Spinning or threadline gear is not just for metal lures – flies can be fished with great success says Ben Hope
Spinning or threadline gear is commonly associated with “chucking hardware” in the form of wobblers, spinners and in the old days, artificial minnows. This perception hardly does the versatile threadline gear justice.
“Threadline” was the term used for spinning when it originated to signify that light line, i.e. nylon, could be used by the method. That should still be the intention. And if you do use light nylon then the full versatility of the method comes to the fore.
Yes with light nylon you can cast ultra-light spinners like the wee “fly spoons.” But you can also fly fish with threadline gear.
To fish fly with spinning tackle, you need light, sensitive gear. I know it is recognised that fly can be fished on spinning tackle, by a plastic bubble, partially filled with water to give weight for casting. But there’s other ways.
With the three split shot above a fly, such as nymph or fly lure pattern, you can flip the fly upstream. You will feel the shot occasionally bouncing the bottom.If it stops, raise the rod and you’ll feel a solid resistance. It may be you’re hooked into the bottom or it maybe you’re hooked into a fish.
I remember the first time i tried the split shot and fly was on the Mohaka River.
I put on a self-tied “coch-y-bondhu” nymph – peacock herl body, copper wire ribbing, one turn red brown hackle and golden pheasant tippets for a tail. It was a bold suggestion of a creeper nymph. And I caught two hefty brown trout of 3.2kgs and 2.5 kgs.
I fished for Tutaekuri River rainbows with a fly lure and split shot. A Black Prince lure was my first choice that evening. On that stream, it was only a flick of three to five metres that was required. With the very first cast into the first riffle I fished, a 3 kg rainbow trout smashed at the fly.
That evening, I caught six fat rainbows ranging from 1.5 kg to 3 kgs. Whereas a fly rod was almost impossible to wield because of the fescue and overhanging manuka and shrubs, with spinning gear I could easily flip the little rig of split shot and a fly across current or upstream. I also fished nymphs for those rainbows and they worked splendidly.
If you’re going to fish fly on a threadline then you need light nylon to give the ability to cast the necessary distance.
What’s the necessary distance?
Well with a fly rod, many trout are taken with a four to eight metre cast. With light nylon perhaps of 2 kg or 3 kg at the most breaking strain, it’s possible to cast a fly and split shot rig, 10 metres which is ample.
In actual fact although nylon may be 2 kg in breaking strain, because you’re using a long length of mono filament on a spinning reel, there is maximum elasticity which means you can land a far bigger fish than the specified breaking strain “limit” designated for the nylon.
Nymph or little wet fly with nylon and split shot via spinning gear, allows you to get much greater depths than using a fly line with its cross-sectional resistance to sinking. As a result, using split shot enables depth to be obtained even in relatively swift water. The advantage of that cannot be over-stressed.
Fish upstream too just as you would with a fly rod. Even if I’m fishing a Taupo style wet fly lure such as a Rabbit, Hamills Killer or Parsons Glory lure, I tend to cast upstream on a slight angle. It’s a fallacy that the threadline should be cast with a downstream angle and fished “across and down.”
Oh you’ll get some trout but your success will be so much more if you adopt an upstream approach.
In the spring, I have used the spinning gear with smelt type flies in estuarine waters at whitebait time. Patterns such as a Grey Ghost or Jack Sprat can work well. Because trout preying on whitebait, tend to be homing in near the surface, getting depth is not so important. It can also pay to impart an erratic retrieve by cranking the handle in a stop-go-fashion or just move the rod tip from side to side to simulate the fleeing of a bait fish.
In summer, don’t forget the cicada imitation. Fished on the threadline, with the bubble, you can cover a tremendous amount of river. Remember with the dry fly, to delay your “strike” (tightening) for a count of “one, two, three” to allow the trout to take and turn over.
If you want to play two cards at once, fish a dry fly above the bubble and a nymph below the bubble.
Spin fishing does not have to be a “hardware chucking” exercise as some puritan fly fishers label it. It can be skilful not only with lures but flies. Besides for young anglers, spinning is often an avenue to fly fishing. Youngsters are better out on a trout stream than hooning streets in souped up cars or being couch potatoes.
So if you’re a critic of spin fishing, don’t be such a curmudgeon. It has its place particularly fly fishing with spinning tackle.