Dry Flies in Winter?

I have just spent a couple of weeks fishing in the Taupo region. Well fishing is stretching it a bit. The first week the weather was atrocious, snow, rain persisting down, and gale force winds – and that was the good bits!

But it cleared up; I stopped swearing at the weather, which I have noticed in the past seems to have absolutely no effect on it what-so-ever, and went fishing. I had already decided that I was not not going to fish elephant-gun tactics – chucking and ducking nymphs the size and weight of a 9mm bullet, or heaving out fast sinking shooting-heads, in the big water of the Tongariro; this has well and truly lost its charm.

So I wandered up the smaller rivers. But I had forgotten that it was school holidays – what clown decided to give kids holidays in the middle of winter? So I attempted to fish the pools away from the teeming, water-thrashing hordes. This proved to be frustrating; regular floods have filled these unpopular pools with trees and the bits of same. Every drift it seemed would hook up on some bit of drowned timber or other. But there were fish there, deep in the jungle. Smart fish these Kiwi trout.

Help was at hand though, and I yet again grateful for a life-time habit of reading extensively. I had a month or two before read a book, ‘Tying Flies with Foam Fur and Feather‘ by Harrison Steeves. I had even got round to tying a few of these monstrous creations. Hidden away somewhere in that book was Harrison’s observation that he uses his foam flies in winter. That piece of information, hopped out from the dark depths of my mind, and demanded action.

So rather than lose more nymphs, I tied on one of the foam flies I had made ugly, tied a little gold-beaded thingy fly about 10cm away from the bend of the foam fly. Then I launched this combination out over the subterranean forest, with absolutely no confidence at all.

First drift, and the foam fly was monstered by a hen rainbow of 3kg (6lb). She and another four fish of around the same weight hit the fly, realised too late their mistake, but finally swam away once I removed the hook.

Three more pools, pretty much the same result, give or take a few fish up or down. Next day, more of the same, and the next, and the next.

The most surprising thing to me (after finally trying using a dry fly in winter) was the number of anglers who walked past, saw what I was doing, shook their head at the antics of the ‘old duffer’, and carried on to fish the crowded pools. Hope they never read this!

So they say that if you don’t learn something new every day, you had better pinch yourself, because you might be dead. It just seems to me a great shame that learning about foam flies in winter has come so late in my fishing career.


Posted by Tony Bishop

1 comment

It is 95 degrees here in the U.S. today and I think it would be great to drift a big foam fly on a snowy river bank. Great story!