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.. firstname.lastname@example.org