In the months leading up to our visit to the North Island New Zealand we had many conversions with our guide Shane regarding fly choice. "I keep it simple but be assured that I'll have plenty of flies ready for you on your arrival" were his repeated comments. Needless to say and contrary to his wise words Dave and I lashed up dozens of nymphs in every hue all sizes and fashioning all manner of appendages and sporting many coloured tags and hotspots. I guess it's born from enthusiasm and knowledge gained from fishing for our sometimes over-fished and therefore choosy Trout. In truth North Island backcountry Trout are rarely selective particularly in February and assuming other anglers have not thrashed them will usually oblige with most well-presented offerings. With this in mind it soon became apparent that two flies became regular and proficient fish catchers thus rendering all our flies into the corner of the fly box. The two flies I recommend proved to be superb fish catchers and would take Browns and Rainbows.
Time and again we would change flies in an exploratory way and time and again the fly de jour would be the Blue Raptor. It is the product of Shane's fertile mind and is resultant from 35 years fishing the backcountry rivers of the North Island. Blue can trigger the predatory instincts of these aggressive fish and the goose biots provide that all-important buggy look and transform the profile of the fly to one of menace. The dense blue body is neatly subdued by sectioning the body with V Rib. Not only does this provide the body with that all-important segmented effect it also adds greatly to the resilience and durability of the fly. A 2.7mm natural tungsten bead provides just enough weight to advance through most water columns whilst not hindering the floating properties of the supporting dry fly. These were tied and fished in sizes 12 and 14 and on the trusty Tiemco SP2499 BL hook. This hook is a proven reliable partner when targeting larger than average fish as its strength help subdue the Browns which typically fought deep and dirty and the Rainbows that were intent on running to the next valley.
These nymphs do not represent the pinnacle of fly tying but I can vouch for their effectiveness. Typically these blue raptor nymphs were tied off the back of a supporting dry fly in the form of a Cicada pattern and in true NZ style. A similar version of the raptor tied sans goose biots sporting a black holographic body and with 3.8mm tungsten bead was used in a more sacrificial role. With the raptor attached to the bend with 18 inches of tippet its heavy tungsten head helped to drag the lighter raptor down to the fishing zone in the deeper pools.
There are a million and one dressings for the Cicada - both suggestive and close copy but if you want a reliable ‘go to' pattern for summer and back end Trout fishing then the Parachute Madam X is a utilitarian terrestrial pattern par excellence. Admittedly on first acquaintance with this substantial fly Dave and I were somewhat sceptical but after the first day's fishing and watching great Trout come careering from the other side of the pool we were firm converts. If the sight of 6lb of backcountry Trout smashing Cicadas off the surface doesn't vault your pulse find another hobby.
It's one of those patterns that whilst appears to represent nothing specific in nature it's buggy profile and outline combined with the rubber appendages do enough to trigger the aggressive feeding habits of these backcountry fish. As an out and out dry fly it's substantial body and deer hair wing once applied with floatant provided hours of fishing without the need to constantly attend to high maintenance cdc . It provides sufficient buoyancy to make repeated casts in the most turbulent of water but above all the Trout simply love it and wolf it down with abandon. By all means tie them up but such is the quality of the majority of shop-bought flies in New Zealand that we bought them from one of the many tackle shops in Turangi or Taupo without any regrets. If you do come across selective Trout it's handy to have the Royal Wulff in sizes 12 and 14 for when the Trout are proving at tad more reluctant.
Dave and I played around with various tapered leaders and tippet constructions prior to our trip. This Cicada pattern is not only large (usually size 6) but provides plenty of inertia when casting. A tapered leader with a thick and powerful butt section was needed to ensure there was no loss of transitional energy between the fly line and the leader. We finally settled on the Leeda selecta 15 foot in 5lb these have especially thick butt sections and a steep taper cut back to 8 foot from the front (0.28) and finished of with a small perfection loop. This was the working leader for the whole of the holiday and allowed multiple methods to be used without the need to reconstruct the leader and by attaching 5 foot of 7lb Hardy Fluorocarbon everything was in place for a strong and abrasion proof connection. It must be said that these fish were not leader shy and a well presented drag free drift with a dry fly or nymph was rarely refused.
Hook: Tiemco 2499 SP BL size 12 and 14
Body: Blue holographic
Rib: Magic glass ‘V' Rib
Wings: Pair of brown Goose Biots
Thorax: Hares ear mixed with peacock glister (50:50)
Natural peacock herl is a good alternative.
Hook: 2 x medium wire hook size 6 and 10
Body: Peacock herl
Tail: Natural Deer Hair
Body Hackle: Red game cock
Legs: Veniards medium rubber legs (brown)
Wing: Deer hair
Thorax: Peacock herl
Wing post: White antron yarn
Hackle: Red game cock