Let's face it, some days on the water are seriously unforgiving. So we reached out to a few of our mates to find out how to adapt when the going gets tough.
Mike Kirkpatrick - Latitude Guiding
“Recently I had the pleasure of guiding a Montana native who had just the best attitude towards fly fishing having been a lodge owner in the past. We found ourselves in the middle of our fishing trip with the river recovering from a decent fresh and Cyclone Gita bearing down on us so we shifted things forward a few days and hit a backcountry river still discoloured a little... The fish were sulking, and the ones we managed to find were locked down. After trying a few things and muttering something along the lines of f*#k this! I dragged out my streamer box and hunted for the darkest and ugliest articulated streamer I could find. The next fish we found was off a high bank and doing squat, so my guy got opposite the fish and placed the streamer a metre past and above the fish. The reaction was instant. The fish closed the distance in a split second and a 7lb brown graced the net soon after. Two more quickly followed suit and the day was saved. If you have murky water to deal with, black is the go-to.”
Chris Dore - Fly Fishing with Chris Dore
“Joel and I hit a favourite river but it was not to be. We covered half a days water which usually shows us a dozen fish to pitch to, but today only 3 were seen, close to cover and very spooky. So we switched it up from the usual sight fishing tactics to running big, rubber legged stoneflies blind along the banks and deep across the drop offs. Work methodically and don’t let up the concentration for even a second. Try different drifts. In the end we worked our bugs deep, then stripped them in long, slow draws across the current. Fish moved out from cover to hit these essentially, dragging flies, and while far from a red letter day those two fish turned a trying day into a success.”
“Twas a weird kinda day, Dan and I had walked several hours into the Tararuas in peak cicada season. Now I’m a bit of a stickler for packing the night before and making sure I have everything, for every eventuality. Of course rigging up, I’d realised I had brought my box of Woolly Buggers and NOT my box of cicadas… F%^&*%#!... Ok, will have to borrow some of Dan’s… “Dan… I’ll need to borrow a few Cicada’s today”… “Errrrrrr $%^&**!!!! “Looks like I’ve left my Cicada box at home”!... it happens. Ok, we’ll just fish Parachute Adams and small Wulffs… nope, fish wouldn’t touch them!...
As it turns out, large bushy Woolly Buggers make an ok Cicada representation in emergency circumstances! We trimmed them down with scissors, soaked in floatant every other cast, and they did an ok job with a half a dozen fish to the net from the faster water… don’t ask me about the refusals in the slow stuff! If the shit hits the fan?... Improvise!”
Rob Vaz - Robfish Fly Fishing
“A recent guiding trip led me to my local gin clear spring creek. The go-to tactics are normally long leaders and fairly heavy tungsten flies that sink quick in the swift current and get down in the strike zone. The day began slowly and I thought my clients casting ability was there, but the necessary quick reactions to hook fish were not. My client had not fished for few years, so I explained again the very basics. Firstly, explaining where fish would sit in the river amongst sandy dishes, pools and tight in against weed beds. Secondly the need to walk slowly and observe key areas and position oneself not only in a comfortable casting zone but also in an area where he could land the fish! I set my client with my go to dry-dropper rig, small tungsten flies configured so to not spook fish. However the fish had seen an angler before and my go to flies was not working. I even explained the benefits of using barbless hooks and we fished some go-to patterns… still fish were sluggish and we managed a few but a lot of missed takes. Finally we switched to a shorter more manageable leader, a single CDC/elk hair dries. Bang! The fish were on and looking up, and stayed up! The result surprisingly were good size fish on dries. We completed the day on a lake and pulled some even bigger fish still keeping it simple! short leaders, single flies. All in all a nice mix of fishing both streams and lakes, scenery change and a New Zealand experience. Summarising, fish the masters we are the students!”