Fly Fishing for Tarpon, Bonefish, Permit, and Snook: A Super Grand Slam
Fly fishing the Yucatan for Tarpon, Bonefish, Permit, and Snook with Nick Denbow, one of the brightest, nicest professional guides in the industry.
by Chris N • January 22, 2022 in Fly Fishing Travels, Fly Designers
If you’re interested in chasing fish in the southern Yucatan on a fly rod then Nick Denbow is a name you should know. Here are a few reasons why you should know Nick:
Nick is the only guide fishing the 75 miles of coast between Espiritu Santo bay to the north and Chetumal Bay to the south. He fishes out of a village called Mahuhual, which is two hours south of Tulum. The best way to find him – and a Super Grand Slam – is to fly into Cancun. After renting a car, drive south to Mahahual and you’ll be rewarded with peace and solitude as you pursue a Super Grand Slam.
If the solitude isn’t enough, the fishing will spoil any angler. It is not uncommon for Nick and his first mate, Tommy, to put their clients on a Super Grand Slam. That’s a Grand Slam, plus one. Tarpon, Permit, Bonefish, and Snook – all in one day. As the kids say these days, Nick and Tommy are ballers.
Nick’s success is not by chance. He has been fishing and guiding clients in the Southern Yucatán for nearly 20 years. He made the move to Mexico after stints at numerous fly shops during his formal studies. While his early academic pursuits took him toward math, biology, and chemistry, Nick ultimately followed his angling passions and graduated with a BSc (with honours) in Aquaculture and Fisheries Management. But, he’s still really good at math and counting which comes in handy for all the Super Slams he puts clients on.
It’s an understatement to call Nick a foremost expert on the Yucatan. When Rod Hamilton started writing Fly Fishing the Yucatan, it was only natural that Nick would be a co-author. Nick “contributed penetrating detail on each destination.”
To say Nick knows the Yucatán doesn’t come close to capturing the decades of experience and knowledge that he enjoys sharing with clients. We suggest you pickup the book, which includes in-depth discussions of various species, equipment recommendations, presentation suggestions, and recommended flies. Beyond the angling insights, however, the book provides detailed insights on “where to stay, how to get around the area, insights that only natives would know, and a look at non-fishing activities, along with how a spouse might rate the area.” If you’re a planner, you’ll also enjoy the chapters covering “safety, communications, currency and exchanges, licenses, seasons, and such,” including an exhaustive travel checklist. In Rod’s words,
“I have traveled all over the planet targeting flats species with a fly rod. Most destinations you have heard of give you a good shot at one or two species, many advertise a shot at a Grand Slam, but the reality is it's only that, advertising. But there is one place I know of where there is a legitimate chance at landing a Super Grand Slam. Fishing with Nick Denbow out of Mahahual, Mexico you wake up every morning with the knowledge you are going to have shots at bonefish, permit, tarpon and snook. And the best part of the day by far is being guided by one of the brightest, nicest professional guides in the industry. Fishing a couple days with Nick reminds us all why we love chasing saltwater species with a fly rod.”
Fishing for saltwater species is different than nymphing or stripping streamers. Beyond the obvious, casting is critically important. Nick has you covered. He’s a certified casting instructor. You’ll be a better caster after any time you spend with Nick.
Weather is also a big factor when chasing saltwater fish. It is tough to invest the time and money to get to a place like Mahuhual and have the weather play a nasty wild card. Nick has minimized this risk too – he has access to a dozen lagoons that hold healthy populations of Snook and Tarpon in the 30-pound class. That said, don’t be surprised if you find yourself on the end of a 50-80 pounder. Hold on!
The pictures above include several of Nick’s signature patterns, including Denbow’s Super Slam Shrimp (in both lead eye and beadchain flavors) and Denbow’s Flip Flop Gurgler (in black and white and shrimp varieties). These flies are some of our best-sellers. So, yes, he’s also a fly designer and master tier. His flies are the result of his 20 years chasing nearly a dozen different species in the Southern Yucatan. Yep, that’s right, you can also target Trigger fish and numerous other species. Just imagine the pictures and memories you’ll come back with.
Nick’s operation is a bit different than a lodge experience. His operation has several condos that anglers can rent. There is access to groceries and plenty of frosty beverages on your drive into Mahuhual. This is a hybrid DIY experience. It is not uncommon for clients to book several days with Nick and then explore on their own. Or, take a day or two to explore the activities in Mahuhual. There is no tension between the guides and the DIY-ers. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for Nick and Tommy to grab a meal together with DIY anglers. This is a time to exchange information and coordinate on places to fish. Yes, it’s that awesome.
If a lodge experience is something you’re after, you can still tap into Nick’s world-class expertise, knowledge, and experience. Since 2020, he’s hosted seven trips to lodges in Belize and two to New Orleans to chase redfish.
You should know Nick. He has something special going on. Check him out at www.catchafish.net. Book your trip now – you won’t regret it. If you need help getting ready, give us a shout and check out our saltwater flies (especially Nick’s!). Book a day or more with Nick and we will throw in half a dozen of his signature patterns when you buy a dozen (offer through 31-Dec-22).