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 and links to some pretty cool stuff

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Filling the fly boxes. Production tying tips

Posted by Chris Dore on June 2, 2021 at 4:50 PM

Its that time of the year when many of us are sitting down to restock our severely depleted fly boxes. As a guide, its surprising how many flies I can go through in a season and so have a few patterns I like to tie in bulk.

Whipping up a couple hundred size 14 nymphs isn’t as easy as it sounds, and when on such a mission, you’re tying for production, not for fun.

Here are a few tips that make my bulk ties a little bit easier to manage, and a lot quicker to fill.

1. Prep your hooks and lay them out. I use a sheet of foam to keep pre beaded hooks readily at hand. I find if you lay out a certain number, you’re more likely to tie them up as opposed to prepping and tying one at a time.

2. Lay out your materials in advance to save messing about with packets and untangling wire etc. Again if I have a ball of dubbing on the table Im more likely to keep tying until I use it all. Cut wing cases and rubber legs in advance, strip and prepare hackles.

3. Lay out 2 pairs of scissors, readily accessible if like me, you dont keep them in your hand throughout the tying process. Keeping your scissors in your hand saves a lot of time, but Ive never personally gotten used to that. Likewise, keep two bobbins at hand. Especially handy if you break off your thread in the middle of an important step, midway through your tie.

4. Use good quality tools. Nothing kills your mojo like your thread breaking in your bobbin or blunt, cheap scissors not doing their job quick and neat.

5. Keep only what is needed on the bench and keep it clutter free.

6. Minimise those wraps. If pulled tight, it only takes 3 or 4 wraps to secure most materials. And keep your thread short for faster, stronger more precisely laid wraps.

7. Ensure you have adequate lighting. Im a fan of natural light and so tying by the large, front windows throughout the day works for me, but a soft lamp aimed down from above highlights your vise, and is easy on the eyes when needed.

8. Remove distractions. The TV goes off once the tying starts unless you are the type who focusses more with a little background noise. Turn off your phone.

9. Keep water / snacks beside you. If you get up to make a snack, chances are you’ll get sidetracked and lose your momentum.

10. Like a job, set side the time to tie, say 0900 - 1200 with a scheduled break in between. Some people can sit down for marathon tying sessions whereas others may knock out a dozen flies and thats it. The benefit of setting our your bench as described above is that you can come and go as you need, and get straight back into it without fluffing around finding materials, threading beads onto hooks etc.

11. and finally, time your flies. If I know my first fly takes 2 minutes, then I’ll aim for 25-30ish in that first hour ( keeping it real, as we will still find distractions ). Always set goals, in everything you do.

Winter Guided Fishing Options 2021

Posted by Chris Dore on May 6, 2021 at 12:25 AM

Take a break from the slopes and invest in a day or two fly fishing in the wider Queenstown area with top local guide, Chris Dore.

Now is a perfect time to brush up on your  single hand technique or learn / improve your two handed spey casting skillset.

Check out Chris' winter guided fishing options here

The Manic Guide to Spey - Part two

Posted by Chris Dore on May 6, 2021 at 12:05 AM

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If you havent seen Part One on the gear and rigging, you should do so. In part two we discuss the fundamentals of spey casting, correct technique and mechanics, how to fish your flies, set and play fish. Enjoy!

The Floating Fly

Posted by Chris Dore on January 1, 2021 at 3:30 PM

I was flattered when in 2019 I recieved an email from Christopher Rownes asking if I would participate in his new project, The Floating Fly - a collaboration of thoughts from some of the sharpest minds in fly fishing around the globe.

The focus was on our personal approach to dry fly fishing, our preferred rigging and how we wet up, and our thoughts on fishing them. So check out my 'no BS' approach here, and make sure you look through the rest of the site for some great intel and thoughts from some of the finest fly fishermen, anywhere.

Top 10 articles as viewed in 2020

Posted by Chris Dore on December 30, 2020 at 4:00 PM


Congratulations. We made it. 2020 is all but behind us and while for most it was a bitch of a year, we all came through hopefully stronger, better and more determined.


