Zendzur Lodge itself is a beautiful, traditional Russian wilderness outpost, staffed with a combination of talented American and Russian professionals. Lodge amenities are surprisingly deluxe given the remote nature of the operation.
Exceptionally large rainbow trout, untamed wilderness, and deluxe accommodations define this sensational fly fishing safari. Anglers at Zendzur target an ancient, trophy-sized strain of rainbow trout that average 24 – 26 inches and reach a jumbo maximum in the 33 – 35 inch range.
JULY - SEPTEMBER
July is the warmest month of the year in Kamchatka. By the last week of July the famous "Super" Kundzha, a sea-run char species found only in the Zhupanova River, began to pour in from the sea. They are big, powerful sportfish that take the fly well and put up a fight comparable to a king salmon or steelhead.
August is the middle of the season. Chum and sockeye salmon enter the river and the cycle of life is laid out in full magnificence. rainbows are targeted with mouse and streamer flies throughout the month.
September is fall in Kamchatka, it is the most photogenic time of year to be amid the sub-arctic taiga. Trout are taken with surface skaters and with "big nasty" leech and baitfish patterns. The latter, fished on a sink-tip line, become more important as water temperatures drop.
There are a few different ways to get to Kamchatka, depending on the season:
Direct Flights Via Alaska: For a few weeks each summer, there is a weekly direct flight from Anchorage, Alaska to Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka.
Depending on the weather, the flight into Zendzur can be as short as 30 minutes or as long as 50 minutes; either way you’ll pass dramatic mountains and towering volcanoes – enjoy the ride!
On a sample day you will have breakfast around 7-8 am, go fishing at 9am, then have lunch on the river and go back to camp for drinks and soak in the hot springs until dinner time (around 7pm). For midnight-sun junkies there is a modest sized home pool in front of the lodge.
Zendzur offers by far the most deluxe accommodation in Kamchatka. It is a beautiful structure, originally built by our Russian outfitting partner as a wedding gift for his daughter.
RODS, REELS, LINES AND LEADERS
FLY ROD SELECTION
7 and 8 weight rods are recommended for the Zhupanova River, while a stout 6 weight can also work in
some situations. Nine or 9 1⁄2 foot lengths are the best choice. They'll cast and turn over bulky mouse patterns
and “big nasty” streamers with relative ease, carry fly line a little farther with less effort, and stand up to
fighting and landing large trout. Bring at least 2 rods for insurance against breakage, and for the convenience
of having both set up at the same time; one with a floating line for mice and dries, and another with a sink-tip
for subsurface flies. This eliminates having to change reels/spools as you switch between tactics.
There are lots of great rods that will work in Kamchatka. A few to consider are the Sage X series, Scott’s
Centric and The Fly Shop’s Signature H20.
DOUBLE HANDED RODS/SWITCH RODS...
While not necessary, spey rods can be an advantage on the Zhupanova River, offering access to water
impossible to fish with a single-handed rod. Bring rods in the 6 or 7 weight class, 11 to 14 feet in length. The
Fly Shop’s new S2H2O and Sage’s X series are perfect, as are Scott’s Radian rods. Echo makes some great
economically-priced versions. Match your rod with an AirFlo Compact Skagit (or Rio equivalents) with
interchangeable tips (RIO MOW tips). The world of spey lines and leaders can be complicated, so please feel
FLY REEL SELECTION:
This might be the most important piece of tackle. Make sure you have good reels with quality drag systems.
Solid choices are reels by Galvan, Nautilus, Ross and The Fly Shop.
FLY LINES FOR KAMCHATKA
You will do a lot of streamer fishing on the Zhupanova, so selecting a good sink-tip/streamer line is
important. The two best streamer lines we’ve found are the AirFlo Streamer Max and the Scientific Anglers
Sonar 15-foot Sink Tip Type V. This will be your weapon of choice to target the monsters of the
We’ve found that aggressive taper fly lines are best for mousing, such as the Scientific Anglers Titan Taper.
The short, aggressive front taper is perfect for turning over the wind-resistant mouse patterns.
LEADERS AND TIPPET
Kamchatka rainbows are NOT leader shy. The general rule is to use very heavy leaders and tippet so that if
you snag your fly in the bushes—as is common when fishing a mouse along edge structure—you can pull the
bushes out rather than break your fly off. Bring six 7 1⁄2 foot 0X tapered leaders and backup tippet spools of
0X. Maxima tippet material 15# test works great, bring a couple spools. If you want to fish traditional dry
flies at all, a spool of 3X tippet is good to have, too. Fluorocarbon is not necessary.
