Feathered Lures

Red Setter Trout Lure Created by Geoff Sanderson of Turangi

The Red Setter is a top fly for migrating pre-spawning rainbow trout by Allan Burgess

The Red Setter Trout Lure is the invention of Geoff Sanderson of Turangi. Geoff and Pop Sanderson took over the tackle shop, which was part of Taylor’s Camp, near the Tongariro River in 1950. The Tongariro River is a major tributary at the southern end of Lake Taupo, near Turangi. 

As many as one-third of the rainbow trout in Lake Taupo run the Tongariro River to spawn over the colder months of the year. The run can number tens of thousands of fish – many of which are large trout.

Overseas angling visitors have been coming to New Zealand since the 1920s to try their luck and skill in this magnificent fishery. Geoff Sanderson was at the heart of it during the golden age when few of these overseas visitors traveled to fish the lakes and rivers of the South Island. You can read about the early days and see some old photographs of Taylors Camp on the Tongariro River Motel website. New Zealand fly fishing.

The Red Setter is a top fly for those pre-spawning rainbows as they run up the Tongariro River. It is, of course, the fly of choice for migrating winter rainbow trout anywhere in New Zealand.

The Red Setter has long been one of this country’s most popular trout lures. Derek Quilliam in The Complete Guide to New Zealand Trout Lures says that at the time Hugh McDowell wrote his classic guide to fly tying, the Red Setter was the most popular fly sold in New Zealand. It had pushed the Parsons Glory into second place, and the Hamill’s Killer into third. Now that was some 35-plus years ago and angler tastes have no doubt changed. Nevertheless, the Red Setter is a trout lure you definitely should have in your fly box.

In New Zealand, we call the Red Setter, and other flies of this type, a lure. In the United States, it would be known as a streamer fly. The Red Setter, like the Fuzzy Wuzzy, is taken by trout for a freshwater crayfish. Although it could also double as a trout roe fly.

The tail of the Red Setter is a black or reddish-brown squirrel tail. The body is always of hot orange chenille or wool. The two hackles are ginger. According to the late Hugh McDowell in New Zealand Fly Tying – The Ten-thumbed beginner’s guide, if squirrel tail should be in short supply the new synthetic FisHair in either brown or black makes an acceptable substitute.

McDowell describes the Red Setter as a great all-around fly not only is it effective for migrating pre-spawning rainbows, but it is also very good for harling, and oddly for night fishing.

The observant will have noticed a close similarity between the Red Setter, Fuzzy Wuzzy, and the Dappled Dog trout flies. These patterns are all tied in exactly the same way. The difference between them is in the colour of the materials. 

If fishing the Twizel Canals for winter rainbows the Red Setter is a lure well worth your consideration!

This post was last modified on 27/10/2022 12:22 am

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