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PROSPECTING THE FLATS

Text: Alan Bulmer                 Images: Mark Hoffman & NZ Fishing World Recently I wrote an article which described in detail how to find suitable estuarine flats to fish using Google Earth and marine charts and the signs to look for once you are at your chosen spot which give away where the fish are probably holding. https://activeanglingnz.com/2014/04/21/stalking-the-flats-part-one-the-approach/ Despite what Google Earth and marine charts show estuarine channels are … Continue reading PROSPECTING THE FLATS

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FLOATING FLIES FOR NIGHT FISHING

Text: Alan Bulmer         Lead image: MidCurrent (Hughes) Most rivers still have an evening rise during Spring and Summer where trout rise voraciously to feed on insects concentrated in the surface film. Stretches of river which appeared barren during the day suddenly spring to life as dusk approaches. It is arguably the best time to be on the river if you are a dry fly fisherman. Casting … Continue reading FLOATING FLIES FOR NIGHT FISHING

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GREY MULLET – GHOSTS OF THE FLATS

Text: Mike Ladle & Alan Bulmer        Lead image: Constantine Alexander Around the world there are several species of grey mullet.  In the UK there are three namely the thicklip (Crenimugil labrosus), the thinlip (Liza ramada) and the golden (Liza aurata). To the untrained eye they may appear to be identical.  The streamlined, silver-grey striped flanks, toothless rubbery lips, powerful muscular bodies and … Continue reading GREY MULLET – GHOSTS OF THE FLATS

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TIDES AND SAFETY – THE RULE OF TWELFTHS

Text: Alan Bulmer   Lead image: Paul Smith One of the most important things to understand before venturing onto the rocks, flats or in a boat to go fishing is tidal movement. Many anglers, especially those with no marine background or those new to the sport, assume that the tide comes in and goes out at a constant rate. This is definitely not the case and … Continue reading TIDES AND SAFETY – THE RULE OF TWELFTHS

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ROD REVIEW – EPIC FASTGLASS 888 FLY ROD

Recently I was given the opportunity to test an Epic Fastglass 888 fly rod made by the Swift Fly Fishing Company. Swift is based in Wanaka New Zealand and sells premium quality fibreglass and carbon fibre rod making kits and studio built fly rods. The studio built rods are handcrafted and made-to-order. Like many anglers I learned to fly fish with fibreglass rods and while … Continue reading ROD REVIEW – EPIC FASTGLASS 888 FLY ROD

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THINKING LIKE A TROUT

Text: Alan Bulmer, Rod & Reel    Lead image: Kiyoshi Nakagawa When I was young my father, who always seemed to catch something when we went fishing, used to harp on about how I needed to learn how to “think like a fish” in order to become consistently successful. Teenage boys rarely listen to their fathers so this advice, which I struggled to understand without some … Continue reading THINKING LIKE A TROUT

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LAKE ONTARIO PIKE

Recently I was fortunate enough to accompany my wife on a business trip to Toronto. One of the items on my bucket list had always been to catch a pike so on a day when I was not required to carry luggage I arranged a fishing charter with Taro Murata of Fish City Tours to try and catch one. Taro and I corresponded before the … Continue reading LAKE ONTARIO PIKE

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MATCHING SPINNING REELS TO RODS

Many fishing tackle retailers, especially those trying to move volume, seem to match spinning rods and reels based on achieving a particular price point rather than whether the two items of equipment are actually compatible. Some of the budget rod and reel pairings are very poorly matched and would underperform spectacularly on the water. These combinations would be either heavy to hold for long periods of time or cast … Continue reading MATCHING SPINNING REELS TO RODS

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CRAFTING FLIES TO MIMIC SUCCESSFUL LURES

The advances in fly tying technology over the past 50 years is staggering. Whereas in the past flies were constructed from fur, feathers, wire and thread, nowadays there is a dizzying array of materials that are used in “crafting flies”. Foam, man made fibres and films, rubber legs, hot melt glue and UV epoxy in particular have revolutionised fly tying techniques. The possibilities to create … Continue reading CRAFTING FLIES TO MIMIC SUCCESSFUL LURES

