Winter Plans

Winter Plans

It’s time I learned to properly cast double handed.

So spey tops my new Winter Plan.

First I need to stock up on a plethora of new gear. An 11″ DH Trout Spey (or Switch) rod in DH4 weight and a longer 13″ DH Spey Rod in DH7 weight start a fresh list. Then there’s a new reel spooled with floating scandi line, another spool of integrated skagit, or do I run with shooting heads. Decisions, decisions. There’s running line to procure, backing to buy. Hovering, intermediate and sinking T-tips, polyleaders, more fluorocarbon tippet because you can never have enough. Finally some of those most excellent leech patterns to browse, send a bunch of Ronan’s Possum Bruisers to the website cart, plus I’ll need a new wading jacket to protect me in the coming months as I toil through torrid weather.

It’s hard to remember back when I bought my first angling gear as a pimply, bandy-legged teen, but the anguish of setting up a gaggle of confusing kit doesn’t diminish over time. I’m re-living that pain, but via online consumerism this time around.

I sign up to the Spey Pages and quickly find a few forum friends to fire dumb questions at. It’s like going back to school really. Oh, those awkward memories are returning now.

Simon Gawesworth’s tutorials follow me to bed as I prop myself up, laptop balanced on bedsheets, to get in one last lesson before a caring nudge to turn out the lights prompts me to search “spey” in my fly fishing podcasts and that sends me off to sleep.

The trouble with spey casting is that they do it in really cool places. Like Norway. And Alaska. (I worry about bears and bear spray.) This time around as a spey casting scholar, I get to watch YouTube footage of gigantic rainbows leaping out of Lago Strobel. I search Jurassic Lake Lodge for availability next season. Geography lessons centre on various Chilean Patagonia ‘rivers of dreams’. Argentina is back with Rio Grande videos and searun Browns of porpoise-size proportions start appearing in my channel and I prepare more lists of flies. Chunky Green Machines and sleek Sunray streamers get added to the carts of my favourite international fly sites.

Surely it’s cheaper to upgrade my vice to accommodate #2 hooks, I ponder. I start making lists of the new and wondrous tying materials needed to fabricate such fanciful patterns. Perhaps I should practice my casting before I dive in too deep. I push that thought to the back of my mind. I really NEED this kit for winter tying. Candle lit nights in front of a crackling fire, dog at foot, whipping up Patagonian patterns whilst sipping Malbec. Yeah, I really NEED this kit.

Next on my Winter Plan. More exploration.

I bullet point all the local waters that I’ve promised myself to explore, but haven’t made the effort to tick off yet. Google Earth is my friend here. And his mapping mate, Topo 50. It has only been 42 years since I made my first list of fly streams to visit next season. I’ve got it down to a fine art now as another lifetime of angling weekends is added to next summer’s Must Fish list. We never learn, do we.

It’s clear I’m going to need a packraft to get back from some of these headwaters. That sleeping bag is getting a bit smelly too … and another shopping list is born.

More salt is also on my Winter Plan.

More specifically, an upgrade of my saltwater gear. This came about as all those sweetwater spey sessions also served a swag of saltie videos onto my feed. I feel like I’m now close mates with Joe from Reds Fly Shop. Not only did he show me a few Switch tricks but I’m up to date with a wealth of wily techniques that will connect me to various toothy pelagic species from around the globe. Tonic’s green or blue mirror sunglasses with a extra high contrast layer will definitely be needed before I can tackle those elusive Roosterfish in Baja.

So I grab the last #10 Rio Outbound line from a Christchurch flyshop. Don’t have one of those cracking Epic #10 Carbon flyrods yet but hey, they still make them. I check out my saltwater wallet overflowing with gaudy streamers and poppers. Yeap, I’m slowly getting sorted for the big ‘uns. Just need to recheck the #12 gear before I can add GTs to the menu.

My Large Tacky Pescador flybox holds 464 flies apparently. It was previously stocked with a motly bunch of old bonefish flies – now removed to house a growing Spey fly collection. A search on The Flyfisher site shows a medium Pescador box in burnt orange. As the closest Fishpond retailer to me, another new fly box is now winging its way via Australia Post to New Zealand. And with a further 210 slots, this gives me a chance to refresh my bonefish flies over the cold winter months ahead. Pearl Gotcha’s and Tan Crazy Charlies are on the Winter Plan.

Aitutaki. Christmas Island. Papua New Guinea. Fanning Island. So much to dream about over winter. So much to accomplish on my new Winter Plan.

Oddly, I’ve left finding a second job off the winter list. That’s a slight oversight. Well, at least I haven’t taken up pickle ball for winter, I think. That saved me a wad of cash!