Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Fulling Mill’

Getting Jumped!

January 31st, 2024 No comments

December and into January… December is a great month to fish. Trout start looking up and responding well to terrestrials. Everyone seems to love dry fly action! There were some nice mayfly hatches too. Usually short and fickle but we made the best of it when it happened. As January arrived many of my local fisheries got too warm for good (or ethical) fishing. With this I venture away to find cooler water. I like to mix it up anyway.

One day I went to a high country river in the hope of some cicada action. We got to the river at 9am and got the piece of water I hoped for. At 11am, perched high on a rock I could see a vehicle (large black ute) pull up 1 kilometre above us. They could see us I’m sure and I’m pretty sure they saw my vehicle earlier too. It’s totally unethical to do this. It takes quite a brass neck to arrive there so late and then just cut someone off. They were just too far up for me to go marching up there for an argument so we pulled out and went downstream only to get jumped again by another clown fishing downstream from an upstream access point. A really infuriating day. We should all treat other anglers as we’d like to be treated. To cut someone off so blatantly is basically stealing someones experience. I’m pretty sure I know who was in the black ute and they should know better. Sadly, I heard that they make a habit of this. Against the odds we managed a couple of good trout! One on my cicada and the other on my unweighted nymph.

All my flies are working well on their relative days. They’re available from Fulling Mill or in-store at Patagonia Queenstown.

More about January in my next blog! Its been a challenging but great month. A few days off now before KC and Mark arrive.. I’m looking forward to seeing these 2 again!

Tight lines.. Ronan..

November – Thoughts & Highlights..

December 18th, 2023 No comments

Typical of this time of year, it’s hard to make time to write! There’s more photos than I generally add but I hope you can make the time to enjoy them. They tell the story of a busy month of fishing and guiding.

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot more lately is barbless hooks. It seems crazy that it’s taken me this long to really start moving away from barbed hooks. I was never too concerned about the barb. What I always told people was that I don’t have any trouble removing barbed hooks. This is true. The part that has always bothered me is breaking in a trout with a barbed hook left in his mouth, but it never bothered me enough to fish barbless. Now it does bother me enough. There’s a great relief breaking in a fish knowing the hook is barbless. There’ll be minimal stress on the fish since he’ll easily shake it free. I often heard that trout can dissolve a barbed hook quite quickly. I wonder if that is true? I should google it! The silly thing is I always knew that I’d loose feck all fish by going barbless. It only takes a second to crush the barb or better still, tie on barbless hooks to begin with. My range of flies with Fulling Mill are barbed so this is something I may look at changing in the future.

I had a solid month of guiding starting with Brendan and Dave. As usual for these two the rain came and blew out the rivers – it happens every time! We managed the fist day on a local river before they all blew out completely. Luckily, both of them love the lakes and we had some brilliant and varied still-water fishing with epoxy buzzers playing a very important role.

Next up was Tim and his brother Graeme. Great craic as always with the bros! Just about every fish was 5lbs. A very enjoyable few days.

Late in the month I had a new client. A man who knows my father quite well and fishes with him a lot back home. I also met him 25 years ago when I looked after the Inagh fishery for a season. His name is Jack Meredith. A very experienced angler who’s chased salmonids all over the world. I was delighted to show him around my area for a week. We mixed it up with local streams and rivers, backcountry fly-ins and highcountry dams. It was no surprise to me that the dams got under his skin. Anyone who fishes Irish loughs will have a head-start in understanding these special places, which are not for everyone. The fishing was very tough on the dams – but that’s not a bad thing. It just means you have to dig deep, fish to the conditions and persist – then enjoy the beautiful reward if you get one. Jack was not going to come back to the South Island after having a terrible experience a number of years ago. His guide didn’t know where he was going or what he was doing and spooked every fish in the river. I glad he changed his mind. I’m looking forward to next time.

