King Tide Salt Fly School North Island tour dates and details. Saltwater fly fishing guide Lucas Allen runs through what to expect from the day.
Late last year we embarked on providing a teaching platform to enable people to further themselves or discover the opportunities within saltwater fly fishing. The basis of the day was to provide a condensed interactive presentation free of all the bullshit, but most importantly focused on what New Zealand has to offer, after all there is a lot of accessible water right on our doorstep.
This year we have fine tuned the approach even more and have rolled out a wee North Island tour to grab the people that simply missed out because they couldn’t make it to the events in Tauranga. See the dates below for a session near you.
AUCKLAND – Aug 07 – Rod and Reel
TAURANGA – Sep 11 – Bowls Matua
TAUPO – Sep 25 – Taupo Fishing Club
WELLINGTON – Dec 04 – Mana Cruising Club
The day itself is a mixture of class based learnings, interactive casting tuition and eating a bloody good lunch. Besides all that the one thing stands out in my mind and probably the most important factor is meeting others that are just as mad as you think you are to be throwing pieces of fluff at species that others would simply huck a pilchard at. Who knows, you might even find a new fishing partner.
If you’re curious regarding what to expect here is a rough breakdown of the day
0900 – Intros
0930 – Salt vs Fresh
0945 – Gear and set ups
1030 – Morning Tea
1045 – Locations and Approach
1130 – Fly casting – Double Haul
1230 – Lunch
Flies – How to fish them
1345 – Knots and rigging
1415 – Target species
1445 – On water management
1500 – Wrap up/beers etc
As always these days wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful without the massive input from Manic Tackle Project, Taupo Rod & Tackle, Minn Kota/Humminbird NZ & AU, Smith and Traeger.
Places are filling quickly so secure you and your mates spot now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
If the Surface Seaducer Double Barrel popper heads sound good to us humans imagine how good the deep acoustic chug sounds to a fish that is keyed in to destroy most things that don’t get out of the way quick enough.
We’ve fished these heads for many seasons now and have refined what works best, not only for the kingfish but for ourselves also. Here are a few tips on how to tie Double Barrel Poppers and a few more on how to effectively fish them.
1) Use A Bushy Material For The Tail
This will help anchor the fly better in the water surface and stop the fly skating and dancing upon the retrieve, especially handy when the conditions are a little choppy. Having the popper sitting tight in the water gives you a better shot at making some noise.
2) Faux Bucktail Acts As A Tail Stiffener
Tie a short section into the centre of tail roughly half the tail length. This will give some structure to the tail section and help prevent dreaded tails wraps, one of the most frustrating things to happen when presenting to fish and needing the first shot to count.
3) Once Tail Materials Are Tied In
Take 8-10 wraps around material at base – use Loon Thick UV resin to secure and maintain upward angle. There’s a lot to be gained from this simple step.
The upward tail angle will see the cupped popper face sit higher and angled back, giving you a far more aggressive chug.
The hook will keel far better and help stop the rolling motion, this gives you a better walk the dog type swimming action
Tail wraps are nearly eliminated – BUT always check your flies, no matter what
4) Cut Tail Materials At The Eye
This gives more circumference to glue the surface seaducer double barrel popper head on – ensure the hole in popper is minimal, done right you almost don’t need any glue. Use a thick super glue, Loctite powerflex is good, twist the head as you slide it on to get that glue well bedded and make sure the head is sitting square to the hook before it sets up.
5) Don’t Choke The Gape
The more hook available to find a home in the mouth the better. Keep the hole through the head as close to the bottom as possible and you’ll see more solid hook ups and less heart break.
Five Tips On How To Fish A Popper Fly
1) Try An Intermediate Fly Line
When fished on an intermediate line with fluorocarbon the upward angle of tail makes the cupped face sit high and grabs a good chug of air when stripped, having the leader sink below the water tension will cause a bigger tip of the head and consequently more noise. Kingfish love a good deep acoustic resonance, this will pull them in from deeper or further away. Try the Airflo Flatsmaster, easily the workhorse of our operation and a very versatile line for many conditions.
2) Pause The Retrieve
Wait for the fly to resurface before next strip, the kingfish don’t mind – in fact we often hook them while static. Your fly won’t grab more air if it’s underwater already. Part of the knack of pulling deep lying fish up is to also create a big visible smoke trail, the silhouette of it against the sky gives the fish something more to dial in on.
