Sam Bourne's Fly Fishing Tips & Advice

Sam Bourne NZ Fly Fishing Tean

Welcome to another Techy Takeover from the NZ Fly Fishing Team. Today, we ask Sam Bourne what are the three things you have learnt from competition fishing and what's made the biggest difference for your angling?


We can read all the books in the library and watch all the Youtube clips, but to really learn this sport you need time on the water building knowledge and gaining experience. I’ve been exposed to some great fishing minds here in NZ and each and every person I have talked fishing with has shaped me as an angler in some way.

I’ve always taken on board the principles and detail from others and tried to apply it and make it my own. That’s the great thing about this sport, there is not a “right way” to do it, and insight can come from anyone. My advice is don't be shy and bashful, the only way to advance and learn is to simply start a conversation with another angler, any angler. It’s this knowledge passed on and gleaned from conversations both on and off the water that makes this a great sport.

My development as an angler can be distilled into a series of moments when an idea has flicked a switch for me and opened up new ways of thinking. We all carve our own path and mine started in 2008 when I took up fly fishing after meeting a girl from Rotorua. My wife’s family lived inland away from the seaside where I spent all my time, next to Lake Rotorua by the Waitete Stream.

With no surf what could I do except pick up a fly rod and have a go? In 2010 I was invited to my first competition. Fly fishing as a sport put me in touch with some great mentors who I could share ideas with and ask heaps of questions of. It’s thanks to this knowledge sharing that by 2012 I was fully hooked and qualified for the NZ Team.

Development is exponential within the NZ team due to the collective information and ideas shared with teammates. While it’s great to be successful in the sport I’ve always looked at competition fishing and my NZ Team experience as simply the best possible way to progress my interest in fly fishing, a sport I am hooked on for the lifestyle, the people and the landscapes (both here and overseas).

As a student of the sport I’ve always recorded my insights and intel after I got off the water. Looking back I have learnt a lot from simply reviewing these observations of what worked, where and when (and what didn’t). I now have over 10 years of journaled data of general and very detailed intel which I often refer back to.

This helps it all come back to you on the water, and the most satisfying of moments is when you look over the whole beat on the river/ lake, the plan is set and you make it all come together and everything just flows. If you’re serious about your development as an angler, get a journal and start writing down your insights, you’ll be surprised how much it helps.

Sam Bourne NZ Fly Fishing Tean

In the sport the idea is to take a small area of water and break it down, studying every opportunity where a fish could hold, make a plan and execute the plan…then reflect on it. This is just a continuous learning process. While in recent times the sport is known for nymphing techniques, that can only get you so far.

Switching it up to fish dries, wee wets, dry nymph duo, streamers and some random techniques e.g. like swinging nymphs is all part of it. Learning what to do where, and what water supports which techniques. Right down to streamlining kit for efficiency, in all aspects from moving through the water, casting, vest set up, rods, lines everything is about maximising fly fishing time. This sport has taught me a lot about getting the systems and processes sorted. It’s helped me make the most out of every moment on the water.

The lessons learnt through the years are still producing trout for me today and the comp scene is getting more and more supportive with the rise of the young guns youth team and women’s fly fishing. There’s not enough lifetime to learn and share everything but I’ll keep working on it along with our mates at Manic.


One of my most cherished possessions is my C&F bobbin. When you pump out a heap of flies its critical you have good kit. At the vice I get the C&F ready, thread it up through the micro slit foam and I am in ‘fly tying beast mode’. The bobbin’s a really nice weight and ceramic to reduce thread breakage, which all helps keep tension on material during tying this helps keep the flies slim. It is literally Teflon-coated for smooth spool revolution.

I’ve also gone all out Simms Veil Riparian Camo. When Rene Vaz introduced it to me I thought “yip I’ll give it a go”. The Riparian Camo G3 Guide waders, Solarflex sun tops, and wading jackets are super cool and super comfortable. This gear, like everything out of Simms, is good quality. I’ve just pimped the waders with a larger zip on pocket in the front.

Along with the C&F fly patch and / or light weight fly box I generally fish out of the front of my waders now, and have the vest packed with back up kit.