Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle

Information Page.

Plastic pandemonium.

My son Richard lives in Brazil and recently took visiting friends from the UK on the trip to the Pantanal. It's a wonderful wetland area with a fantastic array of wildlife. Rich (a chip off the old block) took his fishing gear and had some interesting experiences. Here's his report with pictures of just a few of the animals that they saw:-

"As promised, a brief account of my exploits in the Pantanal. The purpose of the trip was to show my mate Paul and his family a bit of Brazilian wildlife. Paul is a mad keen birder, so rather than fish I would typically go for a walk in the countryside every morning searching for interesting beasts of the feathered (rather than scaled) variety. In all we saw about 130 bird species over 6 days, the highlight of the trip being a giant potoo and, of course, the unbelievably beautiful hyacinth macaws that seem to be a fixture of the region. We also saw five giant anteaters and one of their smaller cousins, the southern tamandua and a wide variety of other mammals. Unfortunately, the closest we got to seeing a jaguar was a fresh footprint in the mud."

"Of course, I took my fishing rod, although my rather modest aim was to catch a piranha on a lure. These lovely little fish are incredibly easy to catch on leftover bits of meat and, I have been told, can sometimes go as large as a couple of pounds. My thinking was that maybe I could tempt a monster with a lure, since the smaller ones simply would not be able to fit it into their mouths. I was also curious what a piranha would do to a soft-plastic lure (I’d packed some old ones for the experiment)."

"So, armed with my normal spinning gear (30lb braid, 4 piece rod), one afternoon I strolled down to a pond near the B&B and flicked out a big ‘Slandra’. As a wound it slowly back I thought I felt a slight pluck. However, much to my astonishment when I finally retrieved the lure there was only the hook left with a tiny bit of plastic. Three casts later I had a nice collection of bare hooks – only the Redgill proved too awkward to completely dismantle."

"When I changed to a hard bait I had much more success, catching a fish every 3-4 casts on a variety of lures. The only time the bites dried up was when I tried a big Rapala – it seems there is a size above which the piranhas lose interest. When I fished in the local river I had the same results, and even managed to catch a couple of ‘big’ specimens of about 1.5 lbs and some smaller, thinner species. Perhaps the most interesting session was when I free-lined cheese (nabbed from breakfast) into the river. I caught four species of fish including several more piranhas and a small catfish."

"Anyhow, it was a fascinating spot of fishing. Next time I go, hope I shall be able to fish more and perhaps focus on catching one of the big catfish!"

You live and learn eh? Piranhas clearly have a lot in common with African tigerfish and North American bluefish. No monster catches for Rich but clearly a very satisfying trip. Must go and visit my Brazilian rellies again soon.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com

Hyacinth macaws.

These beautiful birds are relatively common in the Pantanal.'

Giant anteater.

More like a walking haystack than an animal.'


A mini version of the big anteater.'


They used to be most famous for the Guinness advert.'


Not so easy to see because they live in burrows and generally come out after dark.'


A South American version of the ostrich.'


This big stork is hunting fish and frogs in the flooded grass.'

The river.

Richard and daughter Jasmine fishing.  Most of his bites came from the spot arrowed.'

Piranised plastics.

Soft plastic lures are obviously attractive to the fish but not robust enough.'


Switching to a hard plug produced fish.'


This is what does the damage.  Richard says that the inside of the mouth is rock hard, so hooks don't penetrate.'