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TONGARIRO MEMORIES

The Tongariro River rises in the central volcanic plateau of the North Island of New Zealand and wends it way in a roughly northerly direction through the township of Turangi to eventually enter Lake Taupo near Tokaanu. It is easily the largest and most important spawning river in the Lake Taupo fishing region. Ever since Zane Grey fished the river and immortalised it in his book “Tales of the Angler’s … Continue reading TONGARIRO MEMORIES

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IS LURE COLOUR AND SCENT IMPORTANT?

TEXT: Mike Ladle & Alan Bulmer Recently I happened across an excellent article written from Steve Starling which looked at the how to choose a lure colour to suit the conditions and summarised the findings in several elegant pictograms. It is well worth the read and most of the recommendations reinforced what Active Angling has already written on the subject of lure colour (https://activeanglingnz.com/2015/08/28/what-are-the-best-fly-and-lure-colours-for-the-flats/). Check out Steve Starlings … Continue reading IS LURE COLOUR AND SCENT IMPORTANT?

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“GO TO” NYMPH SELECTION

AANZ is often asked to recommend a selection of “go to” nymph patterns for the streams and rivers in the North Island of New Zealand. Patterns such as the Gold ribbed Hare’s Ear and Pheasant Tail are ubiquitous and proven all around the globe. Tied on # 12 – # 16 hooks, with or without bead heads, they are without peer. Leaving them out of any selection … Continue reading “GO TO” NYMPH SELECTION

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THINKING LIKE A FISH

Text : Alan Bulmer     Lead image: Paul Smith When I was young my father, who always seemed to catch something when we went fishing, used to harp on about how I needed to learn how to “think like a fish” in order to become consistently successful. Teenage boys rarely listen to their fathers so this advice, which I struggled to understand without some concrete examples, … Continue reading THINKING LIKE A FISH

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UNDERSTANDING FLOUNDER AND OTHER FLATFISH

Text: Mike Ladle and Alan Bulmer              Lead image: http://www.fishcrack.com Around the world flatfish are regular targets for shore based anglers yet here in NZ they are largely ignored. However, rather than simply chase them after dark with a spear or net the opportunity exists to target them with a rod and line during the day. To do this it is important to understand how flatfish, … Continue reading UNDERSTANDING FLOUNDER AND OTHER FLATFISH

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GEAR REVIEW – SITKA STORMFRONT JACKET AND JETSTREAM VEST

Text: Alan Bulmer                    Featured image: Mark Hoffman There is no doubt that stalking fish is more effective when the angler is wearing camouflage clothing and the reasons why are covered in some detail in the following article:-. https://activeanglingnz.com/2016/03/21/does-camoflage-clothing-work/ However, it is not easy to find a camouflage pattern which allows you to blend in and remain unseen when you are stalking fish on the mudflats. … Continue reading GEAR REVIEW – SITKA STORMFRONT JACKET AND JETSTREAM VEST

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CHOOSING THE RIGHT JIG HEAD

Text: Alan Bulmer                Featured image: Tim Angeli Arguably the most important factor in soft bodied lure fishing (soft plastics and soft baits) is selecting a jig head that best suits the conditions encountered. Much of what has been written on this subject is fairly generic and it often does not make much sense until you’ve experimented extensively and learned from experience what works best and … Continue reading CHOOSING THE RIGHT JIG HEAD

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ROD REVIEW – YAMAGA BLANKS BALLISTICK EVO 94/16

Text: Alan Bulmer                Featured image: Henry Gilbey Over the past few years I steadily have come to the realisation that long spinning rods, especially those over 2.6 metres in length, are ideal for shore based estuary fishing. The main reasons for this are explained in: – https://activeanglingnz.com/2015/09/24/are-longer-rods-better-on-the-flats/ In New Zealand the issue, especially when fishing small hard bodied lures and soft plastics, has always been finding … Continue reading ROD REVIEW – YAMAGA BLANKS BALLISTICK EVO 94/16

