Friday, 19 September 2014

Don't Leave Home without Dry Flies

I just got back from a few days making the central North Island. I had an awesome time and caught plenty of fish but I learned a very important lesson - Never leave home without at least a few dry flies.

In the morning it was fine as all fish were deep and I was getting plenty under the indicator. It wasn't until about 2pm that a ridiculous mayfly hatch started, at which point fish were taking off the surface left right and centre. All I had my pack was bead headed nymphs of all varieties as the weather was cold and rainy so I assumed most fish would be staying deep if possible. I assumed wrong. I would have given just about anything for an emerger patter, a Dads Favourite or a Kakahi Queen at that point.

Where I was when the hatch started up

I was still getting some on the deep nymphs but it soon became apparent that most fish were sitting higher in the water column. Usually if fish are eating of the surface during a hatch, there are usually a few more eating just subsurface before the bugs get a chance to get to the surface.

Not only does it quench your thirst better, it tastes better too

I used my best MacGyver skills and smashed the bead of a Pheasant Tail with some rocks. I used only that fly and it sat just subsurface and actually worked a treat! While I was pretty stoked to have pulled off such sweet improv fishing, a dry to tie on would have made life a heap easier.

The result of my improvisation

The moral of this story is no matter the weather, be prepared for anything. Sort of like a fly fishing version of the Scouts motto.

In other news, the Tongariro is fishing pretty well. The sporadic spring rain is pushing fresh fish up the river and they are pretty hungry. You have to persist a bit to find them but when you get one you normally get a few of their buddies. Also, fishing real small pocket water at the head of big pools was quite productive for me, maybe these spots get neglected a little bit?

I think this is my first even Tongariro Brown!

I have also been lucky enough to be fishing with my new toy, a 6wt Scott Radian. It's everything I would dreamed it would be and more. I was pretty sure it would cast well, which it certainly does. However I was really impressed with the hookset abilities of the rod. Sometimes on the bigger rivers, a strong and direct hookset is essential as current can to all sorts of silly things to your line.

Turns out that this rod works pretty good!
Possibly the most impressive thing about the Radian is the ability to load up the rod at short distances. This is usually a setback for fast action rods, yet it maintains feel and still can bomb out most of the fly line if you need it to.

Less than a fortnight now until the new season. Make sure you have plenty of annual leave and sick days up your sleeve, it's gonna be a good one.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Think On It

The new season is on our doorstep and all sorts of things are flying through our heads. What do we need to top up with? Have I got enough of my favourite flies? Will the new water I hit be as productive as where I fished last season? Do I really need that new fly rod? (Well yes to that one) All sorts of things find themselves occupying our brains in its current excited mindset.

One thing that a lot of people think upon most is organising the early season trips with their best fishing buddies. Taking advantage of the not yet spooked fish with your best mates becomes a priority. If someone can't make it on a particular day, time slots get moved, appointments get cancelled and the first few weeks (or months) of the new season are kept open in the hope that at a moments notice you can drop what meaningless task you are occupied with and get on the river!

Now early on in the week I was approached by my boss and very good friend Bevan to go for a fish. Unfortunately we have not been able to coincide a day off together for a fish in far too long so the hammer fell and work ended up getting the chop, with two very good chaps covering for us at work. This trip was in no way spontaneous or even that short notice but it was great to be able to hit the water and pull a few quality early spring fish out. The winter lay off (of sorts) had not left us all that rusty at all which bodes well for the action that is anticipated in the early days of October. A few smaller but very well conditioned fish played the game and lent their time for a bit of sport which was pleasing.

Bev with the first little fish of the day. All were spotted and full of colour

One of the little brownies caught. Cheers for the photo Bev!

Summer is on its way! A few of these guys were flying around. Even the Radian hat is good!

Again, although the fish were relatively small, there was still plenty of enjoyment in catching them. Good numbers and all caught in rather challenging water with a top notch bloke topped the day off. Although all the big water opens in a couple of weeks, there is always fish to be caught in these waters year round and definitely shouldn't be discredited.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

It's Springtime!

Apologies for the slackness of bloggedness. We have also been blogging a bit about the philosophy of fly fishing so we felt it was time for a short post regarding the actual thing.

Winter has come and gone and we are now less than a month away from the happy, happy day that is the first of October. I like to spend as much time as I can in September out on the winter small streams to get a gauge of what the fishing will be like in the season to come.

