Fly Fishing with Chris Dore

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Autumn Tip 2: Understanding the spinnerfall

Posted by chrisdore on April 12, 2017 at 8:05 PM

Autumn's kicking it up a gear and lately we have experienced some cracking spinner falls here in the South, but many struggle to identify the difference between a rise to a spinner, and a rise to a dun, which is essential for success. Quickest advice is to wade out and see what’s drifting in the film and take note of the hurriedness, and type of rise. Is it a full nose rise, more leisurely, or a classic head / tail rise?

Now that we know what they're feeding on lets drop some knowledge to better understand this phase, and help you approach the spinner fall like a pro.

The mayfly lifecycle - in under 100 words...

Eggs hatch out into aquatic nymphs. When the nymph matures it rises to the surface where it sheds its exoskeleton and the dun climbs out (the all-important emerger phase), crawls through the film and flies away to stream side vegetation. Within 24 hours the dun again sheds its skin, transforms into the adult spinner, mates, lays its eggs and dies spent on the water. Trout love this phase as they can position themselves accordingly and feast at leisure on a banquet that can’t escape.


Chris' tips for fishing the spinner fall…

1: Keep ‘em in the film. When spinners fall upon the water after laying their eggs they are dead. Dead things don't stand, so your spent spinner imitation must lay flat within the surface film... the trout are judging!

2: Flush floating film patterns are often hard to see, especially when surrounded by numerous naturals. A small indicator, smear of Biostrike putty or a high viz parachute sighter a foot or two back from your fly will have you looking in the right ballpark. Set on anything which surfaces within a foot of your sighter.

3: When fishing spinner falls presentation is everything, particularly when fish are feeding in the pools or glassy glides. The Reach mend becomes my staple nearly every single cast to keep both tippet and line away from the fish. Even better - Start at the top of the pool and fish downstream to visible rises, using reach, pile or parachute casts to attain a drag free, 'fly first' drift... these fish are looking for tiny insects 2 inches in front of their nose - they won't see you.

4: Use a Longer, level tippet to generate optimum slack down at the fly, and to keep leader knots away from the fish where they can show up surface disturbance in the glassy glides and flats. Loons Snake River Mud is invaluable here to both dull down, and hide your tippet.

5: Carry multiple spinner patterns to cater for glassy, riffly or glary water conditions, but keep them small, size 16's and 18's dominate through April.

Thoughts on imitation...

The key to a good spinner pattern is that it should be tied sparse, or appear sparse when in the surface. Once you have that sorted, then it must be designed to ride in the film, not on it. Then it must be presented drag free to often choosy fish... that part is up to you!

Another benefit of a CDC wing pattern is that the wing can be wetted if required and your spinner pattern sunk. In the later stages of, and immediately following a spinner fall trout can often be found gorging themselves on drowned / sunken spinners around the back eddies, backwaters, and slack water edges, as well as the base of riffles. This a phase that stumps many anglers as they can see fish feeding subsurface and fire away unsuccessfully with their usual hare fur, or pheasant style nymphs. Bet most y'all didn't know that!

Autumn Tips

Posted by chrisdore on April 7, 2017 at 7:55 PM

So autumn’s upon us and change is in the air. So too must you consider a change in your approach. Your favourite February sight fishing water may now be awash with glare, or lighter on fish numbers as they migrate upstream and into the tributaries. Here are a few tips to keep you amongst them this autumn.

Consider the light: low angle light will create longer shadows which can spook fish from further off. Consider your approach, stay low and employ that longer cast I've been telling you to practise all year to help stay further back, and less detectable. Look also to longer leaders to keep the shadow of your fly line further from the fish (Trouthunter 14' Harrop leaders in 4x and 5x are perfect for this incidentally), and consider Snake River Mud from Loon to remove shine, and keep your nylon in the surface.

Smaller flies. With optimal water temperatures over the past couple of months, invertebrate will mature quicker which means at a smaller size than the rest of the season. My autumn selection now comprises largely of #16's and 18's rather than the 12's and 14's I often fish in October.

Consider the fish: Browns are nearing spawning mode and will behave a lot more aggressively. This opens them up to a variety of methods which will often outperform the stock standard dead drift approach. Streamers, bright beads, hotspots and absurd, rubber legged patterns can all hit amazing results in the autumn and don't be afraid to move your nymphs... a strip here or a 'rod tip raise' there could be the difference between a so-so, and epic day out...

