New Zealand Self Drive Adventures

November 26, 2019

Can you fish for trout with a spinning reel?

In New Zealand most rivers and streams and virtually all lakes allow fishing with a spinning reel. The Taupo region is fly fishing only but the rest of the country with the exception of a few fragile river systems allow spinning.

Spinning can be extremely effective when using small bladed spinners such as Mepps and Veltec with the green and silver, green and gold and rainbow trout coloured versions working extremely well. Spoons and lures are less effective in my opinion aside from in lakes. Rapala lures however can be deadly in the right locations, particularly the brown trout version.

Spinning in flowing or rippled water and deep pools is the most effective approach in my experience. Try casting directly upstream and then at 30 degrees and then at 45 degrees and so on until you have covered all of the water. As the spinner rises and starts to swing is the usual point where you will get the strike. Spinning in still and clear water rarely produces results for trout in New Zealand. Just like fly-fishing stealth is critical and the splash of a spinner landing or putting the line across a fish will regularly spoil your chances. Where possible cast to let the spinner land away from where you think a fish might be lying but, on an angle where you can swing the spinner through that likely location. When there is a rock or clay bank on the far side I often cast into the base of the bank and let the spinner slide down into the water.

If you are an experienced wet fly fisherman then adopt a very similar methodology when spinning. The big advantage to spinning is the elimination of the back cast and therefore much easier access to parts of the river where fly fishing requires significant skill. The ability to let a spinner drop to the bottom of a deep pool before starting to retrieve also has advantages.

I think it is fair to say that your chances of catching something really large with a spinning rod are less than when fly fishing. However; I have caught three double figure browns and countless 6-7 pound rainbows using a spinner. For the less experienced fly-fisherman or the hard-core spinner/bass fisherman, spinning for trout in New Zealand is an absolute must. Where else can have a blue-ribbon day where you catch multiple 5 pound trout in a small stream with a spinning rod? That doesn’t happen every day but every day has that possibility. I recall a day on the Mohaka where I caught twenty-three 2 - 4 pound rainbows in two hours. I have to admit I can also recall days where I caught zero fish but that’s why they call it fishing, otherwise it would be called catching.

Author: David Turner