VOLUME 29, ISSUE 09. April 2023

The first night having dinner at The Blue Duck Inn, during our trip to Big River (Upper Mitta Mitta River) in May 2021.

Members attending the ever popular tuition weekend at Smiths Lake with master fly fishing instructor Brian Henderson in March 2023.


Next Members Monthly Meeting

Our next Members Monthly Meeting will be held at The Freeway Hotel in Artarmon, on the corner of Reserve Road and The Gore Hill Freeway. The meeting will kick off at 7:00pm on Monday, 17th April 2023.

Our guest speaker will be Emilio Caggiano, competition angler representing Italy on many occasions including World Championships where he twice won team Gold Medals.

Please view further down the Flyrodder for the details.


Next Members Monthly Fly Tying 

The Next Monthly Fly Tying Meeting will held on Monday, 24th April 2023 at our usual venue in the Green Room of the Henley Community Centre, kicking off at 7:00pm.

See further details below under the Monthly Fly Tying segment.


President's Report

Denis Hill with a gorgeous Mataura River brown from the February 2023 NZ Trip.

Dear {Contact_First_Name},

During the month I was lucky enough to have attended the BIG River trip. As we have come to expect Gav did a great organizing the trip and everything went off flawlessly (except for a couple of heavy storms, you could have left those in Sydney Gav). We did have some dirty water at times, as a result of the storms, but with a bit of driving around everyone found clean water and caught fish.

The highlight of the week for me was seeing the contribution Tom Jarman made to the group over the week. As you probably know, Tom is a professional guide and has represented Australia in the last four world championships, finishing in the top 25 in the world in all four championships. Tom spent the week with us at Big River and guided members, mostly in twos each day and each night the guys who spent the day with Tom were raving about how much they learnt. While these members who paid Tom for their day of coaching were obviously the recipients of all these lessons, they are all active club members who will be fishing with a range of other members in the future and hopefully will past on their knowledge and tips to those members. As they say, a rising tide raises all boats. We strive to raise the overall flyfishing competence of our membership with casting practice, guest speakers, fly tying and the skills weekend, having a terrific teacher like Tom with members for a week turned out to be another great contribution to the membership knowledge base – not specifically planned that way, but that’s how it worked out.

Tight Lines

Denis Hill


From the Editor

Gavin at Swansea fishing the Salmon Classic in August 2022.

Well, we have been busy the past couple of months with a number of fishing trips and other related events, such as the ever popular and wonderful Tuition Weekend at Smiths Lake with Master casting instructor Brian Henderson. We had trips to New Zealand, Big River and others with more coming up in April and May. Which means that this April edition of The Flyrodder is a bumper one with many interesting articles.

We encourage new members to attend these trips, as we always improve our knowledge base and skill level, plus have a great time with other club members, and it's a great opportunity to get to know them and to share additional snippets of information.

We have a new Event in May; Tuition Weekend in Wallerawang - Stream Craft. This is always a very popular and well attended weekend. Apologies for the short notice, but it was decided to have it on this weekend, prior to trout season closure, in order to provide "hands on" tuition so that Phil Burton could demonstrate the skills and then attendees could put the lessons learnings into practice whilst still fresh in the memory.

Please read the section further down in this Flyrodder, and jump onto the website and Register for the Event. It's great value for money. 

Plus come to our Monthly Members Meeting, on Monday 17 April (enjoy an excellent presentation by Emilio Caggiano), and our Monthly Fly Tying Meeting on Monday, 24 April where our fly tying maestro Dave Wilson will show us the easy and clever method to tie emergers such as the Klinkhammer and Para Possum Emerger. If you haven't tied a fly but are thinking about it, then please pop along and you can observe or just get stuck in. We have all the gear that you will need and it's totally free. So you can learn the best way to set up and what tools you will need, and therefore spend your hard earned wisely when purchasing your own equipment and materials.

Hope to see you at some of our events that we have planned for the coming season.

Gavin van der Wagen




Last Monthly Meeting and Guest Speaker Report

At our March Members Monthly Meeting we had a great presentation by Murray Stewart, the Blue Mountains Head Guide, from Aussie Fly Fisher and his topic was on fishing out West, beyond the Great Dividing Range, where he guides for trout, murray cod, bass, yellow belly and other species that you will encounter there. 

Unfortunately I missed the Meeting again. Therefore we have no photos to show.

But you can view Murray's presentation on our Private Members YouTube Library.

You can view this meeting video and indeed all the previous presentations on our Members Private Video Library on YouTube. To view them please Login to our Sydney Fly Rodders Website; click on Members and select YOUTUBE CHANNEL, as per the picture below.

We have many wonderful videos in our Private Members Video Library, in fact they're all wonderful and informative, plus you can view them at your leisure!


Next Monthly Meeting and Guest Speaker

Emilio Caggiano

Our April Members Monthly Meeting is at our usual venue at The Freeway Hotel in Artarmon, on Monday the 17th April 2023, kicking off at 7:00pm.

Our Guest Speaker will be Emilio Caggiano, a globally recognised competition angler who has fished for Italy at World Championships and other international events. His presentation will be on Loch/Lake style fishing in particular to the scene in Australia. 

Emilio has been fly fishing for over 30 years in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

He has been in and out of the competition scene for around 20 years in Italy and Australia.

