Text: Alan Bulmer Lead image: Grant Bittle (https://www.catchfishing.pro/) Recently I was contacted by a good friend and asked if I could help explain a feeding phenomenon he had observed. It was a spring tide in Dorset and millions of helpless seaweed fly maggots were being washed into the ocean with every crashing wave. Bass were clearly visible gorging themselves on the maggots and it appeared that … Continue reading FISH DIGESTION AND HOW IT DRIVES FEEDING BEHAVIOUR
Most anglers like nothing better than to show off their lure collection and generally it is an eclectic mixture of lure types and colours. Collections are very personal and most of the lures were purchased for a specific species or reason. However, irrespective of how many lures an angler owns, it is likely that the great majority never get used and when they occasionally do … Continue reading THE SINGLE LURE EXPERIMENT
Text: Alan Bulmer Lead image: Game Fishing Asia One of the most frustrating things that an angler using lures can experience is losing a solid fish due to a hook breaking or pulling out. Why do hooks break and is there anything that can be done to reduce the likelihood of hooks breaking? Aside from casting damage, the two most common reasons that hooks break are work hardening … Continue reading WHY DO HOOKS BREAK?
Video: Paul Smith. Lead Image: Black Creek Ops NZ Stunning 40 second video from Paul Smith which encapsulates the essence of back country fishing for trout in New Zealand. The angler fortunate enough to be fishing in paradise is Gareth Bayliss (Trout Hunting NZ). Continue reading VIDEO – NZ BACKCOUNTRY BLISS
Text: Alan Bulmer Lead image: Rob Wilson (https://www.ghostfishing.co.nz/) One of the biggest issues facing anglers spin fishing from the shore is snagging and losing lures. If you are fishing an area for the first time or using lures not suited to the terrain that you are fishing then losses can be significant and expensive. There is a fine balance between getting your lure close to the … Continue reading HOW TO STOP LOSING LURES
This easy to tie fly is constructed from a foam ear plug. The type of plug used in noise attenuation. TYING MATERIALS Hook: Daiichi 2546 Saltwater hook. Size: 2/0. Tail: Three layers. Bottom layer is red Hareline Dubbin Fishair. FH310. Middle layer is pink DNA Frosty Fish Fiber. Top layer is Pearl Hareline Dubbin Krystal flash. Body: Orange foam ear plug. 1″ in length. TYING … Continue reading EAR PLUG POPPER
Text: Alan Bulmer Images: Mark Hoffman and Alan Ang Several times recently I’ve ventured out onto the flats at dawn and encountered foggy conditions. On the first occasion it was a thick “pea souper” with low visibility and two of us only hooked one fish in the entire session. Interestingly the fish took as the fog was finally starting to lift but it was an isolated … Continue reading UNDERSTANDING FOG AND HOW IT AFFECTS FISHING
Text: Mike Ladle & Alan Bulmer Lead image: Paul Smith The tides, the weather, and the manner in which these effect the sea are crucial to understanding the behaviour and feeding patterns of sea fishes. The tides are due to a double bulge of water, on either side of the earth, caused by the attraction of the moon. If the moon was stationary in relation to … Continue reading USING TIDES TO PREDICT WHEN TO FISH
Text : Alan Bulmer Lead image: Henry Gilbey (www.henry-gilbey.com) When using braid it is critical to spool spinning reels properly to avoid wind knots. Most manufacturers of spinning reels made for use with braid are aware of the importance of line lay and have designed the rotor and line roller to fill the spool evenly from top to bottom with braid of a specified diameter. If you … Continue reading SPOOLING BRAID PROPERLY
The iridescent green beetle is a excellent imitation of the Manuka beetle. These beetles hatch over summer (November – February) and trout feed actively on them. They are widespread across New Zealand and are an important favourite forage species for trout, especially in the central North Island area. Unlike the Brown Beetle, the Manuka Beetle is active during day light hours when the wind will blow them … Continue reading TYING THE IRIDESCENT MANUKA BEETLE
Several years ago I began to experiment tying flies with combinations of rubber bodies and more traditional synthetic and natural fly tying materials. The initial aim was to craft hybrid flies which mimicked successful lures. The technique worked so I wrote an article on hybrid lures last year. Click on the following link to read it: – https://activeanglingnz.com/2016/08/28/crafting-flies-to-mimic-successful-lures/ Earlier in the year when researching an … Continue reading HYBRID FLIES USING RUBBER TAILS AND MYLAR TUBE
Research undertaken by NIWA scientists, Dr Mark Morrison and Dr Glen Carbines, using towed underwater cameras has clearly shown that some snapper sleep at night. Check out the video below and see how some of the snapper barely move until they are almost hit by the camera. A fascinating insight into snapper behaviour. Continue reading VIDEO SHOWING SNAPPER SLEEPING
Text: Alan Bulmer Lead image: New England Boating I recently read an excellent article by Tony Bishop on the rules that should be followed when releasing a fish. It is well worth a look:- http://www.bishfish.co.nz/articles/general/releaserules.htm This prompted me to do some research to find out what scientific studies had been conducted on Catch & Release practices and what else had been discovered. I managed to unearth an excellent … Continue reading ENSURING FISH SURVIVE AFTER RELEASE
