Fly Fishing on the Mataura River

Fly Fishing tips, tricks and other advice for the Mataura River

It's summer and what better place to spend it in the coming months than Fly Fishing Southland's Mataura River. The Mataura is a river for everyone, from the beginner learning to cast on the riffles to the tyro pitching long, fine leaders and sparse dries to choosy willow grubbers.

There's nothing like local intel so we asked a few of our mates for their top tips whilst approaching the Mataura this summer.


Victor Sutherland 

Fly Fishing Mataura River

“Low water levels at this time of year can be challenging.  Fish will still  be sitting in the riffles and small #14,  #16 and #18 nymphs, especially unweighted are effective. 

There a lot of fish feeding off the surface as well on warmer days taking small mayfly’s and locking onto willow grubs, fishing to them with long light leaders, the correct size flies matching what's on the water and making sure to get your fly right in front of them are the keys to success.”


Tim Gibson

Fly Fishing Mataura River

"I have really got into summer evenings swinging a mouse on low land rivers. Mataura obviously no exception. Fish evening rise then wait for darkness switch to a mouse. 

Note: You need to know your location,  preferably a safe shingle bank that gives you access to a deep tree lined hole. No wading......

Best results usually from swinging but giving the mouse a good jerky movement to get a slurping noise on the surface. Hits are electric. Such a different sensory experience having to upon hearing. Manic mice are good too..."


Mike Dennis

Fly Fishing Mataura River

"Low conditions at this time of the year on the Mataura river require longer leaders and small, sparse flies and nymphs #18 or less. Scan the ripples carefully as the Mataura trout will “lay” in water most visiting anglers deem too shallow to hold fish."


Dean Kibble

 Fly Fishing Mataura River

“My tip for the post Christmas to end of season is don’t neglect the edge of the river be it riffles or pools. 

Fishing this shallow water, there only needs to be enough to cover backs my first line of attack would be a 18 cdc mayfly dun or emerger. If that fails I attach 20 cm of hi viz yellow nylon to the end of my leader which I then run my nail along to make it curl. I then attach 60 cm of 7 X fluorocarbon to the indicator nylon and place a unweighted nymph usually a pheasant tail or hares ear onto the end of the tippet.

I cast about a metre in front of the fish and if it takes the yellow indicator just shoots away a quick lift and your in. I like to use a softer rod which helps with the small flies and light tippets too. Don’t be tempted to extend the leader trust me the fish don’t mind the indicator as you need to keep in direct contact with the nymph. If your leader is too long the leader may not turn over and land loosely and the fish will spit the fly out without any movement to your indicator. I’ve adapted this from my euro nymphing days nowadays I just attach the indicator to the end of my dry fly leader. Try it - it can be awesome.”


Chris Dore

Fly Fishing Mataura River

 "Not all fish will be feeding and some will be so damn spooky. Its summer. Its low flows. Dont be afraid to move on and look for the ‘players’. Use longer lighter leaders, check out the Manic Lockdown Lessons on how to handle them and go nail it. If they are feeding, they can be caught."




Chris Dore is a battle-tested fly fishing guide with nearly 20 years of professional guiding experience, battling the demanding, ever-changing conditions that our New Zealand rivers throw at us.

In 2006 Chris became one of the first New Zealanders to successfully pass the internationally recognised Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructors examination and has since taught many thousands of anglers to up their skillset.

For more in person and on river fly fishing advice and upskilling why not book Chris for a day or three?