Five Must Have Flies for Rio Grande Cichlids

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It is the Year of the Rio!  So, with that in mind, lets talk about flies for catching a few Rio Grande Cichlid.  So, before I tell you my personal favorite Rio Grande Cichlid flies, here are a few things to understand about Rio's and their eating habits.

1) Rio flies should be small.  Even the monster Rio Grande Cichlids have small mouths.

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Monster of a Rio Grande Cichlid caught by Odom Wu

2) "Match the Hatch."  Haha, mimic what you fish to what Rios eat.  As discussed, in Fish Spotlight: Rio Grande Cichlid, Rios eat insects (and their larvae), small crustaceans, and small fish.
André Karwath aka Aka, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons
Small Crawfish from South Texas
3) Rio's prefer to eat on the bottom.  Drag, crawl, scoot and bounce, your fly along the bottom. To do this, your fly needs some weight to get it down.  They will, however, sometime pick insects (such as ants) off of the water's surface. That doesn't mean they wont eat swimming/suspended flies, but the bottom works best!

4) Black, Olive, Dark Browns, and Cream.  Those are the colors I have had the most success with (in order.)

5) Keep the extremities short.  Rios tend to grab flies by the legs and tails, so if you want to increase your hook-up rate, keep those extremities on your flies short.  The slower you fish your fly, the shorter the legs and tails!

Alright, now the list.  Here are my Five Must Have Flies for Rio Grande Cichlids, the flies I stock my Rio Boxes with, listed in no particular order.


Pat's Hot Tail Mini-Craw in Olive and Black

Pat's Hot Tail Mini-Craw

The Hot Tail Mini-Craw is tied on a size 10 hook (small) and is usually tied in either olive and black (seen here), solid black, and Two-Tone Rootbeer, all with chartreus tail still.  Bounce it along the bottom near cover and be ready for a strike.  You can order Pat's Hot Tail Mini-Craw here.


Rio Getter

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Selection of Rio Getters from Fly Geek

The Rio Getter was designed by Matt Bennett at Fly Geek Custom Flies.  They are probably the most popular fly for most who are targeting Rio Grande Cichlids.  Available in multiple colors and sizes from 8 - 14.  You can purchase Rio Getters here.


Jigged Foxy Clouser

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Jigged Foxy Clouser.

A great small crawfish or baitfish imitation, the Jigged Foxy Clouser is another must-have for targeting Rio Grande Cichlids.  It is a little larger than most other flies on this list, but that can attract some of the larger Rios (as well as bass and other species.)  The Jigged Foxy Clouser is available here.


Rio Poquito

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Rio Poquito
The Rio Poquito is another fly I designed originally to target Rio Grande Cichlids.  It is tied "sloppy and scraggily," to look like a creepy crawler on the bottom.  Fish it in black, on a size 12 hook.  You can purchase Rio Poquitos here.


Deer Hair Ant

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Deer Hair Ant
The only "dry" fly on the list, the deer hair ant is designed to float near the bank, under some overhead cover.  It resembles an ant or other insect that has fallen, and is now stuck, in the water.  Although Rios usually eat on the bottom, they will come up to pluck a small delicate bug (size 12 or 14) off the surface of the water.  You can get these Deer Hair Ants here.


These are the flies that I use to fill my Rio boxes most often. What flies would you suggest be added to this list?  I want to hear!  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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