Record of Achievements:

NSW Championship Gold overall in River and Lake;

World Championship in Poland and 8th Overall (Team);

Commonwealth Championship Wales Gold Medal (Team), individual Bronze;

Commonwealth Championship Tasmania Gold Medal (Team);

World Championship Tasmania Team Italy's Guide and 5th Overall;

Has now retired from the competition scene and enjoying fishing socially and passing on hard earned knowledge and particularly fond of Lake Loch Style techniques.

For those unable to attend the meeting we will be recording the presentation and then uploading it to our Club Members Private Video Library on YouTube. 

You will also be able to view all the previous meeting presentations that we have recorded, and view at your leisure.

Many of our attendees arrive a bit earlier and have dinner either before, else the bar staff will deliver your meal order to our meeting room and you can enjoy your meal, and or drink, whilst the meeting is underway. The food is good value for money and the company is priceless!! So come along and have a relaxing and entertaining meeting where you can meet other members and pick up on useful snippets information that is shared amongst the group.

Our Meeting is normally held on the 2nd Monday of each month, unless it is a public holiday; in which case it will be delayed a week (Like this month). 

There is ample parking in the parking garage under the Freeway Hotel, which is accessed from Dickson Avenue (at the back), just off Reserve Road, in Artarmon.

The address is 115 Reserve Road, Artarmon 2064 (for for GPS). 

Looking forward to catching up at the meeting.


New Members

We had four new members join the club in March.

We welcome Trevor Bornstein, Roy Burton, Paul Gordon and Tien Yun Tan to our Club.

We encourage new members to join in on the many activities that we run as this is a good way to meet other club members and also to improve your fly fishing skills and most importantly to have a great time.

Looking forward to meeting you at our Monthly Members Meetings and at events throughout the coming year.


Last Months Casting Practice Report


Another brilliant burst of weather to introduce autumn. Hardly any wind to help with practice. Need more wind.

This month was shooting line practice. Shooting line means allowing some of the line which is already off the reel (because you pulled it off ready to do this) to run up the guides and go forward by its own momentum once the rod has stopped on the presentation cast. That is, you make a casting stoke and allow more line to flow out of the rod tip by letting go of it with the line hand at the correct time. The alternative is to keep hold of the length of line you are casting and don’t let go: just present that amount of line and no more.

What is the benefit of shooting line? It’s like a free kick – more length on the cast just by letting go of the line. Relatively easy to gain 10% of the cast length and a lot more when you are fine tuned. Distance casters who don’t shoot line don’t exist. Shooting line is also a good, measurable exercise to see progress. More on that below and at next casting practice.

What’s involved? On any cast, poor or otherwise, if you let the line go on the presentation, it will likely go a bit further than the amount of line which was already out of the rod tip during the casting stroke. It’s just physics. If you can ‘carry’ 40’ of line in false casting, you might be able to add another 6-8’ by shooting line on the presentation. Your ability to carry line is really the determining factor in how far you can cast. Carrying line means being able to repeatedly false cast a certain amount of line with good, efficient loops back and front and tracking well. If you can carry 40’, you might find that is the limit for you. Ie that’s what you can ‘carry’. That is, let another 2’ out and into the false cast it all goes pear shaped. Nb if you try to carry more than the head length of the line, you may come apart anyway. Happens to the best of us. If you don’t understand carry length and the relevance of head length, come to casting practice.

So, carry your 40’ (or whatever your limit is, but no more) and work on the skills involved in shooting line. Naturally, the more you can carry, the more distance you will achieve even if you only ever shoot 10’ of line. Improve your carrying capacity as well as your shooting capacity and it’s all at your feet!

What are the skills and what can go wrong?

1. Synchronise the release of the line from the line hand at the exact moment the rod stops on the forward stroke.

If you don’t, the rod’s unloading movement will be out of step with the line release. Result: Less line shot forward and/or line does not unroll fully or goes out in a wide, powerless loop. If you practice casting with 36’ of line and you can get the line to unroll fully onto the grass without shooting every time, what happens if you do shoot line? Does it unroll properly? How much line are you trying to shoot anyway? Start with 5’ or 6’ off the reel. Work up to longer lengths once you get that right.  If you start to practice shooting say 6’ of line and if it all goes out of the rod tip but all you ever get is the fly goes only 3’ further, something is not right. Read on. (Yes, you do have to be a bit scientific with this measuring thing, if you want to understand your efforts.)

Many casters start behind the eight ball with this because they don’t actually stop the rod crisply, or at all, on the presentation stroke. In this case, there is no definitive point at which to release the line to shoot it. You will know if this is your issue because, even without shooting, your loop is very wide and your fly line typically hits the water well before the leader. Obviously, you need to crisp up those forward stops in order to proceed to efficient shooting.

2. The second skill to mention is to be conscious of the line hand and where it is during the cast. Two main errors are:

  • (i) Holding the line so far away from the reel and moving it out of sync with the stroke that loss of line tension (between line hand and stripper guide) becomes a problem. When you do let it go on the cast, there is no direct connection with the rod unloading to made an efficient shoot. This is a problem that bedevils many people, whether or not they stop the rod well or shoot line. Loss of line tension at any point will rob a good casting stroke of power, direction and distance. Those who are trying to haul during the cast add another level of complexity to shooting synchronization. If you are not sure how to haul, eliminate such moves while you are practising shooting line. 
  • (ii) Even holding the line in tension will be inefficient if it is too far away from the caster (I really mean away from the rod butt or reel), either out to the side or too low. The rod guides are in line for a purpose, which is to reduce friction as the line goes up the guides. The closer you hold the line to the reel during the presentation stroke so that you let it run up the guides as straight as possible, the more efficiently your line will shoot. 

