Author Archive

Onwards and Upwards… (and Iza’s curved cast!)

November 14th, 2015 No comments

I’m adjusting well in to my new lifestyle. Not working as a woodworker for 44 hours a week means I have time to think, time to consider my new job as a fly-fishing guide and do whatever it takes to make it work. My guiding season has been slow to start as I expected, but I have a busy period coming up which I’m really looking forward to. My website is not off the ground yet but its happening. I’m at the beginning of something great and I’m enjoying it. I’m also quite excited about where it will lead. Exploring new water is now more important than ever before and I’m lapping it up.

I’ve been enjoying quite a range of fly-fishing lately. I’ve targeted a few big fish, mostly average sized fish, some salt-fly and quite a bit of exploration. Tomorrow I’ll be checking out a river that I have fished before but not for a long time. I’m looking forward to it. More on that on my facebook page tomorrow evening. (

One thing I’d like to share from a recent trip to the coast is the story of a challenging brown trout Iza caught. We were walking along a high bank together and I spotted a big fish down below happily feeding in a deepish riffle. The wind was blowing hard up river. The only place to take the shot from was on top of the high bank about 10 foot above the river. Because of our elevation we had to stay well behind the fish so as not to spook it. The cast was a difficult one. Quite long and from a hight, so leaving it very open to being whipped away by the wind. I suggested that she compensate for the wind and cast well left of and to the back the fish and let the wind carry it up. She said that I should take the shot but I convinced her to take it. She did, the first cast fell short but the second one was a pleasure to watch. The cast went left, the wind caught it and carried it up in a curve to the fish. The dry and nymph landed about a meter in front and the trout started to rise to the dry immediately; sailed up and confidently ate it. The strike was bang on and battle was not an easy one. Between scrambling down the high bank to the river, and being connected to an extremely strong fish she did well to land it. A fish like that makes any day a really great one.

I’m at a transition of sorts with my blog. For the last 5 years my blog has been about my own experiences, trips with my friends, my observations in and around the sport of fly fishing. To a certain extent I want to keep it like that but I also want to share my guiding experiences. I guess for the moment I’ll use what ever content and photo’s I feel like and in time a healthy balance of my guiding and my fishing will evolve.

If you’re planning a trip to NZ and need a guide why not get in touch! You’ll be in good hands..

Tight lines everyone.


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October 29th, 2015 No comments

There was a serious downpour of rain a few nights ago which rose the rivers around here but they’re in good order again. Another weekend has almost landed so, as usual, I can’t wait to get back out there.. actually, it’s going to be a long weekend for me, maybe very long! I gave up the day job as a woodworker so I’ll have plenty time to concentrate on my guiding and what ever else may come along. I have a few ideas.. Exciting times!

The trout are starting to look up! I had a couple on my dry (aka strike-indicator) last weekend. I fish a dry instead of a fluff strike indicator. I like always having the chance to take a trout off the top. It’s not perfect though. There have been many times where I cast to a fish trying to cover him with the nymphs allowing the dry to land close to the fish. The fish spots the dry, swims vertically then turns downstream as he eats, I remember Paul Arden calling this a compound rise?? It’s very easy not to hook these fish! But for the most part, I prefer it. A buoyant dry, usually about 4-5 feet to a weighted nymph, then about a foot off that to an unweighted or lightly weighted size 16. For smaller streams I usually shorten the dropper or fish one nymph under the dry. In fact, I have no problem changing my rig to suit every fish I see but the dry-double-nymph-rig covers most bases. The fact that they’re so far apart means they can also be fished independently. Cover with the dry first, then the nymphs or visa versa..

November and December are starting to fill up a bit but there are still plenty spaces! for any questions or guiding enquiries.

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog. Hundreds of entries from NZ and around the world!

Tight Lines everyone.. We can fish the rainbow rivers from Saturday!