3) Mix Up The Retrieve
To catch the fish you must think like the fish, or something like that. Try being the crippled little fish that is an easy meal but struggling its hardest to get out of danger.
4) Surface Seaducer Double Barrel Popper Head Size Recommendations
Here’s a rough guide to sizing rods and hooks to the popper heads.
8wt = Medium head, 2/0 SL12s, 4mm 3d eyes
10wt = Large head, 4/0 SL12s, 6mm 3d eyes
12wt = XL head, 6/0 SL12s, 8mm 3d eyes
5) Squash The Barbs
It’s good for everyone involved, the fish sometimes suck the flies down deeper during the chaos – don’t be afraid to reach right into their mouths to rescue a fly. We’ve retrieved poppers that float back to the surface after a bust off so know they get spat very quickly so another good reason to go barbless. Plus writing up incident reports sucks, pull the fly out, lick your wounds, have a laugh and fish on.
What’s Happening In The Harbour Right Now
There’s some really good fish in the harbour and inshore on kahawai schools currently, certainly giving myself and punters a lot of excitement as often the later season models are very healthy yet cunning. Cross paths with them when they’re feeding hard and you’ll enjoy some world class fishing with a true unsung hero of New Zealand’s saltwater fly fishing.
If you want to take advantage of the quieter flats with less people around over autumn then get in touch, there’s still plenty of fish action out there with a few more of the bigger, badder boys kicking around to make life interesting.
New Zealand salt water fly fishing guide Lucas Allen gives an insight on the previous season. Plus a few tips and pointers to help you get the most out of your next salt fly trip.
The 19/20 flats season here in Tauranga was a script so well written no one really saw the twists and turns right up until the final act.
We started out as any season does with some nice warm water pushing down from the tropics and things kicking off nicely, with the last of the blustery spring westerlies abating to a more manageable breeze in time for the pre Christmas rush. By the time the Pohutukawas were flowering we had ticked off a number of kingfish firsts for clients and seen the first waves of repeat customers. Some of these fish were a class above the previous year and things were shaping up quite nicely, albeit with a few tears from snapped leaders after tangling with some big resident fish around structure. These fish know the harbour better than anybody and it’s as if sometimes the eats were just to mess with you as they promptly destroyed lines on the nearest object. It’s this attitude that I love about them, the take no shit, hold no prisoners approach. Something you need to throw straight back at them in spades to have some kind of dominance over their physicality.
We tend to leave the Christmas period alone on the harbour, it’s not for the fact it fishes hard, it’s the commotion and general mayhem that I prefer to do without, plus a welcome break with our busy family is a must. Once that’s all out of the way we were back to full swing. The long days with optimum sunlight are what flats fisherman dream of, throw in a warm westerly to put a ripple on the water and you have some of the best factors going for you.
This season the flats fired nicely, with some areas far more productive than others. Bigger groups of fish, some of which were well over the magic meter mark (that’s to the inside of the fork for all you Aussies reading). For a few short weeks we followed one group of kingfish around that were hounding mullet in the shallows. The pack so big and black it was hard to miss them and the shadows of tightly packed mullet schools.
Another hot favorite of mine (purely for the chaos that goes down after getting an eat) was the nav marker fishing. With the bow mounted Humminbird Solix 12 MEGA+ Side Imaging providing some inspiration to those upfront fishing a little deeper. Seeing a gang on screen then rocket out of the depths after your fly is sure to get the heart rate up, even for those not on the other end of the line. Split second judgements on how to handle the fish after hook up will either be your undoing or result in a nice new profile picture so it pays to have a battle plan. If fish are rejecting your offering mix up the retrieve on the following cast before changing to a fly with a totally different profile. Think big to small, natural to bright, quiet to loud and if using a popper don’t be afraid to let it sit for a few seconds between big chugs. I find a lot of time it’s not what you’re feeding them it’s HOW you are feeding it to them. If you keep them guessing you may just turn a curious fish into a stupid fish.
With the peak of the season just starting to taper off the unseen announcement of a full blown lockdown loomed rather suddenly. This was a bitter pill to swallow especially for the fact the fish are very obliging and rather active around this time, plus the pristine autumnal conditions that presented themselves were looking very glamour while on our local daily wander with the kids. This was made slightly better knowing I could walk 150m from my front door and watch kingfish do their thing uninterrupted, believe me the temptation sure was there after 40 years of taking any opportunity to go fishing whenever I wanted.
Prior to lockdown I threw local guru Dick Marquand onboard for a bash at the local reefs, we felt it might have been our last fish for a while so armed ourselves to the teeth with all manor of fly gear. After what felt like a few thousand casts I gave up on the kingfish playing friendly. The session that transpired afterward was pure class as Dick and I used a 3wt glass rod with 3lb test on big kahawai, koheru and blue maomao, I didn’t anticipate putting the 12wt away to replace it with a #3 but it was well worth it. Trying to put some hurt on a deep diving fish with a bit of swell makes for some entertainment, especially when you can feel the light line bouncing off the tightly packed school below. It was part luck, a shit load of skill and something Dick has fine tuned to make a fine alternative to hustling kingfish.
After what now seems like a short lockdown we had a few weeks of harbour fishing that saw plenty of kahawai caught on 4-6wt set ups, often with tiny anchovy flies or size 2 poppers – the excited school and consequent detonation on the surface ensures a lot of yelling and cheering. We had good shots at ray riders but as with late season flats fishing the sun was often low and spotting conditions tricky. A few adaptations to approaching each situation will give an upper hand but it sure pays to slow right down and hang around in hot spot areas for longer than you think possible. Be super prepared for a quick shot at something that probably isn’t a fish but you wish was and you might just come tight.
I’m not sure what next season holds as far as international guests go, fingers crossed New Zealand is still Covid free and our borders are holding it at bay. This gives a lot of opportunity for domestic guests to line up some of the best dates and tides over the season. One thing I am certain of is that the fish will be there and I’ll be making the most of every opportunity to get into them. Perhaps I might get a few more shots at them for myself this coming season, that’s provided my son doesn’t develop into a full blown kingfish fiend as he’s starting to demonstrate a bit of a knack to them!
We’re expecting to see some more great fishing coming over the Autumn months if the last few years are anything to go by. The water is staying very stable and shouldn’t drop out any time soon. With this the baitfish are prolific and well spread from offshore right through to the inner harbour. Predatory action has been pretty good as kingfish, kahawai and snapper tune into some of the anchovy action currently present.
We have slots available late March, select dates over April and early May, if you want to come and chase some fish around in classic New Zealand Indian summer conditions the next few months are the time to do it. Flick us a message at email@example.com for more info.
The link below is from late May a few years back but the message remains the same… don’t hang up the tools just yet.
The silly season is upon us and there’s no turning back. With that it’s fair time to remind people of a few basic things, most of all the practice of catch and release. So, here’s a few key things to take into consideration to ensure a strong healthy release if that’s what you intend to do.
Fighting the fish
Fight hard, the quicker you bring it in the better chance it will have to swim off strong.
Use gear that is up to the task, no point being a hero with that butter knife at a gun fight.
Go barbless, you won’t lose fish because of it, trust me.
Use a soft rubberised knotless net
Have everything ready to go for release – camera, tag kit etc
When lifting fish for pictures etc get a good grip around the tail and support under the pectoral fins with the other hand – avoid the gills.
Keep the fish in the water as much as possible, you try holding your breath after running a marathon. If it means you dunk it back in the water for a breather then do it.
Don’t drag them over the rocks or sand. Saying “they’re pretty tough” doesn’t cut it.
Wait until the fish is upright and able to swim off on its own.
Only spear them into deep water if there s a risk from sharks
If sharks are present either race away from them in the boat and release, or throw a bucket of water in one direction followed soon after by the fish in the other direction – the sharks should respond to the first commotion and hopefully miss the fish release.
If you’re getting sharked there’s no point catching more fish. You may as well keep undersized fish and not worry about limits, plus you’re just educating the sharks for future easy meals.
There’s also this thing called etiquette… If someone’s fishing a flat drop in behind them and give them heaps of room. Same goes for fishing the navigation markers – there’s a load of them, go to a different one if there’s someone already there. Assessing the action of people fishing before rushing in goes a long way, having a friendly chat also helps if its a busy area.
Lastly, learn the basic navigation rules for when on the water. There are day skipper courses that cost less than the price of a standard tank of fuel, this should avoid any of those potentially ugly situations arising.
Have a safe and enjoyable festive season on the water.