Think about water temperature: Forget early morning starts... chances are you will be flailing away blind for very few fish and be exhausted and casting crap by the time they come on the chew... Mid-morning - mid arvo are the prime times in autumn, when water temps rise enough to promote insect activity... As I often tell clients, if the food is there, the trout will be there. If not, then prepare to work hard...

Whereas only a month ago fish would become lethargic in the heat of the hot midday sun, it is now the morning and evening hours where the water is still at its coolest, but now too cool and stream life just isn't on the move. That midday peak is where you need to be.

Twitch it. When willow leaves litter the surface and trout have to work harder to identify their food, try something with a little eye catching movement. A Mirf’s BLT dry with rubber legs, twitched just once may stand out from all the movement and confusion of leaf debris on top, much better than your standard parachute pattern. Fishing a soft Hackle just beneath will add another dimension to your drift and twitching one of these in the vicinity of a roving trout is a w for a sore arm!

So change up your mind set to the conditions ahead and enjoy what many consider the best of the seasons!

Mataura Nymphing Advice for April

Posted by chrisdore on April 1, 2017 at 5:00 PM

* tie small: 16 & 18. Match the size of the naturals.


* if you must for weight, tie size 14's, however I just load some nymphs with lead and others with two 2mm tungsten beads


* throw in some colour... orange, pink, green beads etc all get noticed and yes, brown trout will eat them. In lieu of a bead try a coloured thread collar, coloured wing case, or a strand or two of flash as the tail. Gold beads work. Accents work better...


* bring it to life! Cdc hackle, or other soft Hackle, tied sparse on your nymph will make it move and you WILL catch more fish.


* drop the weight. For fishing subsurface you want an unweighted nymph tied on a light wire hook to drift high in the water column.


* add a touch of weight... tying the same unweighted pattern on a heavy wire nymph hook will get a little deeper, perfect for those Gucci ankle deep riffles where autumn trout feed.


* fish slow. Identify the BEST water in the riffle and spend most of your time there... work multiple presentations through the same drift to make sure the fish sees them. If it looks like it should hold fish, it will. Plug away with the right flies, and get the right drift...


Dress warm.


Secure that box!

Posted by chrisdore on March 10, 2017 at 11:30 PM

So there have been a lot of lost flyboxes around the traps this season so far yet it doesnt have to be so. The average fly box can hold over $400 worth of flies, a real kicker if it goes astray.


Heres what you can do...


1: create a ritual of immediatly placing your box back into your pocket once a fly is selected. Make this a habit and problem solved.


However we all get excited when theres a fish in front of us and second to placing our flybox on the ground and forgetting about it, in our haste we forget to zip up our pocket only to lose our box soon after.


2: velcro dots.

Attach one or two velcro dots to your fly box, and the other side to the inside of your vest / pack pocket. Your boxes are now secured for the most part even if you fail to 'zip her up'. Especially handy for smaller 'slip into the shorts / jacket pocket' type containers such as Loons Hot Box.


3: dont put all your eggs....

Simply split your flies across a couple of boxes. If you lose one, bummer but at least you still have enough flies in your second box to keep going.


Bonus tip: simply write your name and number on your flybox in permanent marker. Most of the time, it will be returned.


Bonus Bonus tip: put a large cross, or strips of bright coloured masking tape across the outer of your box. Choose a colour that will stand out easily amongst the grass


You're welcome.

Tip from Chris - Fluff less to catch more fish

Posted by chrisdore on February 21, 2017 at 11:20 PM

Top anglers catch more fish, across a wider range of situations... They get into position, and get their fly out there in front of fish quick and without hassle. This is one of the reasons why they simply catch more fish.



Now Johnny Punter, upon being shown a feeding fish will saunter into position, after painstakingly dropping his pack and adjusting his waders, wiping his glasses clean and then proceeds to wrap his fly around his rod tip several times, while still flailing away false casting, while peeling 10 inches of line from the reel every false cast…. in case you’re wondering, he did not catch that fish…




Create a pre-cast routine… it’s that simple.


Advanced Archery Bowhunting guru, Simon Bullivant once advised me to create a ‘shot sequence’ when preparing to fire at a target. “Practise it often, cover the essentials and make it instinctive, then you’ll hit more targets.”


My shot sequence now consists of nocking the arrow, checking it’s tight, tweaking the peep site, securing the release and drawing back smooth, ensuring the knuckle of my thumb lightly touches the lobe of my ear. Inhale…exhale…pause and squeeze.