The Elusive, Almost Mythical 10lb Brown Trout…

October 20th, 2015 No comments

During a mission to North Canterbury with Jeff Forsee at the end of last season, I witnessed something that made me re-think what I thought I knew. Jeff was onto a fish on his bank, a big one. The fish was deep. Jeff persisted with a range of weighted nymphs until he had the heaviest one in his box on, with the little trailer off it. He felt he was not getting deep enough so he pulled out a box of split shot and added some weight, then a little more weight. I’m not sure just how much shot he added but eventually he hooked the fish. A long battle was ensued but we finally got it into the net. That fish was one of the most spectacular fish I’ve seen and it turned out to be Jeff’s personal best. Afterwards, I thought to myself “would I have caught that fish?”. The answer, probably not. I had no split shot and my heaviest nymph was the same as Jeff’s. The only time I ever used shot was in Croatia years ago because of their single fly policy. I thought I had no need for it. I remember Paul Arden talking about split shot for early season NZ fish. I simply thought “just tie a heavier nymph”, which is true but split shot is handy, quick and easy to add and there’s no limit to how much you can put on (within reason!). I had to see this in action to really see the value of it. Shortly after that trip I got some split shot.

Recently, in Otago, about half way through a great day, I sighted a large trout happily feeding. He was moving from shallow to deep water feeding constantly. After a number of careful casts the fish became aware of my presence. He went a little doggo but then continued to feed, this time in deep water only. This gave me a great and rare advantage. The fish continued to feed despite my presence. I could not spook him easily so I cast and cast and cast. As long as a fish is feeding he’s catchable so I persisted. I put on my heaviest nymph, then added lead, then more lead. The river was boiling and up-welling making it hard to get even a heavily weighted rig down, but once in a while, as Robbie pointed out, the current went “clean”, no up-welling. At one of those moments I placed the cast in the right place and the added weight got my fly into the zone. The fish ate. I knew It was a big fish, I’ve caught lots of 9s and this felt just plain heavier. I gave him stick none the less and eventually landed him with Robbie’s help on the net. There were a few unnerving moments as he went under banks and around rocks but we landed him. 10lbs on the dot (Though Robbie thinks he was more, despite the weigh-net!). Thanks, Jeff for the lesson in lead and Robbie for the help landing one of my personal best brown trout.. Finally we cracked a double together!

Tight Lines All..


If your planning a trip to NZ, why not get in touch with me! I’m available to guide and happy to answer any questions you may have..


Big Trout in 150kph Gales…

October 11th, 2015 No comments

A day on the Clutha at the end of September got me fired up for the new season which was fast approaching. I explored another new section and found a great variety of water in a fairly small area. Side braids, backwaters, and the main river all in close proximity. There were quite a few fish present too. I adapted my methods as I fished the variety of waters and picked up fish in each one. Dries, nymphs and spiders all accounted for a few fish.

Last weekend was the first weekend of the new season. October is probably the best month of the season if river conditions are okay; the big “if”. The small tributary streams still hold a good stock of trout after their spawning escapades of the previous June and July. Usually the tributaries are nice and full from rain and snow melt but sometimes too full, October often brings high rainfall and rivers which are too high to fish with any comfort. With good river conditions (like right now) it’s all on and great fun. As the season progresses the water recedes and the fish numbers decrease as they fall back to the main river. Larger rivers fish well in October too. Even those with a resident stock of trout often seem to have more fish about than in high summer, although, this is a sweeping statement and could be not be applied to all rivers. Either way, I love October. Plenty fish about and usually very catchable! Sometimes browns can be in poor shape having not mended well after spawning but over the years I’ve learned where to avoid so as not to catch ragged fish.

