Back to the future with Chris Dore


Don't you love it when someone has gone and done all of the hard work for you? In this weeks Techy Thursday we revisit some advice given by Chris Dore for this time last year. No surprises that the weather was pretty similar to what they're currently experiencing down south. This is timeless advice for this part of the season and we all need a bit of a reminder on keeping it safe in the backcountry.


Well it's November and not a lot has changed weatherwise on the river so far. We are still getting some very nice fish but in cloud, rain and cooler temperatures we have to really work for them.

Again, getting down to the right level is paramount for success and so Simons Uglies and Iron Maidens, both sporting slim profiles packed with weight are delivering our smaller #16 glister nymphs down to the bingo zone.

Good news is NIWA are predicting a hot, dry summer for New Zealand and so I will be opening up my terrestrial dry fly box hopefully soon enough.

As I write the high country opening is a little over 2 weeks old and the rivers are fishing well. I have spent most of my time this November either chasing bug fush in the headwaters or throwing wee emergers in lowland mayfly hatches, but my few trips into the high country have found lots of nice fish.

Rainbows are not averse to taking big dries even in cooler conditions, and so Improved Blowflies and Para Wulffs will be a part of my arsenal, often replacing my yarn indicator on my nymphing / searching rig.

OTB (orange tungsten bead) Hare and Coppers, Fresh Prince's and Uglies will be my go - to flies for these rivers this November, heavy, slim and with enough bling to catch fast water feeders eyes. Rainbows love a touch of orange and so hotspot flies hit them nicely. And don't think its all fast water / big flies: a size 16 fresh prince or hotspot glister nymph were my top rainbow nymphs last season.

Dont just focus on the pools in these high country streams as many anglers unfortunately do: many of the better fish will be found in the faster, pocket water, and in often bigger numbers and so this should be fished through carefully.

Keep your line short in fast / pocketwater - high sticking, czech nymphing and other SLN techniques serve a number of profitable functions: they get your fly down deep, quick with minimal effect from the thicker fly line. They give you total control over the drift of your flies(note the plural - I always fish a team of two and sometimes three). They allow you to both detect and react to the fast strikes that quick water rainbow soften hit with. They allow you to fish heavier flies for depth.

Slim profile flies are easier to cast and will get pulled down quicker than bulky patterns. Korbays Czech nymph is a cracker, and fished in a team with any of the aforementioned patterns should but a bend in your rod.

If you are not familiar with the above techniques, then I recommend you quickly become so, for they will each put a heck of a lot more fish in your net over plugging away cast after cast with your indicator and beadhead in pocketwater / heavy water situations. You will detect more strikes.

Familiarise yourself with the rigging, flies and line control techniques, the latter in particular. If you aren't in total control of your drift, and the intricacies involved in inciting strikes, it could be a loooong frustrating day out.

If you are in the central North island then a day out with Rob Vaz will go a long way to mastering SLN technique.

Coming up I am looking for the weather to warm a little, get soil temperatures up and brown beetle emerging. Historically they show around the 2nd week of November on our southern pastural streams and provide some awesome terrestrial dry fly action. There are a few about already though I feel the best is yet to come.

Last light on a pleasant evening will see these beasties hatching out and fluttering about grassy riverbanks. These clumsy fliers often end up othe water and so a heavy presentation with a #14 blowfly or imitative beetle pattern can work wonders.

And for the early birds, the dawn fall can be just as exciting, as brown beetle make their way to the stream side willows to sleep for the day after a belly full of night time feeding activity. Needless to say, dawns a time when many more beetle fall upon the water and fall prey to trout.

Keep an eye out as December warms too for the manuka beetle.

Backcountry safety

There is a saying true of many of our wilderness areas: "you don't get lost in there - you just never come out". Many feel secure heading into the wilderness these days even without possessing the appropriate skills to survive. Things can turn pear shaped in a flash in the NZ back country and so the following are a few thoughts to ensure you are around for many seasons to come.

Do the map work prior to going in and know where you are at all times. Use google earth to check out the terrain. Are there any gorges I need to navigate and is there an alternative way out if the river flash floods?

Always let someone who knows the area know where you are going, when you are going in and when you are coming out. Also who / when to call for help if you no show.

Carry a Personal Locator Beacon and know how and when it is appropriate to use it. Hire one if you don't own one. These things are there to be used in life or death situations and can, and will save your life if needed.

Don't take risks, and be very aware of the weather forecasts and conditions. Google the NZ Mountain Safety Council website and familiarise yourself with safe backcountry travel and the wealth of information there.

Have fun out there and play safe on the river. Bring on summer!