|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.