Another essential fly for targeting Kingfish on top water. The humble crease fly with a few twists. Check out Manics article below on a few key construction points and how to fish it. www.manictackleproject.com/king-tide-salt-fly-rattle-popper/
It’s been a busy winter and spring for us at King Tide. The crew at FC Boats have been flat tack custom building a new FC535 centre console guide boat. A few more tweaks and we’re away for the season.
If you want to come dance on the massive new casting deck then send us a message through the contact link here.
Wondering what flies to use on New Zealands flats Kingfish? The Rattle Piper takes its fair share of Kingfish every season.
Like it or not a bit of acoustic burley can really fire up most pelagic game fish, particularly our New Zealand Yellowtail Kingfish.
The Rattle Piper came about as a way of trial and error, much like most flies out there. Nowadays I prefer grey over off white and mostly tie them in the average sizes found in Tauranga Harbour (approximately 180-200mm). It represents piper, otherwise known as gar and also nick named kingfish candy by local livebaiters. Click this link for a previous post on piper. Something I picked up while livebaiting one night was their tendency to click, this noise is yet another trigger within the fly and should not be overlooked.
I tried adding rattles to my flies years ago with varying success. Glass ones kept smashing and I needed a way to tie them in stronger, quicker and stay inline. The plastic variety and some heat shrink now being preferred options for longevity and ease of use. Other triggers I’m a firm believer in are the slightly exaggerated eyes, two toned colour scheme, some red under the chin and the little orange UV spot at the end of their beak. This beak also adds some length to the fly and enables the fibers to be kept rearward, supported by the rattle they tend to tail wrap less in this manor.
The noise created can be amplified or dimmed depending on retrieve. Quick stop/start strips will see the bearings hit the back then roll forward as the epoxy head dives on the pause. Or for a more subtle action keep a steady pace and the balls will stay back yet still create enough noise to be picked up by nearby lateral lines. At times just the commotion of it hitting the water will induce an eat so be ready from the get-go. Especially if there’s some competition for the fly amongst kingfish.
Thankfully for you these are now available via Manic Tackle Project at most good fly fishing stores. Go pick a few up and try them out on our mossy backed, yellow tail thugs. You might just enjoy teasing them into a savage boat side eat that will be etched in your mind for years to come.Boat side eats are the best.
Recently I spent the day with Matt von Sturmer onboard his vessel Saltfly. He was hosting Josh Hutchins from Aussie Fly Fisher, showing him the amazing winter fishery he has right on his doorstep. The plan was to fish for snapper in really shallow water. “Wafting” flies for savage hit and runs or the complete opposite subtle take being a huge appeal to Matto.
What wasn’t planned was the weather! Saturday dawned with the expected 35kn winds that were set to lash the country. The ferry from Half Moon bay to Waiheke was bumpy enough without having to jump on a smaller boat to throw flies for the day.
This is where knowledge of a local guide who fishes their own waters almost daily in all conditions is invaluable. Add to that the safety protocols in place to operate in a professional manor and you’re onto a winner. Despite passing through some rough passages of water Matto had us fishing in areas that we could cope with easily between the frequent gusts.
While the day didn’t herald any of the bigger specimens that make for a great fight in the shallows we caught a dozen or so scrappy fish. The shit talking and catch ups are always welcome, even if Matto and I had to have a few serious moments to discuss safety drills and training as part of our Maritime requirements.
Winter is a great time to sneak out for the odd decent day of fishing but it’s also a time to service gear, prep rigs, tie flies and think about your plan of attack for the coming season.
Something that came to light while changing fly lines recently was how many shitty backing to fly line connections I’ve seen. There’s no denying powerful fish need strong connections.
My flats Kingfish assemblies tend to step down from 60lb fine diameter backing to fly line (approx 35lb) and ending with around 20-30lb straight section of fluoro leader. This is to help avoid losing fly lines but also try to prohibit fish carrying excess line around if they bust free (barbless hooks should also get a mention for this reason).
At a pinch you can double your backing and make a doubled Bimini loop. This has twin loops and is better than a single strand which can bite into a fly line.
My favourite is to create a sleeve of braided 50lb mono and use this as the load distributor through your loop-loop connection. The steps below should get you underway and have more confidence in your connection as it sings out the guides.
- Cut a length of braided mono to make a loop big enough to pass your reel through – this makes changing lines easier if you need.
- Pass backing through braided mono and leave tag end of 50cm
- Thread whip one end of mono. Give it a light dab of super glue and roll in fingers to absorb.
- Smooth the mono tightly to the other end, ensuring no slack. Repeat whipping/gluing.
- Now double the backing up to form your mono sleeve loop. Make the two whipped ends slightly offset – this should help taper the transition of finished knot.
- Plait braid back down onto the mono whipped tag ends. Start far enough up from mono ends to create a 4-5cm plait.
- Once you reach mono start half hitching, using opposing hitches. These should start to trap the braided mono.
- Work hitches down until you’ve covered previous whipping and secure tag with a rizutto finish.
- Cover knot with Loon soft head or similar flexible glue.
- Allow to fully dry, nothing worse than winding fly line on and discovering you’ve glued it to your backing knot!
