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Tongariro drop-shot rig.
I said I'd let you know...
After the release.
Rod Benders!
All on again after last weekends blip.

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Rod Benders!
Fri 14th September, 2018


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Another spell of excellent sport on the Tongariro and surrounding rivers with some real rod benders caught since the last report.

Many of the rainbows the last month or so have been in superb condition and although kelts figure more often at this time of year there are still plenty of fresh fish moving up.

I fished with Des last weekend and we had a blast again in front of the lodge.

Its definitely been one of the hot spots on the river this winter and as you'll see later is still producing the goods ... if you're prepared to think a little bit about your approach.

Because its been so consistent I've fished this stretch a lot this year and noticed I'd always do a lot better if I got there before anyone else.

No surprises there ... but in my opinion being first through wasn't the only reason.

I'm convinced the main factor is that I'm not nymphing with the typical Tongariro indicator, bomb and leader set-up.

Its no secret I enjoy tight line nymphing. And for that matter any other alternative methods that present your flies a little differently.

So far every fish I've caught in the Braids this winter has been when I'm Czech nymphing.


This stretch is not the "Braids" of old. You don't need a ten foot leader with a brightly coloured indicator to fish most of it nowadays. Mind you ... I'm not sure we ever did!

Think about it ... when you cast this set up, the fly line, leader and nymphs land across the surface creating quite a splash. You then begin mending ... more disturbance ... even when you strike, the heavy fly line and indicator rips through the water, again alerting any fish that were close by.


Compare that with what most people now call Euro nymphing.

Firstly you usually fish without fly line on the water. Instead you have a long leader either tapered or parallel ... my own preference is the latter. This enters the water at a steep angle with the rod tip held up for most of the drift. And because of that you eliminate much of the drag that plagues more conventional Tongariro nymphing rigs. Everyone has their own leader setup but it will also include a length of hi-vis mono..."the sighter" which allows you to see the takes before you actually feel them. Under the new rules the overall length of leader including tippet mustn't exceed 18ft. Casting wise, especially if I'm fishing fairly close I prefer to use a sort of "wristy" lob to get the flies out... others may do it differently ... whatever works for you.

This lob tends to send the flies high on an over the top trajectory which creates very little disturbance when the nymphs enter the water. Its a bit like an Olympic diver versus someone who does a belly flop. Combine that with the absence of a yarn indicator ... and no mending. And its easy to see why the fish are less likely to be spooked. Even the adverse effects of striking are reduced because you're not ripping a fly line and lump of yarn across the surface.

This is a simplified explanation of the technique, picking up on some of the key differences. There's a little more to it but that only comes with time on the water. Its very effective on this particular stretch of the river. But like every other method employed on the Tongariro it simply won't work everywhere.

Nevertheless I've had several memorable sessions using it in the Braids this winter including a couple of great days with Des. We've landed some nice fish there the last couple of months and something he came out with the other day made us both stop and think for a second.

I'd asked him to give me a shout if he hooked anything particularly photogenic. Anyway while he was playing a rainbow I'd called out "is it any good". No he replied "its just another small three pounder". That fish may have been nothing special as far as Aotearoa is concerned but in many places around the world a three pound rainbow would be considered anything but small ... how lucky are we guys...eh!
Mid-week I had a change of scenery and spent the day on the TT with Grantly and Mike.

We'd been on about a session on this lovely river for a while and after getting up early on a pretty chilly morning arrived at an empty car-park just after dawn.

Mike has trout fished all over New Zealand but has always said that if he only had one river to fish in North Island ... the Tauranga Taupo would be it. Its a river that holds many fond memories for him stretching back to the eighties. And I've got one of his family videos, when he was a lot younger and taller showing them catching some of those fabulous fish in the "good ole days".

Initially on our outing the fish weren't interested. But as the sun climbed higher in the sky and things warmed up they came on the bite.

It turned out to be a beautiful Spring day and by the time we stopped near the lodge for a brew and some lunch we'd all caught fish.
Including this five pounder {pictured left} that my guide for the day put me on.

Mike has often talked of a fishing buddy who helped him during his early years fishing the TT. Sadly that old mate is no longer around but later in the afternoon we hiked up to the Rangers Pool which was one of his old mentors favourite spots and broke out the brandy and shot glasses to toast "ole Sid". Then on the way back we caught up with Grant again downriver and we all hooked up before we called it a day.

With the light fading fast we had a couple more crossings to make and by the time we got back to the car park it was dark. First in and last out at the end of very enjoyable session on the TT.


For me the lower half of the river still has the edge both in numbers and quality.

Every time I've passed the Bridge Pools this week there have been half a dozen or so anglers in each pool. You can draw your own conclusions from that...but "Bridge pool regulars aren't usually there for a nice day out.

Compare these jacks on the right. The top one from near Big Bend and the bottom one caught in the Braids ... chalk and cheese.

A couple of wind free days since Tuesday but it was quite breezy again along the river today.

Out of the wind things are warming up and its time to dig out "the factor."

I forgot to "slip slop" yesterday and after wearing polaroids all day I'm looking like a negative of Kung Fu Panda!

Typical Spring weather for the next ten days with a mixture of sunshine, cloudy periods and bits and pieces of rain.

Temperatures are creeping up and are forecast to be in the low twenties some days. This will trigger an increase in insect activity from now on and although egg patterns are still taking a lot of fish they will become less effective as the weeks go by. Time to dust off the buzzers for the long dry and dropper ... but more on that next time.


Don't forget Saturdays Recreational Release which should affect town around 10.45 am.

Tight lines guys

Mike
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