There is no masking our enthusiasm for fishing the countless rivers of New Zealand. Simply put, we consider the angling experience here to be the most distilled, challenging and rewarding trout fishing in the world. As a result, we have spent countless months exploring the far reaches of both islands in search of the finest lodges and freelance guides the country has to offer. And truth be told, there are plenty of each.
Due to New Zealand’s unparalleled, geographical diversity, many of our clients prefer to visit and fish multiple regions during their stay. To accommodate this need we have developed relationships with lodges and guides in virtually every corner of the country. These operations range from opulent luxury retreats and fishing lodges to independent guides and local hotels rich with a down-home Kiwi flare. Cumulatively these venues offer a wide range of fishing options from rugged, four-wheel-drive access day trips to helicopter fly-outs and multi-day backcountry adventures. Additional activities such as horseback riding, river rafting, guided walks and winery tours can also be arranged for non-angling companions.
At Fly Water Travel we have fished with many of the country’s finest lodges in addition to many of the top independent guides. Our deep knowledge of and fondness for the country and its fisheries make us leading experts in creating custom itineraries. Let us help you plan a trip that promises to be one of the most enriching and interesting fishing trips possible. Trips of any length are available.
“I want to thank Fly Water Travel for arranging the trip to New Zealand with Steve Yerex. It was far better than I expected and the best trip I have taken. The back country trip was the highlight. It was exactly what I was hoping for…rugged terrain, no people, sight fishing…great fish and great scenery. It was awesome! Steve is a total enthusiast for both fishing and making every minute count for his clients. His humor, his total dedication to finding great spots, 10 hours a day on the water with never any physical or emotional fatigue was above and beyond. His teaching, encouragement and patience when I screwed up were great. I can’t say enough about him! I’d go back in a heartbeat and bring friends so they could experience what I did.” C.A., CA
New Zealand Guides Fishing:
New Zealand is one of the world’s most unique and challenging trout fisheries where anglers have the opportunity to spot their trout before casting to it. Sight fishing (which comprises roughly 75% of down under angling) is demanding and intense by Western fishing standards. The fish are large and wary, the streams and rivers in which they live are often crystal clear and interestingly enough, anglers are their only formidable natural predator. As a result, Kiwi fish are can be very spooky. When stalking these fish, the perfect first cast is the ultimate weapon. Generally, the key to success down under is not the ability to make long casts but lies rather in the ability to make gentle accurate presentations under pressure. More often than not, your target will be between 20 and 40 feet away. Anglers who embrace the necessary skills might expect to land three to four fish a day between three and five pounds, and while shots at larger fish will present themselves, hooking and landing the really large specimens should be considered a hard earned bonus, as opposed to a baseline expectation.
New Zealand Guides Seasons:
November – December:
This is considered the early season but it is truly one of our favorite times to fish down under. While water can be high and the weather can be a bit unsettled, the fish are typically far less spooky than later in the year. Pressure is low, as the Kiwis have not yet started their holiday and Western angler traffic is still minimal. Nymphing is the predominant technique, catch rates are high and the wildflowers are at their best.
January – February:
This is without question the most popular time to visit New Zealand. The weather is at its best, water levels are typically stable and the dry fly fishing peaks during these months. Angling pressure also peaks but with the aid of a good guide, you can still enjoy some solitude. These dates are best booked at least a year in advance.
March – April:
By mid-March expect the crowds to start dwindling and the weather to remains favorable. This is what we refer to as a “shoulder season” or a time when the fishing is still excellent but the crowds are gone. It is also the time when most of the season’s largest fish are taken.
May – September: This is the winter season and while most of the South Island fisheries are closed, the Taupo region of the North Island is at its best. During these months the Tongariro runs of landlocked steelhead peak and catch rates are high.
This is the opener for most of the streams and lakes in New Zealand. Like the opener here in the states the water levels and weather conditions are hard to bank on but a knowledgeable guide can still show some incredible fishing.
New Zealand Guides Techniques:
New Zealand sight fishing is typically nine parts searching and one part fishing. Together, the guide and angler walk slowly upstream until a fish is spotted. Next the angler will take up a station beneath (downstream of) the fish and the guide will direct their efforts from a concealed vantage point somewhere up on the bank. Up and across presentations with long leaders are the norm. Casts must lead the fish without lining it. When fishing nymphs to fish holding in deep water, buoyant dry flies (# 8-12) are often employed as indicators. In this scenario, tippet is tied from the bend of the dry to a weighted nymph three to six feet beneath. Dry fly fishing can be excellent but anglers should be forewarned that the rise forms of large brown trout can be agonizingly slow and that Western anglers are notorious striking before the fish has closed its mouth and begun its lazy descent. Some Kiwi guides refer to this as the “premature extraction”.
New Zealand Guides Tackle & Flies:
Without question nine foot five and six weight rods are the New Zealand workhorses, though fours and sevens have also earned their place in some anglers bags. Floating weight forward lines in discrete colors like gray, buckskin, and clear are most popular with guides. Likewise, guides are not fond of shiny tackle, especially bright reels that might glare or flash over wary fish. Additionally, anglers might consider overloading their rods by one line weight to aid in short line casting and the combating of prevalent windy conditions. Anglers should come prepared with a good selection of 2x-5x tapered leaders ranging from 10-13 feet as well with tippets ranging from 3x-6x. Fluorocarbon tippet is quite popular but not a necessity. While many guides do not use split shot, we always carry a small assortment that ranges from BB size down to micro.