River cleanliness can be a bit varied in the spring rains and changeable weather but as a rule, fish are usually busy putting on condition and as a result there is some great fishing to be had. On warmer days, there are also some epic evening rises although it usually doesn't last for too long. Never, ever ever ever ever turn down a rising fish. Bang on a Parachute Adams on and bomb it out there. Speaking of dry flies, it is usually this time of year I start using dry flies as an indicator. If the fly sinks because of the weight of your of nymphs, that can be annoying but it is nowhere near as annoying as a big fish coming up and hitting your hookless indicator!

The days are getting longer and longer and soon enough we will have free reign over all the streams. Until then, there is some major fun to be had on the winter waters, go get out there and embrace the springtime and get ready for October!

The rises in springtime might not quite reach these insane levels but either way it should leave you amazed at what trout are capable of.

Damsels in Distress from Sharptail Media on Vimeo.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Fishing with my Father

Going fishing is the epitome of father-son activities and I am extremely lucky that my Dad also happens to be my hero and one of my very best mates. He also taught me a lot of what I know about fishing (and now I am teaching him some stuff too!). So it was really awesome that last week he was able to take a day off work and come fishing.

Dad hooked up to a solid fish
I realise that one day Dad won't be around to come fishing with me, so memories and photographs are like gold. I also realise that for whatever reason, many people do not get to spend as much time with their parents as they would like, and fishing is about as quality as time gets for Dad and I. Ever since I was little I remember pestering him to go fishing, which I think he quite enjoyed because Mum would often encourage him to go just to shut me the hell up!

Must have been the superb guiding!

I owe a lot to plenty of people in life but my Dad is right up there. He taught me about patience, respect and how to take pleasure out of the small things in life, all of which are qualities a good fly fisherman needs. Most importantly, he passed on his incredible enthusiasm for fishing and the outdoors in general and I think that this is the greatest gift he has ever given me.

Quality time with one of my best mates

Dad often says that I have now taken him over in things such as casting ability, amount of fish caught and time spent on the water. While this might be true, none of it would have happened without him and it is for this reason that Dad will always be a better fisherman than me. I am constantly learning new things from him, most recently to slow things down a bit when out on the river (I have an awful tendency to charge forward, especially on new water). I look forward to spending many more days on the water with him.

Here is a video that is probably better suited to fathers day, however it ties in with this post and is a truly powerful observation of the father-son relationship. Read the description on the video too, its a beautiful story.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness is a funny thing. It has totally different meanings for different people and some will find it at different stages in their life. I was brought up to believe that you work as hard as you can and sacrifice happiness in order to become financially secure, before enjoying life in your retirement years. Recently, upon completing my university degree, I have been doing a lot of thinking as to what to do next. While the short term goal is to go travelling to North America with Josh next year, the idea of a 9 to 5 office job once I get back doesn't really appeal to me.

I am never so certain as to what I want in life as I am when I am on the river.

I am fortunate enough to find myself in a position where I could possibly make a living out of something I truly love to do, fly fishing. While I would certainly not earn anywhere as much as I would becoming a lawyer, the outdoor lifestyle and guaranteed happiness would more than make up for this. We can spend a lot of our time living up to other peoples expectations but at the end of the day the only expectations we should try and meet are our own. Life is far too short to put yourself in a position where you may wake up one day full of regret and as a young person, I feel I owe it to myself to try and make a fist of something that I know many people never got a chance to do when they were younger. It is for these reasons that I have decided to at least attempt to make a career out of fly fishing.

Josh has been taking some amazing photos recently, this one after a a light dusting of snow on the river bank.
Over half of all people are unhappy with their jobs. This is just sometimes a reality of life and that is why it is called a job. However I truly believe that if you are in a position to make a living out of something you love, then you owe it not only to yourself but to all the people who are not totally happy with their work to try and do something about it. For some of these people it is too late to just drop everything and go fishing (or whatever it is they enjoy) as a lifestyle and career choice. Having said this, if I can make peoples lives a bit better by putting up movies of me going fishing, taking people out fishing or even selling people fishing gear, then that small transfer of happiness that occurs is worth more to the world than me earning a high salary.

The classic frozen guide shot. Josh and his Canon 600D at work.
There may indeed come a time where I have to settle down, get that office job and start a family or I may indeed fail to make a reasonable living out of fishing. I just really don't want to be the guy who looks in the mirror in twenty years time and wonder if I have wasted my youth by not being as happy as I can be.