• #12-16 Parachute Adams • #12 Adams Superfly
• #12-14 Olive/Tan Elk Hair Caddis • #12-14 Mercer’s Missing Link
• #8-10 Gold Chubby Chernobyl • #8 Crowd Surfer Golden Stone
The weather in Kamchatka is constantly changing - one day it may be 70 degrees and sunny, and the next day
rainy, windy and in the 40's. It is also not uncommon to have frosty mornings and every type of weather all in
one day. By planning your clothing strategies around a layering system, you can easily adjust and adapt to
changing temperatures and conditions. These insulating layers can be used in any combination, and not
necessarily in the order listed. For instance, you may want to put your rain jacket directly over your base layer
on a warm, breezy day. Concentrate on synthetic fabrics in all your garments when packing for Kamchatka.
Synthetic materials retain little moisture, "wicking" it away from your skin and "breathing" it out away from
the body. This is important when you are walking in waders or when outside temperatures heat up.
Remember, cotton garments are nice in the tropics but have no place in the mountains or wet country. When
wet, cotton has negative insulating qualities and takes a very long time to dry.
Start off with synthetic thermal underwear tops and bottoms. They usually come in three weights: light, mid
and expedition. According to your individual metabolism, pick what weight is best for you. The Fly Shop’s
Signature “Base Layer,” Simms “WaderWick” (lightweight) and “RiverTek” (midweight), and Patagonia
Capiline are good choices.
Your second layer of insulation, both top and bottom should match the weather and conditions of the day.
Synthetic fleece is the way to go here. Simms’ “Windstopper Softshell” and “Guide” Pants and shirt, and
Simms’ “Rogue Fleece Hoodies” are great, along with other mainstream lines of fleece that provide great
Bring a hat with a good brim for sun protection, and a warmer stocking hat for cold days (which can occur
anytime during the season.) Buffs are becoming extremely popular for sun and bug protection.
For a week's fishing trip, three pairs of heavy socks will be adequate. Smart Wool, polypro or a combination
of both are the best choices in sock material. Try on your socks with your waders and wading boots before
you go to insure you have plenty of room to move your toes. Being unable to move your toes and cramping
your feet in your wading boots are the biggest reasons for numb toes and cold feet. Darn Tough Merino wool
Socks are the way to go as well as The Fly Shop, Simms and Patagonia synthetic and Merino wool blends.
Fingerless insulating gloves are great for boat rides and cold days. If the bugs are bad, gloves further help
keep them off the backs of your hands. We have had the best success with synthetic or wool gloves, rather
than neoprene which retain water. Simms Windstopper Gloves are probably the best on the market, while
The Fly Shop’s Wind Barrier Fleece Gloves provide another quality option that will keep you warm on
The final layer on your upper body should be a rain jacket.
High quality Gore-Tex type products are the best. Your rain jacket should be 100% waterproof and breathable,
multi-layered, with sealed seams and hood. Buy the best rain
jacket you can afford, as it is one of the most important
pieces of equipment you can own. The models we
recommend are made by Simms, William Joseph, and
Simms and Patagonia waders are the time-tested gold-standards. Chest-high waders are recommended (no hip
The Zhupanova is a rugged freestone stream, with large slick boulders and fast currents. Studded boots are
strongly recommended! Not only do the studs keep you upright on the river, lots of camps have steps that
can get slick and studs will help on the walk to and from camp. Studs are not a problem in the rafts. Felt
soled boots are strongly suggested, “sticky” Vibram rubber-soled wading boots are a joke. If you’re used to
using a wading staff at home, we recommend you bring it with you. You will wade better and feel safer and
fish more effectively with these safety items. Be careful getting in and out of the boat, but don’t worry, the
rafts will be fine!
There are no current travel limitations in Kamchatka regarding felt wading boots, but we do ask that you take
the appropriate measures to avoid transmitting invasive species before packing for your trip.
A pair of comfortable camp shoes is a must for Kamchatka. You’ll wear them to breakfast in the morning, and be glad to change into them from your wading boots at the end of each day. A good weight saving trick for overall packing is to wear comfortable hiking shoe during air travel that can double as camp shoes. The grasses around the camps can often be damp, especially in the morning, so comfortable camp shoes that are also waterproof (such as those made by Merrill) are a great idea. A nice ankle high waterproof slip on boot such as Lacrosse Alpha muddy or Xtratuf ankle deck is another good option. Avoid sandals as they are not mosquito-proof!