3. If you can’t be bothered to apply no. 2 (ii) above, at least clean and polish your line, the rod and the guides and be amazed. Don’t use Armourall on the line, but its fine on the rod and guides. 

By the way, if you are in the habit of letting the line go from your line hand completely as you shoot, try to overcome it. You will almost always introduce some slack into the shoot. Try holding your thumb and forefinger in a circle around the line once you release it  – as close in line with the bottom stripper guide as you can, ready to close your fingers on the line again when needed. I don’t know why letting the line go altogether is so commonplace, but it’s a difficult habit to break. It helps the re-training greatly to experience a few occasions where you needed quick control of the line as it landed, only to fumble hopelessly to recover it. Hope no one was looking as the fly sailed into that fallen tree while I fumbled! 

See you at casting practice.


David Caddies

Our next Casting Practice will be held on Sunday, the 21st May. See the following section for further information.

February Casting Practice Photos:

Click on this link to view all the February photos in our Google Gallery:



Club Monthly Casting Practice - Details and Event Schedule.


Reminder: Leave your 9 – 10’ trout leader with the 5X tippet at home. Bring one which is 8’ – 8’6” and terminating in 8 or 10 lb tippet. This session will suit DT or WF floating lines, for the single-handers. Two-handers, bring what you got. 

Start time is 9am:

HOWEVER: If you wish to have a go at being evaluated for any one or more of the casts in the Bronze Skills Development Program and you would like to come earlier than 9, send me a text message to that effect on 0434 671 085 and I’ll be there to set it up, from 8am. Coaching and demonstrations will be going on after 9, but with not much opportunity for individual evaluations. Early notice would be appreciated, but don’t let that stop you from a late practice on Saturday to see if you’re ready! 

All members are welcome to join in the club’s usual monthly practice session. If you want to know everything about the club’s casting practice sessions, read the whole blurb in the Flyrodder magazine.

WHERE: Timbrell Park, Henley Marine Drive, Five Dock. Go to the western end of Henley Marine Drive, past the cricket pitches, baseball nets and just past LIvvi’s coffee kiosk and kids’ playground area. There is an open area opposite where Ingham Avenue intersects with Henley Marine Drive which we usually use. It is not part of the sports fields. If conditions there are not suitable on the day, we will be just opposite, across the canal, or anywhere within sight that I can find. 

If you can’t make it this time and want some good practical instruction to guide you, check out this site: https://www.flyfishersinternational.org/Learn/Learning-Center-Resources/Fly-Casting/Casting-Instruction

I don’t know if that link works for you. Google FFI flyfishing and delve around. Most stuff is open to non-members. 

David Caddies 

So come and give it a try, as there is so much to be gained  by attending these sessions. And they are Free!!!

The following are the remaining dates for Casting Practice in 2023:

21st May

4th June

2nd July

6th August

10th September

8th October

5th November and

3rd December.

Put these dates in your diary.


Last Months Fly Tying Meeting Report

Fly tying on 20 March with Dave Wilson

Crazy Charlies, Gotchas & Clousers

On Monday night, while seventeen members were packing for the Big River trip, seven members headed to Henley for fly tying.

Matching the colour of Smiths Lake and Narrabeen sand flats, we tied Crazy Charlies, Gotchas and Clousers. While a Gotcha is a Crazy Charlie with a tail the Clouser is pretty close to a Gotcha. However, bream, flathead and whiting can’t tell the difference as all three flies look prawnie or fishy!

For humans, all three flies are tied using the same core skill set

Congratulations to Garry Dinnie who tied his very first fly. As we say ... if you can tie your own shoe laces, you can tie your own flies! Well done Garry for taking the first step.  We encourage all members to tie their own flies and enjoy the thrill of catching a fish on a fly of your own design and tying.

(A reminder that all 20 core skills are clearly explained and demonstrated in an on-line course at flytyingskills.com Use the code SFRC at the checkout for a Club discount!)

Learn the core skills and tie any pattern you like!

Dave Wilson 

The keen fly tyers; (L to R): Kevin Sawyer, Craig Symonds, Kevin Kai, Garry Dinnie, John Vaccaro and Graham Partington. 
Crazy Charlie
Clouser - Bob Clouser calls it the "Clouser's Deep Minnow"

Next Monthly Fly Tying Meeting

Our next Monthly Fly Tying Meeting will be held on Monday, 24th April 2023, from 7:00pm to 9:30pm. The doors will open at 6:30pm to give you time to set up for a 7:00pm start.

Dave Wilson will again be running the show and this is his plan:

Parachute hackling is used in many dry flies from emergers to hoppers and is a must “know how to do” for fly tiers.

On 24 April we will learning how to tie a parachute hackle on the popular Klinkhammer – the Bassano version with the pink poly wing.

We will also tie a Para Possum Emerger and learn how to stand up and post a natural hair wing beforehand.

Looking forward to seeing you at Henley on the 24th

Cheers Dave

We normally have experienced tiers to help and look forward to seeing you at Henley on Monday 20 Feb.

For those who don't have a vise, we have ample spare one's available.

We particularly welcome first timers and all levels of fly tiers as you will all learn something from these wonderful sessions.

