Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Finding Fish

In fly fishing the most important aspect is finding fish. This seems pretty obvious right. But trying to learn saltwater fly fishing this can be one of the most frustrating things not knowing if there are fish there or if your technique is lacking. Unlike bait fishing where you can feel the fish there fly fishing with a lure there is no way to know what's there unless you hook up.  If you are lucky you might be able to see the fish but I have not had this occur to me yet.
One of the best things I did was found a spot that had fish and fished it regularly until I had improved my technique and knew the area intimately, including when and where to fish it.
Finding the right spot can be frustrating especially as most spots have a specific best tide or wind etc. It can take a lot of trial and error until you find the right combination and that's if the spot works for fly fishing let alone taken over by bait fisherman.

I have had a lot of failures and a few successes. Most of the time you need to put in a lot of time something I am limited in. I am limited to 2hrs which restricts how far i can go. One of my favourite spots has a gate that closes at 9pm and I have been stuck behind it for 2hrs trying to get out. Long story short find the fish and stick with it until you are confidently catching fish then when you try new spots you will at least know that your technique is correct or might only need slight adjustment. 

Stay tuned for more articles on finding fish

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Keeping a Diary

Keeping a diary is really important for your learning and something i have done since i started fishing. Working out what works as well as what doesn't. I try and put as much information as possible about weather, tide, wind etc and also what time i caught any fish as well as what fly. This can give you an idea on what fly could be working best in clear v cloudy water and what part of the tide e.g what weight worked in depth of water. One of the things i have found is that one spot i catch most of my fish at the lowest part of the tide. This i believe is because i can get to the bottom with very little drag on the fly. 
Another spot i fish can only be fished/reached when at low and a specific extra low tide so knowing how high the tide was on that day was important. 
I have been using a notebook but i have also have all this in onenote and an access database. So i can quickly look up notes on an area or filter a spot to be more specific. 
I regularly go back to areas i have already fished when looking into what spot i want to fish next examining the best conditions to what i expect the conditions to be on the day. 

Some examples of things i look into 
·         What is the maximum wind i will fish into without calling it a day or catching the back of my head with a fly. 
·         Do you prefer to sight fish in calm with no wind and what time of the day. Early morning is best for flat conditions 
·         What is my preferred tide for a specific spot or area. Low, high, incoming, outgoing 
·         What type of fish are at this area 
·         Do you need to burley 
·         What was the moon phase. I have had some of my best success just before a full moon 
·         Time of day. Normally dawn and dusk are very good and snapper will more likely come up from the bottom to feed 

There are plenty more things to learn so start a diary and start learning.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Gear guide

It takes a long time to find the right gear that works for you and when it comes to saltwater even more so. Unlike fresh water where there are many who have already tried and will be able to give you good advice,the saltwater market is smaller and a lot of gear hasn't been tested here with the harsh environmental factors playing havoc on your gear.
There are some great rod/reel combos out there now for getting started at reasonable prices but when it comes to other gear it unfortunately falls short with a lot of gear either coming in as really expensive or just not doing the job. This has caused most of us to make our own gear. 

So I thought I would cover some of these areas and what gear and considerations are required.

This is one of the biggest problems I have with limited solutions. Most of the shoes are either booties for coral/flats or boots that are heavy and expensive.  My first pair was a pair of my old Teva sandals and these were great except for rock hopping where I got a bit cut up. My next pair was my old sandal/shoe and these were great for rock hopping but only lasted a season before falling apart. Most of the shoes don’t seem to have good solid soles for rock hopping. Therefore I have come to the decision it is cheaper to buy some $30 shoes and who cares if they last a season. I would have to go through a fair many pairs before I end up spending $200 which is what most of the boots are.
I have heard the best is getting an old pair of felt soled boots as they have amazing grip on them and this I would believe.

Normally I wear just a normal backpack but I have a waterproof bag inside for all my keys, phone, camera etc. But recently I was put onto a waterproof bag that wasn’t too expensive and just rolls up at the top. This way I don’t need the separate bag inside and it can be used as a flotation device if I for some reason fall in. You can if you search find them for $40
Now the other thing with having a bag is access to flies and that’s were a vest comes in. I use an old trout vest. And it only holds flies and a few other bits mainly so I don’t have to go into the bag every five minutes. But be wary about too much gear and weight.

Strip tray-line management
This one took me a while of trial and error but I finally managed to find something that works and only cost me $10. The bonus with this is that you don’t have to pull line off the water so you can cast further and I get into less tangles. A lot of the water I fish on has rocks with plenty of sharp edges that gets my line hooked up with waves crashing in making for spending too much time untangling. Please see my previous post on how to make one.

