Fly Fishing with Chris Dore

Your FFF Certified Fly Casting Professional, and Member of the New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association


Welcome to New Zealand's most instructional collection of thoughts, experiences, tutorials ands links to cool stuff

view:  full / summary

Targeting 'Oncers'

Posted by chrisdore on April 28, 2017 at 4:50 PM

The other day on the river we experienced a common occurrence on the Mataura, and something I’ve seen many anglers mentioning / lamenting in their posts of late... The hatch is on, however the fish aren’t really locked into the surface, occasionally rising and moving position thereafter, making it hard to nail them down for a dry fly presentation. While this behaviour is most common on the wider, flatter pools lacking defined feed lanes it can occur anyplace food isn't concentrated.

Here's a tip: though they may rise once or twice every few minutes, they are still feeding avidly below in between...

Persisting with dries will hit the occasional fish but if you want to be one of the few anglers totally killing it in such situations consider fishing subsurface... but how do you hit 'oncers?'


*A Pair of sparse soft hackles

*Long, light tippet to allow energy to dissipate and drop softly. A 10' or 14' Trouthunter leader topped with 5' of 4x nylon is my go to depending on conditions.

*Loon Snake River Mud to dull down and submerge your tippet.


Read the rise: where did the fish come from? Did he feed across to his left or right? Was it a 'tipover' head / tail rise as he turned straight back down to the bottom? Was it the relaxed kiss of a fish positioned at the film or a swirl as he chased it downstream? Work this out, nail down his general position and we are ready to attack...


*Cast at an angle upstream and across of the rise.

*Keep in touch through short, rapid strips as required.

*Employ one long draw as the flies approach the zone. Draw the flies using the rod tip, raising and pulling it back...strike with a sharp downward pull of the line hand.


What we are doing is overcasting above and beyond the trouts position and drawing a pair of soft hackled wets back across its zone. This covers a much broader area than an upstream dry presentation and is a more accurate way of covering a specific position than casting and judging the accuracy of a swing from above. We still have a few days left of the freshwater season throughout the South. Get amongst!

Autumn Tip 5... Go Big

Posted by chrisdore on April 22, 2017 at 8:25 PM

By now we will all have noticed subtle changes in brown trout behaviour as autumn gets on - new fish in the upper reaches, territorial / aggressive behaviour or fish just sitting there, dormant, impervious to our offerings. Some throw a cast or two and move on when the fish fails to react. Some understand how to key in on, and take advantage of this behaviour.

There's more to streamer fishing than just chucking and retrieving. To be consistently successful there are a number of nuances the thinking angler employs to control every inch of the swing, or retrieve, however here is an overview of three basic tactics to help put more fish in your net this Autumn...


1: The swing: The most often employed tactic. Cast across / on an angle downstream and simply swing your streamer across the current below, either leading or following with the rod tip to slow, or speed up the swing. Begin to strip as the swing slows / fly approaches the bank to excite any lazy followers. Swinging is suited to a variety of water, especially slow, deep pools so as not to spook fish by casting over them and to cover maximum water slowly on bigger rivers. Floating line, sink tip or full sink lines can be used depending on depth and speed, and the new Airflo Scout single hand Skagit head is perfect for this.

2: Cast upstream: strip it back down. Very active style of fishing where you identify a hole, lip, drop off or seam and cast upstream above it from a downstream position, and strip your fly back down into the likely lie. With larger, articulated flies with loads of built in material I simply strip to maintain contact as the fly tumbles downstream, whereas with Matuka style patterns I strip faster and more aggressively to add life / movement. You are pulling your fly right into the trout’s territory, challenging them, and so be prepared for an often violent, aggressive hit.

3: Bang the bank: A tactic for days when the fish just aren't out and a quick way to cover the best of the water. Fish will generally engage within the first few metres of the chase and so this tactic takes advantage of this. I like to cast across stream, or angled down and land a big streamer a metre or two from the bank, then strip fast... very fast to imitate prey escaping. Strip 3 or 4 times, then pick up and recast to the next Likely lie. I find fish will usually engage within the first couple of strips if they want it, and you can’t strip faster than a fish can charge it down. Target drop offs, undercut banks, fallen clods and log jams: places big 'ole browns and angry rainbows like to sit when they’re not on the chomp.