If you would like to just come and observe, then please do so to see if this is for you. You'll be surprised at how "easily" you can get into tying your own flies.

The venue is the Henley Community Centre in Hunters Hill, and we meet in the  Green Room on the right as you enter.

The venue address is: Crown Street, Henley, NSW 2111. As you turn into Crown Street, from Victoria Road, take the first left and drive down a bit of a bumpy road, and it's the last building about a 100 yards down the drag. There's parking off the track and walk through a small road, but it's a short walk to the front door.


Tuition Weekend in Wallerawang; Stream Craft

This popular event, which is normally held at the end of July each year, has been moved to an earlier time slot, to enable on the river casting tuition and learn more about Stream Craft tactics when on the river. Phil Burton will be leading this tuition, and will be ably assisted by other experienced "volunteers" as required.

The prime objective of this weekend is to share and impart fly fishing knowledge and skills to all levels of fly fishing ability, with particular attention to beginners, new members and indeed any member who wishes to improve their skills. It has always included a good mixture of members with varying levels of fly-fishing experience, and who are always willing to share their knowledge and experience.

Experienced Members are also welcome to attend, to fish and also to assist as tutors to share their experience and knowledge with the new and less experienced members.

For new Members who don't have any gear, we will provide a set up rod to use, and you can get by without waders, so come along and see what other anglers do and you will get a better understanding of the gear that you may wish to purchase. It's a great way to ensure that you get set up with the right gear for you and therefore don't waste your hard earned.

It's also a great way for new members to meet existing members, and also to experience an enjoyable weekend away. We will be staying at the Black and Gold Country Cabins at Wallerawang, arriving Friday, 12th May and departing Sunday, 14th May 2023.

The accommodation cost will be $167 per person for the two nights which is very reasonable, especially considering the excellent tuition that you will receive. Each attendee will have their own bedroom, to protect the non snorers from the snorers. We pay at the venue at check out time on Sunday morning. They trust the Sydney Fly Rodders! Each attendee will open up their own tab to be settled prior to departure, as many members have meals and drinks there. These cabins are fully self-contained and they also have a great restaurant, The Cribb.

Their website is: www.blackgoldcabins.com.au

For the event this year we will have Phil Burton covering “Stream Craft”, and David Caddies will also be providing Casting tuition, in place of his normal monthly Casting Practice.

To secure your spot, just login in to our SFR website, go to Events or Calendar (it will also appear on the home page under "Upcoming Events"), then click on Register and then just a matter of following the prompts. You will receive a confirmation email.

Should you have an questions or further information then please contact Gavin van der Wagen. 

Some photos from last years event:

Phil Burton will be leading the Stream Craft tuition sessions

Practice last year at the Millpond in Portland

David Caddies leading the Casting Practice tuition


Group One’s 2023 Hurley New Zealand Trip.

by Denis Hill

I nearly didn’t write this trip report as I was worried that it would read too much like a promotional piece for Gavin Hurley, but then I thought, that’s punishing Gavin for doing a good job, so here goes. 

Our trip was booked with Hurley pre Covid as a result of a special offer Gavin made to Fly Rodders. Two groups made the trip, and I was in group 1 with Mark Bransgrove, David Webster, Brian Horton, Steve Higgins and Kevin Sawyer. Our trip like much of our lives was delayed by Covid and we finally got to NZ in February this year. Despite the delays to our trip and the impact of inflation over that period Gavin kept our price unaltered, two thirds the current price, a deals a deal with Gavin.

We flew into Queenstown and Gavin and his wife Deb picked us up from the airport and drove us back to his new, purpose built, fishing lodge in Lumsden. There we put our luggage in our individual rooms, grabbed a beer and some nibbles that Deb put out for us and started to sort our fishing gear for the next day. That night Deb served a lovely dinner while Gavin gave us our fishing licenses and ran through our program for the week. Each day was the same, self-cater breakfast with the cereals, fruit, toast etc left out by Deb and then make a lunch to take with us, again the bread and fillings were provided by Deb, then off with one of the guides at around 8am.  We were generally on the water by 8.30am, different fishing partners and guides each day and we fished until about 6pm each night then back to the lodge, nibbles and beer while we unpacked, washed our gear and ourselves and then a wonderful dinner with Gavin, Deb the other two guides of the day.

We fished the Mataura and Waikaia Rivers for the week, terrific sight fishing for browns, mostly feeding on willow grubs. As I wrote last month, this is my favorite way to fish, stalking an individual fish, seeing it take the fly - sensational. Our guides for the week were all great Gavin, Brendan, Eddie, Scotty and Lloyd, their ability to spot fish was amazing and they were very patient with our casting failures, well Gavin was mostly patient. A wonderful week, we were fed, watered, driven and guided, all we had to do was fish, we were all sad to see it end.

I have included some photos of the happy fisherman and of the willow grub pattern that took most of the fish, we fished them mostly in size 18 and the occasional 20 when we had blown the cast with the 18 and been refused. A small blue blowfly was the other fly that took a few fish when we had blown the cast with the size 18 willow grub. I still have flashbacks of white mouths opening in the shadows under the willows. My thanks to my fellow Rodders for their great company on the trip, hopefully we can do it again in the future.

Brian Horton with a typical lovely brown trout

Dave Webster looking happy with his catch

Denis Hill with a good fish

The willow grub fly that did the damage

Kevin Sawyer with a brute

Another fish for Kevin Sawyer

Steve Higgins with another healthy brown

Dave Webster not to be outdone!

