By Mark B. Hatter
Photographs by Llewellyn Claven
Fly Rod & Reel has partnered with Thomas & Thomas and is sending a 9-foot 7-weight Solar rod around the globe to catch as many fish as possible. Tarpon, permit, peacock bass, salmon, steelhead, dorado . . . . If it swims, we’ll throw at it with this stick and tell you what happens. In this installment Mark Hatter travels to Patagonia’s Lake Strobel for monster rainbows.
Southern Patagonia’s Lake Strobel is known for giant rainbows that are found in unbelievable numbers. Many of these fish weigh 10 pounds or more; some may top 20 pounds. These fish spawn in the Barrancoso River, the only drainage on the entire lake, which makes them easy to find. During the course of a week spent fishing with Llewellyn Claven, who guides for Jurassic Lodge, I tested Thomas & Thomas’sSolar rod in Patagonia’s predictably extreme conditions on the lake and in the river. Through gales and even with sleet flying in my face, I was able to throw a variety of flies ranging from heavy streamers off thick tippets to size-20 dries off whispy 5X. By the end of the week I was impressed by the rod’s performance: It has the backbone to fire into the wind yet enough finesse to handle 30-inch rainbows on 5X. If I had to define the Solar in a single word, I’d say, “balanced.” In six days this rod helped me land more than 200 trout. So in a nutshell: Lake Strobel and Thomas & Thomas’s Solar rod lived up to their reputations.