Wilderness campouts – summer specials

RiverFly Western Lake Huts

Join us for a free river day this summer, with every three day, two night campout booking.

If sight fishing is your passion, then join us for a Western Lakes wilderness trip from late January to early April.

It looks like Tasmania is in for a prolonged-dry summer, much like the rest of Australia. The difference for us is that this weather pattern can create ideal fishing conditions for tailing trout in the wilderness lakes, while overnight low temperatures and weekly fronts keep the water in perfect condition for trout. With this in mind, we are looking to fish the wilderness lakes as much as possible early this year.

As an added value to our customers, each booking made prior to January 26th will receive a free guided river fishing day, giving us a chance to iron out the creases, and catch some of our beautiful river fish before heading to our wilderness camp.

If you would like more details, please don’t hesitate to contact us here

If you are interested to see more of the fishing available, check out Catch Magazine’s great film below: all footage was shot over a four day period during February.


Five tips for chasing Western Lakes trophy trout

Five tips for chasing trophy trout in Tasmania’s Western Lakes, from the Western Lakes experts at RiverFly 1864:

Where: Headwater lakes offer anglers the best chance to chase trophy trout, offering low fish numbers, but endless food. What’s a headwater lake? Look for a lake with little or no inflow, and an insignificant outflow (a creek you can step across). This outflow should flow into a lake further down, rather than a major creek, to ensure low recruitment numbers.

The Pillians, Julians, Little Pine, Pine and Nive headwaters are all good locations.

What gear to use: A five or six weight fly rod is ideal, with a 10-16 foot leader depending on conditions. Finding trophy trout is hard enough, so don’t risk losing a chance with fine tippets. We prefer 3X tippet with a breaking strain of ~8lbs+. In terms of flies, the selection is simple. Either a big terrestrial (such as a 1864 WMD Hopper or Bruisers Bug) for shallow lakes, or a slow sinking nymph (our Woolly Caddis is a favourite) for deeper, sphagnum-edged lakes.

When: My favourite trophy hunting weather is a bright day (for good polaroiding), with a strong and warm north-westerly wind. This really gets the bugs and big trout moving. The second (slightly lesser) option are bright days with south-westerly, or easterly breezes. Thick bug activity is less likely during these conditions, but the often stable light allows for good polaroiding. Any day featuring terrestrials insects from November to early April can offer good trophy hunting conditions.

Guides tip #1: As with all Western Lakes fly fishing, cast to where the fish is going to be, not to where it is! This ensures that the presentation is ahead of the trout, and gives the best chance of a solid take.

Guides tip #2: When fishing the deeper, undercut-edged headwaters, work with a mate as a team. Position yourselves on either end of the bank, creating the best chance to spot the snout or tail of an edge-cruiser, and the ability to set a trap at either end of a beat.

Happy hunting! Daniel Hackett

RiverFly 1864 operates Tasmania’s only wilderness camp located in the Western Lakes / Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Chasing tails in the Western Lakes

A weekend with the Sage MOD, CLICK reel and RIO Single Handed Spey flyline

Wombats, wallabies and wild brown trout were our bedfellows for the morning of New Year’s day 2016. It’s not often that I get to fish with mates during peak season, so it was pretty cool to have three days at our Western Lakes wilderness huts, complete with the usual array of Tasmanian animals, as well as Australian fishing legend and Sage Fly Rod Ambassador, Peter Morse. The fact that it is the peak of the mayfly season didn’t harm either!

It was good to see that Pete had done his research – I like medium-actioned fly rods, and two of the new medium actioned Sage MOD fly rods were strapped to his pack, along with matching 2016 CLICK fly reels and RIO Single Handed Spey lines. All of the gear that I’d wanted to test out west!

While brewing the morning coffee, I took the chance to grab the five weight MOD and spey line, and have a bit of a warm up cast. Short casting (under 20 foot) was efficient, with a short stroke and medium tempo – pretty good considering that the Single Handed Spey taper doesn’t really begin to kick in till 25 feet. Next cab off the rank was medium length (30-50 foot) casts into the wind, starting with a 20 foot pickup, which was shot to 50 foot with one false cast. It went like a rocket! The MOD bends fairly low down the blank, and it was a good match to my naturally open casting stance, and longer casting stroke. The taper of the Single Handed Spey line, featuring a lot of weight and thickness between 27 and 35 feet made an excellent combination for effortless casting, and generated high line speed at this range.

Casting at a finishing trout. A low-profile was key.

