Rod and Thumb

Hitchhiking and Self-Guided Fly Fishing Abroad


Niall O'Kane, a San Francisco native, went on a 13+ month journey around the world in search of some adventure. For several years he wanted to travel but the idea to fly fish self-guided in foreign countries and without a vehicle of his own was a spontaneous one. Not sure how it would work out, he flew down to Chile and gave it a shot.

At the age of 13, he began to regularly ride the #28 Muni bus, with his crab net and a 5 gallon paint bucket full of fishing gear, out to Fort Point and would try to emulate the older guys at the pier who could reel in halibut and sharks. Just after finishing university, Niall picked up fly fishing while living and working in Michigan. He had been fly fishing for 2 ½ years before deciding to try his hand at fly fishing overseas.

Niall's journey took him to 27 countries, covering 36,000+ miles overland. 3 months were spent in Chile, 1 month in Argentina and 2 months in New Zealand. Niall then traveled overland from Bangkok, Thailand to Belfast, Northern Ireland during a 6 month period. Over the course of the whole trip, he hitchhiked more than 6,000 miles from 140+ rides, and fished 60+ rivers/lakes/streams. A handful of fish were caught and a few stories were picked up along the way.