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The Dead Drift

By Magnus Angus

Featuring Dean Bell

There are slight technical issues with this DVD. For the life of me I could not get it to play in my laptop, but my television set had no problems playing it. Once it was playing, The Dead Drift would not allow me to skip through scenes and there appear to be no chapters or sections, just one continuous file.

If you want a dose of water/trout envy this should supply it. A very simple format, Dean Bell fishes through deliciously clear Fjiorland streams, spotting and catching a frankly unfair number of brown and rainbow trout. The spotting and catching gets to be a little relentless and predictable but the quality of the fishing is awe-inspiring.

Video quality is generally good, some burnt out highlights but the image quality is excellent in most of the scenes. The light and scenery are similar in most of the locations and The Dead Drift is edited in such a way that one stunning pool runs into seamlessly into another – and each pool seems to be home to half a dozen large resident feeding trout. Which, I think, contributed to my sense that this was a little relentless.

While selling me on emigration to New Zealand, Dean Bell calmly analyses each situation, reads the water, and explains how he intends to present his fly and why. Then presents his fly, hooks the ‘fush’ and while playing yet another fine large trout, calmly explains what he’s doing and why.

Bell is a well known and very experienced fishing guide. In each run and pool it's like we are hearing what is going through the mind of a guide as they help their angler tackle a spotted fish and then play a hooked fish.

Some points seem almost too easy, but all are practical and to the point. Bell touches on watercraft, reading the currents before casting so you know where to place the fly and line to minimise drag and planning where to cast from and where to fight a fish. Similarly, he touches on the value of skilful casting but his emphasis is on making the best possible presentation – get close if you can, find the right angle, then make the right cast. Subtle valuable lessons. Bell teaches by example, quietly narrating while he fishes, with voice-over dubbed in when further explanation is required.

Not flashy, not for novice anglers, not about choosing a rod, setting up a leader or knotting on a fly. This is about practical fishing, assessing with the situation to give yourself the best chance of hooking and landing that trout. If you plan to fish in New Zealand this would be good preparation. If you fish trout streams anywhere this should make you envious.


The Dead Drift
Featuring Dean Bell
Stealth Films Ltd
(Directed by Steve Couper),
NZ$30, offer price
From: www.stealthfilms.co.nz

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