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Posts Tagged ‘Fulling Mill’

Balance…

December 6th, 2020 No comments

I have to say, I’m enjoying this season. I should be fretting over a lack of business but I’m not. I’m getting an occasional guide day and my wife Iza is working full time. We’re doing okay. We’re lucky, and I’m thankful for that. I’m looking after the kids most days but also managing to get out fishing regularly – especially now that Iza’s recent study has ended, a bit more time for me to fish. It’s a juggling act between kids, Iza’s work and free time, working on the house, family time, friends, guiding and fishing. The balance is good. I’m making the most of this season without tourists. It’s made me rethink what’s important. So much so that I might just reduce my guide days to make more time for family in the future. My goal in life is not to be financially rich – it’s to be rich with the important stuff.

This season has been really great. I have explored some new water and while I want to do more exploring, I realised something. I love going back to the water I know. I need to see the water I know at least once or twice a season. I don’t mind if I don’t catch a fish, I just need to see the water – it’s like catching up with an old friend. I like to see if the river has changed, are the fish in the usual spots, what more can I learn about it. Now that I’ve realised this I’m okay with it. Some days I felt a bit guilty for not exploring when I could have been. Exploring new water is certainly exciting. And while I have made peace with going back to fish familiar water I will always have the drive to find new water. Like life in general, its about balance.

The season to date has had a number of highlights. I’ll let the images tell the story about most of these but I will mention one. A day that I was guiding a half day, I went fishing myself for the second half. I hooked an 8lb trout for my client in the morning. He was about 12. He played it well and we got it into the net. In the afternoon I ventured off myself. I saw only one trout in 4kms which I didn’t get. Then I saw 2 in a pool. I was rigged up with one of my guide rods – a 5wt Airflo Blade with a Lamson Liquid reel. I hooked the first one quickly and landed it downstream. I knew it was big. I was thrilled to see it hit the magical 10lb increment on my weigh net. I went back up to the pool again and the other fish was still there, still active. There was a brutal crosswind and I had to cast way left of the target to compensate for the wind. It took a few attempts which luckily didn’t spook the fish. He sitting quite deep. Finally the dry went down and I lifted into serious weight. I landed this one in the same spot as the first. He hit the scales at 12lbs. This is equal to my biggest trout to date. 3 browns for 30lbs. I’ve never done that before. 2 doubles, thats also a first. First time I’ve witnessed it since my good friend Kristian Bang Foss landed a 10.25 and a 10.75 (and a 9) back in 2013. I’m happy if I can land one over 10 for a season so this day was certainly one of those never to be forgotton. Needless to say I was delighted. Also happy to get a great shot with the 10 second timer – my size 12 Brown Nymph from Fulling Mill visible in his mouth.

If anybody is reading this from within NZ and would like to experience some guided fly fishing, feel free to drop me a line.. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines! Ronan..

Some of the Biggest Trout on Earth!

October 28th, 2020 No comments

Last winter we had a little treat! Fish & Game opened a river to anglers to fish for monster rainbows on their spawning run. These fish reach incredible sizes from living in a man made canal system. Like a giant spring creek, the canals have a constant flow and they’re always cool. Perfect for trout to grow year round. They have a diet which consists largely of cockabullies, snails and fish pellets from under the salmon farms, all aiding their rapid growth. For the most part, these fish spawn in the canal system itself but some have the opportunity to spawn in a river – the one that was opened to anglers last September. I spoke to Rhys from F&G about the decision to open it. He said that by that stage in the winter all the redds are already full of eggs so no damage can be done to future stocks by fishing to the new arrivals. He also said that the river would not be opened in September again. This decision was due to the expected onslaught of foreign anglers next year. A pity I thought. I sugested making it for residents only. This year it was for residents only because there were no foreign tourist anglers due to the Covid travel ban. The river was busy at times but there was room for everyone. The perfect case study. In my opinion, making it for residents only would be a very easy management system and we could keep this unique fishery open in late winter. Last Septembers successful opening provides strong evidence that it would work. We also chatted about leaving the river open in May to allow people to fish for the first run of large browns which have all but gone by September. Who knows what will happen here in the future. I think the closed season in NZ in general is in need of a total overhaul. Many closed seasons make no sence and protect little or nothing – especially on lakes and still waters.

