenty more heading north to Punta Abreojos, Guerrero Negro, and all the way to the border. It’s remote, so bring a good 4×4 and have your emergency systems in place. Take care of that, and you’re in for fishing you’ll never forget. 

Pacific Ocean (South of Baja Peninsula)

From Mazatlan south to Guatemala, the Pacific Ocean remains extremely productive for Dorado, Sailfish, Roosterfish, Tuna, Wahoo, and a wide variety of other species. When fly fishing, targeting these species from shore becomes increasingly difficult the further south you go. It’s best to charter a boat and use teasers and/or chum to find the action. 

Yucatan Peninsula

A scenic aerial shot of the coast of Cancún at sunset, with waves crashing against the city's sand beaches.

You can wade the flats, DIY kayak lagoons, or hire a skiff to pole your way into feeding Permit and Bonefish on the Yucatan peninsula. This is a saltwater paradise with iconic regions like Campeche and Quintana Roo on either side. I suggest you take a flight to Cancun and rent a car for a reasonable price. This is the perfect destination to combine a few days on skiffs with a few days fishing from shore. 

Western Freshwater Lakes

If there’s one place that has a massive reputation for big Bass, it’s Lake Baccarac. That being said, there are quite a few reservoirs in the general Mazatlan region that put out Largemouths over 15 pounds. If you’re planning a freshwater fly fishing trip in Mexico, this is the place where you’re most likely to find a record Bass.

Planning Your Mexico Fly FishingTrip 

An infographic featuring the flag of Mexico above text that says "Mexico Fly Fishing, Need to Know", along with an illustration of a boat underneath against a blue background

Mexico is used to North American tourists, so planning a trip here is easy. Take advantage of year-round flights to a number of airports from coast to coast, while affordable rental car options mean you can be in control of every second of your trip. There are a ton of rentals, hotels, lodges, and resorts with options for every budget. You can book ahead or play it loose by booking rentals after you land. Personally, I enjoy the flexibility.

I spent three months road-tripping Baja and am planning a week on the Yucatan very soon because it’s that easy to plan and execute. Despite that, there are a few things you’ll need:

  • Passport. You won’t be able to board your flight without it, so make sure you have a valid passport and bring it with you.
  • Travel Insurance. It sounds obvious but plenty of people forget about this one. Travel insurance can help you in a medical emergency, as well as if there’s an issue with your transport or accommodation.
  • Mexican Fishing License. While some charters will be able to get a fishing permit for you, if you’re fly fishing from shore, you’ll need to get a license yourself. These are easy to get online
  • Sun protection. Most parts of Mexico experience sun year-round. While you may not feel it thanks to the wind blowing from the ocean during the day, getting sunstroke is a real possibility that could ruin the rest of your trip. Of course, you can get some from local pharmacies across Mexico. 
  • Rods/Reels/Flies. Hiring fly fishing gear in Mexico isn’t as common as you may have hoped. It’s worth paying extra for luggage so that you can bring all your favorite equipment. 

Are you ready for a Mexico fly fishing adventure?

A Mexican flag flutters in the wind on the back of a boat heading out to the deep offshore waters

Some travelers have concerns about safety in Mexico. I’ve driven the entire country, spending collective years of my time and I’ve never had a major issue. Use common sense by researching routes and planning ahead – and following some of my advice – and you won’t go wrong. And with fly fishing opportunities as good as this, you’d be mad to miss out! Go on, get booking, and come and explore this fly fishing paradise.

Are you planning on going fly fishing in Mexico? Maybe you’ve been before. We’d love to hear all about your trips and past experiences! Share your stories in the comments below!

Author profile picture

Zach Lazzari is a freelance outdoor writer, full-time traveler, and adventurer. He drove the Pan American Highway, chasing fish and whitewater across 13 countries, and continues pushing the limits of travel, fishing, whitewater, and hunting. Follow his travels at the Busted Oarlock.

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