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
Text: Mike Ladle & Alan Bulmer Featured image: GT with Lure (Al McGlashan – http://www.sportsfishingmag.com) Mike Ladle has visited the tropics many times on fishing holidays and written at length about his tropical fishing adventures on his Operation Sea Angler blog. By comparison, I’ve only been fortunate enough to visit Fiji a handful of times and written a solitary article on the experience. https://activeanglingnz.com/2014/05/25/fishing-in-fiji/ Fishing in the Tropics is undoubtedly different … Continue reading TROPICAL FISHING TACKLE
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: 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 TARGETING GREY MULLET
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
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
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 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
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
Text: Alan Bulmer Lead image: Hook ‘n Surf 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 … Continue reading WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CAST LURES?
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