A quick note about buzzer fishing (aka chironomid). This season and last season I’ve noticed a huge increase in buzzer numbers in many of the the lakes I fish and some rivers. On still-water days when fish have been hard, switching to a buzzer, usually epoxied, regularly made all the difference. I didn’t have a huge stock to begin with but my father can tie these in his sleep! One the phone one evening I asked him to send me a few which he did. Now I’m well armed with flies for these increasingly important tactics. Dad’s buzzers are particularly good too.

I’m very happy to say that my Fulling Mill patterns are now available in the new Patagonia shop in Queenstown. If you don’t live near Queenstown you can still order them online. They’re pretty much the only patterns I use. Check them out here.

Next season is just starting to fill up. Feel free to get in touch to make a booking or to chat about options. You can check out my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com.

That’s all for now. Hopefully Decembers report will have a more user-friendly amount of photos. Tight Lines! Ronan..

Restoring the Boat!

September 20th, 2023 No comments

I find it easy to start on a project if its small. Large projects can be a little daunting. Because of this I trick myself into large projects by doing a small part, convincing myself that that’s all I’ll do. Hence, I frequently don’t have ‘before shots’. By the time I think to take a few pics I’m already well advanced with the project so that ship has sailed. This is what happened with the boat recently. Initially it was just a little repair, which lead to repainting the repair. Then I thought I should repaint the cabin. Before I knew it I had many components taken off to allow for easy surface preparation and painting. Then I ordered non-skid paint for all the traffic areas – this had never been on the boat before. The whole job took me 2 weeks. It’s amazing how boat restorations absorb time. I almost did inside the cabin too but I managed to curb my enthusiasm just enough to not. It can wait. I did the roof inside alright because it needed it.

She always had a hatch on the cabin but it was damaged and didn’t stay on. I fixed that and also built a removable door so that I can close off the cabin for sleeping in or keeping gear dry in bad weather. I’ve been threatening sleeping in it for ages but still haven’t. No excuse now! She still doesn’t have a name by the way…

I’ve had the boat for 3 years and she’s had a lot of use. She’s been stored outside all that time. Mostly under a tarp but often not. Because of this she was in need of a tidy up, some repairs and a paint job. It’s done now! From now on she’ll have a roof over her head. Next up for restoration is Daltona. She will ride again (again).

It was good to get out guiding recently. Dan and I went to Mackenzie Country to fish the lakes. Late August. The fish were there in good numbers in 3 of the 4 places we went. They were not easy. Very spooky but not impossible. To me, this is perfect. Without some challenge it’s not that interesting. Fast, accurate shots made all the difference – especially when keeping the loop travelling low and fast over the water. Big open loops spook a lot of fish in calm water. I often side cast to ensure the loop stays low. Speed is such an underrated skill. It’s something a fella can practice. How fast can you get the fly off the hitch and in front of a cruising fish? This and other aspects of speed and accuracy were some of the things we worked on. We had some really good fishing where it all came together. Dan landed some really solid, fat trout up to 7lbs which is a top end fish on the Mackenzie lakes.

Also did a little uneventful exploring on the Clutha locally. Nothing to report from it. I had a few outings to some local river mouths – they were decent. Last but not least, Wesley and I (mostly Wesley) changed the bearings on the boat trailer. It was great to learn this skill from someone who knows what they’re doing.

That’s me up to date again! The season kicks off in a little over a week. Needless to say I’m looking forward to it. There’s a few gaps, not many but feel free to get in touch with any questions about availability. You can contact me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website. You can check out my Fulling Mill fly patterns here. Some of these have been tweaked and improved for 2024.

Tight Lines and a big Happy Birthday to Sexyloops! 25 today! Ronan..

Some Late Season Highlights…

June 7th, 2023 No comments

There was a nice mix of fishing to be had in April. At times the rivers were in great shape between rain events and I made the most of those opportunities for myself and my clients. There were a few days where the rain pushed me away from the rivers to take on some lakes – this worked out very well. As anyone who reads this knows by now, I love any opportunity to fish the lakes. Generally my clients prefer rivers but for one reason or another, most of my regular clients have fished lakes with me by now. Some are a little bit on the fence with some aspects of still waters but the majority now love it and usually request at least one lake day on a multi day trip.

