Virginia’s View



Hello. I’m Virginia Duncum, one of the female anglers featured in Trophy Waters, Volume 5: From the Female Perspective, along with my little ‘mate’ Angus. Over the next months I shall be sharing with you some of our experiences gained during the making of this video, as well as some more general observations.


ISSUE TWO – October 2005 

Good news: “Trophy Waters Volume 5: From the female perspective” has been released and is now available in PAL & NTSC DVD. We are very excited about this addition to the Trophy Waters series and obviously so are you, because after only two weeks on the market we are already receiving very positive feedback.

One of the most frequently asked questions from those who see the videos is, “what fly did you use?” We subscribe to the view that yes, while the fly is important, there are equally important factors that may not be so evident when viewing the videos. These factors relate to the skill of the angler. This is not to suggest that a less skilled angler will not be able to target and catch one of these trophy fish. It just means than sometimes it's the free stuff, the stuff you can't buy that makes a difference. Skill, patience, and dedication as opposed to what equipment bought. What we advocate though is that it is the angler’s ability, rather than the fly per se, that enhances their opportunities to land one of these beauties that you see on Trophy Waters. We will address this subject in a later Issue and I am sure it will engender a great deal of discussion and possible controversy. But for now back to our flies. We used a limited selection of flies during the filming of Volume 5. Our most productive fly was the Hopper imitation. This fly represents either the hopper (grass hopper) or cicada. Both of these insects appear in abundance in the South Island during the hot summer months. Unfortunately February 2005 was anything but high summer. Nevertheless we had a great deal of success with this fly despite the cool temperatures and subsequent low numbers of active insects on the wing. On the other hand, we experienced two major drawbacks with this hopper pattern. Firstly, as it is a reasonably large fly it was difficult to cast in the very windy conditions we encountered. As a consequence the tippet would not lay out straight but insisted on blowing back thus denying us accurate presentation. (In the next issue we will discuss tippet materials.) 

But even more annoying was the propensity of the commercial tie we were using to cut through the tippet material at the knot. At first we didn’t realise this and paid very careful attention to our knot (the improved clinch knot as so nimbly demonstrated by Phaedra). But no matter how carefully we tied our knots we continued to lose some very good fish. Later, on close examination, we found that the quality of the hooks used was sub-standard. Many of these hooks had a jagged edge where the eye of the hood was formed. Under pressure this jagged edge was severing the tippet at the knot.  I have since developed my own tie of this pattern (using Tiemco 9300 hooks) which I will post on this site. 


Our second most productive fly was the Wee Muddler (see Home Page and Volume 1). Our ties came courtesy of Keith Mitchell from the Wee Muddler pattern demonstrated by Robbie McPhee in Volume 1. Once again this fly is an excellent representation of the cicada. As it is a little more streamlined and smaller than the hopper, we found it rather easier to cast in windy conditions. A slight drawback for us was that in dull conditions it could be somewhat harder to see on the water than the larger hopper.  

Viewers of Volume 5 will hear Bruce extolling the virtues of the Cochy Bondhu which certainly rose a magnificent trophy fish for Phaedra (regrettably not landed) after all else had failed. We also fished Bob Wyatt’s Deer Hair Emerger on the third river with some limited interest shown. We fished this pattern because it was dull and overcast with the odd spit of rain and there was scant evidence of terrestrials even though Bruce filmed a beautiful hopper sunbathing on a rock. Overall though fishing was very hard that day so it is difficult to really rate the attractiveness of any of the flies tried. 


Throughout the whole duration of filming we saw few fish rising and there was never an over-abundance of terrestrials being blown onto the water but nevertheless almost all our takes were to dry fly. Bruce’s last “secret” fly seemed to be very attractive to the fish but also demonstrated poor hook quality!  


Viewers of the video will no doubt recall the scene. No amount of arm twisting has since extracted the pattern from him either!  See what you can make of it from this small thumbnail.


We did fish nymph on occasions but they were mostly ignored. The nymphs we used were bead head hare and copper and my own very simple tie of a small green caddis (size 14). We stayed away from flashy flies; plain and simple, is the rule for these fish. If using bead heads choose black in preference to gold because the brown trout have a reputation of being wary of brightly coloured offerings (whereas rainbows seem less deterred by gold or flashy dressings). We use small black tungsten bead heads and add lead if further weight is required.  