On the final day of 2020 I thought we would look back at the top 10 articles as viewed on this year past. There are also around 400 instructional entries here on this blog so no doubt whatever you wish to know is right here under the search button. So sit back, enjoy and all the best for 2021



1.  Lockdown lessons

Fly casting tutorials from the depths of lockdown.


2. Kiwi nymphing


3. Dealing with the wind

The NZ essential


4. Matching the hatch

Your guide to the Mataura


5. Tailing loops

Wind knots and how to avoid them


6. Better nymphing

Up your nymph game


7. Ten tips for visiting nz

An essential read


8. Improving your haul

Because most people just aren’t doing it right


9. Hotspots

Fly tying to get noticed


10. Distance Schmistance

Why its important to have a longer cast in your arsenal, even if you rarely use it.



December already and what a season!

Posted by Chris Dore on December 1, 2020 at 5:05 PM

“What a great investment it is to have the pleasure of fishing with Chris. You will learn so much from him and his passion for this sport - great commentator..!! An absolute privilege to spend the day with in some of the most spectacular country you will see...!! I will be down there again ASAP for more days on the water.”

Shaun Bradley

Its December already and what a season it has been! As unpredictable as the weather has been the fishing has been solid and thus far we have run trips based out of Omarama, Fairlie, Te Anau, Lumsden and Queenstown. River levels have been relativly low but the fish have been in great shape.

Both brown and green beetle have appeared and have the fish looking up, and there has been some great sight fishing opportunities in a range of waters from the high country Mackenzie lake tribs and the world class Southland staples, to the Otago highcountry and Fiordland wilderness streams.

Fish all round have been in great condition.

With the borders closed it has been great to see a bunch of Kiwis making the most of it and hiring guides to not just focus on fish, but to learn more about their local waters and importantly, upskilling and adding to their fly fishing knowledge.

Most have reaped the benefits of multiple day trips, allowing us the chance to shake off the casting rust, really develop some new skills, accomodate often changeable weather and sometimes finicky fish, and to move around a bit and explore waters further afield than your average day trip destination.

“With all the offshore anglers who book out our top guides year-on-year unable to get into NZ, this is the year to invest in yourself & make a few of those fishing dreams come true.

Reflecting on the trip now, I got as much out of it in terms of sharpened up casting techniques & self-belief in not spooking big fish in skinny water as I did from the fishing itself. Like most of us, I'm almost entirely a self-taught fly fisher & discovered I have 45+yrs of unchecked & unconscious bad habits, which someone like Chris can spot, show you why / how they dent your fishing techniques & iron them out on the next fish you encounter. It's difficult to put a price on that, as those refined skills stay with you for as long as you keep fishing.

I'm acutely aware that plenty of NZ anglers struggle to buy the licence, let alone hire a guide, & others would be here if they could, but for anyone looking at what to do with their kiwi summer, the opportunity to permanently lift your fly fishing game & put some astounding memories in the bank awaits.”

Steve Evans

So if this sounds like you this summer, touch base with Chris and invest in YOURSELF and your future enjoyment of both the sport of fly fishing, and the New Zealand outdoors.

And now for some fish porn from the season thus far....

The Manic Guide to Spey - Part one

Posted by Chris Dore on December 1, 2020 at 4:20 PM

Welcome to the Manic Guide to Spey, a complete overview of two handed fly fishing without all the BS, presented simply to be easily understood. Enjoy.

Kiwi Kit. Understanding your fly line.

Posted by Chris Dore on November 30, 2020 at 7:05 PM


When choosing a fly line for New Zealand conditions, its important to consider the type of fishing you plan to do, and the waters you are likely to be fishing. For instance, the line you may use for bowling over big indicators and bigger flies on long leaders in the backcountry will likely be a far cry from the requirements for delicately presenting a size 18 emerger at close quarters on 6x. These considerations are especially important to NZ locals who may spend the majority of their time on one water type, such as a local stream or favourite braided river, and as a visitor to NZ where you may experience a variety of water types, and be unfamiliar with our often windy conditions, then a general purpose, medium aggressive trout line may be the way to go.