Mark Bransgrove with a screen shot

New Zealand Trip Report - Group 2 - February 2023

By David Blackwell

Our Flyrodders group comprised of Max Beyer, Bert Lloyd, John Vernon, Bob Stevenson, Russel Walker, and Dave Blackwell.

We were based in Lumsden and had three main guides, Gavin Hurley, Brendon and Garry Rapley. Brendon was a Southland local and Garry had come over from Victoria to add his knowledge and skills. Garry is a top-rated competition Fly Fisherman from Victoria. 

The group: (Top L-R): Bert Lloyd, Bob Stephenson, Max Beyer, Deb and Gavin Hurley; (Bottom L-R): David Blackwell, Russell Walker, John Vernon and guide. 

On arrival we quickly set up in Gavin’s Hurley’s recently completed lodge. It was built specifically for his fly-fishing clients and it was very comfortable. We were well catered for by Gavin’s wife, Deb, providing packed lunches each day and great meals each night. 

At our initial briefing Gavin gave us some very specific advice. He explained that New Zealand Southland flyfishing required good fishing skill. In particular, casting had to be accurate to get fish. His message was that, if you cannot land the fly accurately on the first cast it was very likely that the fish would be gone by the time you get a second cast in. In short - no second chances with these fish!. Over the following week this proved to be a very accurate advice. We soon learned to rely on our guides to spot fish and direct us to them. We got very used to standing midstream and responding to our guides shouting  “1:00 o’clock, 4 rod lengths, cast now…….………strike!.......Oh xxxx!!!!."

Bert bringing one to the net

We broke up into groups of two plus one guide. The first day we fished different sections of the Matura. It was a sunny, warm day and the river was crystal clear. Water levels were low and water temperature was 20 degrees in places. As a result, the fish were super spooky and, in some cases, just not active. We all spotted good fish but getting hook ups was hard going. However, most of us managed to get 1 or 2 good fish each.

On the second a day the weather came in. With overnight rain and continuing showers, we received a total of about 50 mm in 24 hours. Again, we fished the Mataura. The great thing about the Mataura is that it can be fished at a variety of locations over its extended length so there are plenty of opportunities to fish great water.  

Well done Bob; good quick release

On the third day it was evident that the preceding day’s rain discoloured the lower sections of most of the local rivers, so we all headed to the upper sections of the Matura, north of Lumsden. Water temperature had dropped significantly, and we managed to find good clear water. We all did well fishing a combination of dry dropper rigs, straight drys and shooting willow grubs under the overhanging willows.

Russell looks happy with this fish

We followed the same pattern for the remainder of the week. We stayed on the upper Mataura and upper Waikaia. All of us had our good days and not so good days but catches of between 1 and 5 good fish was the norm. I should also mention that we all suffered a good number of break offs so our catch rates could and should have been higher.

Russell with his fish of the day trophy

After going hard for 6 days, we all agreed that Southland, New Zealand was great, fun fishing and demanded a higher level of fishing skill that most of us were used to in Australia. But we also agreed that our skill levels had improved dramatically over the week. Many thanks go to our guides for their infinite patience and skill. 

The other feature of fishing in Southland rivers is that the fish are bigger and stronger compared with our local fish. New Zealanders consider a fit 3 lb fish to be “average” and only start to get excited when you get on to a 5 lb plus fish. 

This is a very special place to fish and I am certainly in for next year’s trip.

David Blackwell


Big River Trip Report - March 2023

By Rob Cummins

At the end of March seventeen Flyrodders plus Australian fly champion and YouTuber Tom Jarman swelled the population of Anglers Rest at the confluence of the Big/Mitta Mitta River and the Cobungra River in the Victorian High Country. As usual, our accommodation was at the old Blue Duck Hotel in Anglers Rest, plus the Willows, a horseriding lodge a few kilometers up the road on the Bundara River, which also flows into the Big River.

During the welcome dinner at the Duck on the first night, we were clobbered with the first of several rain storms, with over 20mm falling overnight. The rivers rapidly rose and the normally clear water turned into a turbid brown muck. While sightfishing was now out of the question, the trout switched on and were hungry all week, despite (or perhaps because of) several other smaller storms on most days.

The main highlight of the week for ten of us was being guided/coached by Tom Jarman, who was captain of the Australian fly team in Spain in 2022. Tom is an incredibly gifted and hard working fly fisher with fantastic skills as a teacher. His ability to know where fish are hiding, and then use the appropriate method to extract them is simply extraordinary. 

Tom coached us on reading the stream, fish behaviour, locating the fish, Euro nymphing, nymph under dry using a Euro rig, casting dries to get the best drift, mending, dry dropper with a conventional rig, streamer fishing, line management, the use of ridiculously fine (7X) tippet to maximise sensitivity and optimise drifts, rig and fly choice… the list goes on.

At the end of our respective days with Tom, we all felt mentally exhausted, but excited at what we had learned. Over dinner and a few sherbets, Tom continued to discuss tactics with all of us, including those who hadn’t employed his services as an instructor. On one evening he even showed me how to tie my first two nymphs, which I then used to catch over 30 fish on the next 2 days. I think I have now joined the ranks of fly tiers!

