Simplify your fishing
A back to basics angling approach
THE GROUND WAS OFTEN FROZEN AS WE straddled the forestry gate and set off on the long, uphill slog into the Whakatikei, a little known tributary of Wellington’s Hutt River. The rising sun, golden and promising warmth, would be tentatively kissing the ridgeline by the time we’d traipsed up the old forestry road to the barren top before the steep descent into the valley floor below.
It was the early ‘90s and my thirst for exploring these lesser-known local waters was insatiable. In fact, my mate Dan Thomas and I found ourselves in this magnificent, remote valley virtually every second weekend for the entire 1994 season. The going was tough through the gorge that dominated much of the tiny stream’s length – once you were in, you were committed. But the fish were of good size, averaging between 4 and 6lbs (though the stream is a mere shadow of its former self these days).
It was on one of many ventures into that gorge that I found myself before a subtle shadow wavering in the water, holding station just out from an undercut bank. Opening my fly box with shaking hands in preparation, I was faced with a dilemma: which of the 50-plus patterns of nymphs to use on the fish? My youthful enthusiasm and new-found obsession with fly tying meant a plethora of monstrosities lay before my eyes.
“Dan, do you think I should try the purple rubber-legged, orange head with a twist of road-kill cat and ribbed multi-strand disco thread?”
“Sure, give it a go,” he’d say.
JUST A FEW BASIC PATTERNS IN VARIOUS SIZES
HARDING’S PHEASANT TAIL FOOLS ANOTHER
THE EARLY TESTING GROUND FOR THE AUTHOR’S FLY FISHING PHILOSOPHY