Words by Mike Kirkpatrick
Media by Alvaro G Santillan
As a new guiding season dawned in New Zealand, I found myself looking with increasing fondness at the Guideline rods, reels and shirts I’d acquired a few years back. I fell in love with the look and feel of the gear… After a little thought, I made the fairly easy decision to link up with Guideline as a global brand ambassador. The rods and reels are the best I’ve used, the clothing is comfortable and stylish, and the packs and vests are modular, and incredibly well thought out. The season here in NZ has been testing from a weather point of view, with wind and rain being a constant thorn in my guiding side.
MY LIFE AS A GUIDE
I live and work in a fly-fishing paradise for anglers. The sheer abundance of pristine rivers, and waterways in this region provide literally hundreds of miles of plentiful fly fishing water, all within a couple of hours drive. The quality of these waterways is amazing, no two rivers are the same; from the slightly tannin stained West Coast, to the gin clear headwaters of Kahurangi National Park you will be spoilt for choice of the locations available.
I really love taking clients into our wilderness areas to sight fish for large, trophy trout. Whether it is by foot, 4 x 4 car or helicopter, I will prepare a trip to suit the level of the angler and will leave no stone unturned to give him or her the best experience possible.
I have a true passion for people and to guide them to amazing adventures that burns as bright now as ever. I listen to what the client as an angler want, and give gladly any ‘coaching’ you may want or need in the pursuit of success without losing sight of the fact that this is fun! I love a laugh and my attitude is always a positive one in the wonderful pursuit of trout. On top of that I also enjoy to capture my clients adventures on video, and over the years my YouTube channel has grown significantly.
Although the local day trips are the ‘bread and butter’ of my season, I tend to specialize in the ‘postcard’ type fly fishing. In other words, the sort of trips that will haunt your dreams. The hike in, boat, 4×4 and helicopter type trips with a mind to getting into the sort of country that will make your heart ache when later reminiscing. The places that actually take your breath away. The campfires at night, the fireside chats, the waking to birdsong and the sound of the river with it’s softly spoken invitation to explore it’s hidden treasures.
But with long days and nights in the backcountry the right equipment is essential. The wet weather gear from Guideline has been a revelation, meshing comfort and functionality perfectly, with my clients often looking jealousy at me staying dry! With some superbly conditioned brown trout about and varying climatic conditions meaning long low water periods followed by floods, the presentations needed to fool them have needed to be spot on.
The Tactical and NT11 rods are well… something pretty special. Lightning fast recovery coupled with a generous full power curve makes the NT11 905 my go to choice for the heavier lifting. The Tactical 905 I can sum up in one word. Lovely. It’s not a technical description but the word that instantly springs to mind when thinking about the rod. It’s one of those delightful full curve and generous loading rods that can place a fly like thistledown. It’s no shrinking violet when it comes to longer casts with long leaders either. A recent day on the water here in NZ with Leif saw me throwing a 20ft leader and large Cicada dry in a small enclosed stream to large browns. It worked like a dream. Both rods are beautifully made with stylish detailing. Paired with the Fario LW and Halo Reels they become incredible light and potent set-ups, and the reels are the best I’ve used, with silky smooth drags and low start up inertia.
The ULBC (Ultra light back country) range is great with lightweight waders, unique boot-in-boot wading boot system, within a range of gear tailored for the discerning backcountry angler who values light weight without compromising comfort or functionality.