Later in the month my streamers really came into their own. As some chunky browns congregated around some high country stream mouths, it was time to get stuck in. I had some great fishing for myself and for my clients landing trout with a few over the 7lb mark.

After 7 months looking after Adaline and Lochlan, our Au pair, Ilana wanted to catch a trout. We got out for a day on Dunstan where I figured trolling sinking lines would easily do the business. It didn’t! She lost one right away, then got a few hits before finally (after many hours!) getting stuck in a 1lb rainbow. She was delighted and relieved, we all were! I prepared it for dinner, crudo style with lemon, salt, olive oil and capers. A lovely way to eat fresh, wild trout.

It was great to see many of my regulars over the month and a few new recruits too. Seeing people coming back for more certainly makes it all worth while.

If you’d like to check out my range of flies for NZ you can do so on the Fulling Mill website. It’s winter now so I recommend my hotspot nymphs for the larger rivers which remain open and my range of streamers for the rivers and lakes. You can see them all here.

Next season is filling up fast but feel free to get in touch to lock in a trip. You can contact me at ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines. Ronan..

Irish Lough Style in NZ?

May 15th, 2023 No comments

I recently did a podcast with Daire and Tom from Ireland on the Fly. I never met Daire but I know Tom quite well from fishing at home. He also spent a good chunk of a season here in NZ where we spent some time on the water together. I enjoyed the craic with lads during the interview and shared some of my thoughts and tactics about NZ fly fishing and told a few stories. One of the topics we chatted about was Irish Lough Style in New Zealand. I’m sure I’ve covered this before on my blog – there’s over 300 entries so I’m bound to repeat myself from time to time. However, I’d like to further explain the rapid evolution away from Irish Lough Style which I experienced here in NZ… This is how it went for me.

As soon as I saw the NZ lakes on my first visit in 2002 I wanted to try lough style on them. I assumed that not many people would have tried it. I assumed it would be deadly. Before I go on, I want to explain what lough style is to me. Basically, it’s a way to cover a lot of water quickly and efficiently – similar to streamer fishing in this regard. To me, it’s a team of 3 or 4 traditional wet flies (a dabbler on the bob, bibio in the middle and a Peter Ross on the point for example) on a 15 to 20 foot leader. It’s usually fished on a floating or intermediate line. It’ best fished in a good wind and wave so that the angler can cover a lot of water quickly (if drifting) with imperfections hidden by the rolling wave. When fishing in little or no wind when the angler needs to slow the retrieve, fish lighter tippet and smaller flies, even if they’re traditional patterns, to me, this is closer to nymphing than how I perceive lough style. This is not what I was talking about in the podcast, I was referring more to fishing in the wind and wave. This is lough style in my book although others may hold a different view.

I remember the first time fishing a team of traditional Irish wet-flies in Mackenzie Country on a windy day. Around 2003 I’d say. Lough style worked well as I fished a rocky shore down with the wind. I was delighted with myself. I realised quickly though that the middle fly really didn’t do much. Maybe catching one in ten fish. So I removed it. For the next while I had a pretty even catch rate on the bob and the point – which were now a bit farther apart with the absence of the middle fly. Then I changed the point fly from a traditional sparsely tied wet-fly to a bead head bugger of some description. Immediately I started catching more on the point fly. The bob was still effective but I questioned its necessity, thinking the point will cover the fish anyway. So, I removed the bob. Within a few days, Irish Lough Style in the wind evolved from a team of 3 flies to a single bugger! To this day, when fishing in the wind I fish a single bugger (or similar) in preference to team of 3 traditional wets.

Where the lines blur a little is in lighter conditions where buggers or streamers are much less useful – they generally work best in the wind or at least cloud cover. In these light conditions I’ll often fish a team of 2 small wet flies. Some might consider this lough style but I don’t, personally. I think it’s nymphing. No need for 3 (or 4) flies unless your buzzer fishing – but that’s hardly lough style, is it? There’s no doubting the efficacy of lough style in Ireland. Taking what I learned in NZ back to Ireland, it didn’t work like I had hoped. I went full circle and ended up back with a team of traditional wets. There’s a reason lough style evolved in Ireland..