Having something light and packable and able to hold up to the elements I managed to purchase a North Face packable breathable rain jacket. This has been a god send. No matter what the weather does I feel warm and comfortable.

Normally I just wear an old pair of cargo shorts as I can stuff stuff in the side pockets like my smelly pilchard but they also take a beating with the salt water. Come autumn and winter though and you need something to keep you warm in the water. You could use a pair of waders but that’s a lot of expense for something you may only use briefly during that season. I find I get out very little at that time of year but certainly still do in early autumn or late spring so I did come across the idea of using a pair of wetsuit pants.

Fly boxes
Most of the smaller boxes just aren't right and what they try and charge for a flybox is horrendous. It costs $100 for a large flybox that I can make for $15. what a rip. I have a number of boxes with most of them made myself. I have one C&F box that holds my clousers and I really would like another one but can't warrant another since I can make them so cheap. I have smaller ones that I put into my vest and a large one that’s in my bag for some of the really big flies. Please see my previous post for making one of these.

Measuring fish
Unlike fresh water fishing were you're more likely to catch and release with salt water we all like to take a few home so knowing what the size limits are and measuring your fish keeps you legal.
Keep a measuring tape or make marks on your rod for legal sizes. You might also want to have a cloth or a matt for measuring and releasing small fish without damaging them.

I have currently been using a knife to cut my leader off flies but it is not very convenient. A clipper on the vest will make things easier but care must be taken to make sure it doesn't rust.

A slim pair of these for removing hooks can be an advantage but care must be taken to also make sure it doesn't rust. Maybe oiling it after use. The pair i used to use was actually a surgery clamp.

Prepared burly
Not specifically gear but I have found pre cut up my pilchard into small bags and kept in the freezer makes it easer to keep in my pocket and chuck in with little mess or fuss.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Synthetic Wing Materials

When I first got into saltwater fly-tying I had no idea about materials and which ones to use. I became a bit obsessed with different types especially when it came to tying the good old Clouser. Although Buck tail is available here in NZ I found it lasted only a few fish, limited range of colours or easy to work with. So I started collecting different synthetic materials to see what would be the best substitute and well along the way I learnt a whole lot about all the different materials that can be used not just for Clousers but all sorts of flies.  
Here is a list of some of these materials and the advantages/disadvantages of each. 
Mirror Image- This has been one of my favorite materials as it is easy to work with and shape,  easily creates bulk, some translucency, has more movement than SFF and is durable. Great for smaller flies and comes in generous amount. I also use this material as the collar on my smaller interceptors. Although it does not have as much movement as natural materials it does move to some degree more than other synthetics. There is no flash incorporated but it does if you get deadly dazzle or you can blend some yourself. It does tangle a bit and needs reshaping after a few fish but last longer than natural materials. 
Deadly dazzle-same as mirror image but with UV flash added. I prefer mirror image as it comes in larger hank for the same price and I add angel hair instead. 
SFF- One of the more popular saltwater flytying materials this material is great for creating larger flies and adding bulk/profile but not so good on smaller sizes less than sz1. It comes in a great range of colours and is very translucent.  It also incorporates a bit of flash pre blended. 
Craft fur – another favorite material this one gives loads of action in the water but requires a wrap up under tail to prevent any tail wrapping. It can also be laid down with layers of angel hair or other shredded mylar. Although it has plenty of action I do find it is a bit fragile compared to stiffer materials. 
DNA – a very flashy material and very straight this material is good for slim flies like clousers and surf candies or even wing toppings and I have seen this used on large profile flies but you would be using most of a packet on a couple of flies. This material is now only used sparingly.  
EP – This material is a crinkly synthetic which is softer than SFF and less crinkly so it does have more movement and thicker profile but the key to this material is not to use too much. It is very easy to overdo it and have a solid coloured fly and lose the translucent effect. Bunkers and crabs are often tied with his fly but using a softer material for tail and using this material for wing would be better suited but it is great for crab patterns. E.g. deceivers/ interceptors or crabs. It also is prone to getting tangled and needs a comb to straighten. 
Angel hair/Ice wing/Wing n flash –most of these materials are the same but angel hair is the straightest. Used as flash in between layers or the lateral line. You can creat whole fies with this material but ice wing may be best for this as it creates more bulk being the more crinkly 
Mega mushy – A very stiff mylar this is suited to large flies sz1 and bigger and is great for making large profile flies without using too much material. Comes in a large pack. Enough to create loads of flies. It doesn’t have as much movement as materials such as angel hair.  
Polar flash – one of my favorite materials. It has plenty of flash and movement and is very durable. I have fished Clousers made with just this material and been very successful. 
There are many more materials than I could ever count but I hope this gives just a good run down on some of the main winging materials.  
PS after all this work and money on different materials I am now finding that the good old buck tail still can't be beat and I am starting to get a higher hit rate on them, although this can be just more confidence in them. 

