All through last winter I have had countless people come up to me and express anything from curiosity to downright determination to learn the Tongariro Roll Cast. On more than one occasion I have had a video camera pointed at me from behind bushes. Such has been the interest that at the risk of a bit of self-delusion I strongly suspect most Tongariro anglers would love to master this elegant cast.
As we have seen in the previous chapter on the D-Loop an adequate Anchor is a prerequisite for the formation of the D-Loop. Both are defining components of all Spey Casts...
This article would not have been possible without extensive reference to Dana Sturn’s important research work (speypages.com) on the dynamics of the D-Loop as used in Spey casting. I am hugely indebted to Dana not only for his dedicated promotion of Spey casting but also for the generous help and inspiration he has so freely given to me.
After fishing New Zealand’s Tongariro River for well over thirty years I really thought I had seen it all. The magnificent fish some of them of trophy size, the crowds and in particular the hilarious interludes as fisherman become near contortionists trying to dig out heavy nymphs from just about every part of their anatomy. Yet nothing in this colourful history prepared me for my chance introduction of what I later came to call the Tongariro Roll Cast...
It’s a complaint I often hear when we get a prolonged period of sunny weather. “Flows were low and the fish were spooky, I didn’t catch a thing!” In times of low flows, fish do not behave as they normally would. This is because the natural protection the water provides for the fish is not there, and, as a result, they can become very alert to anything out of the ordinary, particularly people waving fly fishing rod around. Add to this the fact, that fishing pressure is often at its highest when our rivers get low, and you often have a recipe for tough angling.
Spotting trout, is one of the keys to becoming a good angler. Many people new to the sport, struggle to spot trout. It is not because they has poor eyesight (usually), but because they lack the experience of looking in the right areas of river where the trout is most likely to hold. Or in other words reading the water. Trout like 2 main things. Access to food, and shelter. No matter what type of river, there is often a pattern as to where a trout will be. As a competent sight fisherman, an angler can dedicate most of his attention to these areas, before quickly moving on to the next likely area. In this way he covers a lot more ground, and finds a lot more fish. In some rivers, fish are hard to avoid, in others they are a little more camouflaged, below are some examples.
It is always exciting exploring new water. It was not my first time to the Ruakituri, but exploring the upper reaches was new to me. The weather was terrible but we made the 9hr drive and decided to explore. Well 6hrs of bush bashing, and up and downs, we put new meaning to the word mission. We now know where not to go, and also fortunately where to go. It is a wild river, and whilst largely unfishable when we were there, it holds a reasonable numbers of fish. I will be back, largely for the scenery, and remote nature of the stream, but hopefully with more favourable weather.
A picture can speak a thousand words. A picture of a good take can do much more than that.
In clear headwater streams, trout can reach impressive sizes at times. This is often because the water is very pristine and not influenced by the developments of man. Clear, unpolluted water often supports a large variety of insect life, including an array of various Mayfly, Stonefly, and Caddis Fly. It is these insects that rely on unpolluted water in which to live, and, when you find a stream of such quality, the fish can be in fantastic condition. Not only are the fish living with an abundance of food, but the water clarity also allows the fish to be able to intercept large food items at a distance, and thus feed more effectively. Below are examples of fish from such pristine rivers.
One thing i love about photographing trout is that no two fish are alike. In each river, fish vary in size, shape and colour, to match their surrounds. Below are examples of some river caught fish.
Walking up the picturesque streams in Nelson Lakes National Park, you realise that the fishing is secondary to the surrounds; an excuse to be there. The rivers here hold good numbers of trout in crystal clear water, but whether you catch them or not doesn't really matter. The area exudes a calmness that clears the mind, and the vast scale of the surrounds lift the spirits. It is tonic for the soul to spend time in this area.
Up there with the most enjoyable places to fish in the world, the backcountry of the North Island can be heaven on the right day. On this day we managed to hook about 60 fish between over the course of a day - equal to the most fish i have had on a New Zealand river. With 95% of the fish taking the dry fly in the form of a #12 royal wulff, and, beautiful scenery in which to fight the fish, it was angling heaven.
Having being asked why some anglers catch a lot more fish than others I decided to do a little maths. After fishing the Rangitikei for a week and creating a video of the catches. Condensing a weeks worth of angling into 20mins. Some angling friends were disappointed to catch only a small fraction of what our group caught. These guys were good fisherman, but not what I would call great. They fish a few times per year but it is social as much as anything. To put a figure on it I would say they are 50% as good an angler as our group. So with a bit of logic you would assume they would catch 50% of the fish that we caught. So with the Rangitikei we hooked 50 fish, they would expect to hook around 25, in similar conditions as a ballpark figure. Well it is not that simple, and looking deeper into this I see how the 10%er comes about. Or why 10% of the anglers catch 90% of the fish.
A delightful, yet often demanding stream, full of brown trout made for a great day. Dry fly fishing at it's best.
Fine weather is key on the Taranaki Ring Plain Fisheries. When the stars align, and the fish are active, great fishing can be had.