I bark a lot of directions on the river as any of my guiding clients will tell you. However one of the most important ‘orders’ is the series of actions from the approach to the trout to the cast. Here’s a sampler:


– Take a prominent marker so you know where the fish is from your casting position — usually a different position from where we initially see him… “two rod lengths out and half a rod length below that lowest willow branch,” or “half a rod out from that boulder.” (My 30′ will differ from your 30′ often greatly, so if we talk in rod lengths then you can create a visual…;)


– Get down there ASAP and begin your approach. If the fish is out there, I don’t want you up here.


– As you’re moving into position, free your fly, get it on the water and ensure there’s enough flyline outside of the rod tip so as not have the leader ride back up through the guides.


– Strip the line from your reel BEFORE you begin your cast… (a pet hate is seeing people strip line from their reel every false cast… apart from adding 15 false casts they often pull their rod hand/tip off track and look very gumby along the way… the more time the line is in the air, the higher chance of fluffing things up).


– Check and reposition any hanging line between the reel and the first guide: if it’s wrapped around your feet, or caught on a rock then you won’t get far.


– Pick a target where you want your fly to land, focus on it, and trust yourself to pick up the line, and place it on your target


– Finally catch that line beneath your trigger finger ASAP, and strip any slack line as it develops…


The rest is up to the fish.

Big Streamers and Missed Takes

Posted by chrisdore on February 5, 2017 at 3:30 AM

With this (ahem..) delightful summer weather of late there have been more than a few times we have reached for our streamer box with great success.


Cast, strip-strip-strip "BANG", and "oh bugger" as the fish doesn't stick. This is the point where most anglers turn and complain to their mate and whilst doing this, aren't catching fish...


Many feel it's a lost cause, that the fish was just attacking and not really eating, however Its not always a 'smack and come back' scenario to wound their prey. In huge shoals such as whitebait then maybe this is the case, where causing injury to many and then returning may yield a bigger feast.


However for a singular morsal, such as a bully / small fish its often just because they missed the first time. Now their mouths are large enough to engulf a big streamer easily, so often its dropped simply because the line is too tight and they cant take it in.


What YOU can do...


Maybe try elevating the rod a touch to allow a little slack, or slip a small amount of line on the hit. These tricks seems to have converted more hits for me anyway.


Try strip striking rather than ripping that rod tip back and pulling the fly from the water. If a fish wants your streamer, most times they will hook themselves, a stripstrike helps ensure that. Another bonus of the strip strike is that if you miss, the fly is still out there and that sudden surge of the streamer may invoke a second hit.


If you miss him, and rip that fly from the water there's a very short window to drop that streamer straight back at him before he knows what's up (this is also the period where most anglers are throwing tantys and feeling sorry for themselves and thus don't get that second shot).


Stinger style flies such as the Kellers Nightmare and Galloups Sex Dungeon offer that smaller hook out back which sticks to those tightline takes, whilst the larger hook up front nails most fish as they attack the head.


So stay sharp, stay ready and get your fly back in the zone, and fish on!

Safety and Preperation for the NZ Outdoors

Posted by chrisdore on January 20, 2017 at 9:35 PM

Above. Not far from the truck, but without phone coverage, a long way from help.

Safety in the outdoors is something to take super seriously.


Accordingly I carry multiple first aid kits so that we are never without. There is a comprehensive travel kit in my pack, and a basic kit in my vest, with another comprehensive kit back in the truck.


As emergencies can happen anywhere, not just in the backcountry I carry a PLB on me at all times. If someone goes down, I will set it off wether its the Mataura or Wilderness river X. No messing about trying to help a north island phone operator understand where Tautarau reserve is on the Mataura - one press of the button and help is dispatched.


In the case of cell phone black spots I carry a Sattelite phone to ensure non urgent help can be reached when required, or maybe the AA in the case of a vehicle breakdown, or a weather check on multi day backcountry excursions.


And finally, emergency blankets, a fire starter and a couple of OSM bars are always in my pack for unplanned stopovers, and on backcountry missions a bothy bag 3 man emergency shelter is added, to ensure if we have to wait it out, we are as comfortable as can be.


My daily intentions are logged so that someone knows where we are, when we will be back and what to do if we are not.


Weather should be checked daily as it can change on a whim, and severe weather watches and warnings observed and planned for. I personally use and find them as accurate as you can be for NZ’s changeable weather.


Plan for unplanned events... NZ can be a harsh bitch sometimes...


See Your Beetle

Posted by chrisdore on December 30, 2016 at 10:25 PM

So from the sounds of it, the green / manuka beetle are emerging in great numbers throughout the country, and they certainly are here in the south. Smaller than the brown beetle, the manuka beetle presents a high country smorgasbord and as always, the Manic Fly Collection has you covered...


