Payaru Fishing: Fishing Methods, Lures and Tackle


Payara, payara, sachorra – freshwater fish of the rivers of South America. Scientists call this fish – mackerel hydrolic. The order to which the fish belongs includes 18 families distributed in the rivers of Central, South America and Equatorial Africa. A feature of the fish of the order, including payars, is the presence of the so-called. “adipose fin”, the same as that of salmon or catfish. But the main distinguishing feature of this fish is its huge teeth, and the special structure of the head associated with this. The lower canines are especially prominent, in large individuals having a length of up to 15 cm. When the mouth is closed, these teeth are hidden in special sinuses on the upper jaw. Because of their menacing appearance, the fish is often referred to as “vampire fish” or “devil fish”. All the jaws of the fish are dotted with large canine-shaped teeth. This payara is somewhat similar to tiger fish. The head is large, the mouth is large, with the ability to capture large prey. The jaws have a complex structure, and consist of four main parts. Some researchers claim that payara is able to hunt prey half its size. The body is elongated, spindle-shaped, laterally flattened, covered with small silvery scales, the upper part of the body is darker. The powerful caudal and the lower, ventral fins shifted to it, give the fish an active swimmer living in fast sections of rivers. Payara sizes can reach 120 cm and weigh up to 18 kg. Differs in violent temperament and desperate resistance when notching on gear. It prefers to keep fast sections of the river, rapids, pre-threshold pits and obstacles. Payara is an active predator. The object of hunting are any fish that live in a reservoir, smaller than the predator itself. Small individuals often form flocks. The fish are most active between January and April.

Fishing methods

Payara is very gluttonous, but cautious. Only certain places can be kept on the river, which are difficult to access or require ultra-long casts. It is a very popular object of sport fishing. At the same time, it reacts to various baits, including those of natural origin. The main method of fishing is spinning with the use of large lures. In recent years, along with other South American fish, fly fishing has become popular. All, without exception, fishermen – payar catchers, note a small percentage of sold bites. This is due, first of all, to the structure of the head and the rigidity of the jaw apparatus of the fish.

Catching fish on a spinning rod

Spinning remains the most popular tackle for catching fish on the rivers of Central and South America. When fishing on a payar, most often, powerful spinning rods are used for catching large baits. Rods should be of medium-fast to fast action, capable of forcing a fight in strong currents or in cramped shore fishing conditions in the tropics. Powerful reels should have a trouble-free friction and a large spool for thick cords. This is due, first of all, to the difficult conditions of fishing. Most of the rivers inhabited by payara have a variety of rocky outcrops or bottoms covered with coarse material, which often leads to cliffs when playing. At the same time, the payar and other numerous local predators are not deterred by the use of “rough equipment”. Locals often use pieces of wire instead of leashes. The presence of metal leashes is quite appropriate, if only for the reason that the diversity and quantity of the local predatory fauna does not allow one to target one species. At the same time, there is another opinion that additional elements do not save much from cliffs, but complicate the fishing process. In any case, when catching large South American fish, the use of high-strength rigging elements is required. The general requirements for tackle are similar, as with catching large migratory fish.

Fly fishing

In recent decades, due to the increasing popularity of fly fishing in the post-Soviet space, many domestic anglers have joined the ranks of exotic fish lovers with artificial lures in this way. A whole galaxy of anglers specializing only in such fishing has appeared. All known fly fishers consider it a must to visit tropical rivers to catch numerous predators. The payar did not escape this fate, fishing for which is considered, in a way, a “highlight” in flyfishing. It is worth noting that the fish actively hunts in all water layers, which, to some extent, simplifies the choice of baits. When fishing, it is most important to localize the habitats of this fish. For fishing, various one-handed rods of the “marine class” or the corresponding configuration are used, with a powerful reel and a large amount of backing. In the form of baits, they use large streamers and poppers, for casting which, it is better to practice short-bodied cords and heads. Experienced fishermen often mention that the use of undergrowth is optional, and most importantly, the thickness of the leashes must correspond to a value of at least 0,6 mm. From the point of view that the local fish is not shy, and the limitation on the upper threshold of thickness is associated with the ability to tie, on the river, “on the knee”, reliable rigging knots from a thick fishing line.


For fishing, payars use various baits, from very exotic to completely traditional, for a domestic fisherman. The main requirements can be considered large size and strength. It can be spinners, wobblers, silicone baits. It is possible to use rigs using live fish or its pieces. Some locals catch payara without a hook, using a piece of red cloth. The fish grabs the bait, but because of the long fangs, it cannot free itself.

Places of fishing and habitat

The distribution range of the species is rather small and limited to the river basins of the tropical part of South America. The most famous fishing areas are the rivers of the Orinoco and Amazon basins. For the first time, researchers described fish only at the beginning of the 19th century. This is partly due to the inaccessibility of the area where the payara lives. Fish prefer fast rapids in watercourses, including small tributaries located in the upper reaches of South American river basins. Among them it is worth mentioning: Paraguya, Churun, and others. It occupies various places on the river, including long drags. To some extent, it can be argued that the largest specimens often stand at some distance from the coast at depths of up to 10 m. Small fish gather in flocks and their habitats, in the river, at a depth of up to 5 m. A significant population of payara lives in Lake Guri . Payara is not sedentary, it moves to different parts of the river, including a spawning run, which is similar to the migration of migratory salmon. It is usually dated for January, February.

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