- Attach fly line by passing backing loop fully through fly line loop then passing reel through large backing loop. Finished connection should resemble a reef knot.
Some useful knot links.
Plait – https://youtu.be/2uUWS7dzOn0 NB: stop at 1:20 mark, don’t use finishing knot in video. Start hitching instead.
Rizutto finish – https://youtu.be/H09wT8r8dC8
That’s a wrap. A term used to signify the closure of an event or season. But since Tauranga’s season doesn’t seem to be quite over I’ll apply the phrase to those pesky tail wraps some larger fly patterns tend to acquire.
Over time my top fly patterns have been developed and adjusted to suit the many factors required in everyday fishing. To me durability, practicality, castibility and some other key assets are always top of the pile.
Tail wraps are a (insert cuss word here). While they can’t always be avoided they can be mitigated during the tying process and best avoided with some slick casting.
Something I’ve found key is to build an internal core that will support the more supple fibers without compromising movement. Faux Bucktail is now a firm favourite for this task. A few thread wraps tucked under the fibers near the bend or solely around the fibers themselves adds to the value.
Building heads that hold their shape also allows the fly to keep itself in order. Anything more than a third of total length may prohibit action so be mindful of this and also not restricting the gape of the hook.
I’ve been a huge fan of Loon Soft Head for this purpose for a long time, recently I’ve tried Plastidip also and found this to be just as good. Although it takes a while to prep and better suits finer material. A light head of Senyos Lazer Dub will be enough to cover the other synthetics nicely and bind the adhesive better.
The water pushing head and initial air trapped inside the front cone will get the attention of any super predators nearby. Nothing says eat me like the noise of a bubble trail.
There’s other tricks out there also such as building mono tail guards and using shorter tails so it is really a case of finding what suits your fly. Another quirky trick I picked up while twiddling a fly cruising the flats is the dreadlock theory. As most of the flies I tie and use are synthetic they can be twisted at the tip to lock the fibers up a little and stop wayward hook wraps
With all these things now going in your favor it leaves more time for fishing and less time untangling or even worse throwing twisted, matted flies away.
The countdown is on for the new season now, although there’s still a few to be caught between low pressure systems. With 16c water and lots of bait it comes as no surprise there’s still a few stragglers about.
Just a handful of reasons you may have suffered in the hands of the fishing gods.
At some point in your life you’ve had to deal with rejection. How you go about dealing with it is your business, but one thing is – if you don’t pick your own self up you ain’t never going to learn from it.
Therefore I’ve put together a few little snippets on making a rubbish situation a little more bearable and maybe even turn it into an eat. And also help me get through the flats drought over winter.
Kingfish are by and large a cunning predator. They are on top of their game and one day will be terrorizing bait relentlessly, the next day scrutinizing every single fibre on your fly. So as a rule of thumb for these days I’ll fish as natural as possible. Muted colors and minimal bling can still turn them on. Otherwise “if you can’t catch em, piss them off”! Bright, bulky and loud being the modus operandi here.
Those follows… Heart stopping, time seems to slow right down as they meander along behind your fly. One kick of that yellow tail will see them overtake it but they’re content on just following. You run out of line, now what? Get that fly out of the water, no point educating the fish more than it need to be. Wait for them to turn then flick the fly into their exit path – departing body language will dictate if they eat it or not, just remember to make the fly move straight away. You can also try changing your retrieve but bear in mind you can’t out strip a kingfish.
A few points about these precious few seconds boat side. Don’t look them in the eye, keep very still, no pointing at them and yelling eat the f*%ken fly. Keep the rod still and away from overhead. In fact just ignore the bastards and wait for your next shot, almost as they disappear from sight or at your casting range limits are best bets.
Gear failure sucks big time. Buy the best gear you can afford and keep it in great condition. Saltwater is a reel killer and a water/bomb proof drag is highly recommended. Retie suspect and overworked knots. Research the best connections for each stage of line join and practice them over and over again. And when you’ve mastered that find an even better way to do it…
Sometimes however it just doesn’t go to plan. My mate Andrew Marshall got backlashed on a big kingfish a few years back (keep the drag set, not undone after stripping line off). The monstrous surface take and sound of that fly line snapping as it came tight was epic and forever etched in our minds. All these little lessons serve a purpose to strengthen your resolve, if you’re not learning something from it then get an easier hobby.
Most people don’t eat meals all day long, same applies to fish. Perhaps a smaller portion will be snapped up more readily. This is a good time to mention bite times and solunar activity. Keep an eye on these you’ll be pleasantly surprised when the fish activity correlates to these times, even if it is just a brief window.
And finally the worst of all, blanking! You’ve worked hard all day, covered all your spots and tried all your tricks. Best to go home, clean your gear, curse the fish and have a beer (in no particular order, but if you’re really clever you can do them all at once). Strip things back to the basics and think how you can do better. Often keeping things simple will take the clutter out of your head and fishing. Leaving you free to chase fish, not faff around distracted.
Even the best of the best have had a shit day or two. Just bear that in mind next time you find yourself raging in a bad way. Tomorrow’s another day.