Text: Alan Bulmer Featured image: Al Barnes. One of the most important skills to learn as an angler is peripheral awareness. That is, training yourself to spot things in your peripheral vision which alert you to the movement of actively feeding fish. This was brought home to me yesterday when I was on the flats with another experienced fisherman. During the course of the session … Continue reading HOW TO SPOT FISH MORE EFFECTIVELY
There is no doubt that the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water has a major impact on fish behaviour and survival. What actually is dissolved oxygen though, where does it come from and what happens if there is insufficient available? The most comprehensive and easy to understand article that I’ve read on dissolved oxygen is from the Fundaments of Environmental Measurements website and can be accessed by clicking … Continue reading HOW DISSOLVED OXYGEN AFFECTS FISH BEHAVIOUR
In order to successfully stalk fish it is important to have an appreciation of what fish can actually see. This is determined by several things, where their eyes are positioned on their head, water clarity and how deep in the water they are holding. There are some fundamental rules of physics which help understand what a fish can see and it is really useful to understand these … Continue reading THE SCIENCE OF STALKING FISH
The holographic anchovy is an all purpose pattern that is effective on everything from trevally to kahawai and kingfish that feed on small baitfish. It works exceptionally well when cast to feeding fish and retrieved rapidly away from them. There is nothing quite like seeing a big predator lock onto the fly and watching a V wake surging in behind as you retrieve at high … Continue reading TYING THE HOLOGRAPHIC ANCHOVY
It is very important to routinely maintain spinning reels when they are being used in saltwater in order to ensure optimum performance. The last thing that you need when fighting the fish of a lifetime is for the reel to fail due to poor maintenance. Recently I stumbled across an article on spinning reel maintenance while visiting the Alan Hawk website. The Alan Hawk website (www.alanhawk.com) is well worth … Continue reading SPINNING REEL MAINTENANCE
Text: Alan Bulmer Lead image: Maruska Laboratories. Like humans, most bony fish experience the world around them using the classic senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. However they have an additional sixth sense, related to a structure called the lateral line, that is more sophisticated than touch and it is this sense which is very important to anglers. The lateral line system is responsible for the sixth sense which … Continue reading THE LATERAL LINE – A FISH’S SIXTH SENSE
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 FINDING FISH ON THE FLATS
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
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
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
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
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 PIKE ON LIVEBAIT
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
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
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?
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
Text: Alan Bulmer Lead image: Sportquest 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 … Continue reading DRAG SETTINGS CHANGE DURING THE 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
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?
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
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
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
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?
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
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?
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?
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
Video: Mike Ladle & Steve Pitts Lead image: Mark Hoffman This video is a basic introduction to salt water fly fishing prepared by Mike Ladle, Geoff Hancock and Steve Pitts. Check out where they fish, what time of the day, the “flies used” and how Mike, in particular, retrieves them. The underlying message is that you don’t have to cast long distances if you are fishing in … Continue reading VIDEO – SALT FLY BASICS (PART 1)
Regular AANZ blog followers will know that over the past few years I have completed the switch from short to long spinning rods, especially those over 2.6 metres in length, as they are ideal for shore-based estuary fishing. The main reasons for this are explained in: – THE BENEFITS OF LONGER RODS In New Zealand the issue, especially when fishing small hard bodied lures and … Continue reading ROD REVIEW: LOX Ambassador 810MT-4 spinning rod
Text: Mike Ladle Lead image: Ty Sawyer To many, if not most anglers, the anticipation, though not always the realisation, of catching large numbers of big fish is basic to their enjoyment of the sport. For the sea angler the possibility of catching large fish, perhaps even larger than any previously landed, is ever-present. This element of the unknown is psychologically important to us all. … Continue reading THE GROWTH PATTERNS OF FISH
Video: Paul Smith Lead image: Mark Hoffman This stunning time lapse video tracks a fly fisherman working the flats at dawn. The angler is JP Samuelson and the location is Port Waikato. There is nothing quite like the serenity of fishing at dawn. Continue reading VIDEO – DAWN PATROL (TIME LAPSE)