In New Zealand we often use heavier nymphs than many are used to. A size 12 loaded with two x 3mm beads can be the norm in back country rivers, often trailing a smaller natural.

Big, bushy, wind resistant dries are often delivered at distance requiring accuracy.


Add to that leaders beginning at 10 foot in length before tippet is added, and often built out to 18 plus feet. 12’ - 15’ is the norm.


All the above will need to be presented accurately to large, wild fish in gin clear water, often in blustery conditions at distances from 20 to 50 feet. Wind is a fact of life when fishing rivers which source from the Southern Alps, and many visiting anglers are simply not prepared. Fly line choice, and how to deliver it is crucial.


To understand what Im getting at, and so you understand more about what you’re buying, lets take a look at tapers and what goes into designing a fly line.




The head, or the front part of the fly line incorporates the rear taper, belly, front taper and the tip and is where it all really happens. The running line, or rear part of the fly line is simply a level section of line designed to shoot easily through the guides, be relatively tangle free, and easy to handle.


A shorter, thicker diameter head will generate more energy and deliver bigger flies whereas a longer, smaller diameter head will deliver longer, smoother, more delicately with more accuracy.




From front to back, the tip determines the presentation of your fly. A shorter, thicker tip will punch over heavier nymphs and streamers whereas a longer, finer tip will delicately present tiny flies.


The front taper is responsible for transferring energy through to your leader, how much energy, and the way it dissapates. A shorter, steeper front taper is useful for kicking over longer leaders and big flies, and for assisting turnover in the wind. It can position the lines weight further towards the front to help load faster rods and assist in pulling / shooting line. A thicker 4 - 7 foot front taper is an example of a more aggressive line.

A longer front taper dissipates energy over a longer length of line and so is employed on more presentation style lines. The finer 8’ front taper of the Airflo Elite is an example of a more presentation oriented fly line. Note, the mass of the belly will dictate how much energy is sent down the front taper.


The belly is generally the thickest ( and heaviest ) part of the flyline and provides most of the weight to load the rod. Shorter bellies ( 16 - 20ish feet ) of larger diameter offer benefits for quick fire casting and bowling over bigger flies into the wind ( think shooting heads) whereas longer bellies ( 25’ + ) offer much better control, accuracy, presentation and line carry while false casting.

Short belly lines generate distance by pulling / shooting line whereas longer belly lines allow longer unfurling loops to attain distance.


The rear taper determines how smoothly the energy is transferred to the belly from the thinner running line. A longer rear taper allows for a longer line carry when false casting, better control throughout the cast, and optimum distance and accuracy, as well as better mending capabilities. A shorter rear taper allows for easier shooting and ‘quick - fire’ style casting with shooting heads.

What to look for.


Presentation line:

Look for a long front taper with a thinner tip to dissipate energy through to the leader and provide a softer touchdown.


Aggressive back country line:

Look for a shorter front taper with a larger tip diameter to transfer more energy through to the fly. A shorter belly with longer rear taper moves more weight to the front of the line and provides more energy to the later stages of your loop to assist turnover.



New Zealand flyline suggestions.


All round, presentation style lines.


Airflo Superflo Presentation

Airflo Elite

Scientific Anglers Amplitude Trout


Backcountry style, med agressive taper


Airflo Superflo Dash

Airflo Bandit

Rio Gold



Your flyline is the delivery system to your fly, and a good fly line can bring a fly rod to life.

Invest in a suitable premium fly line from one of the top brands and clean it often. Your fly line is just as important as your rod.

And we're off!

Posted by Chris Dore on October 3, 2020 at 6:15 PM

The 2020 season is a few days underway and while we havent had the best of conditions following the heavy snowstorm earlier in the week and severe winds across the weekend, the fishing has indeed been hot. Now's your chance to get out there and experience something new. Take advantage of the availaity of our Professional NZPFGA guides' experience and knowledgebase and invest in yourself!

Even in tough conditions, time spent watching can often reveal where the fish lie.