Right now winter has landed over here. The weather is cold but there has also been a few sunny, warm days. Guiding has all but finished up for another season. I’m writing this with paint on my hands as I’m waiting for some doors to dry before they get their final coat. This is the time of year when I take on some projects to improve the house – and fish, of course.

In the photos below I’m caught up to early April. The fishing will continue through the winter so lots more to come! Enjoy the photos below. They tell the story of a great week with Bill and Jeff where we managed to stay one step ahead of the weather all week. We had a super trip with lots of trout from a lovely variety of water. Also in the pics is a trip to Mackenzie Country with a few friends from the Wakatipu Anglers Club.

If you’d like to check out my comprehensive range of flies for NZ you can do so here. Also If you’d like to get in touch about guided fly fishing over winter or next season you can check out my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com.

Tight Lines, Ronan..

The Wilds of New Zealand…

March 29th, 2023 No comments

I usually get the chance to get into Fjordland once or twice a season. I’ve been a visitor to the area since my second trip to NZ back in 2003. I have many great memories from this vast area with lots of my fishing buddies. Wekas stealing our biscuits (I got the blame), melting my boots and socks beside the fire, almost getting stranded in a flood, filming “the man and his fish”, exploring new rivers, assembling a raft with zip ties, duct tape and tent string, catching seatrout, rainbows, browns, kahawai and jack mackerel, and many more… This trip cemented a few more great memories.

The fishing was magnificent as the photos below make pretty clear, but as I get older I think I appreciate this location and others like it even more. It’s a truely pristine environment. Looking around, it’s as though man has had no impact on the area. Frequently, I found myself gazing up the valley with my jaw hanging open, awestruck, expecting a moa to wander past. I think this is what makes it the cream of angling in many ways. Unreal scenery, gin clear water, good numbers fish of an impressive average size, keen to eat dries (and nymphs!). It’s the picture of NZ that many foreign anglers have in their head. Fish & Game have implemented strict controls on some rivers in the area to prevent overfishing and maximise angler satisfaction. I think they’re working very well. That and the sandflies! We had a few days of fishing back in normal NZ after that (next blog). There was certainly a bit of an anticlimax coming from such a magnificent wilderness which compounds why it’s such a special place.

One of the highlights of the trip was randomly bumping into my great friends Robbie and Tom with a couple of their friends. Plenty room for everyone at the backcountry hut! Good food and fine wine, great company, a fire on the beach, a few beers, plenty craic… what’s not to like. A really great trip. Hopefully we’ll get back next season!

I would like to say that Fjordland Outdoors are a fantastic company to deal with. Very professional and accommodating. Great staff and a super boat to get you where ever you need to go.

As always, my Fulling Mill patterns did the business. Mainly the Tussock Cicada and my range of nymphs. All available here.

Plenty spaces still available for next season. It’s filling up quickly so I advise not wasting too much time to secure your spot. Contact me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website

Tight lines.. Ronan..

Finally – Some Rain!

February 22nd, 2023 No comments

The lakes and rivers were already too low and warm a month ago when I last wrote. Nothing changed. Just continuing hot weather and warming, shrinking rivers and lakes. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it certainly made me think outside the box for guiding and my own fishing. Lots of rivers and still-waters became unfishable so I travelled to find cooler water. Living in a desert – which this area technically is – means I have to do that at times. I think this has been the longest dry spell I’ve experienced in NZ. It must be about 10 weeks or more since we’ve had any decent rain.

Yesterday afternoon the rain started and continued through the night and only stopped about an hour ago. I think there’s a lot more coming later today. It was cold too, so just what the place needs. The rivers are getting a much needed top-up and cool-down. This might be the beginning of Autumn and I hope it is. It will certainly invigorate the fishing and open many options which haven’t been available for a couple of months.

