Big game on the fly

Fighting Kawhai on fly

Big game fishing is fun on its own, but some people like to change it up to make the sport more challenging. One way to do this is by using fly rods.

People typically think of fly fishing as a method used for trout fishing, however it can be used in salt water too. Some people even enjoy using it on big game fish. Fly fishing for big game fish can be quite challenging, but adds to the fun.

The reason using fly fishing gear for game fish is difficult is because of how the rods are set up. Rods used for fly fishing tend to have quite short butts, unlike standard rods, so you can’t set it in a harness, and must grip it higher up.

With the handle keeping within the diameter of the reel, there is also less to hold and exert pressure on the fish. Another big challenge with the gear is the line length. With less line, you have less capacity before you can get spooled.

Why do people use fly tackle for big game fish then, if it makes it that much more challenging? While game fish are difficult enough as it is, some people simply enjoy the sporting fight.

“What makes it fun is when they explode on take-off after hitting the fly,” says Adrian Bell, who has been fly fishing since 1984.

“The line starts whizzing out so fast, and you have to keep pressure on or they will spool you. Ask any trout fisher how they feel hooking up to a trout - well it’s ten times more fun. It’s a sport more Kiwi fisher folks should look into.”

Fly fishing involves a lot of careful strategy. You’re generally targeting fish on the surface, so the big thing to consider is not spooking your targets. Careful control of the boat, and practice with the casting of the line, is going to help.

“Like any fishing, though, it can be hard as, or very easy. It all depends on the day.” Says Adrian. He encourages people curious about the sport  to give it a go, and be patient with it, as success will come.

Adrian has had a lot of success with fish such as skipjack tuna and albacore, but the fun doesn’t stop there. In fact, Bay of Plenty local David Kahlenberg is the owner of several world records for fly fishing with big game, and has even caught sharks using the gear. There are no limits to the fish you can tackle with fly rods, it just takes patience  to learn.

If you want to try the sport out for yourself, pick up the basic gear and start practicing. There are plenty of tutorials online to help you get started.


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