Guide Profile: Fly Fishing the Amazon with Rafael Costa

Rafael Costa guide

Rafael Costa is a photographer and jungle fly fishing guide at Kendjam Lodge and Pirarucu in the Brazilian Amazon. Just coming off another exciting season in the jungle, Costa took the time to sit down to interview with The Venturing Angler:

Where do you guide?

I’m a jungle guide. Currently I manage two of the best lodges in the world when it comes to jungle fishing — Kendjam Lodge in the state of Para in the South Amazon and Pirarucu — the arapaima lodge that is just a 45-minute flight from Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon. These Untamed Angling destinations are truly two amazing places that are a must for any serious angler.

fly fish Rafael Costa

Why do you guide where you do?

After working with Untamed Angling for six years, I´m lucky to get to choose where I want to work, and these two lodges are just amazing.  And of course I can’t stay away from the jungle for too long anymore.

Rafael Costa fishing

What is your favorite fish species?

I can’t decide between a big peacock bass and dorado — talking Bolivia dorado, not talking about dorado in bluewater.

Rafael Costa photo

What is your favorite thing about guiding?

1. Being in the jungle

2. Learning from the jungle

3. Photographing the jungle

4. Being away from too many people!

5. Evolving as a jungle angler

Rafael Costa fly fishing

What is the most memorable trip you’ve guided and why?

My most memorable trip was the first preseason trip before Untamed Angling started using the mothership on the Rio Marie. I fished that untouched river for almost 20 days straight and camping the entire time. It was the experience of a lifetime.

As far as guiding, the day John Sherman landed a fish that was 2 meters and 49 centimeters on a freaking 9wt rod! It was very special for me. That fish was the culmination of lots hours on the water trying to understand that fish a little better. In six years that one is still the biggest fish ever landed on that lake. John Sherman is the man.

photography Rafael Costa

What is the funniest thing you’ve experienced while guiding?

I love to guide rednecks. I had a guy from Texas who one day decided to “show me how much better it is if you cast from the pooling platform.” He not only fell in the water, but he hit the boat first on his way down. Rednecks — please keep coming! I just love spending some good quality boat time with y’all.

Rafael Costa photography

If you had only one day off all year, where would you fish and what fish would you target?

Maybe matrincha on dry flies with a 5wt rod on the Iriri River. You catch lots of fish and it’s just super super fun.

Rafael Costa Amazon

What are your favorite three flies for the jungle?

Unfortunately there aren’t good flies for the jungle by any brand that I know, and most of the good flies have terrible hooks. I highly recommend that anglers contact the manager of the lodge you are going to.

photo Rafael Costa

As a photographer, why do you like photographing the Amazon?

I started taking photographs really just to show my daughter my adventures and because I realized it’s hard to believe all of my jungle stories so at list I can show some evidence! When you spend this much time deep in the jungle, you really need to capture all that you experience.

Rafael Costa jungle

What is your go-to camera and lens?

Nowadays I use a Nikon D500, and because I love to photograph people, I usually use a 70-200mm lens. A 35mm is super good as well. But if you don’t want to burden yourself with weight, I recommend an ultra-zoom lens like an 18-300, super versatile lens.

Rafael Costa photos

What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?

The most important piece of gear you can ever have with you are ear plugs. You can never make it through a full season without good sleep.

Rafael Costa Kendjam

Do you have any other passions?

I do love to do what you guys call Brazilian jiu jitsu. I’ve being doing it for over 15 years now. Also I’m a bit of a redneck myself, so I also love muscle cars and this is my baby — a 1974 Dodge Dart SE.

Rafael Costa car

To check out more from Rafael Costa, please click here.

And to check out more from Untamed Angling, please click here.