Saltwater fly fishing around Auckland

Some Snappery Saturday Swoffing

A blustery Saturday morning with cloudy gray skies threatening rain. The big choice: the sandbanks or the reef? Do I want to be potentially stranded in wind and rain for a couple of hours on an isolated square meter of shells or have the luxury of an overland retreat available at anytime I want to wimp out. Yup – I took the latter!

I have been considering writing something about using two flies for salt water fly fishing as this seems to be quite overlooked facet of Kiwi swoffing. The only other person I’ve seen with a two fly rig was the notable kingfish guru known as Bass-ist on the Saltwater Flyflingers forum at So I am in good company. Unlike bait fishing, it may come as a surprise to many fly fishers that the point of having two flies is not really trying to catch your limit in half the amount of time – though this could happen. A major advantage is that you can offer two differing patterns (colour, size, shape) and let the fish vote with their lips as to which is preferred. You could also rig with one weighted and one unweighted fly to fish at two different depths, which can also be achieved by having a popper and a sunken fly trailing in its wake. Other combinations are possible such as two weighted clousers to dive through heavy currents where one can’t make it down to the bottom alone. You could even fish two poppers.

And since we are talking saltwater fishing, you don’t have any licences regulations to stop you at two, striped bass fly fishers in the US have advocated three fly rigs in the surf. I don’t personally think four or more would be very practical unless your casting is immaculate! And when you think that striped bass can easily run as big as twenty or thirty pounds, this is not some dinky set up for tiny fish.

So I decided to rig up with two unweighted flies as the incoming tide doesn’t flow very strongly at the top of Meola Reef and the water at high tide averages about 2 meters depth. My top fly was largely yellow and the point fly was dark green/brown.

My decision to bring some pilchards for berly was validated by the murky water which didn’t seem to be the product of wave action on the mud bottom. So what was the first intersting event of the day – getting snagged on a rock at the end of a retrieve in water just too deep to wade out to.  I leaned heavily on the line as it had a 10kilo level leader and the line snapped. Remember that two fly rigs mean you can lose twice as many flies in half the time …

But a fisherman’s miracle: the trace floated up and I managed to snag it with the rod tip and got my two flies back!

IMG_0007wAs in the photo the curve on the point fly on the left has been bent open and must have pulled free just as the line broke. Notice the leader snapper at the loop knot join to the fly line. That was a first in my fishing career.

The conditions were not the most favourable with a blustery sou’ wester and cool temperature. But after a while I started to get some hits and finally a good hook up. Perfect result – a double header! Even better  – a kahawai and a snapper!

IMG_0011wSo now you can ponder – was this a sprinter snapper muscling in on a kahawai fast retrieve or a lazy kahawai that inhaled a snapper slow strip? I think it was a medium . And the next phot shows these two stars of New Zealand saltwater fishing doing what they do best.

IMG_0012wThe snapper is diving for cover and the kahawai is trying be a polaris missile. As I have found on previous double hook ups, the confusion caused by the two combatants  fighting in close proximity virtually cancels out each other. The kahawai went home first but the snapper stayed around for a few photos.

IMG_0015w IMG_0018w

It was pretty slow going. I lost the two fly rig properly an hour later after a feisty fish hooked up and ran into the mangroves and snagged me. As there was no repeat miracle I replaced my rig with a single fly as time was running out. The choice was a small clouser smelt fly as I decided to target the kahawai as the berley had run out. But it was not to be as another snapper decided to scoff the fly within seconds of it hitting the water. And, of course, had to pose for the camera before being released …



Ain’t snapper just so darn pretty?

IMG_0027wIMG_0022w IMG_0029w

So no keepers to take home, but a lesson or two learned and ideas for the future.

And in case you’re wondering: no,  it didn’t rain.


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