Fishing has been generally quite hard. Even when searching out cooler water there was still a noticeable shutdown in the afternoons. Some lake flats that usually stay cool were also suffering the effects of the heat. It’s funny that January and February are the most popular months over here with foreign anglers, yet they’re regularly, even usually, the hardest months of the season in many parts of the country.

In spite of the relative hardship in the last couple of months there has also been some magnificent fishing. Large rivers, lower reaches, lakes and mountain streams all provided some super sport.

I’m still playing catch up with my photos – Everything below is from January. It would just be too many to put in the February photos too, but I’ll try to write another blog next week to catch up completely.

I recently got my hands on a Fujifilm XE-3. I’m still learning how to use it well but I think its improved my picture taking. I hope you like the images below. I’m pretty happy with lots of them. It’s a new learning curve which I’m enjoying. The old Lumix point and shoot is now a handy back-up.

Pretty much all the successful flies I’m using at the moment are my own patterns available with Fulling Mill. You can check them out here.

The remainder of the season is full apart from a few gaps in April. Plenty spaces for next season but it’s filling up more quickly than usual. Feel free to get in touch – ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight Lines – Ronan..

Back to Work!

December 6th, 2022 No comments

It’s great to be busy guiding again after a couple of hard years. November was a challenging month to guide. Not many nice days! Lots of rain and stormy conditions. The rivers were regularly coloured up as a result. Now and again I had to use lakes and still waters to keep my clients on the fish – but of course I adore this type of fishing so for me it’s not really a plan B, it’s just another option. All up it was a successful month through bad weather. I enjoy the challenge of finding good, clear water to fish through these rain events and I’m yet to cancel a guide day due to weather or water conditions. There’s always water to fish!

Fish were a little leaner than usual earlier on in the season. I put it down to the harsh winter and more specifically a monster flood last July which completely changed many parts of my local rivers. Some of my favourite beats were unrecognisable when I went back to fish them with dad in October. Fish numbers and quality certainly suffered as a result. It was really heartbreaking at times. Walking upstream and not even knowing where I was on the beat. Large corner pools gone – pools that I never thought would move. Long sections of pools and bends bulldozed straight and useless by 460 cumecs. I’ve been using all my spare time trying to get out there to rediscover them and find out where is or is not worth fishing. Thankfully I’m getting a good handle on where is fishing well. Fish are in good condition once again and the rivers are starting to get comfortable with their new courses. Certainly my biggest fear going forward are these huge floods. Hundred year floods they call them… the annual hundred year flood I call them! The flood in July did so much damage around the country. I can’t imaging what 2 or even 3 of these events in a short space of time could do. Utter destruction to rivers and fish populations. I have already been hearing some sad stories from the top of the South Island. Anyway, right now the rivers down here are recovering well and fish numbers are still healthy in most of the rivers. Many rivers were unaffected, thankfully.

My own fishing was pretty limited through November because I was so busy with work. I did get out for a relaxing few hours before a 10 day straight stint. Also one big day through a gorge on my annual pilgramige to catch up with my old friend. Check out the full story here. It’s well worth a read!

The gallery below covers the highlights of a busy month of guiding. I was out most days and now I’m taking a few much needed days off. When I get a chance I’ll put together an account of my time fishing with dad in September and October. We fished 26 days so it certainly warrants its own report!

You can check out my fly patterns, the ones I use on a daily basis over here on the Fulling Mill website. If you’re within NZ I may be able to help you out with a deal. Just let me know. I currently have 7 patterns available in various sizes but I expect to have 7 more patterns available next month.

My season ahead is pretty much full – There may be a gap here or there although I know April still has gaps. Feel free to get in touch about guided fishing this season or next (which is already filling up). Contact me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines.. Ronan..

