Fly & Tenkara, Freshwater, Trout

Planning a fly fishing trip to New Zealand: get a guide

Lake Rotoiti...stunning.

Myself, Lee, Perrin, Nick, Brett and Danny are off to New Zealand in December. For most of us it will be our first taste of New Zealand’s famed fly fishing. We are currently  in the process of planning the trip. Deciding which rivers to fish, flies to take, equipment we will need and what not. We are also obsessively reading a load of articles about fly fishing in New Zealand. For first timers there is one bit of advice that all of them share. Get a guide. For a least one day, get a goddamned guide. JUST GET A GUIDE!

“…all lead me to thinking that I had to get a guide early in the trip for a day to set me on my way”

“The most important tip to ensure a successful fishing trip in a foreign country like New Zealand is to listen to and trust your guide. A guide is not merely a convenience or luxury but an essential.”

“…so hiring a guide for at least a few days is the best bet for success early on during all of my trips”

“For a first-time visitor who plans to fish, it’s essential to hire a guide for several days”

“First timers will waste serious time and money if they do not hire a qualified guide for their first two days on the water.”

You get the drift. So if you are planning a trip to New Zealand our advice to you is to get a guide. Everyone says you should and I have no doubt it is very sound advice. If you are planning a trip to New Zealand you should probably listen to those that have been there and done it.

So when it came to planning that part of our trip to New Zealand we calmly analysed the sensible advise of the many far wiser anglers who had come before us and…. well… in the end… you know… its just…, Ok, I’ll come clean, we aren’t getting a guide. There I said it. It may be a misstep, but the decision is made. It was unanimous. The conversation went something like this

“We don’t need a guide”
“Theres six of us, we’ll be right”
“Not my thing”
“I don’t want to get a guide”

Summing up the sentiments of the group, we didn’t want a guide because, on a trip like this, thats not really what fly fishing is about for us. In well worn and overused cliche form “Its about the journey….man, not the destination… man”. Although that doesn’t really capture it, not all of it anyway, its just a cliche after all.

In more words, its about the challenge of figuring things out. All six of us are self taught fly fishermen, we’ve all got stubborn and independent streaks, we like a challenge. We like figuring things out, its a big part of the fun. Its also about the adventure, the unknown. The unexpected curve balls that both the trout and nature will undoubtedly throw at us. Its about hard earned successes, preceded by failures and #@*% ups that make success all the sweeter. Chasing the feeling that you’ve earnt something, owning both your successes and your failures in the process. There is also the more spiritual side, the more introspective side. The process of immersing yourself in nature, getting in touch with something deeper,  connecting to the rhythm of whats around you. Going with the flow, letting nature dictate the pace of each day, not trying to force it to fit into your schedule. Tapping into the essence of each day, each trout, each moment. Getting in “touch” with the “vibe” so to speak. All those experiences are heightened by sharing them with your close friends on the stream as you win and lose each days battles and beside the campfire each night over a well earned whiskey. A shared purpose bringing you all closer together. The feeling was, if we’ve got all that, we probably don’t need a guide.DSC_0744

Of course its also about catching fish. On the catching fish front, I’m sure hiring a guide we would mean we would catch more fish. Guides are great, especially if you want to catch as many fish as possible or want to give yourself the best chance of landing a trophy or if you are by yourself and want company on the stream or if you want to speed up the learning process in a new area and learn from the best. Sometimes though, sometimes, fishing isn’t just about catching fish. Sometimes shortcuts detract from the experience as a whole. Sometimes the hardships are part of the experience. Sometimes going it alone brings its own rewards. In the context of this trip. Six good friends on their first fly fishing trip to New Zealand. Sharing the ups and downs any destination fishing trip has it store. We all agreed. This time. Thats what this trip was about. That we weren’t going to get a guide. That we were going to go it alone. Come what may. We are probably idiots who have made a massive mistake. At least its a mistake we are all more than happy to make.

Summing up: If you are planning a trip to New Zealand. Get a guide. Get a goddamned guide. JUST GET A GUIDE! If you decide not to, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and that you are happy to own the consequences of your foolishness. “Its all about the journey, not the destination” after all…



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