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Ronan's report

Sunday November 10th, 2013

I often get asked about nymph patterns for here in NZ. Clients tying dozens of patterns frantically for their big trip. When asked what I use my honest answer of "something small and dark, and something big and green" often surprises. It is size and weight, and largely presentation rather than pattern here that counts.

NZ trout aren't often, but one or two exceptions too selective. We lack the big populations of insects found on many American waters for trout to have the luxury of locking on to a particular good item. If it looks like good and behaves like food then they will eat it. Getting your fly seen and behaving how it needs to behave is everything.

I see people endlessly changing nymphs time and time again when on the water. To be honest there aren't many nymphing fish in NZ that won't readily eat a well presented, size 14 pheasant tail nymph.

So what to do if you find a tough subsurface muncher that seemingly ignores your offerings? Firstly make sure he sees it...

Maybe try heavier, especially of you're not knocking the bottom, at least occasionally.

Firstly for your own confidence, maybe try turning over a few rocks and see what's crawling around. Chances are a size 14 pheasant tail or similar will be a good match. If you're not hitting it, try more weight. You'd be amazed how often a standard tungsten nymph simply doesn't get down: you only have to see a fish lift though the water and eat your standard weighted tungsten beaded nymph a few inches sub surface once to better appreciate double tungsten patterns and better drifts.

If you don't think you are getting the right drift then simply move one pace: to the left, to the right, forward etc. The different lay of the line across the currents by simply walking one pace can make all the difference to your drift. Practice reach casting, tucks and on the water mending to further enhance this.

Try messing with your leader configuration. Maybe you need a longer, level tippet to better cut through the water column and attain the depth required to score.

Sometimes casting too far in front will result in too much drag. You don't always have to lead fish by a rod length or so... The more time your line is on the water, the more currents will pull it from different angles. Sometimes a shorter drift in riffles with heavier flies to get down quicker results in a more natural drift.

Aaaaand, sometimes drag is good! Use a heavy nymph, get it deep and as it approaches the fish give your line a couple of strips. Get it noticed.

Likewise in heavy aquatic drift situations like on the mataura where dozens of nymphs could be in the trouts foraging range at any one time, try a purple, red etc bright nymph trailed by your natural. I use a lot of bright highlights / hotspots in these situations. Make your fly stand out. If he sees if he then has but two choices: yes or no. At least then you know the fish is looking in the right direction of your natural...

Fly patterns aren't necessarily the key to scoring well in NZ: presentation know how and performance is. Maybe halve your tying time by selecting a small, tight range of effective flies to tie and double your weekly casting practice. Your success rate in New Zealand just might improve.

Just saying...

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