New Zealand offers seemingly endless opportunities for sight-fishing for quality brown and rainbow trout, with fish of around 3 lbs being considered “small” or “average.” But be forewarned: if you haven’t fished here before, the game is harder than you think!
Words of essential truth and wisdom:
“In some places and at odd times trout fishing can be easy in New Zealand, but typically and essentially it is more technically challenging and butt-kicking difficult than anywhere else in the world.” — Charles Gaines, The Next Valley Over.
Fly fishing for trout in New Zealand, whether guided or independent, is certainly among the best in the world but it’s also among the most difficult and challenging. Most anglers, even the experienced ones, underestimate the level of the game, especially the accuracy and line management required for successful sight fishing.
Though as an IFFF casting instructor I teach fly casting at all levels, when you go sight-fishing in New Zealand backcountry, targeting large fish, this is really not the time to learn how to cast but to use what you know. Also, keep in mind that most anglers’ casting ability drops by 50% or more when they get excited at the sheer sight of a large trout. So you need what remains of your abilities to be good enough to present the fly to that fish!
Chris Dore, a river friend and one of New Zealand’s most experienced fly fishing guides, offers these words of advice and I repeat them here in full as acting on them will assure the best possible outcome for you and any guide you engage. Chris writes:
“Large, wild trout in pristine water are not easy. Their size and age suggests a natural instinct for danger and these fish have been around long enough to know how a fly should behave, and what should, and should not be looming up behind them. Presentation is everything, and the gin clear water ensures that if we can see the trout, the trout can certainly see us.
Many come to NZ unprepared for our style of fishing. “This is a whole new game” is a common statement amongst visiting anglers.
Practising before the ‘big game’ is always a wise choice. Work on both your overhead and roll casting technique. Efficient fly-casting accuracy at various distances from 20 through to 40’ will help you secure your trophy, and do not forget to practise casting off the opposite shoulder at targets to assist in those often windy conditions.
Reduce those false casts – a 50 foot cast requires but a couple at the most, for balance and distance calculations.
Its all about being able to place that cast on the dot accurately, time and time again: with all the natural food available the trout wont always take your fly on the first, or even third cast.
You can easily improve accuracy by practising on your lawn at home, before jumping on the plane. Do this and you will catch more fish. If you don’t put that fly in front of the trout without alerting him, he will not eat it. Simple!
By practising for 10 – 20 minutes, a few times per week on the lawn at home, you will notice a marked difference in your casting within a few short weeks. Laying the groundwork before you arrive will put you in a better position for success for when you find yourself 30 feet away from a large, free rising New Zealand brown trout. Make those first casts count!”
Not trying to put you off, just being real. But now, that you’ve been forewarned, don’t let that stop you from indulging in the best trout fishing in the world. You’ll be humbled, you’ll be elated, it’s all part of the game!