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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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 CAMOFLAGE CLOTHING WORK?
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
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
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
Gel Spun Polyethylene (GSP) fishing lines get their strength from the weaving or laminating of many polyethylene fibres. True braids, as their name suggests, achieve this by ‘braiding’ fibres together while fused braids use a proprietary form of ‘heat welding’ the fibres together. Fused GSP lines are generally cheaper, stiffer and thicker than braid of the same breaking strain. This doesn’t mean it isn’t as … Continue reading TIPS FOR SPINNING WITH FUSED BRAID
Text: Alan Bulmer & Tony Bishop Featured Image: Paul Smith Indicator nymphing, especially as it is practiced on the Tongariro River in NZ, can be a tricky art to master. Due to the large volume of water typically flowing down the Tongariro, the typical nymph rig for the turbulent, deep runs is a couple of tungsten bead head nymphs suspended below a yarn indicator. Often the … Continue reading DEMYSTIFYING INDICATOR NYMPHING
Text: Alan Bulmer Lead Image: Mark Hoffman New Zealand is a long narrow country and no point is more than 120 kilometres from the sea. This peculiar geography, coupled with differential heating and cooling of land and water during the day, means that irrespective of where you are wind is likely to feature at some point during the day. If you do not … Continue reading DEALING WITH THE WIND
Text: Alan Bulmer & Tony Bishop For many years I found swirling eddies amongst the most tricky places to fish. This was probably because the current flows were typically powerful, turbulent and unpredictable. Swirling eddies are often formed where the river changes direction abruptly and are generally deep and difficult to see into. Trout, especially those moving upstream on spawning runs or dropping back downstream … Continue reading FISHING SWIRLING EDDIES
Ivan Bulmer, Alan’s late father, was a bait fishing expert. He lived in Whangamata and used to help out as “boat boy” on many of the charter vessels based there, especially MV Te Ra and Astraea. Most weeks he would help out on two or three charters and over the summer he’d be on board one of the boats almost daily. It certainly kept … Continue reading THE LEDGER RIG JIG
Text: Mike Ladle and Alan Bulmer Featured image: David Miller – Striped Assassins This article from retired UK marine biologist Dr Mike Ladle looks at the scientific studies conducted on perch (Redfin) in Europe to find out what they eat throughout the year. While the research was conducted in the Northern hemisphere it is very likely that the discoveries also hold true in the … Continue reading WHAT DO PERCH EAT?
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
This fascinating piece from Dr Mike Ladle looks at the mechanics of how carp feed. This information summarises many of the scientific experiments that have been undertaken and is invaluable in helping an angler time the strike to maximise the likelihood of a solid hook set. “Like most anglers I have often wondered what was happening at the far end of my line – usually … Continue reading HOW CARP FEED
Recently I read a chapter on drag systems from the 2007 book “Fishing Techniques” by Steve Cooper (ISBN 1865131067, 9781865131061). It really got me thinking as it raised some excellent points. Cooper stated that “drags should be set at 25% of the lines breaking strain with a full spool of line. To make sure that the setting is correct use an accurate spring scale, with the rod pointing … Continue reading DRAG SETTINGS CHANGE DURING THE 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?
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
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
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
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
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?
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?
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?
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
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
Text: Alan Bulmer Featured image: Feathers and Fluoro Several months ago I published an article called “Targeting Trevally” which looked at how to improve your success rate when chasing trevally. If you want to view this article then click on the following link:- https://activeanglingnz.com/2015/08/08/outsmarting-trevally-with-flies-and-lures/ Late autumn and early winter are prime times to target trevally. There are some things that you need to consider when fishing … Continue reading WINTER TREVALLY
In Stalking the flats – Part 2, I discussed what to look for when walking across the flats. I mentioned that “I am always on the look-out for freshly dug depressions in the sand and shell, roughly 0.5 – 1 metre in diameter. These depressions are often easy to spot as entire areas will be pockmarked with them and they are surrounded by piles of … Continue reading STALKING THE FLATS FOR SNAPPER
Rod handles – Which is better Cork or EVA foam and why? The two main materials used in the fishing rod handles are cork and EVA foam (also called Duplon). Each material has its advantages and disadvantages but which is better? Cork handles tend to be lighter than foam ones and also maintain residual heat in cooler temperatures. This means that they are warmer to … Continue reading ROD HANDLES – CORK OR EVA FOAM
The ideal spin fishing tackle for flats fishing is always going to come down to personal preference. You need to find a rod and reel combination that feels comfortable and suits your casting style as you will make a lot of casts in a two hour flats session. However, having said that, a safe working outfit would be a 2.1 metre (7′) soft bait rod, … Continue reading FLATS SPINNING TACKLE
(Words – Alan Bulmer/ Images – Kiyoshi Nakagawa) The day dawned cool and clear in Auckland. I had slept fitfully as I always do before a serious fishing trip, scared to drop off unless I missed the alarm and excited about what the day would hold. I was already up when the alarmed sounded at 4.15 am, ready and breakfasted by the time that my … Continue reading NGONGOTAHA – TROPHY TROUT MECCA
Shortly after we received the article from Mike Ladle on his Mullet catching exploits in England (https://activeanglingnz.com/2014/04/21/dr-mike-ladle-mullet-fishing-for-new-zealand/) I received an email from Alan Bulmer, describing the flies that he tied for Mike Ladle to entice Mullet species in the UK….. The e-mail went:- “Hi Paul, First things first, the species of mullet that Mike Ladle catches in the UK is not identical to the NZ Grey … Continue reading MULLET – KIWI FLY CATCHES THEM IN UK
Mullet fishing for NZ Around every shoreline in the World you will find mullet. The sleek grey shapes will be ghosting in and out of harbours, grazing algae from the rocks, rooting in the gloopy mud of estuaries, skimming scum from the water surface or simply basking in the warm shallow water as the tide creeps in over your favourite beach. What you will rarely … Continue reading Dr. MIKE LADLE – MULLET FISHING FOR NEW ZEALAND
Stalking The Flats – “What to Look For” The most important skill to be learned in order to spin fish estuaries effectively is identifying where fish are likely to be located. This process starts well before you reach the water. In fact, it starts as soon as you get out of your vehicle. The first thing that I’m looking for are the channels which drain … Continue reading STALKING THE FLATS – “WHAT TO LOOK FOR”
Stalking The Flats – “The Approach” 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 exposed at low tide. … Continue reading STALKING THE FLATS – APPROACHING THE WATER