When fishing nymph, we continued to use the same long leader with a strike indicator attached just above the leader to tippet knot. At all times we fished with only one fly attached i.e. we never fished with a dropper or two flies in tandem, which is the common practice in the North Island. Perhaps the Nor’ Wester of the South Island discourages such practice. In fact, I have known days in the South Island where it would have been very beneficial to have on several Tongariro ‘bombs’ just to hold the line in the water in the face of a roaring Nor’ Wester, but then of course the issue would be how to get them safely into the water in the first instance! 

So in summary, you can see there was nothing exceptional about the flies that we used. Despite the mainly cool and overcast conditions the fish ignored flies that were presented deeper than surface level and continued to rise to a dry. What was of prime importance was the presentation and behaviour of the fly.


If you have any comments of queries, we would like to hear from you so please contact us: or

or visit the Discussion Page on this site.





ISSUE ONE - August 2005

As this is the first instalment before the video is released, I thought a good introduction would be to give a little background on the gear that Phaedra and I chose to wear during the making of the video and some of the reasons behind those choices.

Our major criterion in determining our choice of gear was safety. We were fishing in remote mountainous regions in the South Island of New Zealand, where we were many miles from the nearest habitation and, despite recent advertising campaigns to the contrary, outside cell phone coverage. Like all adventure sports in these kinds of locations we considered the two major risk factors to be injury and exposure: Injury because of the rugged terrain we would be covering and hypothermia through falling in the water. Therefore we believed we could reduce these risk factors through paying particular attention to our footwear and our clothing.

When wading in fast flowing, cold, mountain-fed rivers and streams we believe it is essential that you invest in the highest quality boots available on the market. Because the rivers we were to fish were all boulder-bed it was necessary to have boots that gave the ultimate grip in these conditions. Unfortunately, due to the somewhat restricted range currently available in New Zealand at short notice, Phaeds and I were unable to obtain the Aquastealth* studded soled boots in our sizes (as worn by Bruce, our Producer and cameraman). The Aquastealth sole provides a superior grip, particularly on greasy boulders. However we did have the next best thing which was felt soled tungsten studded boots. These boots gave a firm grip when wading and crossing boulder beds because the studs prevent the boot from slipping on the surface of boulders. When long distances are to be undertaken walking to and from fishing locations the Aquastealth are reputed to be longer wearing than the felt soles. Also they do not retain the water that felt soles do and are therefore lighter when walking out of the water. The other factor we had to consider was that we would on occasions be walking for many kilometres to and from our locations and therefore the boots had to be sturdy enough to give good support for tramping as well as wading. Just what we didn’t know was just how far and over what terrain we would be walking as you will see in the video. But that is a tale in itself to be told at a later date!


For our clothing we chose to wear layers of 100% New Zealand merino woollen garments. Our reasoning behind choosing wool over the modern synthetics was primarily that layers of wool gave us the flexibility of all weather insulation; cool in the heat and warmth in the cold. This flexibility is essential in the mountainous backcountry where you can experience great fluctuations in climatic conditions (and we did). For example, we fished in temperatures well above 30+°, we withstood gale force winds, rain and even snow (this was mid-summer). We wore a skin layer, a mid-layer and a heavier outer layer with long johns under our waders and when wet wading. Using this layering system we could simply add another layer or take off a layer thus requiring only one or two sets of fishing gear throughout the whole of the filming period.


An added advantage of merino garments is that they can be worn for many days without getting smelly. On the other hand, the man-made synthetics absorb body odour rapidly and become very offensive very quickly. Also, synthetics just don’t keep you cool in hot conditions. But of course they do dry almost as quickly as they get wet. New Zealand produces several excellent ranges of merino outdoor clothing, however, we prefer the Icebreaker* range for a couple of reasons. Firstly we know that this range is made from the highest quality merino fleeces. Secondly, we allowed a little femininity to influence our choice, as Icebreaker puts out a stylish ladies range that is dressy enough to wear on other occasions, and after all, ladies still want to look good, even when dressed in boots and waders.


We were so comfortable in what we wore that even Bruce has now been converted to merino. No, not because he was banned from the hut at the end of the day, but because on past occasions it is rumoured that he (and others) had experienced rather severe rash problems when wearing synthetic long johns. Not pleasant with a 10 km walk out still ahead of you!


If you have any comments or queries, we would like to hear from you so please contact us: or

or visit the Discussion Page on this site.