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Looking forward to pin-fry time

The notoriously difficult pin-fry feeding trout bring the reverse New Zealand tactic into the spotlight


A full-tailed Rutland trout, caught on the Reverse New Zealand method. The suspender fly of the team can be seen in the net (far
A full-tailed Rutland trout, caught on the Reverse New Zealand method. The suspender fly of the team can be seen in the net (far

Rather than being put off by the news that Rutland trout were seriously locked onto pin fry feeding, my thoughts were “at last!

As I powered my boat down to the bottom of Rutland’s South Arm I was keen to yet again test my reverse New Zealand technique (FFFT June 2018) on this notoriously frustrating and difficult scenario. First, though, I had to find the fish. In previous years this would mean concentrating on the margins around the weed-beds. However, the pin fry this year were largely unavailable to the bank angler, due to an absence of marginal weed growth. I consistently found the pin fry out in open water. There would sometimes be a feature, such as a sunken island or buoys, at other times they were just lying over deep water, possibly herded there by the trout, which were present in vast numbers. In fact, there were so many fish I assumed that I had encountered a massive pod of fresh stockies  (it turned out these were in fact the gorgeous overwintered rainbows that Rutland is famous for).

I finally anchored up as wave after wave of voraciously feeding fish passed by, rising with (seemingly) abandon. I set up a Sugar Cube Hare’s Ear on the point and two Hare’s Ear Nymphs tied directly to the leader above the Sugar Cube. The pin fry feeders seem to take just below the surface, so I wanted my flies to constantly swim at eye level, even when fished static.

I had made an an agreement with another Rutland Regular, Ron, to touch base later in the morning. Ron is an excellent angler and I noticed he had been doing repeated drifts across the open water fishing with an obvious concentration and intensity. He eventually approached as I just hooked into my fifth fish of the morning. He’d had nothing. I shouted across to him about reverse New Zealand plus an explanation. Two hours later, still fishless, despite the feeding frenzy, he brought his boat right up to mine so he could see my set-up. It turned out he had been using the traditional New Zealand set up, which suspends a nymph below a dry. 20 minutes after switching to reverse NZ I could see his rod hooped over. A couple of hours later and with six fish to his credit he came back over to see me; “Well, after 50 years at this game, I never dreamed I could learn something new”!

Ron’s success was as satisfying to me as my own personal day’s sport.

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