Three Tips for Winter fly fishing in busy water

Fly fishing tips for the winter crowds

We are nearing the time of year when things get quite busy down in the Taupo region - and many other popular spawning locations for that matter. Doctors, solicitors, drain-layers alike, all dust off the waders and eight weights and head to the river in search of peace, solitude and fresh fish.

Sometimes it is not an exaggeration when someone says it was wall to wall with fisherman out there. In some winter fisheries, no matter where you look there will be a big, bright, fluffy indicator floating around the corner letting you know your favourite spot has been taken before you even saw the person holding the rod.

In situations like this it’s easy to throw your toys a bit and drag your bottom lip around the track complaining of internet reports, fishing clubs, guides, the Manic Tackle weekly email, or foreigners choking up the river and taking all of your fish. But with a little bit of thought it’s not hard to save the day. Here’s three tips from our old mate, Chris Sharland, for getting the most of the day when your local stream more resembles some form of popular mainstream sports event.

Fly Fishing Crowds 

#1 - HAVE A BEER (or two):

You’ve just walked to your sure thing, the money water, the honey hole, and there’s someone already there flogging away. What do you do? It's easy. Take a seat somewhere out of view, zip open your pack, crack a can and relax.

Chances are they’re not going to be there forever, most likely you’ll still be drinking your beer when they leave and guess what? You can have another beer while the water rests and the fish calm down from the brutal aerial bombardment they’ve just been subjected to. Besides, drinking a nature beer is a pretty good time in itself, right?

Fly Fishing beers 


Fisherman are creatures of habit,. Most will search out a nice pool that they can work through and it will be a spot that has the least chances of losing gear. While this is all well and good, it’s actually no good on a busy day because you’ll just end up fishing to traumatised trout, but in very good looking water.

Now is the time to seek out the riffles and tricky stuff to fish, bash through some scrub and maybe find a hidden stretch otherwise out of sight and inaccessible. Take a look, you’ll be surprised what you find, and usually there will be a pod of refugee fish that are relaxed and ready to chow down.



Sometimes the winter checklist in popular regions will look like this:
  • Massive fluffy indicator, check.
  • 10ft of leader, check.
  • Hare & Copper bomb, check.
  • Glo bug, check.

Chances are the fish will know what’s up with this rig pretty quickly, especially on a busy day. It doesn’t get much more "Tongariro Region" than the above checklist and although there is no denying that it catches fish on a regular basis, it is a really obvious danger sign to fish after a few anglers have been through.

Stop and have a think for a moment and don’t be scared to change your rig. You won’t be able to move through sections like you normally would due to human traffic, therefore, you have to make the most of the water you have in front of you - and you don't want to stuff it up by being lazy!

Does your indicator need to be that big for this water? Maybe try something different or more subtle with your flies? Would high sticking work this water better? Maybe a scotch instead of a beer?

Brown Trout Fly Fishing

At the end of the day, the message here is to mix it up. Fish get bored, try something new. Also this seems a good time to remind everyone why there's a fly fishing etiquette. When in doubt, brush up on it and keep the peace.