Harry with a fit brown spotted feeding tight to the bank.

Working water. This fish would only show himself for fleeting glances, such was his camoflague and the ever changing light.

Brent learnt to control the rod quickly once we had him focusing on keeping the face of the reel in plane throughout the cast.

How was YOUR opening?

Kiwi Kit. Your guide to purchasing your next New Zealand set up

Posted by Chris Dore on October 3, 2020 at 5:45 PM


So you’re stuck at home and thinking of breaking out as soon as international travel allows. You’re pouring over maps and choosing locations to visit and rivers to walk. Heres a tip. Pretty much any river, lake or creek you see here will hold fish at some point of the season... Maybe you’re an avid spin angler looking to add another notch to your belt, or have been fly fishing for a season or two now and have found it now consumes you... and its time to upgrade your kit.


Equipment is a huge consideration for those visiting our shores for the first time. The New Zealand outdoors, even locally are more rugged and demanding than what most I find expect, and so you need good gear.


Many clients show up with some little packaway rod with a snazzy case that they use for brookies on their home waters. That’s cute. Yes its a 5wt, but does it have the precision, the backbone and the power to present a fly in our conditions, to brutish fish that show absolutely no mercy?


The basics of rod action


Generally when we refer to a rods action, we are talking about its flex, and recovery speed once bent. A medium action rod makes for a good all rounder at short to medium distances and is a little more forgiving than a stiffer blank that requires more precision to load. They generally bend easier, and deeper with less effort, and the slower recovery speed makes for gentler presentations. Many beginner combos fall into the medium - medium / fast range.


A fast action rod generally presents a stiffer, more powerful feel throughout the lower to mid blank with a crisp, assertive tip. Fast action rods recover with great speed generating very high line speed and the delivery of larger, and heavier flies with ease. Line speed is beneficial in windy conditions and for attaining both accuracy, and distance. Faster blanks require a more precise casting stroke to bend deeper into the more powerful mid to butt section, however with modern rod building technology and advances in materials over the past few years, these rods have become very user friendly, and perform over a much wider range (ie from shorter distances through to longer ).

Ask to borrow a few different rods from friends and simply see what feels good to you. Fly casting should feel effortless with the rod doing all the work. A session with a good casting instructor can prove invaluable to this purpose.



Chris’ rod selection


A medium / fast 9’ 5wt is my personally most fished rod in New Zealand, and a modern fast 5wt is what I guide with in all but the worst of conditions.


It allows me to present short with dries on our smaller, front country streams, and deal with bigger flies in the backcountry. If you’re focussing specifically on smaller waters then a medium action 4 or 5 wt would be your go to, or if you plan on hitting a number of bigger South Westland type waters then you might consider a 6.


If this is your first trip to NZ, or you’re unfamiliar with heavier nymphs, 15’ + leaders or windy conditions, the extra mass and energy afforded by a 6wt line would make a 6wt rod a good choice.


Yesterday we fished fast 6wts due to very heavy winds and high, snow melt affected flows. From the get go we knew we would be bombing big casts with big streamers or double tungstens all day. A 7wt may have been more appropriate for clients / those unaccustomed to casting bigger flies in such conditions, the mass of the heavier line coming to the rescue and making life a little easier in moving the heavier nymphs.


The most important thing is to be comfortable, confident and competent in casting your chosen rod. A decent, well practised cast will easily present a simons ugly on a 4wt with a presentation line when others may struggle doing so even with a 6. Choose your rig to your ability, considering the flies, the rivers and conditions you will be fishing.



Footnote. Don’t be a hero. No one wants to see you fight a 12lb brown for an hour on a 3wt because you think its hardcore. Think of the fish. Choose an appropriate rod for your intended use.


Chris’ personal choice for New Zealand rivers.

Scott Radian 9’5wt ( fast action )

Scott G series 8’8” 5wt ( medium action )

Primal Raw 9’ 5wt ( fast action )

If youre unfamiliar with casting heavier nymphs or wind resistant dries, consider a 6 wt outfit to give you more leeway.


Next time we discuss your choice of flyline.