One problem however exists... how DO you see these tiny size 16 film flies in often joggly, or just straight up heavy backcountry water? My best tip is to slow down your rotation and watch your loop unroll. Track it out to the drop of the fly and you're in... however sometimes you simply need to see your fly on the water so here are a few more tips...


Post it:

Quite simply, put a post on it. The Para Improved Green Humpy is a great pattern for high country beetle chompers and the bushy white post provides the vis in most conditions.

The Foam Manuka Beetle (above) has a more subtle sillouhette than the para improved humpy and a white, high viz post and is perfect for the softer edge waters where fish can often examine your fly a little closer.

The True Green beetle (above) comes into its own when the trout are examining everything, closely. The small, super realistic prey image and natural hard shell can dupe the most wily browns, yet in riffly water, many clients lose track of this petite, deadly fish catcher.




Switched on Queenstown guide, Simon Wilkinson ( ) has a very practical solution... fish your tiny beetle on a short dropper behind a high viz pattern. If you see a rise within a foot of your hi viz dry, strike. If your 'indicator dry' stops or pulls, strike. If your indicator dry gets eaten, mate - just strike... with the appropriate delay of course.

In smooth or subtle water a hi viz parachute pattern such as Mirfs BLT, Renes Killer Klink, or the Hi Viz Para Adams will get the job done and remain inconspicuous on the water.

In jogglier water a blowfly, wulff or Guide Chute Hares Ear will catch the eye more readily, while in heavier pocket water and faster runs, stimulators, hoppers and Simons personal favourite, the Swishers PMX Peacock not only allows you to track your tiny beetle behind, but provides a juicy alternative for the trout.


Bonus tip from Wilki: "heres a tip - I do the same with tiny willow grubs, and no see 'em spent spinners too. Shh. Don't tell everyone.

Line Trays for less mess

Posted by chrisdore on December 22, 2016 at 6:20 PM

Wading the stunning flats of the Golden Bay this week it suddenly all came together for me. A kingie finning at 60 odd feet. The pickup, the cast landing perfectly 20' in his path. The strip and the growing bow wave. BANG! It was all on! The fish bolted, and confidently I thought 'I got this', however the smiles were short lived as my running line fouled on debris from the recent storms. Line pulls tight and it is bye bye fish...

Why use a line tray?

There are many benefits of using a line tray in both fresh, and saltwater fishing whether wading or boating it. Here are a couple of the more obvious:

1/ Your line tray keeps any loose line under control, tangle free from debris and swirling currents.

2/ No 'line stick' from the water as you try and shoot out that quick fire cast.

Where YOU can benefit from a line tray

Fishing river mouths / surf where line tangles around feet, debris and washes around itself. Keeping your line organised inside your tray also allows you to move quick when you see that swirl along the beach.

From boats / SUP's Very few boats are set up specifically for fly fishing and are likely to have line grabbing gremlins throughout the hull. Employing a line tray will keep your line free of such obstructions.

Running line in moving water. Every skagit angler knows the frustration of their running line matting to the water, a much needed long presentation impeded by 'stick'. Coiling line neatly in your line tray avoids this and results in fewer tangles.

Controlling sinking lines. Once you set your sinking running line on the water at your feet it will sink, resulting in a series of comical, windmill-like arm movements to lift it again with each false cast to get it back into the fish zone. A line tray keeps your sinking line free from the water and ready to shoot.

Scrubby, overgrown riverbanks or lake shores. Keep your running line free of long grass / bushes / rocks.

Flats fishing where weed / debris from storms, and the pull of the tide can foul your line.... hmm... enough said...

Dealing with Dull Days

Posted by chrisdore on December 15, 2016 at 8:15 PM

On rainy, or cloudy days visibility wont be great on our wider riverbeds and on many waters in fact. With summer kicking in and fish populations dropping back to the larger waters, you really want to target your fish rather than pitching blind... Here's what you can do to keep on sighting when the weather closes in...


1: pick a river with a willow, bush or hillside backdrop to help break the glare. Often this is all you need.


2: wear good eyewear. I favour the lense quality of Maui Jim's to look after my eyes for long hours, day after day. The HCL Bronze colour is probably the most versitile lense for most conditions excelling in low light, bright skies and general NZ work. You may pay more for Mauis but you get what you pay for.


3: move slower. Find the absolute best of the water, position yourself so you get a good view, and then wait... let the fish reveal themselves.


Forget about the water you struggle to see into and just focus on the most likely spots. Because scanning a whole river in glarey conditions is just plain exhausting, and you dont want to miss the one off flicker of a tail after a tough day


Get some...