My opening weekend was a great one. I had loosely planned to go to the coast but the forecast put me off that idea. My chosen river for Saturday had some serious barriers in the form of mud slides and road slumps, but the new truck carried me over. Minor slippage gave me a pang of fear due the severe slope of the rubble on the track and drop below it but all ended well. That day I walked a solid 8ks of river but did not see many fish. Possibly due to the high and slightly coloured water. I hooked and landed 3 out of the 5 I saw. All great fish up to 7.75lbs. When I saw the second fish of the day I decided I’d have lunch before I made my cast. Usually I take the shot quickly but this time I thought, “No, I’ll have lunch first”. The fish is always in that lie so I was confident I had all the time I needed. I had never caught a fish from that lie before, possibly it’s always the same fish but also quite possible that they move around a bit and a number of fish utilise the same lies, but thats another story! I ate my lunch and forgot about the fish. I thought about the season ahead and the one just gone. I usually bring a beer with me for my lunch, as I got to the end of it I moved to the rivers edge. I said a few words to the river and to whoever / whatever and shared a libation. I felt good. Happy. I packed up my stuff and changed my rig to suit the fish up ahead. He was still there. I worked on him for a while before eventually hooking him on a #16 nymph tied to a heavily weighted Hair & Copper to get it to depth. A really spectacular fish he was. Two of the three fish were. At the end of the day I got a lift back to my truck from Shane and Eddie from the Athol Hunting & Fishing Club. They were travelling the opposite direction but gave me a lift back anyway. Much appreciated, fellas! Every NZ angler knows the value of a lift back to the truck at the end of a big day on the river. They also gave me a cold beer. Legends.

Day 2 saw me battling the most mental winds I have ever cast into. To be honest, it wasn’t always casting, sometime it was a case of just fuck the flies at the fish. I cant think of a better way to describe it. The wind was gusting to 150kph so you know what I’m on about. The willow trees were roaring and I was always looking around to see if one was about to fall over. There was plenty evidence to support my fears. The good thing about the fish on the day was that they weren’t concerned by my bad casts. The piles of fly-line which I landed beside them for time to time just looked like another willow branch for them to avoid (there were heaps!). With all the movement of bushes and trees from the gales, me and my movements went unnoticed by the trout. I could get very close. Sometimes no fly-line out, just a short leader and tippet and slam the nymph down in front of the fish. Watch for the swing or any evidence of a take and lift the rod. I landed quite a few in the insanity! Good fish too.

My old mate Robbie Mcphee is joining me this weekend!

(as it turns out the weekend is now over and Robbie has gone back to Dunedin. I wrote this on Friday but didn’t get a chance to edit it! We had an amazing weekend with 11 trout between 5 and 10lbs. Watch this space!)

Happy Season everyone..


There are plenty of spaces in my guiding calendar! If you’d like to hire me as a guide, please contact me,

Lake Wanaka, Lake Dunstan and the West Coast in September…

September 24th, 2015 No comments

About a year ago I noticed some good looking water on Lake Wanaka from the top of Rocky Mountain. The weekend before last I went to check it out. The day was perfect, little or no wind with bright sunshine. I spotted the edges and saw very few cruisers. The few I cast to were extremely spooky and just fecked off from even the most delicate presentation. I was there for about 2 hours without catching before I started putting it together. I noticed some fish rising well out, some in range, all sporadic. I saw a few chironomid on the top. I thought it would be worth putting on a team of two buzzers on a long 4lb tippet and fishing it blind. After about an hour I got one. Once I found a reasonable concentration of fish I got a few more. It went to plan! I found a few fish and figured out what they were at and got some. When fish are difficult to catch it makes it all the more rewarding when you do catch! It’s worth mentioning that as I get older I’m getting more disciplined in this type of fishing. In the past I needed to be doing more. Stripping I guess! Now I can stay focussed while just staying in touch with my flies for as long as it takes. Like my father! Alhough it will be many more years before I come close to his skill level with a team of buzzers.

