While sometimes overlooked, flies are one of the most critical parts of fly fishing. Poronui Fly Fishing Guide Sean Andrews talks about the best flies to use in the backcountry rivers of New Zealand’s North Island.
Unlike other parts of the world “matching the hatch” does not have the same significance in New Zealand as it does elsewhere. We don’t usually get the blanket hatches that you might see on places like Henry’s Fork where fish focus their feeding not only on a specific insect but on a stage of its lifecycle.
In the New Zealand wilderness fisheries, you might see a Mayfly here and a Stonefly there but very rarely do fish focus on a particular insect. The size and weight of a fly is more critical than anything else.
Stalking large, spooky fish in gin-clear water is a tricky proposition at the best of times and the first presentation is critical. The selection of fly depends on where the fish is lying in the water column, if the fish is feeding 5ft under the surface, you need a fly that will sink fast enough to get into its line of vision. If the fish is up and sipping on the surface, a well-presented dry fly within certain boundaries will normally be effective.
The combination of choice of fly and presentation is critical and given that the first one is usually the most productive, it pays to try and get it right. Generally speaking, the chances of you hooking the fish diminishes by 25% with each subsequent presentation!
Sight fishing in our clear, backcountry rivers gives us an opportunity to see how fish react to different fly patterns, and as a guide and a passionate fly-tier, I am constantly developing new patterns and tweaking old ones looking for an edge.
Interested in knowing more about flies for fishing in New Zealand? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions for Sean.