The Choice of Fly

By Tony Orman

Every New Zealand fishing guide will have a few favorite patterns and you can bet your last dollar they will differ between guides. Basically the choice through the spring-summer-autumn period is dictated by weather and subsequent water conditions, plus entomology as to insect activity in the individual months. Bigger patterns in spring, falling in size to low water in February. Bigger patterns in fast water, small patterns on still waters. 

Following is my month by month list of suggested fly patterns. The patterns are my choice. Each guide will of course modify the list to suit their preferences and favorite flies.  


Nymphs: Green stonefly size 8; hare and copper size 8, 10; gold ribbed hares ear size 10, 12 and zug bug size 10, 12. In lakes use a small hamills killer lure size 8 as a dragonfly nymph imitation.

Dry Flies: Royal wulff size 10, 12; humpy size 10, 12, sedge (elk caddis or turkey sedge) size 12 for fishing at dusk. Streamers: Grey ghost size 8 for sea-run browns near estuaries; red shadow size 6 at dusk or after dark.  

November- December

To October's selection add:

Nymphs: Pheasant tail size 10, 12, 14

Dry Flies: Humpy (green to imitate the green beetle, brown to imitate the brown beetle size 12, 14; Coch-y-bondu size 12 is also a handy beetle imitation. The adams, quill gordon and a New Zealand pattern, twilight beauty, are good mayfly imitations preferably in size 12, 14, 16.


Retain the selection but scale down by adding:

Nymphs: Hare and copper size 12, 14; gold ribbed hares ear size 14; pheasant tail size 16; and a New Zealand pattern called the willow grub size 14, 16 to imitate the grub falling off willow trees.

Dry Flies: Hopper imitations to imitate cicadas; sedge pattern size 14. A muddler minnow size 8 can be used as a dry fly cicada imitation.  


It is cooling down bringing a crispness to early mornings and evenings.Scale up in size slightly to perhaps 12 in hares ear and pheasant tail nymphs. Dry flies in sizes 10 & 12 with a touch of "attractor" color such as a red bodied humpy is a worthwhile consideration for this month.

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