Winter Fly Fishing Tips From The Pro's In The Know

WINTER FLY FISHING SEASON IS UPON US

It’s that time of the year again and by all accounts its shaping up to be another epic winter run. From the Southern Lakes in the Deep South, through Canterbury and of course, the must do Taupo / Turangi scene, the reports are coming in as thick and fast as the fish.

We touched base with some of the heavy hitters in the NZ winter fly fishing scene to bring you their top tips for approaching the months ahead.

SAM BOURNE | COMP LEGEND & GOOD BUGGER | WAIKATO

Sam Bourne & A Brown Trout

My top tip would be to move around looking for hot spots around anything overhanging. I've had it across Rotorua fisheries and down central north island.

As the fish run up the rivers and streams if there’s a tree hanging over the river (or even a bridge) the fish seem to pod up all cautious before they move up. These ‘pause points’ can be a great hot spot (just as good as the pools).

While others are covering the big pools, look for these pause points etc. I had a spot recently where people enter the river. I’m sure nobody fished this fast shoot under the tree right in front of the entry point, and it was stacked!

Want to hear a few more tips from Sam Bourne?

MIKE DAVIS | HUNTING & FISHING ROTORUA | ROTORUA & BAY OF PLENTY

When fishing the Tongariro over the winter months, if you manage to get to a pool or run before anyone else first thing in the morning make sure your first casts are right up in the shallows! Always fish your feet first as the fish will move up into the shallows overnight.

This should allow the angler to get a few easier fish before they’re pushed out towards the main current as the sun rises.

KIYOSHI NAKAGAWA | HUNTING & FISHING NORTH SHORE | ROTORUA & BAY OF PLENTY

Yoshi Nakagawa NZ

The number one winter fly fishing tip from me is put some warm clothes and gloves, I hate winter! My top fishing tip will be get those nymphs deep as you need to get down to the right level. Make good indicators and don’t hammer the same place for too long. These fish are moving so cover lots water!

ADAM PRIEST | TNT GUIDING | TARANAKI

Adam Priest TNT Guiding NZ

My top winter fly fishing tip is to be very observant with the weather and fish the Taupo fisheries after rain, some colour in the water is now a good thing. Make sure your nymphs are on the riverbed, or just be smart and go tropical in Australia! Make sure you stock up on the right flies and gear from Manic, and follow their blog for the latest of happenings.

KARL SAWYER | FISHING PEST | CENTRAL NORTH ISLAND

Karl Sawyer Fly Fishing NZ

For me it’s all about being prepared for different situations. I always carry two set ups - my Primal RAW 7 weight for nymphing and the 4 weight Primal RUN two hander. That way I am able to cover different pools and runs across a section of river and not have to worry about only fishing the one method or having to completely change spools or rigs between swinging flies and nymphing.

ROB VAZ | ROBFISH FLY FISHING | CENTRAL NORTH ISLAND

Rob Vaz | Robfish Fly Fishing Guide

My top tip for winter is to fish light and not so brightly coloured indicators. Consider when water is clear fishing brown or white fluff. Fish can grow weary of bright coloured budgies hitting the water.

ANDREW HARDING | TROUTBOY NZ | CENTRAL NORTH ISLAND

Master the mend! So many anglers throw huge mends - and in the process move their indicator - the fish won't touch the flies with this movement so throw lots of micro stack mends at your indicator, learn to reach mend as soon as you cast when in opposing currents and try and keep the line as straight as possible through the drift so as to aid the hook set when the indicator dips under.

MARTIN LANGLANDS | TROUTLANDS FLY FISHING | CANTERBURY

Martin Langlands | Troutlands Fly Fishing NZ

Focus on stream mouths. Approach these in a quiet manner as trout will often be in close to shore until they get disturbed. With this in mind I often use a large indicator with two nymphs on a long dropper, casting these out and let them either sit still or drift out with the current.

This method eliminates disturbance caused by excess casting and trout often respond better to a dead drift as they get to see a lot of moving stuff like streamer, spinners and soft plastic lure. The art here is getting the depth from indicator to nymphs to suit the water you’re fishing and to keep playing about with nymph combos. i.e. some bright options like eggs, and some dull, more natural, small #16-14 nymphs.

If in doubt think soft hackles or green caddis. Be sure to use a large very visible indicator, not a dry fly.

PAUL MACANDREW | ASPIRING FLY FISHING | WANAKA

Paul Macandrew - Aspiring Fly Fishing Wanaka

Use the right density lines. I faffed about with all varying weights of sink tips today but took all my fish on an Airflo Clear Intermediate Polyleader with 6 ft of tippet. Fish were all in about knee deep water and not in a mood to chase anything so you just had to get your fly across their nose for the eat.

Once I’d fished all the deeper stuff I was about to pack it in but fished the same water with the lighter rig and landed six more fish in a quick fire, half hour window.

Using the correct lines in the right situations is the key, not being lazy just trying to make it work, when swapping spools or reels with the right density of line can be a day changer.

RONAN CREANE | RONAN’S FLY FISHING MISSIONS | CENTRAL OTAGO

Ronan Creane | Ronan's Fly Fishing Missions

My top tip for winter fishing is not a technical one. It’s about getting to know what water is available to fish in winter. There may be a lot more open to winter fishing than you think!

Check your regulation booklet carefully and find out just what’s available. Then go fish it all! Not just where everyone else goes…

CHRIS DORE | FLY FISHING WITH CHRIS DORE & FRIENDS | SOUTHLAND & CENTRAL OTAGO

Chris Dore | Fly Fishing Guide NZ

Your hands will probably get cold fast, so fish smarter and cast less. Excessive false casting will be clumsy, so false cast less by tracking straight, rotating late and accelerating smoothly to a crisp stop, what you should be doing anyway. Shooting heads such as the Airflo 40+ allows you to attain distance quickly and easily, while the integrated running line is easy to handle.

PHIL ANDREWS | HUNTING & FISHING QUEENSTOWN | SOUTHLAND & CENTRAL OTAGO

Insulate. Wear the best garments and accessories possible for warmth and comfort. You will fish better for longer, and enjoy more success if you are well layered.