The following day I went to Dunstan, my home water. It never fails! I know it well at this stage. After my buzzer fishing on Lake Wanaka the day before it seemed like the right choice for Dunstan too. I battled the silt and blind fished the water in front of me as I steadily walked to keep covering new water. Critical when blind fishing. The more water you cover the more fish you cover, it’s as simple as that. I had about 10 fighting fit browns and a rainbow, mostly on the buzzer. In the afternoon I tried out some new water on the lower Kawarau. I had a couple on the woolly bugger. Another great day, Its always a bonus to successfully try out some new water.. Great to catch up with Mike Wilkinson, Kevin and Alan Mc Intire on the lake too!

The weekend just passed was a mission to the coast. The forecast was for sun and light winds. Ideal conditions. It turned out we had very strong wind for most of Saturday. That coupled with big surf made the going difficult. I heaved out the flies all day long to no avail. I might have had one touch but probably not. Iza, on the other hand, did well. Her soft plastic fish imitation fooled 2 trout and a Kahawai. One of her trout was the fattest seatrout I’ve seen on the coast. Stuffed to the gills with something, whitebait or toheroa most likely. One of the Wakitipu Anglers Club members had a  trout stuffed with toheroa! On Sunday the winds were light and there were very few people around, not even whitebaiters. With the place to ourselves we still couldn’t get a fish. Not even on Iza’s spin gear. I hooked and lost a good trout in the morning which was the highlight of my fishing for the weekend. The Wakitipu Anglers club, with which I’m a member, also had a gathering there at the weekend. I haven’t heard many results but I don’t think many were caught from the river mouths. This is usually a great time of year over there so I don ‘t know why the fishing was so bad. The whitebaiters are saying that the bait has not turned up yet so maybe its all about to happen…

I’m taking bookings for the season ahead, so if you’d like me to guide you on your NZ trout adventure contact me here! You know you’ll be in good hands.. October is only a week away! (

Tight lines, another weekend is almost upon us!


ps..      If your in this area the Wakitipu Anglers Club is a great club to be a part of!



Omarama in September…

September 11th, 2015 No comments

Another weekend has landed. I live for my time on the water. In Ireland it rarely bothered me too much if I missed a weekend on the water, I guess with my friends and lifestyle over there things were just different. Here in NZ I can’t miss weekends fishing. I need 2 days a week on the water minimum, winter or summer..

Last weekend Iza and I went to Omarama. The forecast was for snow and the road-signs were saying that snow-chains were essential to get over the Lindis. Thankfully there was little snow on the Lindis Pass and the weather for the weekend was mostly sunny but cold.  We stayed in Buscot Station Backpackers as usual. It’s our home away from home and the perfect base for an angler.

We fished Benmore in two different areas over the two days. Each place had plenty of fish. There were lots cruising the edges so these took up most of our time. When sight fishing is available it’s hard not to take it! On a few occasions blind fishing the bugger was called for which also worked. I didn’t fish dries but there were a few fish taking off the top too.

If you’re at a loose end this weekend, Benmore is fishing well, it always does! I might go back actually..

Tight Lines!


PS, I’m in the process of setting up a guiding business! So I’ll be trying to put this NZ trout fishing experience to good use. I hope to be up and running this October 1st. Please feel free to contact me at for bookings and information.

When Pike Attack!

August 29th, 2015 No comments

Paul and I first met John Newman (aka, John the Pom) in his home in Tasmania in 2009. We had loads in common. We enjoyed the finer things in life such as Frank Zappa, moonshine, sealsfur, Hairy Castles, the local pub, The Sheep Shearers Ball and fly-fishing. With such things in common a life long friendship was inevitable.

John emailed me recently to tell me that he was going to be in Ireland in August and he wanted some information on where to go to catch a pike on the fly. As luck would have it I was going to be in the country at the time so a date was set to chase down a Corrib pike.

