Life at the Edge of the World
There’s no doubt that photographer and friend of Leland, Val Atkinson, is something of a fly fishing legend. But his recent trip to South America is as much a celebration of angling landscapes as the sport itself. Capturing the immensity of the Southern Hemisphere’s most coveted fishing destinations, Val’s latest collection depicts life at the edge of the world. And, of course, the trout that call these sacred waters home.
In March, Val hosted a group of international anglers for the trip of a lifetime: one week fishing for browns at the Remota Lodge in Chilean Patagonia, one week chasing sea-run trout at the Kau Tapen Lodge in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, and an opportunity to wet a line with a fly fishing great. Equipped with a selection of Loop and Leland’s finest gear, Val and the gang trekked across the wilds of a trout fishing mecca. With them, a brand new Leland Switch prototype and Leland Brass Sea Run Reel, two Loop Cross S1 Fly Rods with Leland Limited Edition Opti Reels (9ft 5wt with a Dryfly for browns, 12ft 7wt with a Speedrunner for sea-trout), and a 12ft 7wt Loop Yellow Rod equipped with a Classic Fly Reel, 8-11wt.
There’s no better place to put fly tackle to the test than Patagonia, with the Rio Grande boasting the largest run of anadromous brown trout in the world. Big fish, long days, and ripping winds made for beautiful photographs and serious strain in environments where lesser gear is best left at home. The season’s exceptionally low water levels also demanded delicate presentations and put rods and anglers to the ultimate test. But this didn’t stop them from landing enormous fish amid spectacular settings. In Val’s own words, the trip was “truly remarkable, among the most productive and enjoyable fishing adventures I’ve ever gone on.” Not to mention, the response to the gear was hugely positive and had the guides offering to purchase Val’s own rods and reels.
And what about the man behind the camera? Val landed the largest fish of the trip, of course: a whopping 23 pound gem of a sea-run brown. With fish like that and photos like these, it’s easy to see why Val’s is undoubtedly the best job in the world. As for the rest of us, there’s nothing like gawking at a few South American slabs to get you through the work day.
– Val and his 23 pound monster sea-run trout
**Look for Val’s Bolivian Dorado series in the latest edition of Catch Magazine, or browse his websites: