Happy New Year

Firstly a Happy New Year to everybody. I made it to 0005 hours, just! This time it wasn’t the liquor that claimed me, just a hectic few weeks on top of a busy year.

Pre Christmas fishing was a lot tougher than the year previous. The limited chances on offer were normally met with tight lipped, stubborn or spooky fish. A lot of persistent 25+ knot westerly winds made spotting difficult and conditions far from ideal. Some days were ok though and a few fish made it onto the hook, some to the net.

Then the switch flicked and from boxing day I was getting good reports daily from people. The next available day for us to get out coincided with a full moon and we were back to the struggle. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.

It wasn’t until I had a week off with the family and some friends that we struck gold. Tom is an old fishing hack and good fishing mate. He doesn’t get out often so when he does he makes it count. He was converted to the ways of salt fly after a hot session on a work up that lasted in excess of 3 hours. We had packs of huge kahawai going nuts on bait and mobs of hoodlum kingfish smashing everything. Poppers and 2/0 baitfish were order of the afternoon.

Amongst the decent sized rats there were some big kings around the 20kg mark. They would show up and make themselves known straight away. Tom hooked one right at the tip of an 8wt and proceeded to get royally spanked. There was a lot of line on deck and that wrapped around an obstruction, ending in our undoing. We talked about it all the way home and won’t forget that moment in a long time.

Super clear water at Whangamata had us sighting packs of yellowtails 15m under the boat. We had to resort to dropping a small jig through them to raise them to a sunken fly. It was crude and effective fishing as they were not too interested in eating, just smashing things in anger. If you can’t catch them, piss them off.

The black rays that were strangely absent are now a very regular feature on most flats in Tauranga harbour. Sunday just gone being the best day yet. We must have sighted 15, some of them big and dominant. The ray riding kingfish were present on some and we happily picked a few off one by one until they had enough of our games.

Markers are holding at certain times and make for fun boat maneuvering if they don’t play ball once hooked. Walk the dog and hope it’s the time that they run from the area of trouble, not back at it.

Over this full moon phase I’d expect the bite times to shorten a little but there is action to be had as the harbour is crawling with fish. We had a mullet launch itself broadside at the boat as a kingfish chased it. Last we saw indicated it wasn’t going to a happy place – easy mouthful for that fish. Might have to start throwing flies at the boat hull in future and call it the stunned mullet technique.

That’s pretty much the current state of things. It’s looking like a very good season ahead, one that will drag out longer than normal after a less than ideal start.

Pre Season Look-see

With all the prevailing Westerly wind we typically have over Spring I managed to find a gap between gusts and sneak out for a look at what lies ahead this season. Even this recce was windy but I managed to tuck myself away from both the wind and the world for an early morning high tide hunt. It was very enjoyable just to be back on the water with a purpose after a hard slog of swatting through Winter.

I managed to find loads of baitfish where they normally reside with the occasional big Kahawai cruising the flats. The newly added Minnkota making the job all that more easy and enjoyable. The stealth approach game has been lifted to all new levels, some of these fish were oblivious to my presence until well within a 20ft cast. I left these fish alone as the 10wt was stripped and ready, waiting for that Kingfish shot that comes and goes faster than it should.

Also of note was the big black ray that mooches around one spot was there again – which is very refreshing as he holds numbers of Kings on him at times and the first we took off him was Nov 05 last year. The Kingfish are being caught out the front and also appearing in harbour catches so in a few weeks time the water will be that little bit warmer and the flats should start to produce some great sight fishing. To say I’m getting excited is probably about right.

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UPDATE ON PROGRESS… I have just sat my Skippers exam and gained a pass. Still loads more to complete and timing has been pushed out due to a few unforeseen hurdles (won’t go into detail!) Please get in touch here if you have any further queries or would like to book a trip for when things get the final sign off.

Follow the Leader

Since it’s Spring now I feel more eager for the coming Summer fishing than I’ll ever be. Playing around with leaders in the garage recently sparked a few tweaks to my regular set up. I’m all for reducing the amount of knots in a leader but sometimes constructing them is dictated by demands.

Most of my 10wt fishing utilizes 20-30lb flouro leaders around the 7-9ft mark. The problem I have with adding bite tippets is not in the tying of joining knots (slim beauties, blood, albright etc). It’s more the issue of wasting a good length of leader in retying sections, in particular any doubles. There’s an element of resourcefulness rather than stinginess, why waste perfectly good materials?

With this in mind I got busy and came up with a solution. I don’t have a fancy name for it, probably never will and someone has probably already tied one very similar. But this set up made a lot of sense to me for the high stress demands of Kingfish.

  1. Start out with leader material of choice and tie a mini bimini for fly line loop-loop attachment. Measure out length required, less the bite tippet (NB include >300mm for AG chain knot)   
  2. Tie a solid ring on using the AG chain knot. I have been using this knot on stick baits for a few years and it’s bulletproof. The fact it passes twice around the ring means more load distribution, similar to the catspaw. These Decoy rings are tiny and rated to 300lb! Even if they break at half that it’s still 6 times the leader rating. These rings are great – smoothed inner edges, no hard edge for knot to chaff againgst. Plus the shape of them allows AG chain to bed well and not slide around.   
  3. Add bite tippet using 4-5 turn Uni or preferred knot, moisten and tighten hard.
  4. Select fly, tie on and bugger off fishing.
  5. Once your tippet is too short just add another piece. Too easy.

Senyos Laser Dub Review

For a few years now I have been sourcing various fly tying materials from Matt at Taupo Rod & Tackle. The man sure knows his stuff and is more than happy to track down stock in a flash (no tinsel related pun intended).

So when a parcel arrives at your house full of goodies you naturally put thoughts to hooks and the fluff starts to fly. This time around I had some Senyos Laser dub to play with. This stuff is as versatile as it comes whether using as a dub or stacking it like deer hair. It can also be clipped to make tight shaped heads and bodies. In fact you are only really limited by your own imagination. 

What really sets it apart from other similar products is the look it has in the water, the fine sinuous fibers have amazing translucency even when packed hard to form a bulky water pushing head. You can tie it as sparse or dense as you like but I found smaller, more frequent applications when stacking to be favoured. especially when blending various colours. 

Although I have had zero time on the water of late (establishing a business ain’t easy) I was impressed with the water shedding capabilities when a few test run flies came out of the sink. Any remaining water will be displaced on the back cast easily enough, leaving a fly with its originally intended weight to throw. Perfect for long days on the water waving the wand. 

You can get hold of Matt via his website


Slim head bait fish. Swims with an enticing kick
Piper variation #63. Kingi candy on the flats
Fat head baitfish – lead eyes
Bunny + Chartreuse = Spring Snapper

As you can see the red is particularly good for blood. Just another trigger to consider when tying. Nothing says eat me like a flared gill plate. 

An eye for detail

Since  I have had minimum time on the water over the last month (work, baby, bad weather, work, work… repeat) I figured best to write something that is the next best thing to time on the water. Prepping for fishing trips is a very close second, especially when Winter is making itself present.

Call me slightly OCD but I have a thing for tying flies with a fair bit of attention to detail. Maybe not quite the levels of some hyper-realistic flies, who really has time to tie those Picasso pieces? It’s something I find gives me more confidence while fishing them, especially when the days are tough and the fish not as Kamikaze as you’d like. Eyes are definitely a major trigger for most of my salt water flies

Eyes are a deal breaker. Picture a fleeing baitfish, eyes wide as a predator closes the gap in pursuit, the predator keyed on dinner. They’re both watching each other, looking for clues as to each others movements. Many good fisherman also understand these subtle body gestures and use them as an indication themselves. Liken it to a first date, something I’m out of touch with but if my memory serves me right you can read a fair deal from eye movement and whether or not you’re getting lucky.

There’s such a vast array of options from homemade works of art to mass produced sheets of pupils. It’s really up to the fly makers imagination. Personally I prefer function and durability when using them, most of the time bound under a coating of resin. The flies and eyes below are just the tip of the ice berg and the options are limited only by creativity.

So next time you’re tying or even better on the water stop and give them a thought. It may be the difference between a donut day or a damn good day.

Fish Skull weight and eye combo
Fish Skull weight and eye combo
Crease fly with classic holographic pupil
Crease fly with classic holographic pupil
Tube Squid fly with light weight plastic moulded eyes.
Tube Squid fly with light weight plastic moulded eyes.
Piper eyes buried under resin
Piper eyes buried under resin
Tungsten dumbbell eyes
Tungsten dumbbell eyes
Floating booby with rattle doll eyes
Floating booby with rattle doll eyes
Lightly weighted shrimp
Lightly weighted shrimp