Despite the frequently murky water, the fishing for most of the week was spectacular, with good numbers of healthy, sizable trout hitting everyone’s nets. I think everyone scored double figures at least once and several people were doing this each day. I believe the most successful day belonged to Dave Robinson who caught 40 (!!) on his day with Tom. This included (from memory) 12 on streamer, several on dry or dry/dropper and many others Euro nymphing. 

Indeed, all techniques proved successful at varying times through the week and even hoppers resulted in some good catches despite the lack of sunny weather.

At different times, members fished the Big/Mitta Mitta, Cobungra, Bundara, Victoria and Gibbo Rivers as well as Middle and Livingstone Creeks, highlighting the incredible diversity of fishing in this wonderful location. Interestingly, almost every fish caught in the Big/Mitta Mitta was a brown, with fish between 1 and 2lb being quite common. Even areas that had been fished hard continued to produce quality fish all week. It is also worth mentioning that Tom Jarman caught a 5+lb brown on 7x tippet on the day before we all arrived. Quite a feat!

This trip is a wonderful opportunity to fish some superb trout water, and enjoy the company of fellow Flyrodders. I’ll certainly be back for the fourth time next year!

As always, huge thanks to Gavin for the time and effort he takes to arrange this trip so well. Also to my fishing buddy Grant Flawith who inexplicably continues to tolerate my incompetence and bad jokes.

Rob Cummins 

A typical Big River brown

Matching the hatch - photo courtesy Tom Jarman

My first trout caught on a streamer. Man, did it hit hard!

Gotta love the colours!
Rob landing a nice little brown - photo courtesy Tom Jarman
The spectacular Cobungra River
Grant with a gorgeous brown
Group dinner on our first night at the Blue Duck Inn Restaurant
Members excited for the next day fishing

To view additional photos of this Big River Trip, then please click on this link:



Smiths Lake with Brian Henderson - March 2023

Smiths Lake at Sandpiper with Brian Henderson

 by Craig Symonds

I arrived midafternoon to a beautiful sunny Friday, as the other troops made their way to Sandpiper we assumed our allotted tenancies for the weekend. 

Alan and co. were out with Brian and had done a couple of pre-fish days getting the good oil before the rest of us made an appearance.

Car was unloaded and pleasantries exchanged in time for a bit of a survey of the lake and throw a couple of flies around to see what could be tempted.

George Nolevski and Rob Cummins were already on the water tempting the residents with some bread bribes, I believe George hold the record for the smallest garfish on fly.

I covered a bit of water but no joy for me on Friday.

After we all returned from our water exploits, it was time to summons the chauffer and the free chariot and venture to the bowling club for a protracted feeding session. My Salmon was nice and the Coopers even though in stubbies, were well received. 

I felt for Dave Wilson who arrived a bit later and was still waiting to be fed when the rest of us were ready to return to our abode.

Saturday found us looking at another fantastic day, the weather gods truly looked after us this weekend.

Our morning session with Brian enlightened us to casting strategies to best cover the area to be fished and specific techniques for our target species (I found this particularly enlightening as until now had been eluded by the whiting on fly).

The fishing didn’t exactly have them jumping in the net, and proved to be challenging.

George managed a nice stingray and fishing gods turned his brand-new Scott into a 5 piece. I even had a little tear in my eye at his loss.

The crew managed to tempt a few flathead and bream and I managed to get a couple of small whiting for which I was grateful. 

Vorn Sweeney topped the afternoon session with a decent tally of flathead and not sure what else.

After a hard fished day we retired for the Saturday night BBQ (Thanks Frank van Rees for organizing the meat and cooking on the night). There was ample food to be had and Brian's wife Annie made a lovely Chocolate mud cake (not part of my man challenge but yummy anyways).

A great night with a few beers’ wines or other.

Sunday found us greeted by another lovely day we all packed our swags and readied ourselves for our tuition session, we split into 2 groups the members with the double handed speys got some guidance from Brians Offsider David Bracks,  and the rest of us got a session highlighting the importance of the roll cast and some fundamentals of hauling.

 I came away with some exercises to practice and get my uncoordinated body to move in a more desirable sequence and hopefully do a descent double haul in time when out in the boat chasing salmon and the likes.

All in all it was a most enjoyable weekend, Thanks to Brian and David for guiding our path and to the other members for their company. I hope Ian Cutcher is feeling better as he was quite ill over the weekend


Craig Symonds

Craig and his whiting

Saltwater Weekend – Smiths Lake, March 3-5

by Rob Cummins

Thirteen keen and eager Flyrodders descended on the shores of Smiths Lake on the mid north coast at the beginning of March for a weekend of casting tuition and a bit of saltwater practice. 

The venue was perfect with very comfortable apartments and villas at the Sandpiper Resort, opening up to a huge grassy and shaded waterfront area for our casting tuition. We were then able to wander off onto the sandflats to practise our new skills and hopefully land a fish or two.

I was certainly not prepared for the sheer brilliance of our instructor, Brian Henderson, Australia’s highest rated casting instructor. It was truly a privilege to be able to watch and learn from Brian whose ability to land a fly on a sixpence and shoot the line into the blue yonder with seemingly no effort whatsoever was quite extraordinary. More importantly for us though was his ability to teach our group who had greatly varying skill levels and experience. Brian’s patience and non-judgemental approach made us all feel very comfortable and eager to try new approaches. It is noteworthy that our own casting guru, David Caddies, has lessons from Brian each month. Yes, Brian is that good.  

Brian also gave us some wonderful tips on saltwater strategy, fish behaviour and spotting fish.