Stay tuned for further articles on flytying materials 

Gulf Harbour Marine Reserve

Well it's not really a marine reserve but where else in Auckland area can you go see large quantities of rat kings and snapper that you can feed and watch their behaviour. I took the kids out to the Gulf Harbour Marina as I had heard about these fish and I was not disappointed. The fish literally fight over the morsels you throw at them and will even take it out of your hands. The kids loved it! 
Most of it is a no fishing hence why there are so many fish there but there are areas outside the Marina you can fish. 
I have been to goat island many a time before but this is something completely different. (especially since you can feed them) 

If only all our fisheries were like the Marina the fun we would have. 

There is a fishing shop along the way that you can purchase some bait. Just walk along the walkway and there are two main groups. One made mostly of snapper and the other mostly rat kings with bigger snapper mixed in. 

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Nuclear Fishing

I was on a recent fishing evening (I say evening as I have a limited window to fish usually being a couple of hours) and I was casting my way up a channel using the usual chartreuse clouser. I changed flies to a new fly I have had recent success with in murky water but had not tried in cleaner. Instantly I was into a fish but lost it as I couldn't keep pressure. A few casts later and I was into a nice panny that I put back. After a few more cast I was into another. It went on like this for 30-40 minutes until it was too dark to see and I had caught a total of 8 fish. The fly I put on was an adaption of the nuclear chicken soft bait with pink and chartreuse. I have had success with a pink over white fly and chartreuse over white fly but put the two together doubles the fun. 

For tying please see the previous article pea soup.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Flies Simplified

What fly do I use? With a multitude of flies on the market and online choosing the right fly can be a confusing issue. What fly and to use when and how. So here I thought I would give a quick breakdown of the main flies and their uses. Most flies come under a few categories and everything else is a variations of this. The categories I would use are:
  • Clouser
  • Deceiver
  • Half n Half
  • Interceptor/snapper snuffer
  • Synthetic flies
  • Carbs and shrimps


Probably the most popular fly in the world and the reason for that is it just works. If I had to fish with just one fly this would be it. You can catch just about every type of fish with this fly and in fact 90% of my fish caught are on this fly. It can be tied with natural or synthetic materials. The main differences for fish type is the type of retrieve. Snapper and trevally like their flies slow and Kahawai and kingfish like theirs medium to fast.  There are however always exceptions to this.
I have caught Kahawai, Snapper and even Kingfish on this fly and my favourite sizes are 2 and 1 although i am now making bigger flies for deeper water in sizes 1/0-2/0. Anything larger than this is to hard with bucktail so a synthetic would be best.
Sizes: 4 and bigger
Colours: olive/white, chart/white, pink/white, all white


Another classic fly that can be tied with a range of materials.  This fly has no weight so is best for species that hunt near the surface such as Kahawai and kingfish.
Fish them in anything from a size 2 and up but primarily I would use 1/0 or 2/0 for kingfish.
My first ever flats fish was on a deceiver but unfortunately I got smoked. The great thing about this fly is the feather tail which moves well in the current. To aid this further the feathers are usually splayed rather than placed back to back. You can use this fly in shallow water or add some weight under the body or as per the next fly the half n half

Half n Half
This fly is half clouser half deceiver. Used mostly when you need clousers in bigger sizes and need to get some depth.
Same size/colours as deceiver but some good options are
Orange/black (fanterella) -good on snapper
Pink/white -good on snapper or trevally
Chart/White - good on just about anything 

Interceptor/Snapper snuffer

The interceptor was created by Craig Worthington for fishing for snapper. The fly has lots of weight to get down deep and the tail sits up and waggles in the current.  You can experiment with how large a dumbbell you want to reach your desired sink rate and depth.
Craig has  great success with yellow interceptors but my favourites are chartreuse, pink or pearl.
Size: 1 and bigger although my favourite sizes are 1/0-2/0
The snapper snuffer is the same fly but with saddle hackles added in a splayed arrangement. This gives extra movement with the feathers as they snap together when pulled through the water. Mainly used on the larger flies 2/0 and larger. May also goes by the name FBI (F@#ing big interceptor)

Synthetic flies

These flies are ones that are made entirely from synthetics such as EP flies and SFF flies. Mainly they are used for bigger flies for kingfish. Anything 1/0 and larger

Crabs and Shrimps

There are numerous different ones out there.  Charlies and Gotcha are a good imitation of shrimps and you can even use a small clouser.
Crabs you can go for either an EP style crab or something with more movement like marabou

Most of the time the presentation is more important than the fly so that means making sure you have enough weight if your trying to get to the bottom and the retrieve. I will be posting an article on retrieves later.