Casting at a finning trout. A low-profile was key.

The casting tempo of the MOD is well suited to a casual medium pace – you can certainly speed up the tempo for a fast presentation to a cruising trout, and the MOD handles it well, but medium pace brings out the best in the rod. The biggest difference between the Sage MOD and the other favourite medium-action rods that I own was the recovery speed – the 5wt MOD unloads the medium taper with a faster line speed than I’ve experienced in similar modern tapers, which would later prove to be great for controlled, accurate presentations.

And what about the fishing? To say that the fishing was close-range would be an understatement. With fish tailing on shallow water mayfly nymphs, the fishing was super visual, super-subtle, and super close. The majority of the fish targeted were in the 10-20 foot range, with the odd fish at 40 foot. As part of our tactics, we’d keep the line stored on the reel, and the leader in hand. As soon as a tailer or finning trout was spotted, we’d sprint towards the nervous water, adopt a low profile and peel off line as quick as possible, and present (hopefully) within three foot of the trout’s snout. The new super-large arbor CLICK reel was brilliant at this – ripping line off the reel was made simple by the large arbor. Smaller diameter reels would have been left in a birdnest of line, or worse, it would have cost crucial seconds to get the line off, and opportunities would have been missed. And the old-school drag is pretty cool, just ask Morsie who saw his backing on a three-pounder, as it rooster-tailed off the flat and into the distance.

Peter Morse hooking up to a tailer with the new Sage MOD

Peter Morse hooking up to a tailer with the new Sage MOD

One final thing. At the end of the last day, we took some time to put single-handed spey techniques to test with the line­–primarily simple roll casts and more complex snake-rolls. The RIO Single Handed Spey line was brilliant, the taper enabling us to shoot from 30 foot to 55 in a simple roll. Add a single haul and it flies out past 60 foot with loads of line speed. While mucking around with it, I couldn’t help but think about all the anglers that struggle with a roll cast, and how good this line is for not only casting rolls and spey casts, but how good it is as a line to learn roll casts. The taper, which features a thick and weighty mid-taper, enables the caster to feel the load of the all-important D-loop, keeps the belly riding high on the water, and makes the basic techniques a cinch. I can’t recommend it highly enough as a learning tool for anyone wanting to improve roll-casting, or get into basic spey techniques.

Western Lakes trout

Western Lakes trout

Daniel Hackett, RiverFly 1864

Photo credits Peter Morse / Daniel Hackett

Fly fishing report – Tasmania, February 2015

After a tough, cool-weather January, summer has been back with a boom during February. Lots of warm, humid days have brought out the ants on both rivers and lakes. Hoppers and late afternoon black spinners have been on the Tasmanian rivers, while beetles and mayfly have been firing up the lake fishing. Best down low has been the South Esk, Meander and Mersey, while up to Little Pine, Penstock, Bronte and Great Lake have been reliable. Our 1864 black spinners has been deadly.

The best fish of the week was this 7lb thumper (24 inches), landed near our Western Lakes huts on a Woolly Caddis. Well done Mark!


Winter Solstice

Huts winter solstice

RiverFly Wilderness Huts – Western Lakes, Tasmania

Winter Solstice. 4.30pm, and it’s all but dark in the Tasmanian Western Lakes. Currawongs are flocking in mobs, wallabies and wombats are grazing madly on soon-to-be snow covered grasses, and the resident wedge tailed eagles are cruising the plains. If the hair-encrusted devil turds are anything to go by, the hunting has been good this winter.

Currawongs mid-flight

Currawongs mid-flight

For us, it’s a time to carry out winter maintenance on our fly fishing camp, check on spawning runs, and look for indications of the season to come: early frog activity, migrations of marsupials and birds to lower altitudes, and already present nooks and crannies of snow. It’s also a great time of the year to huddle around a big fire, share a few smoky ales, and plot out the next season of fishing trips. If the currawong and early frog activity are anything to go by, the start of the season is looking like it will be milder and earlier than normal; during the hard winters, we’ve noticed that the birds of Skullbone Plains migrate down to the 800 metre mark, but this season they’ve stayed up high, around 1050 metres. And the frogs, which often make their first croaky appearances in mid July, are already creaking about the heathlands.

Walking back along the plains, with empty gas bottles and cordless drills stashed in my pack, I’ve spotted a new gully to walk down, leading to a favourite brook trout water. Maybe that will be my opening day trip. What will yours be?

Skullbone Plains.

Skullbone Plains.

(Thanks to Peter Broomhall for the images)