If they're not going to eat, make them attack!

Bonus tip from Chris: Consider your presentation. Can a reach mend, or reach curve present your fly at a different angle (i.e. broadside) to excite the fish and maybe hasten, or slow your swing or give your fly a more intriguing path as its stripped through the water? Better than the boring straight line presentation and straight line retrieve. Would a loop knot give your streamer more action, or a riffle hitch present a longer, broadside offering to the fish? Play around and see what works for your situation.

Autumn Tip 4: Go Unweighted

Posted by chrisdore on April 19, 2017 at 8:30 PM

As the waters cool and the mayfly activity increases, fish will often move up higher into the riffles than usual. That ankle - calf deep water right up the head, or along the very edge of the riffly water now becomes my target area and anyone who fishes the famous, Mataura river knows: it's the shallowest of the rocky riffles that offer the best nymphing.

Now looking through many anglers fly boxes the majority of their flies sport tungsten beads, however in the best of the autumn riffles, even a 2mm tungsten bead can be too heavy.

Lower Mataura stalwart, David Murray-Orr is a big fan of brass beads for autumn nymphing water, their slightly lesser weight compared to tungsten making them more fishable through the shallows. In addition myself, I’m a big fan of plastic beads of gold, red, and clear coloration, offering very little weight however retaining the suggestion of air / colour / dynamics and all the other benefits of a bead.

However it's the unweighted nymph patterns which feature largely in my late season nymph box, the turbulence and disturbance of the shallow, riffle water often being enough to pull your flies down beneath the surface. I always fish nymphs in tandem / teams and alternate patterns slightly to grab attention and have options.

And don’t think those foam line sippers / swirlers are always feeding on top: often they are keyed in on emergers just beneath the surface... what you see breaking the surface is their follow through. A small, unweighted nymph is just the key here...

Chris' Tip: The key on the Mataura is to keep things small. Sure, there are a few size 14 represented nymphs to be found, but there are a heck of a lot more size 16 and 18's, and so that's what the trout relax in on, and I fill my box with. And never fear - trout will easily see such small flies even in the most turbulent of water and lowest of light... their eyesight and reactions are much better than ours.

Additional Tips from Chris:

• Keep your indicator close when nymphing shallow riffles: trout will eat, and drop your nymph quick smart, so two feet between a small, hi-vis Indicator and my top fly is the norm.

• Try short line tactics. Raise that rod and lead your nymphs through their drift on a short line for better control, and contact with your flies.

• Grease your leader with floatant when fishing softer edges to keep your flies nearer the surface. This also makes your tippet more visible to you and helps detect those subtle takes that little bit quicker.

Autumn Tip 3: Fishing the film

Posted by chrisdore on April 16, 2017 at 8:15 PM

As the days grow short and temperatures drop, the trout begin to lift to the plethora of mayflies hatching out while conditions are optimal. A glance at most anglers fly patches usually reveals a preference towards hackled dry flies, those which sit on top of the surface. They are easily seen, and will catch a few fish but there are flies which will catch a lot more.

Up until several years ago, emerger patterns were rarely found in the shops or anglers boxes. Many of our iconic writings never mentioned this most important phase, with more focus on our traditional Kakahi Queens, Blue Duns, Adams and Dads Favourites and maybe that’s why, despite an increase in popularity film flies still don't seem to feature heavily in the everyday anglers arsenal as much as they should.

However when trout can be seen unhurriedly bulging, and not actually breaking the surface with their rise the emerger is the first pattern you should be reaching for.

Not quite a nymph, not yet a dun, the emerger represents the phase in the mayfly lifecycle where the nymph has risen to just beneath the surface, the nymphal shuck splits and the adult emerges within the meniscus.

This is a stage where messy patterns excel as wings are unfolding, legs are scrambling, exoskeletons are shed and the emerger can take on a number of appearances, there is one golden rule however - keep your imitation sparse, and sitting IN, and not ON the surface.

If trout are feeding on duns, they will still happily accept an emerger pattern, however the reverse is not so. If they are locked onto emergers then you'd better have your fly sitting within the surface, where the fish are focussing, and here at Manic we have a few battle tested film flies that April sippers just love.

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!