Sometimes a day afloat is as much about having the craic as it is about catching a fish. This was definitely one of those days. In fact, the craic was probably more important. The fishing was shite anyway. We put in a serious effort none the less. We went to parts of the 44’000 acre lough where John O Malley and myself had great sport in the past with fish to well over 20lbs. The big girls were not out to play however. On the bright side though, John got his first ever pike, and his second which got his first ever human (see pic!). The time-space continuum nicely in balance!

John and John, It was a great day!


Categories: Expedition Tags:

NZ – Vietnam – Ireland – Jordan – NZ…

August 27th, 2015 No comments

Iza and I are just back in NZ after our multi-country adventure. For the first month we did our own thing before meeting up in Ireland for my sisters wedding. I only did a days fruitless fishing in Vietnam, the rest of the time I was tearing around the country on the back of my brothers motorbike. We also made time to drink the worst beer in the world, eat some of the best food in the world and see the sights. I also only did one days fishing in Jordan with limited success. Don’t get your hopes up about seeing anything amazing but I will have some good information on Jordan’s fly fishing potential.. The rest of the time in Jordan was spent diving and snorkeling in the Red Sea. Fishing was not priority (for a change) for much of the trip but I had a few weeks at home in the west of Ireland where it was. Some of the fishing was excellent, mostly on Lough Inagh for grilse and Kylemore Lough for big sea-trout. I’m not sure when exactly I’ll be able to put a report together but it will include salmon, seat-rout, brown trout, pike, some saltfly and being hospitalized in a military hospital in the south of Jordan, actually, that’s enough said about the latter. It was hell.

The photo’s below are from before we left NZ about 9 weeks ago. My intention was to get a report out before we left but better late than never! Some good stuff to come but I’m waiting on a memory card in the post from Ireland so a NZ report may come first. Needless to say I’ll be on the water all weekend!

It’s good to be back!


Just over a month to October 1st!         Groovy…

The Mighty Clutha…

June 11th, 2015 No comments

There’s still a bag of venison mince in the freezer from the deer I shot last January and now its well topped up with wild pork from a recent mission up the hill with Kevin. I try to keep a good stock of trout fillets in the freezer too. It makes sense to live off the land and water as much as possible. The lake is stuffed with trout and the hills alive with rabbits, hares, pigs and deer. Ducks, geese and swans are all fair game too. I’ll be looking into buying my own rifle soon now that I’m officially a New Zealand resident! They wouldn’t give me a gun in Ireland for some reason.

The Clutha has finally thrown me a bone. It’s a river I’ve never really liked. I remember hearing about  “the highest biomass of fish in NZ” at Deans Bank a number of years ago, but the 2 or 3 times I fished it I blanked. On the rare occasion that I’d explore a section of the river I’d find nothing and feel like there was no chance of catching. Its a very fast flowing, monster of a river. This in itself does not deter me from it, not at all, but it is the reason I have not done so well on it. Recently I decided I’d have another crack. I studied it with google earth looking for feature. Anything from large bends, backwaters, side-braids, stable banks with slow moving water, whatever! I found a number of areas to be worth a look. The first on the list was a nice side-braid so I went to check it out a few weeks ago. Access is not readily available but I got permission from the farmer and walked from the road about 2ks to the river. The braid has been very interesting the 3 times I’ve fished it recently. There were never heaps of fish but always a decent amount. They seemed to be in different types of water each time I went. I’ve had a good mix of browns and rainbows from about a pound to 5lbs. All on streamers but nymphs would have worked too. June is the most difficult month to find good fishing in NZ, so this little spot has been a ray of light. I’ve had some great sight fishing with streamers which is a really exciting way to catch a trout. Whether a cast to a sighted fish results in an eat or not, watching the response is always absorbing and enjoyable. Sometime he bolts for cover, other times there’s a cautious follow and sometimes he’ll just smash it as hard and as fast as he’s able. Blind fishing likely water has also resulted in quite a few trout.