Specific fly patterns are definitely secondary to proper presentation, and most Western patterns work well. Humpies in yellow and bright green in sizes 10-16 are great producers as are royal Wulffs in the same sizes. Also pack along the parachute Adams (#12-18), elk hair caddis (#12-16), assorted mayfly cripples (#14-18) and some larger buoyant patterns to be used as indicators. Popular nymphs include bead head princes (#12-16), hare’s ears (#12-16), pheasant tails (#14-18), bead head Bird’s nest (#12-16), A.P. blacks (#12-16) and assorted caddis pupas in sizes 12-16. It should be noted that many guides prefer using a two nymph set up for deep holding fish. In this scenario the first and larger nymph serves as the “bomb” which takes the smaller trailing pattern down. Good bomb patterns are typically tied in size 8-12 and are loaded with lead. If you are a fly tier, concentrate on tying all your nymphs with as much weight in them as possible. Patterns that utilize black tungsten beads are very effective and the beads themselves make excellent gifts for guides due to their scarcity in New Zealand.
New Zealand Guides Wading Gear & Clothing:
Due to the fact that sight fishing entails lots of walking in between fish, Kiwis have historically preferred to wade wet rather than using waders. However, with the advent of breathable waders, more anglers are using waders than ever before. Regardless of the season we now recommend that visiting anglers bring a pair of lightweight breathable waders in addition to wet wading gear, and to let your guides preference and the particular day dictate which to use. For wet wading we recommend quick dry pants, and or synthetic long underwear (like Patagonia Capilene) worn under quick dry shorts. This is a great system for long walking days and it provides protection from sun, thorns and sand flies. Also be sure to bring a pair of lightweight wading shoes with a good pair of neoprene socks. When packing your clothing, bear in mind that the average Kiwi guide looks more like a bow hunter than a stateside angler. Drab green, olive, tan and brown clothing (and hats) might not make for the snappiest photos, but they will make your guide happy and they will spook less fish. Due to the surprising intensity of the sun, we recommend full brim hats (that don’t fly off in the wind), sun gloves and a good UVA +UVB waterproof sunscreen. Lastly, a strong DEET based insect repellent, and a good raincoat and polarized glasses will have you prepared for whatever comes your way.
New Zealand Guides Travel Cash:
US dollars are readily accepted by the lodge staff for gratuities and the lodge accepts credit cards for your additional fees so you will have minimal need to carry much New Zealand currency. As a general rule we recommend bringing $1,000 per week of fishing. Extra cash if needed can be acquired at any bank.
New Zealand Guides Gratuities:
In general tipping is not the norm at most New Zealand establishments. Fishing Lodges and guides are the exception. For guides we recommend between NZ $40-$70 per day and for lodging staff, we recommend between NZ $25-$50 per person per day.
New Zealand Guides Travel Notes:
New Zealand is a long way away but the good news is that jet lag isn’t a big issue. The reason being that it is four hours earlier the next day. Do whatever you can to get some sleep on the plane and continue on with your travels. You will be tired but for the most part your schedule hasn’t changed all that much. Remember that when you return home, you will typically arrive home on the same day that you left New Zealand. A valid passport is essential. When coming into the country be forewarned that New Zealand is very concerned with invasive pests and plants entering the country. When you go through customs, you will be asked whether you have any camping gear, wading gear, fly tying materials, food etc. Be sure to clean and dry all wading gear, hiking boots, ground cloths, tent floors and the likes. Do not attempt to bring in any natural fly tying materials; grain or seed based foods, or meats such as jerky or salami. If the inspectors are not pleased with the condition of your personal items, they will take them and fumigate them while you wait. This generally takes about 15-30 minutes. If you decide to rent a car be sure to get the additional insurance upon pick up. This additional insurance can not be bought in advance and must be purchased on site. As you know they drive on the other side of the road and tired anglers are notorious for making careless mistakes. Most of the problems occur when pulling onto a road with no traffic. Western drivers will often drive several miles before realizing that they are on the wrong side. Also be extra careful when pulling into parking lots. Exchange money once you have arrived because the rates are usually better. We use local ATM machines to get cash for tipping guides and paying for casual meals and credit cards for most everything else. Tipping at restaurants is not expected.
Lastly, a few words on angling etiquette. If you are fishing without a guide, be sure to never step in upstream of other anglers. If you do encounter other anglers be sure to talk with them and see if you can work something out where one party walks 45 minutes upstream or something comparable. Fishing behind another party is rarely acceptable or productive. Likewise, if fishing on your own, rotate your water and avoid fishing a particular beat two days in a row. And lastly always ask for permission to fish on private waters. Most of the waters are surrounded by private holdings but more often than not the owners are accommodating and they will probably tell where to fish over a hot cup of tea. Enjoy!
2019 Rates: Please call for custom rates
Season: October - April
Fish Species: Brown trout, rainbow trout
Capacity: 2-4 anglers