Teaching young children fly casting can be fun and challenging at the same time. In my experience over the years, young children from the age of 3 can have fun and learn fly casting. I have 3 children under 8 and all of them can fly cast well.
My main goal with young minds is having fun and nothing else. If a child sees a peer having fun, it creates a desire to join the activity regardless if he or she has not done it before.
My approach to teaching is simple: facilitate fun and make sure I stop teaching/playing before the fun disappears. Done it this way, the children want to fly cast again and again. Subsequently they often request for more opportunities to practice opening the chances to further teach more skills.
I don’t like to give many instructions. I just want the kids to play with their rods, have fun and learn tip control. I become their student gradually. I make sure the kids know I am there to learn from them. At the end of the session they teach me all that they have learnt. This is a very effective method to increase the children’s attention span and their confidence, as kids love teaching adults and don’t have many opportunities to do so. I pretend I don’t know the alphabet and they draw simple letters, like the letter O, with the tip of the rod and fly line. I need to get it right and the children will make sure the letters are clear in the air. Once the children have engaged in the games and the parents step back, the lessons are sweet and easy.I like to set targets on water and challenge the students to place the practice fly on the targets.
That’s all I do to teach young kids in their first lesson.
Juan Del Carmen
Advanced Fly Fishing School Sydney
LOOP Ambassador Australia & New Zealand
With an office in the prettiest place on the planet “the township of Wanaka”, it is hard to keep your mind on the job in hand. Outside my window it is 20°C, blue skies and a gentle breeze that is frustratingly perfect for 3 local streams that have recently opened for the season calling my name. Emails, excel docs and the hum of the air-con can quickly turn your mind to justifying procrastination in the form of fishing, or better known as “Research” now that I am part of the LOOP team.
So, now committed to testing LOOP gear for the afternoon as it happens, all other priorities faded away for a couple of hours.The local stream of choice was less than 10 minutes drive, 5 minutes of which is up the riverbed over river stones to where willow trees define the start of trouty water and a natural barrier to park up– ah, a sigh of relief to be here and nowhere better to be. A calling answered.
For the stronger minded, you may well be shaking your head at my pathetic and momentary lack of professionalism to my work, but hey, who is in the better position whilst reading this in your office chair. You’re just jealous…
Ok, weapon of choice the Opti Creek #3 rod with the beautifully fine Opti Creek Reel and Opti Creek WF3F line. A 5ft polyleader essential for this line to soften its landing, 8ft of 6lb 4X tippet and a Stu’s Fly Shop Elk Hair Caddis. This provides 13ft of leader total, almost a minimum by NZ standards.
First few casts I knew this was a good place to be, good gear and fish on the rise.
The 2 hours that followed whilst hopping from one pool to the next in amongst tight over hanging willows and the odd logjam provided 3 immaculate fish.
The first was a brown of 3lb feeding deliriously on the surface without a care in the world. The next a rainbow of similar proportions which in play spent more time in the air than the water but spitting the fly at the net ( I counted it ). And then lastly, on pure instinct in a pool I could not quite see through the rapids but had to try a blind cast over it, a beak broke the surface for my Elk HC and proceeded like a freight train straight up through the rapids with me running up after it. A biggy I thought, all the traits of a powerful fish. And it was powerful. The #3 Opti combination of rod, reel and line were bent tip to butt at several netting possibilities –what a dream to use. If I had hooked this fish on my Opti #5 setup it still would have been fun but this #3 is a really fantastic tool feeling everything the fish wants to do in this small stream.
In the net and a buzzing sigh and a look up to realize I’m at least 150m from where I hooked this lovely 5lb bow, what a fight! A quick shot of him next to my Opti Creek Reel playing as important a role as the fish itself in this experience unfolding.
On release, the silvery rainbow was happy to tear off spaying me with its tail on exit as if to have the last word. Fabulous!
An hour later I was back in my office with increased productivity and smiles all round. If you have a local stream, I recommend visiting it.
How right he was.