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EXPERIMENTING WITH GLASS BEAD FLIES

Text: Alan Bulmer & Tony Bishop The first time that I ever saw glass beads being used in fly construction was in the mid 1990’s. A group of us had fished with the groom on the morning of his wedding and it would be fair to say that our efforts on a heavily pressured fishery were nothing to highlight in neon. The groom did manage to land … Continue reading EXPERIMENTING WITH GLASS BEAD FLIES

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CONSIDER REFLECTED UV WHEN TYING FLIES

Text: Alan Bulmer         Featured image: Auckland Freshwater Anglers I have just finished reading a book by Reed Curry entitled “The New Scientific Angling – Trout and Ultraviolet Vision”. The ISBN number is 9780984086306. It is thought provoking read that will probably change forever the way you think about trout fly design. The book looks primarily at UV reflectance and how this is likely be used by … Continue reading CONSIDER REFLECTED UV WHEN TYING FLIES

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ARE SOFT BODIED LURES MORE EFFECTIVE THAN BAIT?

Text: Alan Bulmer    Featured image: NZ Fishing World Recently I wrote an article which described experiments conducted by Mike Ladle in the UK to compare the effectiveness of lure and bait fishing from the shore versus fishing from a dinghy.  These results clearly showed that, while the catch rate using bait and lures were similar from the shore, the frequency with which big fish were caught increased by nearly six fold … Continue reading ARE SOFT BODIED LURES MORE EFFECTIVE THAN BAIT?

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ARE LURES MORE EFFECTIVE THAN BAIT?

Text: Mike Ladle & Alan Bulmer        Featured Image: Scott Gray Many years ago Mike Ladle and four of his UK angling friends set out to determine the relative success of various methods of fishing in salt water and whether fishing with lures was as successful as fishing with bait. All of the anglers were skilled bait and lure fishermen. They designed an experiment to ensure that … Continue reading ARE LURES MORE EFFECTIVE THAN BAIT?

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SHOCK LEADERS WITH BRAID

Text: Alan Bulmer    Featured image: Guy Harvey For many years now I’ve been spin fishing with low stretch conventional or fused braid. The main reasons that I originally switched to using braid were the increased casting distance, improved sensitivity to takes and a dramatic reduction in twist when using bladed spinners. At present, I’m using 1.5 PE conventional braid with a rated breaking strain of 8.8 kilograms and … Continue reading SHOCK LEADERS WITH BRAID

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FLY TYING ON A TIGHT BUDGET

There is no doubt that the selection of fly tying materials available today is immense. Every week a new synthetic material seems to appear which apparently has properties better than the last iteration. For those who are fly tying on a tight budget the decisions as to which materials to purchase are becoming mind numbingly complex. Is it necessary to purchase these innovative new materials … Continue reading FLY TYING ON A TIGHT BUDGET

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FLY PATTERNS FOR THE FLATS

Text: Alan Bulmer             Images: Alan Bulmer and Geoff Dunne As you know, I predominantly stalk (or hunt) kahawai, snapper and trevally on the flats and 90% of the time I only use five fly patterns. These flies are both 5 – 7.5 cm in length and all are fished sub-surface. This is deliberate. A couple of years ago I discovered an article in the journal Marine and Freshwater … Continue reading FLY PATTERNS FOR THE FLATS

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NAILING IT WITH LURES

Not every fishing is session is full on action, especially when fishing a lure. Despite what the angling magazines would have us believe, it is not uncommon for anglers to have blank sessions or sessions where very few fish are hooked. Even professional guides have tough days where the fish do not seem to want to cooperate. On these days it is important to make … Continue reading NAILING IT WITH LURES

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NAILING IT WHEN FLY FISHING

Text: Alan Bulmer               Images: Frank Richard & Paul Smith Not every fishing is session is full on action, especially when fly fishing. Despite what the angling magazines would have us believe, it is not uncommon for anglers to have blank sessions or sessions where very few fish are hooked. Even professional guides have tough days where the fish do not seem to want to cooperate. On … Continue reading NAILING IT WHEN FLY FISHING

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DOES CAMOUFLAGE CLOTHING WORK?