The nicest thing about this little braid is the fact that at the end of the day I’m back to where I started. No big walk out. I fish the braid upstream to where it begins at the main river, then fish the main river downstream to where the braid comes back in, from there I fish back up the braid to where I started. There’s a huge riffle on the main river in the vicinity the start of the braid. This has been fantastic for one to 2lb rainbows. It’s ideal nymph water so I gave them a run on one occasion but  only had one take. I fished it back down with my possum streamer and had 4.

I don’t normally write about casting but I found myself using an interesting technique while fishing the riffle mentioned it the paragraph above. I’ll share it with you, but first I’ll put it in the context of the type of fishing I was doing. I was fishing a weighted streamer on a clear intermediate line and had no stripping basket. I was standing nee deep in a huge riffle, current flowing to my right (and I’m right handed). I wanted to put a long cast upstream and across at about 45 degrees, let it sink as it drifted downstream, then retrieve while taking a few steps down river. I didn’t want to feel the weight of the current on my fly-line which is why I take a few steps downstream during my retrieve, I want to feel as though my streamer is coming across the current in a fairly natural manner, not bolting around on the swing. At the end of the drift my fly is hanging downstream below the rod tip. The slack line is also hanging downstream below me. To achieve the cast, I firstly roll the fly upriver, roughly at the angle I wanted to cast, then pick up the slack line in my left hand letting the strong current take the strain thus “loading” my hand, with a flick of the arm and wrist all the slack fly line would shoot up river. Immediately after that, I reach forward with my left hand and grab the line to haul into my back-cast, picking the short amount of line from the water as is drifts down river in front of me. As the slack line drifts back downstream towards and passed me, the lack of resistance from the current allows me to easily haul all the slack line from the fast water and make the desired cast. The cast is very hard to achieve if all the slack sinking line remains downstream under the weight of the current. Okay, quite hard to describe. If you understand what I just tried to explain, well done. I hope it benefits you some time!

There’s another braid I hope to check out soon and I just discovered that the Hawea River is open all year round. Groovy.

This weekend starts tomorrow. No plan as yet. Iza and I will go somewhere. This time 2 weeks I’ll be with my brother in Vietnam, then Ireland for 6 weeks then Jordan for 2. The countdown has started!

Tight lines all!



A Great Season Ends With Exciting Prospects..

May 18th, 2015 No comments

Another river season has come to an end. Many rivers are still open in May but I find myself looking toward other options -  lakes, river mouths, the canals or possibly the West Coast. Prior to a recent mission to the canals I did a little research on surrounding lakes, tarns and rivers to see if any remained open in May. As it turned out, all were closed since April 30th but it gave me lots of new ideas for next season. I’m actually pretty excited about it. There are some spring creeks, tarns and rivers that I’ve never fished, new territory to explore and some of it is not too far away. That’s one of the amazing things about this country; waterways in abundance and always something new to check out if you make the time to explore. Try something new instead of the tried and trusted.

Mark Adamson, Robbie Mcphee and myself finished off the brown trout season with a 3 day mission on a river we all enjoy. The fish were difficult, not really looking at our offerings at all but we all managed a few fish. We had a fantastic hut to stay in and the craic between the 3 of us in the evenings was as good as the fishing. I had a bad cold to deal with and deal with it I did with a few hot whiskeys. Mark had a couple too just because they’re a great drink to warm up the bones after a cold day on the river. The story of our trip is told in the photos below.

The lakes in central are fishing well! Iza and I had a great trip there 2 weeks ago. We had plenty cruising rainbows to fish for in certain spots and browns in others. I got my fathers buzzers working on Benmore too which is always a pleasure. It’s a very underrated, or more to the point, unknown way to catch trout here in NZ. When they work, they really work!

Finally, Trevor Bourne, a long time sexylooper has just moved to Wanaka from the UK to build Epic fly rods for Carl Mcneil. you’ll be seeing more of him up here. An all round good bugger and great angler. Welcome Trevor! And Happy Birthday..

Tight lines.. Winter is not closed season, its just the winter season!


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