Michael Hartstonge is a Southland based fishing guide with 30 years experience in that region. You might know him from ‘The Source - New Zealand’ and ‘Predator’ DVDs made by our friend Nick Reygaert of Gin Clear Media. Here’s his favourite five Manic flies for the wily browns of Southland:
Kiwi Cicada: While summer seems to have eluded us so far hopefully by February we’ll have one and the Cicadas will be out and about. When they are I use this fly which is an improved version of a classic kiwi favourite. As ZZ Top say ‘She’s got legs’ and this is for me what helps it stand out to the fish as something different to what most anglers will be throwing down here.
Hi Viz Para Adams: A staple of our trout’s diet on our lowland rivers are mayflies. When there’s multiple naturals on the water or the fish are hugging the foam lines on the far side of the river I like to use this so it stands out and it means I don’t miss out through losing track of my fly.
Dore’s Mr Glister: From time to time the rivers get dirty and for me I like to get down and dirty and throw streamers though them when others are at home complaining about the conditions. I also use it when you come across one of those pools thats deep and swirling and you just can’t drift a nymph or dry fly through it naturally. Drag is your friend with this fly and its amazing what can come from the deep to hit this fly.
Iron Maiden Copper: The standard nymphing rig I see most often consists of two tungsten bead nymphs. Our fish can be a bit picky through the peak periods and some can shy from beaded flies. This fly allows me to make sure I’m getting the benefit of two beads to get down to the fish and allows me to hang an unweighted nymph or a wee wet as my point fly thereby getting the benefits that these types of fly offer. Its very heavy for size and looks great so it takes a fair amount of fish on its own as well!
Pink Nosebleed: Last year I guided a couple of international competition anglers. Talking to them and then looking at what they use on brown trout overseas found me looking at flies with bright pink and green beads on them. We used some of the pink beaded flies with surprising success. I’ve since experimented with this fly on some of our toughest fisheries and found these work great. 40 plus years ago Tony Orman wrote in his book ‘Trout with nymph’ about 'supernormal releasers’. This fly certainly meets the criteria he wrote about then which is why I think it works so well.