Text: Alan Bulmer               Images: Mark Hoffman As you have probably gathered from the images posted on Active Angling I am a firm advocate of wearing camouflage clothing when fishing the flats, especially when using a fly rod. While it may not make much of a difference what you wear if you only fish around dawn or dusk once the sun rises and bathes the flats in light … Continue reading DOES CAMOUFLAGE CLOTHING WORK?

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MATCHING FLY LINES TO RODS

Recently I happened upon two pieces of information, an article and a catalogue, which got me thinking about how difficult it can now be to choose a weight forward fly line to match a particular fly rod, especially the newer fast action models. The article was “Line ’em up” and it was written by the late Hugh McDowell for Fish & Game NZ back in 2002. It is … Continue reading MATCHING FLY LINES TO RODS

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SOFT PLASTIC FUNDAMENTALS

Soft plastics, or soft baits, were not readily available in New Zealand until the early 21st Century. Since then the growth in popularity of these lures has been phenomenal due to their success in catching a wide variety of fish species. I started using them in the late 1990’s when I imported some Sassy shads from the USA. They were an immediate success, especially on … Continue reading SOFT PLASTIC FUNDAMENTALS

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UNDERSTANDING FLOW BEHAVIOUR IN RIVERS

Text: Alan Bulmer & Mike Ladle     Images: Ross Baker (Tongariro River Motel) One of the biggest challenges facing wet fly or nymph anglers fishing in rivers is to figure out what the current is doing below the surface. If you can understand this then it makes it easier to identify where the trout will be holding and hatch a plan to effectively present a fly … Continue reading UNDERSTANDING FLOW BEHAVIOUR IN RIVERS

Polytetrafluoroethylene, better known as Teflon, is a synthetic fluoropolymer. A synthetic fluoropolymer is a fluorocarbon-based polymer with multiple strong carbon-fluorine bonds, making it highly resistant to solvents, acids and bases. Sticky post

THE FLUOROCARBON MYTH

For several years I’ve had a growing feeling that fluorocarbon monofilament simply does not live up to the marketing hype. It is twice as expensive as nylon monofilament but is it twice as good in terms of performance? The short answer is No and this piece will explain why. Recently I lost a large kingfish from the shore after a torrid 20 minute “no holds barred” … Continue reading THE FLUOROCARBON MYTH

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WHAT DETERMINES HOW WELL TROUT FIGHT?

Text: Alan Bulmer         Images: Matt Jones & Irideus Fly Fishing I recently read an excellent article by Tim Angeli in NZ Fish & Game magazine entitled “Do Big Fish fight”(Issue 90 Page 24-30). It really got me thinking and is definitely worth checking out. The wide ranging article discussed the fight provided by big fish, whether the fight from rainbow trout is typically more energetic … Continue reading WHAT DETERMINES HOW WELL TROUT FIGHT?

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FLOUNDER ON A BAITED SPOON

Text: Alan Bulmer   Lead Image: Sport Fishing magazine Flounder are present in many estuaries worldwide and NZ is no exception. In NZ very few people try to catch flounder using a rod and reel, preferring instead to target them with a spear, drag or set net. While flounder may not be renowned for their fighting qualities, they are delectable on the plate and definitely worth … Continue reading FLOUNDER ON A BAITED SPOON

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FLY CASTING BY FEEL

Fly casting techniques have changed markedly over the past hundred years and this in many ways has been influenced by rod manufacturing developments. In the early part of the 20th century when fly rods were predominantly made of cane the fly casting mantra was to use the wrist more than the arm, straight up and down, 10 to 12 on the casting clock with the … Continue reading FLY CASTING BY FEEL

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DRAG SETTING AND ROD TEST CURVES