Watch this trailer (and the full film you can find on Vimeo too), as it has some valuable insights as to the dangers of just wandering through life.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Support the Locals

As most places will probably say, it is best to keep things in the local area. As a fisherman in New Zealand, I believe there is some of the best fly fishing water in the world, and I know I'm not the only one.
New Zealand certainly has a lot to show off and there are a few guys out there who make their living off such an awesome resource. Clear, fresh and full of fish, most rivers around will be worth any time you invest in trying to catch a decent trout, and they are there.

There are plenty of guides in NZ that depend upon keeping nature in this country pristine. This is the pick of our local guides, which also happens to be who our guiding jobs come through... Funny that... It's just one more way to support the locals. There is a little spiel on the home page about them but this is pretty much the best guiding you will find for the King Country area in particular. You can also let us know through here if you want to know any more.

There are the local shops too like Fish City, that really rely on the local, loyal customers of the area. It's not a business owned by an offshore money bag who doesn't really know the general populace at a personal level. I'm not saying these people are bad or don't work as hard, but the local guys really take pride in getting to know each customer and tend to fish and hunt the same areas. With this information and close rapport, fishing can become an even better experience for everyone. To visit, go to

Another local, and one who is making some noise on the International scene is film maker Nick Reygaert. His company Gin-Clear has produced a few really top notch fly fishing films in the past and is the headliner for the upcoming Rise Fly Fishing Festival. Nick is super passionate about his filming and fishing and it really shows through in the work he produces. This little teaser trailer is for the major film of the night and looks awesome really. The camera work, attention to detail and the places it is set are fantastic. Have a quick watch of the trailer and let us know (and Nick too) what you think.

Backcountry - North Island Official Trailer from Gin Clear Media on Vimeo.

After watching this, you will probably want to come along and check it all out right? Good idea!
You can buy tickets for the event, which is being held all over the show, with dates and venues on this website.

The boys up at ManicTackle are also impressed what this guy does and are backing him all the way, being the major sponsors for the whole film festival.

Anyway, all this is just to highlight that the big guns of the world don't run things. Get in and support the locals, the shops that bring all the best stuff in and the guys who grew up fishing the are and are truly passionate about what they do. Don't forget the guys like us and Nick from Gin-Clear, who want to showcase New Zealand as the best fishing destination to the world. Just remember to not give away ALL the best spots...

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Switch It Up

While many out there patiently wait for the winter to bugger off and the warm days of summer to come back, there are those of us who just need our fishing fix. Wet, cold, windy and almost verging on horizontal sleet won't keep us off the river. An unquenchable appetite to be out there are more than enough of a remedy to make the shittiest day weather wise more than worth it. Add a good pair of dry waders, a decent jacket and a big switch rod to haul a few big flies across the river countless times and you get a pretty good picture of what you will encounter with us.

These big switch rods have really opened up a new world of fishing for us. Initially it was explored with eyes set firmly on the big wild waters of North America as a destination but once we slogged through a few days of learning from each other, a broken rod (mine) and no short amount of flies embedding themselves in us we realised the potential here. It's not that it's a new style of fishing, it's far from it in fact, as it originated in Scotland some time in the 1800's. It's more the fact that it is hardly utilised as an effective method of fishing here in New Zealand.

There are plenty of decent sized rivers here that are perfect for such fishing. The Tongariro being the prime candidate. Its fish come up in big schooling runs from lake Taupo the same as steelhead runs come up from the sea during the right conditions. It has a fair amount of swift current and very good pools where fish are likely to congregate, making for good amount of high percentage fishing water.

The thing is though, that these fish see day in day out see a massive coloured blob float over their heads, invariably followed by a large and rather heavy piece of metal covered in all sorts of colours and dead animal bits. These flies are generally very similar and believe it or not there is generally another mini me of the same fly trailing by later. Be it that or a Globug. Certainly don't get me wrong here. I'm not bagging this set up as it has probably caught more fish than any other in the river but fish certainly will see it as a bit of a warning.

So try change your techniques up a bit. Swing a fly downstream. Give the big two handed rods a good crack and let the heavy nymph set up have a bit of a well earned rest every now and then. I'm sure that the same thing has been said before but that doesn't matter a whole bunch. There is just no harm in trying something totally different and new. You might love it.

Anyway, upon my travels of the internet and its plethora of fantastic fish porn, this video keeps getting watched so may as well put it up here. Enjoy this sweet little video of some pretty awesome fishing maybe with a glass of some good quality scotch to keep the belly and soul warm against the winter.