Needless to say I had to have a crack at this river. It’s possibly the best large trout river in the world at this time of year. I fished it for 3 days over the month landing 10 between 13 and 25lbs. It quickly became clear to me what I loved most about these winter rainbows. Not the fish or the fishing but the fight! Usually I like that trout are not like bonefish. I like that I can get them in quickly so that I can get back to the fishing. These were different. Unique because how often are you not worried about loosing a 10 to 30lb trout? I loved leaning into these brutes with heavy gear. Get them in fast and returned after a quick snap. I used an 8wt TCX, a Lamson reel with a decent drag and 12lb Maxima. No playing around with 5 or 6 weights. In the great scheme of my fly fishing I rarely fish for anything over 10lbs so it was great just to feel that weight and power on the other end. Watching a 20lb trout run, jump and thrash with the rod hopping and reel screaming was some of the best craic I’ve had fly fishing!

I chose a method at the start of day one which I stuck with each day I fished. I blind fished a weighted streamer (possum and marabou of course!) on a long leader fished on a floating line. This worked well because I could get the fly deep with some simple mends. Depth was key for me to blind fish the deeper water. A sinking line can be a disaster with heavy didymo and large boulders so more reason to use a floater. I love the control with this method. I can get the fly to the depth I want and make it move how I want. Not so easy with a sinking line since you lose much of your ability to mend. Dead drifting the streamer through deep bouldery runs or moving it slowly was the most effective for me. 9 out of my 10 trout over 3 days were bright, healthy hens. Just what I wanted. I saw some fellas happy to fish for coloured up jacks off redds at the tails of pools. This was not for me but each to their own. I did throw a few casts at these fish but when I got the feeling that they were spawners I left them alone. One thing I learned from this trip was that I really dislike fishing with egg flies – so I didn’t!

In more recent news – the new season has been fantastic so far! Some very big fish about too. I’ve already had 2 over the mythical 10lb mark. More about those and the season to date in my next blog. The boat has not been out yet but I do have an engine on the back of it now so I’m just waiting for the opportunity to get out there. I’ve had a couple of very successful guide days with clients landing trout to 8lbs. Some more work coming up too so very happy about that! Myself and Jeff have another epsiode of Pure Fly NZ coming up soon. We have a plan to watch it at the pub since neither of us have whatever channel it’s on. Duke I think. I’m looking forward to watching it. We had a some great action. It’s always a lot of fun filming with Jeff and Nick. We’re all on the same page. Anybody within NZ who’d like to get in touch about some guided fly fishing, I’d love to hear from you. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website. For a look at some of my fly patterns available at Fulling Mill click here.

Tight lines.. Ronan..

New Flies for Fulling Mill..

October 5th, 2020 No comments

A new season has begun. With it sees the start of my involvement with Fulling Mill. They got in touch with me about a year ago about filling some gaps in their range of flies to suit NZ rivers. I agreed to help. My fly design has always been about simplicity. I see no need for elaborate, time consuming flies. There are a few key features that are important and as long as these are met, the fly will work. For a nymph the most important features (or triggers) are size, profile and to a lesser extent colour. When tying for myself – usually the night before a trip – I’d rattle up a few flies to fit this bill. The colour often varied depending on my mood or whatever materials were at hand but the sizes and profiles rarely wavered. Tying for Fulling Mill I had to keep true to this and basically come up with some set patterns based on what I tie for myself. I got to work and 3 patterns were selected for the 2021 catalog. With these 3 patterns in my box I’m confident that I’d be covered for at least 75% of my own river nymphing needs. Add a few unweighted PT nymphs and your getting there! Of course theres always scope to add, adjust and improve as new ideas come along so hopefully I’ll add to this small collection in the future.

