Central South Island Weekly Fishing Report 6 December 2018
Top tips for beginner fly fishing
With Rhys away for week, I thought I would put together a brief guide on beginner fly fishing, as a fellow beginner fly fisher.
I have been fly fishing for a few years now, but still have a lot to learn.
I found the whole process of learning to fly fish quite overwhelming for a start, and came up with dozens of reasons it wasn’t working for me.
These reasons ranged from “I don’t know what I need to buy” to “you can’t go fly fishing without an expensive vest”.
I’ve realised through a few years of practice, that all my problems were easily solved.
Above right: My most used flies: Pheasant tail, beadhead hare & copper, parachute Adams and an olive coloured woolly bugger.
What you need to start fly fishing:
- Current fishing licence and regulation book.
- Polarised glasses – These don’t need to be expensive as long as they are polarised.
- Fly rod – the standard advice in NZ is to start with a 6 weight, nine foot rod.
- Fly reel – even the cheapest around seem to do a fine job, if the drag isn’t strong enough to keep up with a fish you can slow the reel down a wee bit with your thumb.
- Fly line – generally find a floating line that matches your rod weight, dull colours are preferred. I fished for years before picking up a sinking line.
- Tapered leader – basically a piece of line that starts out thick, ends up thin and connects your fly line to your tippet, you can get away without one, but it makes it easier to gently land your flies. They are pretty cheap, so grab a couple in case you get a major tangle.
- Tippet – this is a fancy name for the line at the end closest to the fly. Grab a few sizes.
- Flies – the number of flies on the market can be pretty overwhelming. Trying to keep things minimal I would grab a few pheasant tails and hare & coppers in a range of weights and sizes, it’s worth grabbing a couple with tungsten beads so you can fish faster or deeper water. For dry (floating) flies, a few sizes of parachute Adams seem to cover most bases, you can slowly build up your collection here by taking note of the bugs present in and on top of the waterways you fish. I would also grab a few olive or black woolly buggers, so you can have a crack at streamer fishing.
None of this gear needs to be expensive, most sport stores offer reasonably cheap starter packs that will get you off the ground.
Alternatively, if you ask a mate who fly fishes they can probably lend you some gear, looking forward to having a new fishing buddy.
Having a vest or fly fishing bag is handy, but you can get away without them.
Chucking all your gear in a ziplock and putting it in a day bag is all you need to get started.
Waders are only really necessary in the colder months, through summer you can usually get away with shorts and boots.
Learning to cast isn’t as tricky as it seems, you could get a great head start by getting a lesson from an instructor or experienced friend, but searching for beginner fly casting on YouTube should teach you all you need to catch your first fish.
An easy way to practice casting is to tie a piece of wool to the end of your tippet and cast on the grass.
Put a dinner plate out on the yard and try to gently land the wool on the plate at a range of distances.
If you can get it close to the plate most of the time, you are easily good enough at casting to catch fish.
Otago Fish and Game have put together a short angler etiquette guide, I thought it was good, so I’m stealing it:
- Respect fellow anglers and remember they arrived at the river with the same expectations as you.
- Never ever cut in front of other anglers regardless of how desperate you are to get to the water.
- If fishing solo, invite an angler you meet to fish with you or share the available water. You may both learn something.
- Use a quality line which strikes a balance between strength and visibility so that fish can be landed smartly. Do not play fish excessively.
- When releasing fish, do so with great care and try to keep the fish in the water as much as possible.
Any problems with other anglers are usually sorted by having a yarn with them. If all else fails its best to move on, hopefully you find a new favourite spot from it.
In most fisheries the juvenile forms of aquatic insects (nymphs) account for the majority of trout food intake, so it makes it a great place to start to catch your first fish.
The most common method is to cast upstream, allowing your nymph to naturally drift near waiting trout.
The nymph can be fished underneath a floating indicator or a dry fly so you can tell when to strike.
The key here is trying to avoid drag coming from your fly line, a natural drift is far more important than fly selection.
Giving your fly line a sort flick to adjust its position on the water is called mending and is an important skill for preventing unnatural drifts.
Dry fly fishing is usually the same theory with a natural drift being just as important.
Also important is making sure your fly is floating, so a bottle of fly floatant can help here.
Dry fly fishing works best when large numbers of flying insects are moving off the water surface, this is commonly referred to as a hatch.
Although plenty of fish are caught on streamers, especially in dirty water, I usually like to chuck one on for the walk back to car to see if I can hoozle out any fish that I spooked earlier in the day.
Streamers generally imitate a baitfish so can be fished almost however you like, the key is to get your streamer swimming past trout by any means necessary.
Fish go pretty crazy for the big food items so it’s a good option, especially on waterways with lots of anglers.
My last tip is to take a spin rod with you, wind is the bane of flyfishers especially the Canterbury Nor Wester.
Wind can get the better of even the most experienced casters.
Not only is it frustrating to deal with tangles in your line, it can be dangerous swinging hooks past your head if you are struggling to control it.
A spin rod means you can keep fishing in almost all conditions, just make sure you check your regulation book.
Hopefully I’ve given you enough here to convince you to give it a go, you don’t need to have 15-fish days or catch a ten-pounder to enjoy yourself.
Most people that get started never look back and it’s the perfect time of year to ask Santa for a basic setup
Annual Public Meeting
The Annual public meeting for the Central South Island Fish and Game Council is coming up next week. The meeting is preceded by the regular bi-monthly Council meeting. Please note they are separate meetings, so it would be great to have a big turnout at the APM even if you don’t want to attend the earlier Council meeting. In an effort to avoid typos I’ve copied the details below:
Next Central South Island Fish & Game COUNCIL Meeting: Thursday 13 December 2018 – 4 pm to 6 pm.
Where: Council Boardroom at 32 Richard Pearse Drive, Temuka.
Licence holders and members of the public are welcome to attend. Copies of Council Agendas and minutes are available on request under the terms of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.
ANNUAL PUBLIC MEETING of the Central South Island Fish & Game Council: Thursday 13th December 2018 – 7:30 pm.
Where: Council Boardroom at 32 Richard Pearse Drive, Temuka.
Licence holders and members of the public are invited to attend the Annual Public Meeting at which Council will present its Performance Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 31 August 2018.
There will be a presentation by Bob Bower, Principal Hydrologist on Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) – Principles and Application.
We have received notice from the regional council are doing some riverworks down the Orari Mouth to protect the stopbanks after the floods.
The road to the mouth will be closed while the works are underway.
We will keep you updated on when the road reopens.
Jayde Couper, Central South Island Fish & Game Officer
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