Fishing flies on spinning gear is dead easy! You don’t need fancy fishing gear to go fly fishing. You can, in fact, use just about any rod and reel combination to fish a fly, here’s how you do it.
Take the line from your reel and thread it up through your rod guides then tie on a “D” lead complete with split rings and two swivels. This rig is used by many salmon anglers and sea-run trout fishermen. It is even effective when fishing the surf.
Next, take about a metre or so of lighter mono, say 10 to 15lbs, and tie a fly on the end. This is a simple rig but it is deadly on many saltwater species. Kahawai, mullet, mackerel, barracouta, and trout are all fish that are used to chasing their breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is in their nature to give chase to your fly should it come within range. For this reason, it is not unusual when fishing this setup, particularly at a river-mouth, to get a strike on nearly every cast. You may not be able to see the fish at all. They may not be breaking the surface. But it is still worth having a few casts to find out what is there. Experiment with different lead weights and winding speeds to find which work best where you are fishing.
At this point, I must stress the importance of releasing fish you don’t want. The size 6 and 8 fly hooks will take fish off all sizes. This includes some that may be only a few inches long, up to powerful 2kg plus kahawai. Sea-run trout will also go for these smaller flies, and you could even get a salmon. John Hey from Smith City Sports and Camping has even hooked a salmon on a nymph!
Release all unwanted fish as quickly as possible. Try to avoid handling fish you will return to the water. The warmth from your hands will “burn” the fish and also cause scale damage that may not heal. At the very least wet your hands before touching the fish, and return it to the water as gently as possible.
The “D” lead and fly fishing method is also worth considering by those who go surfcasting. lt is a good way to catch a couple of mullet to use as surfcasting bait. You can, of course, use your fly rod at the river mouth in place of the “D” lead arrangement. This is how many saltwater fly anglers get started. lt isn’t necessary to wade out a long way either. The mullet and kahawai will
often be right in the white water where the surf is breaking.
The “D” lead with a metre or so of monofilament hanging from it and a fly on the end is prone to tangling. This is often limited to the fly wrapping around the sinker.
Another perhaps more sporting application is to fish with very light spinning gear and a lighter “D” lead. If you go down to 4 and 6 lb line on a light spinning rod and reel outfit you can have amazing fun. As with all saltwater fishing you can’t be certain just what size and species of fish will take your fly.
Try taking a few size 8 streamer flies with you when you take the kids fishing. This is a great place to get them started. A fish on their line, even if it is a small one, will have them hooked. Teach them also the importance of releasing unwanted fish. In clear water, you might find it useful to go down to even smaller hooks such as the Kamasan B405 chemically sharpened fly hooks. If you find that fish are following your fly to your feet but are not taking the most probable reason is that your fly is too big. This is particularly so with yellow-eyed mullet which have quite small mouths. You can also make your flies more effective in clear water by tying them in a sparse manner. It is surprising just how effective your little flies can be.
Your flies don’t need to be very “flash” to catch fish. You can make a very effective little saltwater fly for mullet and small kahawai by simply wrapping a bunch of Krystal Flash around a 10 or 12 fly hook and securing with black tying thread. Then lay the remaining Krystal Flash back along the hook and secure before trimming to length. You can strengthen the fly by coating the front half of the body with more head cement.
Don’t worry if your fly doesn’t look very well made. The fish won’t be able to tell the difference. The important thing is to get the proportions about right. On occasions, I have continued to fish a fly that has been chewed up by fish to the extent that it has barely any dressing left to the extent that it is almost just a hook only. Yet it still keeps on catching fish.
As the fly and “D” lead rig is likely to take sports fish you are not allowed to use it within 500 metres of a river mouth in New Zealand without a Sports Fishing Fishing Licence. This is no big deal. You can get a fishing licence for kids aged under 12 years at any sports store free of charge. ln different areas, such as at the Rangitata River mouth, there are strict rules about the use of lead weights so be sure to read the fine print on your licence before you start fishing.
The fly and “D” lead rig can also be used when fishing from wharves. Sometimes you will find that the fish will take a fly or small spinner more readily in preference to baited hooks. This is very much the case with some species such as barracouta, which in my experience, like their dinner only if it is trying to escape!
Experienced anglers who regularly fish at the mouth of the Hurunui, Waimakariri, Rakaia, Rangitata, and Waitaki Rivers, will be familiar with the fly and “D” lead rig and it’s use in trout and salmon angling. This rig makes it possible to fish the often fast water of the gut – just inside the river’s entrance. It is a very effective fishing method which makes it possible to get a fly, zed spinner, or Colorado blade spinner, down to the bottom where the salmon are most likely to be. Fishing flies on spinning gear becomes second nature with experience.
This reminds me of a peculiar adaptation of this rig I witnessed down at the Waitaki River Salmon Fishing Contest some years ago. The Waitaki River was running high for the competition. The surf was also too rough to fish. There were a large number of anglers on the spit on the south side of the mouth. Almost all the river was in a single channel running through the gut. lt was very fast moving and definitely not a good place to fall in. The only possible salmon fishing method was with the “D” lead rig. Anglers would cast upstream into the gut. With perhaps 500 or 600 cubic meters of water per second roaring past like a freight train, it only took about 30 seconds for the rig to swing around and land on the stones. Occasionally someone would hook a salmon and come sprinting along the line, towed by an angry salmon, towards the crashing surf at the tail of the gut. There were only a few salmon caught that day at the mouth, but the “D” lead rig was the only show in town!
It is a good idea to pre-tie a few “D” rigs at home and wind them around a trace wheel, or something similar. These things are available from your tackle dealer for a few dollars. Particularly if you are taking the kids fishing, having your rigs pre-tied will save heaps of time at the river or beach. Give the fly and “D” rig method a try. The kids especially will appreciate the chance of catching a fish however small. A fly on spinning gear is also a useful way of catching bait for bigger species. Learning about which weights to use, fly size, winding speed, and so on, is all good experience that can be put to use later when targeting bigger fish.
Give fishing flies on spinning gear a go. Don’t make your trace too long or it will be difficult to cast. About half a rod length, or less, is ok. Try fishing just one fly to start with. When you do fish a double fly rig you will still get the odd tangle. You’ll find you get fewer tangles with the double rig if you cast a bit slower and lob the flies rather than flick them. Here is a typical lead and fly spin fishing rig used for sea-run trout and salmon fishing.
This post was last modified on 14/12/2020 4:39 pm
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