By design and thoughtful landscaping, the first sight of Fiordland Lodge catches you by surprise: a log cabin the size of a wooden tall ship anchored in the sea of red tussock, with the backdrop of a huge lake and a horizon of endless mountains, greened with rainforest and topped with snow.
Fiordland, with its canyon-like glacial valleys and 1000m rock walls dropping straight into the water, offers some of the most dramatic landscapes on the planet and the Lodge is exquisitely designed to echo this grandeur.
At the bar made out from an enormous slab of recycled rimu we met the Lodge owner and head guide Ron Peacock. For 25 years Ron has been a national parks ranger, and spent 18 of those years roaming Fiordland, so his knowledge of the vast mountain wilderness would be hard to rival. He has fly fished for trout since he was a boy and thus naturally, when with his wife Robynne they built the Lodge in 2002, he also became its head guide.
Our original plan was to fish the Clinton, a greenstone vain of a river with dizzying clarity and a plenitude of both brown and rainbow trout. The Milford Track – “the greatest walk in the world” – follows the river and we intended to fly in with a float plane to the beginning of the track and fish as far upstream as we could get in a day. But in Fiordland, the weather always has the final say in any action plan and, as we breakfasted in front of the Lodge’s panoramic windows and watched heavy storm clouds brood over the mountains, Ron suggested an alternative.
“The Clinton is out in this weather but not to worry,” he said. “We have over forty rivers and streams within 90 minutes’ travel from Te Anau. We’ll go inland, there is a beautiful little stream I’d like to show you.”
And so he did.
For the whole day we walked up the river and into the mountain valley which opened up in front of us, revealing itself, like a good tale, one turn at a time. There were fresh deer signs everywhere, not a soul in sight, and here and there we found trout feeding with graceful efficiency of the top predator.
We insisted that Ron fished too, it was his day off and guides as popular as him are often too busy to fish much for themselves. We sighted a large brown trout feeding voraciously on the edge of a log jam and Ron hooked it with a precise cast, then leapt into the river with agility you would not expect from a 65 year old, to lead the fish away from the logs and possible tangles. Craig netted the fish and Ron hooted with delight, suddenly a boy again, doing what he loved.
Then we sat on a rock overlooking another promising pool, and we ate our lunch, and I thought that if there was a technology to measure the levels of happiness and joie de vivre in my blood the way cops test for alcohol I would certainly be well over the limit.
In his other life, when not being my fishing buddy, Craig runs Castabroad, a fly fishing travel agency which emphasises quality, luxury and hassle-free itineraries. The magazine story was his idea, as was staying and fishing with Ron, and so on the way back home we talked trout and more places to visit.
“There are 14 other trout lodges around New Zealand, six in the North Island, eight in the South,” Craig told me. “Similar in standard to Fiordland Lodge but as unique and individual as the people who built them.”
“And you know them all?”
“That’s what I do. Castabroad takes care of every details in its clients’ travels, from the moment they get off the plane until they step back onto it, so I’m the test pilot for the itineraries, making sure everything is just right and as good as it can be, or better.”
“Tell you what: next road trip we do, I guide you on rivers, you guide us to the best lodges.”
We shook hands. It was a deal. A pact of trout sybarites.
I’ve been given this assignment for a luxury travel magazine: to fly fish from Fiordland Lodge in Te Anau – (I know, but please don’t hold it against me, a guy has to make a living somehow) – and suggested to my fishing compadre Craig Somerville that we add a few more days to the gig and make it into a road trip.
The lower South Island rivers have taken a tremendous beating during the spring storms, some of them are only just becoming fishable for the first time this season, and I wanted to check out their state, and that of the trout, just as the rest of the waters were opening on 1 Nov.
The weather we had was less than ideal – thick overcast and downstream gale – but we were off to a fabulous start, with the first three casts converting into three magnificent browns.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to keep this perfect score for long,” Craig said.
Prophetic words. We did not touch another fish for the rest of the day.