The fishing on the sandflats was challenging to say the least. Brian did comment that due to the recent rains, the lake wasn’t fishing very well. We saw whiting everywhere, but I’m not aware of anyone catching any on fly. I managed a little mullet on a cut-down bread fly (with lots of bread berley!), and many of the group landed small flathead and the occasional bream, mostly on small Gotchas, prawns, or if you were able to get one, Brian’s own Hendo’s Flea. The most notable catch though was George Nolevski’s stingray on his brand new and rather expensive Scott rod. We won’t mention what happened to the rod tip when the ray decided that New Zealand was its preferred destination. 

I would absolutely recommend this weekend for anyone wanting to lift their game. While the weekend had a saltwater focus, almost everything was relevant to freshwater fishing.  

Many thanks to Brian Horton for organising the trip and to Frank van Rees for arranging the food for our barbecue on Saturday night. 

Rob Cummins

George all smiles before the stingray took off for New Zealand

Rob with a little mullet

Alan Rogers landing a bream

John Vaccaro with a little lizard

My Weekend at Smiths Lake with Brian Henderson

by Frank van Rees

I am a very infrequent fly fisherman but I just love being involved with our club. There are always so many great events going on and the Smith’s Lake weekend was yet another great example. A chance to better my fishing skills and a chance to meet new friends and learn from them. 

The Sandpiper resort was a great venue - clean, modern and comfortable plus lots of grass area to practice fly casting. 

Friday night we got to meet each other at the local bowling club. It was so busy that the restaurant was running out of food at 7pm! A few beers and back to camp. 

Saturday morning, we were extremely fortunate to be tutored by Brian Henderson. Brian is an amazing fly fishing teacher. His skills are unbelievable and he was so willing to demonstrate and discuss techniques, point out our flaws and then spend time with us one on one to consolidate. Awesome bloke!! 

It was a cracker of a day and we spent the morning practicing casting on the grass and then we ventured out onto Smiths Lake to have a crack at the whiting and flathead. We walked a long way in knee deep water, avoiding areas where the fish might be so we didn’t spook the fish. There was a lot of mullet action, stingrays and surface feeding by smaller fish. I’m no guru on flies (I’ll leave that to others to talk about specifics!) but we used light coloured prawn and flea patterns and some poppers. We primarily used the roll cast that Brian had shown us that morning and this worked well. My roll casts were pretty bad until Brian graciously came up to me and helped me fix my errors. Thanks Brian! I had one strike but other folk had more success in landing several small fish. Back for lunch and then out again for the afternoon. After several hours of flogging the water, my brain was fried and I headed back to start the bbq for dinner. Others started drifting back and we all ended up at the club sponsored bbq enjoying a great meal with a few well earned beers, some wine and some stories too! What a great bunch of people. Everyone was so happy and so willing to pass on tips on what equipment to use, what flies and lines to use and generally how to fish better. As I said - great club!

I’m sure it was 5am when the kookaburras woke us all up with their raucus singing on Sunday morning but it was a great start to yet another beautiful sunny day. Such a beautiful site. Some of us went fishing after breakfast and others waited for Brian to return to give us more tuition. We enjoyed more instruction and practiced more casting. So much to learn but all made so much easier with Brian’s calm and relaxed teaching. We spent a few hours doing this while the fishermen meandered back from the lake (no fish!!). By lunch time, most of us had packed up and then we hit the road back to Sydney to avoid the Hexham carpark. All in all, a fabulous weekend. Great weather, easy pace, great venue, great teacher, lots learned, a few fish caught, new friends. Thanks SFRC!! Frank

The following are photos provided courtesy of Vorn Sweeney:

Craig Symonds talking to Brian Henderson on the lawn in front of the Sandpiper cottages

Walking along the lake shore to fish the drop off into the channel

All busy fishing

A good barbecue arranged by Frank van Rees

Sunday morning serenity

A beautiful view

For additional photos in our Google Gallery Albums, click on this link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/7m9hdNCj1uMxbWhr6


Fishing the South and North Island in New Zealand

By Bob Hart

For good fishing you need good weather. There, I have said it again. And yes, someone was looking out for me, because I had good weather for the whole time I was on the South Island. You need not be a Rhodes scholar or a rocket scientist to figure out that I had great success down South. Luckier yet, I missed all the bad weather up North, and that included the big cyclone that ripped the North Island to shreds.

Yes, I was most fortunate with the weather. My wife calls me “Mr. Lucky”, and sometimes I feel that some power is looking after me.

I fished four days around Fairlie. On the first day, we fished the lower rivers, but on the second day we hit the mountains. And what fantastic fishing it was. Although the river was still dirty, it had spring creeks running into it. During the morning, fishing was a little slow, but as the wind picked up so did the fishing. It was full on and about ten fish were released, the biggest an 8 and 1/2 pound brown. The others were 4 to 5.5 pound rainbows caught mainly on dry flies - what fun. We could have hooked more, but we had a long journey back home, and wisely stopped.  The next day the strong westerly winds returned, and it was back to the low land rivers. Fishing was good, and many nice browns were released, mainly on dry flies.

I had only two days in Twizel, but they were grand. Again we released 11 fish per day between 3 to 5 pounds, with the largest being a 7 pound rainbow. And yes, the great majority were all on dries, about size 12/14 terrestrials.  