One of the things that is commonly printed on spinning, surfcasting and boat fishing rods in Europe is the test (or working) curve. Yet in other countries, including here in New Zealand, it is rare to see it stated on a rod blank. The test curve is a measure of the stiffness of the rod. It is the amount of weight that needs to be applied to the … Continue reading DRAG SETTING AND ROD TEST CURVES

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PERCH (REDFIN) FEEDING BEHAVIOUR

Text: Mike Ladle   Feature image: John Kuczala Perch have big eyes and big mouths. These two simple facts suggest that old stripey is a predator largely using its excellent eyesight to find prey. Of course, once they attain a decent size, these fish feed mainly on smaller species or on the young of other fish. The question is do we have any information about when, … Continue reading PERCH (REDFIN) FEEDING BEHAVIOUR

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LURE CASTING – SIDE OR OVERHEAD?

IS SIDE OR OVERHEAD CASTING BETTER FOR LURES? There is no correct answer to the question “Is side or overhead casting better for lures” as both methods have their place. The choice is ultimately down to personal preference and the purpose of this article is to discuss the merits and shortcomings of both methods. Irrespective of whether the lure is cast using an overhead or … Continue reading LURE CASTING – SIDE OR OVERHEAD?

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WHY IS FLY FISHING IN FRESHWATER BETTER AT NIGHT?

Most rivers in NZ have an evening rise when trout seem to appear from nowhere to feed on insects. More fish seem to rise to flies on the surface after dark than during the day. Why is this so and can it be explained scientifically? Dr Mike Ladle, a retired UK fisheries ecologist, spent many years studying this phenomenon and shares some of his insights … Continue reading WHY IS FLY FISHING IN FRESHWATER BETTER AT NIGHT?

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WHY PREDATORY FISH USE SHADE TO AMBUSH PREY

Predators are very skilled at using shade to ambush prey. Whether it be hiding in wait under a moored boat or wharf, attacking prey in the margins at dawn when the light angle is low and the prey is staring directly into the rising sun or hiding behind a sunken obstruction in a river, predators regularly use shade to improve their chances of success when feeding. … Continue reading WHY PREDATORY FISH USE SHADE TO AMBUSH PREY

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SINK RATES OF FLIES TIED WITH TUNGSTEN AND BRASS BEADS

Getting down to the bottom of the river is critical for success when fishing weighted nymphs. Fly fishermen use a variety of techniques to do this, mainly by adding lead split shot to the trace or incorporating brass or tungsten beads into their nymph patterns. Common logic is that materials with high bulk densities, such as Tungsten, sink fastest and that the heavier the bead … Continue reading SINK RATES OF FLIES TIED WITH TUNGSTEN AND BRASS BEADS

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HOOK PENETRATION

Hook penetration is one of the most important aspects of fishing and probably the least well understood. The aim of this article is to help clear up some of the confusion. The sharpness, length and profile of the point all govern how far the hook point will penetrate into the flesh in and around the mouth of a fish. The barb is the projection extending backwards … Continue reading HOOK PENETRATION

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ANALYSING TROUT RISE FORMS – A LOST SKILL?

Words: Alan Bulmer   Images: Tim Angeli When I was young and learning to fly fish I was given a tattered book on trout fishing by a curmudgeonly old friend of my fathers. He took me aside, gruffly told me that I should read the book as it contained a wealth of useful information, attempted a wry smile and shuffled off. The book was “Trout fishing … Continue reading ANALYSING TROUT RISE FORMS – A LOST SKILL?

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DO FISH LEARN TO AVOID FLIES & LURES?

Article by: Alan Bulmer         Photos: Paul Smith Recently I read an excellent article by Neil Wagener in NZ Fisher # 50 entitled “Are we training fish to avoid lures”. Click on the following link to view it:- http://www.nzfisher.co.nz/ The basic premise of the article is that fish become conditioned to lures the more they see them and if they are hooked, landed and released during … Continue reading DO FISH LEARN TO AVOID FLIES & LURES?

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FAST ACTION FLY RODS – ARE THEY REALLY BETTER?