The bend in the #5 says it all, Craig and Maya in hot pursuit
Day 2 was even more gloomy, and so windy it was impossible to cast upstream, even with the canon of a rod like the #7 Cross 1. Usually, a sight-fishing purist, I’d just go back to the camper and read but Craig had a better idea.
“You just turn around and fish streamers,” he said, “it’s just as good.”
Worth all the efforts.
Craig grew up on Scotland’s best salmon rivers so he is something of an expert on swinging streamers. He was hooked up almost immediately and to me it was something of a revelation, and a reminder: “fish to the conditions, not ideologies.” Craig had rescued what would have otherwise been a blown-out day.
On day 3 we went looking for rainbows. We walked for miles exploring a river that was new to us both and we found the fish in gorges and on shallow spawning beds. After the demanding browns, they were almost too easy, and it was clear they have had a tough time surviving the floods. I spotted the “fish of the day” and Craig caught it with the first cast, and we were surprised to see it had teeth like a barracuda. Neither of us had ever seen anything like this.
On the day 4 we rolled into Te Anau, a small frontier town on the edge of over 1.2 million hectares of Fiordland wilderness. Though we love walking remote rivers in pursuit of trout, camping on the riverbanks, sipping single-malts by campfires and being lullabied by the burble of trout waters, this far into our intense Carpe Diem trip we were more than a little weary. Sore-footed and weather-beaten, and as dusty as our 4×4 camper. More than ready for a little luxury.
“You’re in for the treat of your life,” Craig told me. He has been to the Fiordland Lodge before. I said it was a tall order considering I spent the past 25 years of the said life as a travel writer and no stranger to luxury and opulence. I even got to stay in royal suites, I went on. “One of them had a walk-through wine-glass cabinet bigger than your living room.”
But Craig’s confidence was unfazed.
“No, trust me, I mean it. Wherever you stayed, you’d have never seen anything like Fiordland Lodge.”
Stay tuned for Part 2.
When one thinks of fly fishing destinations planet wide, there are several that spring to mind; Russia, Canada, Seychelles, Bahamas, Iceland to name a few, and there are normally very good reasons why they are at the top of fishers lists when discussing favorites over a few beers or gin and tonic. Whether it is for Atlantic salmon, Pacific steelhead or the prized bonefish, they are all at the top of the sport for providing the most exclusive sporting experiences. One such location that is almost always considered when discussing the planets finest is New Zealand, why? Well simply put, because of its superb and unrivalled trout fishing. However, there may be more to this indescribable country than meets the eye!
I arrived in the small costal town of Blenheim situated in Marlborough no more than a month ago with such anticipation of my trip ahead. Day dreaming on the flight of crystal clear trout streams offering up leviathans of gold, yellow and red, supping dry flies high up in the alpine valleys. But the thing is, it wasn’t just the trout that I was looking forward too.
If I go back a few years just prior to my travels to Russia as an Atlantic salmon guide I met a fellow fly fishing fanatic in London. He had just returned from a somewhat unusual trip to the southern hemisphere. I engaged in conversation with this chap hearing ridiculous stories of bonkers fishing, almost too far fetched to believe. The thing about this yarn was, my original impressions of New Zealand as a fishing destination had just been totally crushed. It was from this point on that I became totally inspired. Once I had had a moment to take all of these stories of tackle destroying fish and epic battles in I must admit, initially I thought, ‘Nah it cant be, there’s only trout in New Zealand’, but so wrong was I.
So prior to my departure I began doing a little research, putting a few plans on paper, and preparing my kit list. On initial examination the list became a little ridiculous, 4wt, 5wt, 7wt, 8wt saltwater, 10wt saltwater etc etc, the list goes on. It was the discussion I had had two years earlier playing back through my mind, driving me insane, ‘if I go to that country and I haven’t got a rod for the job, I’m going to go nutty’! Well long story short I was a little over weight, but thanks to Air New Zealand’s awesome baggage allowances all was well.
