Freestone Rivers

Freestone river fishing in Thailand

Freestone rivers with good stocks of very large mahseer, and good fishing in the remote river valleys of Mae Hong Son Province … Access is not easy into the upper reaches of some of the rivers, and some are only possible outside of the Wet Season, using 4WD vehicles.

Mahseer fly fishing in Mae Hong Son province, Thailand

However, the bigger the water, the bigger the fish… Mahseer behave exactly like big browns in terms of where they lie in the current flows. They feed aggressively, and smash big dry flies with reckless greed when there are cicida hatches on…

Cicada hatches - freestone river fishing, Mae Hong Son province...

Cicada & Beetle Patterns

Any large dry fly will coax fish to the surface – favourites are Royal Wulf, Dave’s Hopper etc… Adding a #16 tungsten bead-head flashback Pheasant Tail nymph on a dropper 18 inches or so below the top fly is also VERY effective in all size streams… In shallow choppy runs, especially when water temperatures are high, big fish sit invisible in the fastest flows, and react quickly to big dry flies.

Caddis & Mayfly Patterns

The freestone rivers and streams have very high mayfly and caddis populations and fishing can be spectacular if you encounter hatch conditions. An afternoon shower in late Hot Season will often trigger a caddis hatch and a #14 Elk Hair Caddis is lethal in such conditions, with a take on almost every cast! The smaller fish feed ferociously on hatching caddis…

Mayfly nymphs - Pheasant-tail nymphs - fly fishing

In low fly conditions, big fish sit clearly visible on foam lines, vacuuming up every morsel drifting by and will sometimes move several feet to take a flashy #16 nymph!

Streamer Patterns

All the normal big streamers will coax interest from big mahseer – Woolly Buggers, Zonkers etc.

Streamer fishing in freestone rivers, Thailand

There’s a multitude of minnows and little fish species present in all rivers and Mahseer are accustomed to feeding on them.

Mahseer Streamer Patterns, Salween River tributary

The clear freestone rivers in the jungles of S.E Asia, along the Thailand / Myanmar border offer some excellent fishing and a unique cultural experience… A day out with local Karen guides…

Karen guides - Mahseer fishing, Mae Hong Son province

Amid some stunning scenery…

Quote from Ben Kemp, retired New Zealand fly fishing guide -:-  “I’ve spent over 50 years fishing for Brown Trout in New Zealand. In 40 years of fly fishing, including more than a decade as a fly fishing guide, I’ve never encountered a Brown Trout that matches a big Mahseer for sheer power and speed

Despite the warm water temperatures, Mahseer are capable of demonstrating astonishing acceleration, and invariably head for the nearest log or boulder sanctuary at full speed. With the rod butt jammed into your hip, brake hard on and full side-strain on the rod, a big Mahseer seems oblivious to your efforts to turn his head from the course he’s set…


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