New Zealand trout fishing has achieved a somewhat legendary status around the world for big trout, sight fishing and incredible scenery so when I was asked to go to the South Island to do some casting demonstrations at the first “Southern Spey Clave” in the town of Kurow, I absolutely jumped at the chance. New Zealand had been top of my bucket list for a number of years, and this was my first opportunity to go there and sample the legendary fishing.
In addition, with a new dry fly/presentation/technical trout line in the works at RIO, there could not be a better place to test this line out than on dry fly feeding, spooky trout!
The South and North Island have pretty varied geography and fisheries, and I was lucky enough to sight fish to cruising browns and rainbows in a number of lakes and rivers on the South Island, and in fact caught my largest brown and largest rainbow of the whole trip on the Waitaki river, on the South Island. However, this blog is going to focus on an incredible secret river I fished in the North Island, as it truly offered up one of the best days of fishing that I have ever had.
The world famous Tongariro river runs through the small town of Turangi (North Island), and I was in the town giving a Spey demo and talk in a truly wonderful fly shop in Turangi called Sporting Life. My obligations were on the Thursday, and the following day Tore Nielsen, RIO’s distributor in New Zealand, had arranged a day fishing for us with a local guide by the name of Russell Anderson – a true legend in fly fishing circles in that area.
The night before we were due to go fishing the heavens opened and the rain crashed down most of the night, and when we met Russ the next morning, he had had to shuffle a couple of plans around because of the weather. It was still raining lightly when we met him, and it continued to do so for most of the day. Russ took us to one of his secret rivers where we rigged up with 5wt rods and long leaders and started at the downstream end of the “beat” we had been allocated.
Despite the slightly colored water and rain, the river Russ had chosen was shallow and had big trout in, making it relatively easy to see them. They could also see you, and many fish bolted when they caught sight of us against the skyline. Keeping low and moving slowly with bushes for background was essential to get in range of any of these spooky fish, and when we were able to get in casting range and present an accurate, delicate cast and get a drag free drift, the trout were very willing feeders.
The fish were all brown trout, and averaged a little over 3lbs, and despite the rain, we caught over a dozen beautiful trout that day – all on dry flies, and all sight fished. It was an incredible experience and if you have never fished in New Zealand, and like this kind of fishing, it should move to the very top of your bucket list. Perhaps more importantly, the new line from RIO did exactly what it was designed to do - it turned over very long leaders with ease, presented dry flies like thistledown, had great mending control and didn’t spook any fish – not much more you want in a dry fly line than that! Look for it in shops in late summer 2019.
Video footage by Russ Anderson
New Zealand, North Island, a river near Turangi
Simon Gawesworth & Tore Nielsen (New Zealand RIO distributor), with ace guide Russell Anderson
Light rain, overcast with no wind
Dad's Favourite, size 12 - A Kiwi pattern
Sage X 9ft #5
Prototype new RIO Trout dry fly line – “Tackle Testing”
12ft tapered Powerflex Plus leader, with additional 4 foot of 4X Powerflex Plus Tippet
Sight fishing with an upstream dry fly