So a few Loop fly rods and reels later and the fishing began. It was still early in the season for trout being early September but up there at the top of my list was this fish that I had heard so much about. The Kahawai, all I had to go on was a loose description of a mackerel/tuna like fish that eats anything small and fishy and goes like s**t! It wasn’t long before I made a few very useful contacts and began to put a plan of attack together. The most helpful of those contacts was a small chap missing a few teeth who attempted to describe the kahawai’s Favorite fodder for this time of year. While at an apparently superb spot to get into one of these fish I was invited to check out a specimen or two of these bait fish that Kahawai seem to be obsessed with, in fact it wasn’t just a few there were hundreds of these little fish in a white chilly bin, oddly enough it would seem as though its not just the fish that love them, the locals do to. Know locally as whitebait, they are a tiny bait fish that runs the rivers of New Zealand to spawn in the head waters. Being only 4-5cm in length and only 4-5mm in width, they sure do look juicy. Question is, where do I get a whitebait pattern. Well after a bit of networking I managed to track down a couple of chaps who are just as nutty about fly fishing as I am. It turns out there are a few whitebait patterns circulating, and easily tied, I managed to wangle a couple and the fishing commenced.
So It began, the whitebait had started running and the whitebait nets men were out at the river mouths in pursuit of this apparently Michelin star delicacy. As I have now learnt, when the whitebait fishermen are out, the Kahawai won’t be far behind. The first thing that struck me was the overwhelmingly cool prospect of hooking into one of these fish in a river mouth. As we all know catching a fish in current tends to supercharge the experience, imagine for a moment a tuna in a river, uh, bu**er springs mind!!
So a little Latin Etymology for you; the Kahawai, Arripis Trutta: arripio arripere in fishy English, to slam said fly suddenly and feck off!!! Nothing could prepare me for that first hit.
It was a stunning evening, the sunset bursting through the mountains and cascading over t
he Marlborough vinyards is a sight few words describe, simply put, exquisite. The orange glow took the chill from the Tasman salt water as shorts were the order of the day. Combine the light with a feisty swell braking on the beach made for quite the backdrop.
Eventually after all of six or seven casts we were off a smooth draw on the line from the river and a steady but aggressive retrieve; then there was the take, followed by several expletives, this fish went nuts, into the backing before I could compose myself and not much respite for a good ten minutes, and acrobatic, resembling a salmon, thrashing through the waves. After a good tussle for 10 or so minutes I had it to the beach, initial examination revealed an absolute gem of a fish the turquoise along its back and the spots, with the sharp tail fin, big eye, and large shoulder, stunning!!
Once I had released the fish and eventually composed myself I had a moment to reflect, the discussion I had had a few years before again came rushing back, like the Romans the chap I had met in London was accurate to the T, it turns out that perhaps New Zealand has more to offer the traveling and resident fly fisher alike. Stay tuned for more updates and adventure soon.
Rod: LOOP Cross s1 flatsman 9ft 8wt.
Reel: LOOP Opti Speedrunner.
Line: LOOP Booster 9wt intermediate.
Leader: Maxima 20-12lb built tapered leader.
Fly: Epoxy white bait pattern.
The opening weekend of the New Zealand fishing season was good to us.
Winter gave the stream a hammering but despite this the few fish that had held their ground were responsive and in good nick already. We (myself and Paul - a good mate and also ‘conveniently’ a recognised Kiwi fly fishing guide of aspiringflyfishing.co.nz) headed off on our annual opening mission. This time we ended up defaulting onto one of our all time favorite wee streams “the Hush Hush Burn”.
The weather had been good on the week leading up, and the first morning we were welcomed to a clear and mid-flow mecca with blue skies creeping through the morning layers to heat us up.
“NILF”, you ask? = Nymph I Like to Fish.
The master fly-tisan I call Paul whittles up trout flies like no other, and the NILF is a pattern I could never divulge… lets just say it provides a rockin’ time and if I had to choose one NILF, she would be it.
Craig – Loop Army Down Under.
Rod: LOOP Cross S1 #5
Reel: LOOP Opti Dry Fly