Article by: Alan Bulmer   Photos: Paul Smith, Mark Hoffman, Alan Bulmer While researching for an upcoming article for Active Angling NZ I stumbled upon a website called “Rod Building Forum” and a fascinating interview with Tom Morgan on fly rod design. It is well worth reading:- http://www.rodbuildingforum.com/sources/special/morgan.php Tom Morgan is best known as the owner and principal rod designer for R.L. Winston from 1973 to … Continue reading FAST ACTION FLY RODS – ARE THEY REALLY BETTER?

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CHOOSING A LURE COLOUR TO SUIT THE CONDITIONS

Words: Alan Bulmer Photos: Paul Smith & Alan Bulmer I recently stumbled upon an article http://www.tacklemaking.com entitled “Colour theory for fishing lures”. While the article is written from an American angling perspective it got me thinking about the most effective colours for flies and lures when fishing the estuarine flats in NZ. Before I add my thoughts read what they had to say below:- DIFFERENT … Continue reading CHOOSING A LURE COLOUR TO SUIT THE CONDITIONS

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CORK FLY ROD HANDLES – SHAPE AND CIRCUMFERENCE IS IMPORTANT

Several months ago I wrote a rod review on the innovative Kilwell Xantu 9’6” #8 weight fly rod. Check it out:- https://activeanglingnz.com/2015/03/27/kilwell-xantu-96-8-weight-rod-review/ One of the things that I noticed as soon as I held the rod was that the diameter of the cork handle was slightly larger than any of the other fly rods in my arsenal. In real terms it was around 2.5 millimetres wider which … Continue reading CORK FLY ROD HANDLES – SHAPE AND CIRCUMFERENCE IS IMPORTANT

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HOW TO FISH HARD BODIED LURES

Over the years I have read many articles on spin fishing and written down everything that was worth remembering. The following are my summary notes on bibbed minnows. It is a collection of other people’s work so I am not claiming ownership. Hopefully it is of some value. “Bibbed minnows have a tapered, streamlined shape reminiscent of a bait fish and a projecting lip (or bib … Continue reading HOW TO FISH HARD BODIED LURES

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WAIHEKE ISLAND – SALT FLY NIRVANA?

Waiheke Island is located in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. A short ferry ride from downtown Auckland it is arguably the jewel in the crown when it comes to saltwater fly fishing around Auckland. If you want a better idea of how good it can be click on the following video from Paul Smith to  see local fishing legends, Adam Clancey and Tom Lusk, getting up close and … Continue reading WAIHEKE ISLAND – SALT FLY NIRVANA?

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WHICH MONTHS ARE BEST TO FISH THE TONGARIRO?

Back in the day most anglers timed their trips to the Tongariro river to coincide with the main rainbow trout spawning runs which occurred over the winter months. Between 1960 and 2000 these runs were mostly concentrated between May – August. However there has been a major change in the timing of the rainbow trout spawning runs since 2002 and the fabled winter runs have … Continue reading WHICH MONTHS ARE BEST TO FISH THE TONGARIRO?

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HOW TO FIND AND STALK THE FLATS

Text: Alan Bulmer        Images: Paul Smith & Mark Hoffman New Zealand has around 15,500 kilometres of coastline and as a consequence is blessed with lots of harbours and river mouths for anglers to explore. Most hold large numbers of fish and a surprising proportion of these may be trophy specimens. Estuarine environments are often dominated by large expanses of sand or mud which are fully … Continue reading HOW TO FIND AND STALK THE FLATS

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DOES CAMOUFLAGE CLOTHING WORK?

Originally posted on Active Angling New Zealand:
Text: Alan Bulmer               Images: Mark Hoffman As you have probably gathered from the images posted on Active Angling I am a firm advocate of wearing camouflage clothing when fishing the flats, especially when using a fly rod. While it may not make much of a difference what you wear if you only fish around dawn or dusk once the sun… Continue reading DOES CAMOUFLAGE CLOTHING WORK?