One thing that I really pushed for right from the start was to have the strongest hooks available used in my nymphs. There is nothing worse than losing a trout because a fly opens out. My patterns are tied on the very reliable Fulling Mill Competition Heavyweight hooks. The same gauge and shape as a Kamasan B175 which I have always raved about. I’ve been putting the samples to the test and have had no issues with these hooks.

Here’s an explanation of each fly and how it came to be.

The Hotspot Nymph. This fly was designed with a few things in mind. Firstly, the hot spot makes the fly stand out. Great for coloured water – a regular variable in NZ with frequent rain events. Secondly, depth. This fly is tied in a 10 and a 12 with a tungsten bead to suit. Great for getting down quickly in deep or fast water. Thirdly, as a carrier. Very often this fly is too big to catch wily NZ trout so I use it’s weight to get a smaller, more imitative fly to depth. Deadly in conjunction with my claret nymph in a size 16. I tie it on a 12″ dropper off the bend of the Hotspot nymph. This double nymph rig is usually fished 3 to 5 feet under a buoyant dry or indicator.

The Brown Nymph. My go-to nymph. This fly is tied for general use. If I’m not sure what to put on, I put this on! Tied in a 12 and a 14 it’s often small and imitative enough to to be fished without a trailing smaller nymph. This makes it easy to manage under my dry or indicator. This is a great imitation of common NZ mayfly nymphs but equally successuful as a general imitator of trout food.

The Claret Nymph. This is a multi purpose fly. Tied in a 14 and a 16 this fly is imitative of much of the food in a trouts diet. In slow water it can be fished singly but in faster water I usually trail it off a larger heavier fly to get it to depth. I have caught more fish on this fly in NZ than any other. On one river it has accounted for 5 double figure browns so this little fly is not to be underestimated. This is a deadly pattern on light tippet for spooky, difficult trout. It’s also one of my go-to flies to suspend under a dry for lake edge cruisers.

Some of you reading this might be thinking “what about caddis stuff”.. Fair thought! Personally I never get too excited about caddis flies. They are certainly part of a trouts diet but any of the nymphs mentioned above will catch a caddising trout. It comes back to size and profile. A fish that’s eating small brown caddis nymphs will eat a well presented small brown or claret nymph – even if the profile is geared slightly more towards mayfly nymphs. That said, there are times when specifics in a fly are important and with that comes the endless list of flies that you can add to your box!

These patterns are now available to buy on the Fulling Mill site. Click here to have a look! Hopefully you’ll put a few in your flybox for this brand new NZ season. I wish you the same success that I have had with them. Feel free to get in touch with any questions or feedback, I’d love to hear.

Plenty space available for guided trips this season! For those of you reading within NZ, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to drop me a line to get the ball rolling. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website

Tight Lines, Ronan..

A few days winter fishing..

July 10th, 2020 No comments

It’s hard to get time to fish at the moment! Iza is very busy with work which means I’m looking after the kids. I’m also putting a lot of effort into restoring our house and making furniture for it. I enjoy the tools almost as much as fishing. Its easier to work on the house if I have a 2 hour window because winter fishing options very close to Alexandra are limited. So I need at least half a day free to get out for a decent fish. I think I’ll do a lot more fishing once August comes around. I’ll put the home restoration project on pause and concentrate on fishing again. I also need to make time to finish restoring mine and Shotgun Kevin’s old boat, Daltona.

I’ve had a few days out since the last report. Unfortunately I have not seen any really big rainbows this winter. I heard the big fish ran early (back in March). The deluge of rain last February may have triggered this. The fishing was decent every day I was out with fish to about 5lbs.

I had a very enjoyable live chat with Justin Spence and Matt Klara from Big Sky Anglers on Instagram recently. We chatted about my approach to guiding and fishing in NZ. Here is a link if you’d like to watch it!

There has been some positive talk about opening up our borders to Australian tourists so hopefully by October I’ll be back in business. Feel free to get in touch to chat about a trip! Contact me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight Lines – Ronan..