My last place on the South Island was Te Anau, a place that is not known for its good weather. However, this year was different, with sunny days throughout my stay. Due to the lack of rain, the Mataura river was running gin clear, but very low. Browns had to be stalked very quietly, and from a range of about forty feet or more, an accurate, and gentle cast had to be made. Here I used my five weight XP Sage, which handled the situation beautifully. We used #16 spinner May flies with great success. I released eight, with a few broken off on the strike (sometimes I got a little too excited). Here again my practice casting at home paid off, and I can not stress enough how important practice casting is. Indeed practice is paramount for even an experienced angler. If you do not believe me, just ask Peter Morse, Brian Henderson, or Peter Hayes. 

I flew up to the North Island, where conditions were very different. The North Island had been hammered by sheets of rain for months. Luckily, when I arrived, the rain had stopped. Was I lucky again - you bet. Unfortunately, all the local rivers were running too high and too fast, and fishing was very mediocre. But the Taupo area has more problems than weather. The local Maoris have laid claim to all the waters of Lake Taupo plus any river running into it. They are charging a 7% gross tax on all fishing guides (this includes the 15% GST tax). If you fish by yourself, there will probably be a tax on you as well. No one really knows how it is going to work at present, as it has just been implemented. Guides told me that there is nothing to prevent the Maoris to raising this tax to whatever they wish in the future, as the high court of NZ has given them the power to do so. 

My last stop was Murupara, a lumber town with at least 40% unemployment. As crime is very high in this area, leave nothing in your car, or better yet, do not use a car at all. As I went with a local guide, we were pick up at the end of the day by a relative. However, this area is wonderful for fishing, with loads of fish in the two to four pound bracket. No big bruisers here, but if you use a five or four weight rod, you will have a ball. # 16 to #18 May fly spinners are the order of the day plus long 3X 12 foot tapered leader with a further 2 feet or so of  #4X leader. Dry fly fishing was amazing, and on one day we released at least 20 fish. Other days were around 16 releases. At times we used heavy tandem nymphs on my sturdy Sage XP 6. This is not my favourite way to fish, to say the least, but it was effective. Luckily, we did not use the nymph that much.

All in all, a very successful holiday. As for me, in future, I think I will shy away from the taupo area.   

A beautiful eight and a half pound brown

An equally lovely seven pound rainbow


Items for Sale

OzTent Jet Tent F25

This is a great tent that I bought about 6 years ago for $1100. 

The tent is in excellent condition and in addition to the tent and the poles that come with it I will include two extra poles and two spreader poles for the awning. There is plenty of room in the tent and under the awning.

I no longer need this as I have bought a camper trailer.

This website has a great review of the tent www.whichcar.com.au/gear/outdoors/oztent-jet-tent-f25 and  this Youtube video shows how easy it is to set up https://youtu.be/i_-WtVDkins

Sale price $550 ono

Yeti 75 Tundra Esky

This huge esky has a 66.2 litre capacity and is built like the proverbial brisk s&*thouse.

It’s only been used a couple of times and is just too large for my needs. 


RRP is $599

Sale price $300 ono

If anyone is interested in either of these two items, please contact me.

David Major

0467 686 439



Sydney Fly Rodders Facebook Pages

We run two SFRC pages, one is our public page and it posts events and activities of the club. It also shares posts from other pages like CAS, DPI on things relevant to the places and areas that we fish.

I post some fly tying every now and then and share links to events I find that might be of interest to followers. This page is a little like our Web page, it showcases the club to attract members and provides details of club events. It has about 450 people following the page and any post will be seen by between 180 and 240 people.

We added another page. This is reserved for members only and cannot be seen by anyone outside of the group. You will need to send a request to join. Any member can post on this page and it is a great opportunity for members to put up a post or two about anything fly fishing. I would like to encourage members to use this page to post fishing reports or photos of flies that you tied. Being connected to other members you can ask for some casting or gear advice, or organise a short trip when you suddenly have some spare time.

There are also hundreds of other groups; bream on fly, carp on fly, bass, trout....areas like alpine trout, Sydney Kayak Fishing....fly tying groups, buy sell swap fly gear pages and individuals like Aussie Flyfisher, Sydney Flyfishing to check out. 

Phil Burton


Sydney Flyrodders Instagram Page

The Sydney Fly Rodders are now on Instagram. Many thanks to our Member Maddie Chew Lee, who offered to set us up and apply her significant experience with marketing and communications in particular within the social media space. 

Please follow the site and add your comments, and lets grow this platform for the club. It will also attract new members to the club.

Below is a snapshot of the site. We aim to sync (in particular look and feel) the Instagram account with our Facebook account and also our new Website, which I talk more about in the preceding section.


Sydney Fly Rodders WhatsApp Group

We have an Exclusive Group on WhatsApp for our Members, which is a great way to communicate informally and to share ideas, seek advice and also to plan and seek interest for impromptu/planned fishing trips.

I can highly recommend this to members. We have arranged a number of trips now from a weekends bass fishing through to a casual and social Sunday morning or afternoons fishing at Narrabeen Lake or Hen & Chickens Bay etc. And there could even be a BBQ thrown in for a social get together afterwards. This will happen on most if not all occasions.

Should you wish to be included in this group, then please email me to request your inclusion, quoting your mobile number which is required to link you into the Group. You will need to download the WhatsApp first if you haven't already done so.

Please contact me for inclusion.

Gavin van der Wagen

Editor, Flyrodder



The End