Fishing Never Stops…

September 25th, 2022 No comments

This has been a real winter. One of the harshest I’ve been here for. Lots of wind, rain, frost and snow – so different to the mild winter last year. Usually by July the fishing on the lakes starts to improve, but this year it took a lot longer. Locally, the lake fishing only picked up earlier this month. Mackenzie Country a little earlier in August. There were always a few fish to be caught but they took more persistence and some were on the lean side. I really don’t mind not catching many fish in a day – or any for that matter. I enjoy the search, trying to figure it out, working hard to put it together. It is a bit a kick in the balls when I can’t figure it out but this is part of continuing to learn – or adjusting what I already know – or think I know! Afterwards, I’ll consider what I might have missed and think about what I’ll try next time. There were days this winter when the fish really seemed “off”… like there was little or nothing I could do to drag out a result.

I have my parents here at the moment so dad and I are fishing most days. This is exactly what I need after a tough few months of colds, flus and covid in the family – and a bad injury to recover from after a dog bit my face. The fishing has been excellent so far – mainly because we have my boat to make the most of the lakes. More about this in my next blog as I haven’t downloaded any photos yet! We’re heading north tomorrow for a few days and then the rivers will open again on October 1. So, I have a very full on 5 weeks of fishing ahead with dad and then guiding kicks off full bore in November. Happy times! The rivers are looking good now after being high and dirty for much of the last few months..

This is a good time to stock up on nymphs, dries and streamers for the coming season. Some of my most successful patterns are available on Fulling Mill. They’re all designed for the NZ fishery and well tested!! I’m very happy to say that I’ll have 7 more patterns available next year.

Still a gap or 2 in the coming season if you’d like to book some guided fly fishing. Contact me – ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines all and enjoy the new season! Ronan..

Buggers!

June 28th, 2022 No comments

I never seem to have enough buggers. They’ve always been a fly which I tie the night before a trip, so at best, I’ll have 6 nice ones in my box – but I’ve often been reduced thrashed old shite. They’re such a useful fly and can be fished anywhere, so finally, I bit the bullet and set out to tie a box of them. Although, initially that wasn’t my intention – I started by tying a few for a friend, then a few for me – then, when a bad cold went through the house, I found myself with time to tie and a new fly-box to fill. What I ended up with was a box of about 120 buggers from size 12 with 2.4mm beads up to size 6 with 4.6mm beads – all on Fulling Mill Competition Heavyweight hooks. I generally like to avoid starkly contrasting colours but since I was tying a comprehensive collection I tied a bit of everything. They’re all tied with possum bodies and marabou tails. I’ve been using this combination for many years now and I find it to be excellent. Rabbit is also very good in the body, but years ago I lucked onto a load of possum in lots of colours and that’s really what set this combination in stone – I had lots of it, and it worked. I don’t add much bling or rubber legs, just one or two strands of flashy stuff on each side or none at all. Of course they’re far from the original pattern. No chenille, no palmered hackle but if a fly has a marabou tail then it’s in the bugger family.

Last weekend I put them to the test. Myself and Brayden went to Mackenzie Country for a couple of days on the lakes – both of us trying to shake off a cold. Day one would have been good but there were 5 other anglers on the lake which made it harder to find good water. We got a few fish none the less, we just had to work a bit harder to get them. The scenery was really spectacular though. In winter, the snow really shows you just how big and dramatic these mountainous valleys are. My eyes were regularly taken off the water to enjoy the scenes. At the end of the day a couple of hot whiskeys were most welcome!

Day 2 – Fog! The fog never left the water all day. This was a bit frustrating because the skies were clear above it and sun was trying unsuccessfully to break through all day. There were a few fish cruising the edges in the morning but they were just hard enough to see to make them very difficult to approach. We worked hard to land a couple for the day and we covered lots of lake edge to get them. June on the lakes is generally hard because the majority of fish are up the rivers spawning. I don’t mind that it’s tough. There are still enough fish about to make for a good days fishing and I can’t wait to get back up there.. The new buggers did their thing anyway! I lost a couple but replaced them yesterday..

I still have a heap of photos from local fishing over the winter to date but they’ll have to wait for the next blog. It’s just too many photos otherwise!

If you’d like to get in touch about guided fishing over winter or next season please get in touch! ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website. Tight Lines, Ronan..

Link to my fly patterns on Fulling Mill here – and a link to my latest article for the fulling mill blog here -Winter in New Zealand.