Wow this year is marching along way too fast!! It will be Winter before we know it, the trout will start running the rivers and the style of fishing will change. So with that in mind lets talk ” Nymphing and Indicators”.
When I first started fly fishing in Taupo some 35 years ago, it was with the wet fly. Using a fast sinking line you would get above a run or pool cast down stream into it and then using a very slow retrieve bring your rabbit fly back up through the water. This was the only method used back in the good old days. Hell even Woolly Buggers weren’t invented. About 10 years after I started fishing the Waitahanui Nymphing started to show up. The natural Nymphs were not pretty in any stretch of the imagination, the VAST array of material available to Fly tiers today certainly weren’t, back in the day, so they were hairy ugly weighted little buggers. I am sure they caught trout but the vast majority of anglers still used a wet line. I am not sure what they used for an indicator back then or even if they did use an indicator. In my opinion they were Nymphing Bastards and were low life Mo Fo’s. It’s ironic that I am now one of them :). Actually to be honest it wasn’t that they caught trout or the the style they used, it was the fact they destroyed the foliage along side the river bank just so they could cast. A prime example of this was the Bridge pool on the Waitahanui. I’m not too sure how many of you can remember the small trees and Black Berry that went right to the river edge on the true Left and down from there. This was slowly and methodically hacked away so more “Nymphing bastards” could lob their bombs into the pool. Where once, 8 anglers Wet Lining could fish this magic piece of water, a max of three or four Nymphers would get in there and hold the pool. The stage was set for Nymphing to become the main style of fishing in Taupo.
From there the “Muppet” was introduced and this revolutionized Nymphing in Taupo. The turning point for me with Nymphing, came when I was about 22. I had been fishing a great run in the middle section that always produced fish for me. Stick ability was the key to success with wet lining, sometimes you would fish for hours on end with only one or two takes but in the end you usually took a fish. On this morning I had suffered through biting cold and biting sandflies to boot, all for nothing. I was about to leave when two Nymphers came down the river and asked if they could have a flick. I sat on the bank in awe and dismay as they pulled trout after trout from the water I had fished so hard for nothing!! I went straight back to the Waitahanui lodge and bought my first floating line. Now at this stage of the game Egg yarn indicators seemed to be the go. I am not sure if it was egg yarn but it made sense that it may have been. Someone may like to correct me on that? Whatever the material was it sucked. Even as a novice I hated it when the indicator started to sink. My theory on indicators is that it doesn’t really matter how big they are but they must float. An indicator that sinks will definitely spook trout. I persevered with these crap indicators for years and years, if you managed to get a good one then it was Gold and you used it until the fibers melded together and it started to sink, which really didn’t take that long. Weight was another issue that came along for me. I realized fairly quickly that in the Taupo fishery you needed to get down to the trout and that meant extra weight in rivers like the Waitahanui and Hinemaiaia where a long drift was not possible. Once you added weight to these sorry excuses for indicators the game was over for them and they sunk like a torpedoed submarine.
Nine years ago when I moved my family down here to run the Waitahanui lodge, I had the perfect opportunity to start experimenting with materials, to improve on indicators. I still used Egg yarn but was playing around with different soaking materials. Some indicators where better than others but in general they still sank after an hour or two. This meant I had to have a never ending supply of the things hanging off me and in all my pockets. One day while fishing the Tauranga Taupo with Brett Cameron and struggling with my crappy sinking indicators, Brett gave me grieve about them and passed me one of his. Hmmm the material was like nothing I had ever seen and they floated for ages I was in indicator heaven. From there it was a simple matter of using the soaking materials I had found to make these little guys pretty much unsinkable. I owe much of the success with these things to Brett, although i’ll never let him know that.
All the indicators out there for sale are pretty much the same. They are the same colour, (mainly Orange and green) where as mine are multi colored. Mine stand out in all light conditions and yet are stealthy on the water, they don’t spook the trout. Apart from the fact I soak each batch for up to a week and then individually dry them, I also brush them out to part the fibers and finish them for you with Loon Aquel. These will not sink in a standard days fishing and if they do then brushing them out with a comb and applying Aquel to them again, will see them as good as new. I have had one indicator for three years now, yup thats right one indicator for three years. Try and do that with any of the shop bought buggers.
Part of being successful when Nymphing is having an indicator that floats high and only goes under when the Nymphs have stopped moving down stream, or are being pulled under by a trout. They are an integral part of your gear and if you scrimp on them or settle for second best you are compromising your trout catching ability.