More fly tying with Magic Tool – the CDC caddis



Marc Petitjean using his Magic Tools in New Zealand backcountry

My post about Marc Petitjean’s Magic Tool and how it simplifies fly tying with CDC, has been hugely popular so here’s its sequel, this time about tying a basic Caddis fly. Watch how Marc does it, his tying is poetry in motion. Between the mayfly from the previous post and this caddis here you’ll have most of the dry flies covered. And, after you’ve tried and tested these CDC gems, you’ll never want to go near a trout stream without them.


For GUIDED Fly-Fishing in New Zealand visit us here

For signed copies of THE TROUT DIARIES and THE TROUT BOHEMIA go to our online bookshop here

Happy fishing!

The Trout Bohemia is now on #Kindle !



THE TROUT BOHEMIA, Fly Fishing Travels in New Zealand, is now on #Kindle and will be on #Kobo and #iTunes next week. Enjoy!

You can get it HERE !

Derek Grzelewski writes like a dazzling impressionist. Trout Bohemia will make you think that fly fishing was just invented, and that every river is waiting to be explored for the first time.” Marshall Cutchin, MidCurrent


 SIGNED COPIES of THE TROUT BOHEMIA and THE TROUT DIARIES are available in our online bookshop here. Worldwide shipping.



Magic Tool – a revolutionary gadget for fly tying with CDC

After my posts on Southland dry flies and the life cycles of trout insects many of you have been asking about tying with CDC. My friend Marc Petitjean has developed a revolutionary, simple and cheap gadget to take the headaches out of tying CDC flies.


Here’s a demo of Marc tying a basic hi-vis and first-choice parachute dry fly using split thread and his Magic Tool. Anyone can complicate things, but it takes genius to simplify them. Watch the Master at work.  For more than a decade he had been tying over 25,000  CDC flies a year! Learn and enjoy:

For guided fly fishing in New Zealand, including spectacular Southland dry fly, contact me here.


The Miracle of Trout

I’m working on a story about mayflies for New Zealand Geographic magazine and the guy who is photographing it, George Novak, is one of the best macro shooters I’ve ever come across. George has previously shot a story about the life cycle of rainbow trout for the magazine and, with his permission, I’d like to share some of those images with you here. Truly a magnificent and rarely seen insight into the life of trout.

All images © George Novak , Please contact for usage.

Rainbow trout.

Rainbow trout emerging.

All images © George Novak , Please contact for usage.

Rainbow trout.

I’ll post some of the mayflies macro too, once we are done with the story.


THE TROUT BOHEMIA, free first chapter


bohemia cover 3d_small



Fly Fishing Travels in New Zealand, 

by Derek Grzelewski

Published by David Bateman (NZ) and Stackpole Books (USA) 2013


‘Once upon the time a prince met a beautiful princess.

“Will you marry me?” the prince asked.

The princess said, “No.”

And the prince lived happily ever after. And he fished, and skied, and hunted, and went on long safaris, and he drank expensive whiskies by the campfire, and there was no one there to tell him he played too much, and that it was costing a fortune . . . ’ Anonymous

‘For us, New Zealand is a dream come true, the trout Bohemia.’ Jetske Darbeaud

‘A seeker of silences am I.’ Khalil Gibran, The Prophet


Chapter 14PROLOGUE

‘Is that it then? Is this how it all ends?’ she asked, and I did not have the courage to meet her eyes.

For the past half an hour, with a heavy heart, I’d been telling Ella how this togetherness of ours was not working for me any more. How, after the autobahn of a long honeymoon, our road was getting more and more rocky and potholed, and how I was increasingly unsure I wanted to travel it. I’d been telling her how I grew tired of conflicts and dramas, how it seemed I was forever putting out fires and whenever one was out, another would flare up elsewhere until, in the end, I’d given up and thought, ‘Well, just let them burn.’

All the time I talked, she held me with a steady gaze and listened silently, two rivulets of tears running down her beautiful sun- browned face. Now that at last she had spoken, asking the question loaded with so much finality, I could not bring myself to answer it.

Truth was I didn’t know. Despite our best intentions and contrary to earlier promises and reassurances, we had lost our way. Maybe we just went into it all too hard and fast, two stubborn individuals burning with many passions but unable or unwilling to compromise. Or perhaps we were just not compatible. I really didn’t know any more.

I could feel Ella’s eyes probing me for answers, but the words failed me. I got up and gave her a peck on the cheek, tasting the saltiness of tears, then headed for the door. With my hand on the doorknob I turned to her one last time. She was still there on the couch, paralysed in stillness, her usually tall and proud ballerina’s body crumpled as if the bones were suddenly gone from it and there was nothing to hold it up any more.

‘I need to go away for a while,’ I said. ‘Let’s put some time and space into this. Maybe then we can piece it all back together.’ For a couple of beats I waited for a word from her but, as none came, I stepped out through the door and slid it shut behind me. The metal frame gliding on rollers sounded like the fall of a guillotine. Whoosh! Maybe it was how it all ended.

Chapter 7


‘The solution to any problem — work, love, money, whatever — is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be.’ John Gierach


It was early October, in New Zealand the beginning of trout season. My 4WD camper was parked in the driveway, ready to go, and Maya, my Airedale terrier, was sitting in the driver’s seat, waiting. As I was getting in, she gave me a double lick of greeting while her tail walloped the seat cover, raising puffs of sand. Then she moved over to the passenger side. It was her seat again, now that there were only two of us in the camper. I backed out on to the road and, once on the main highway, felt the Land Cruiser pick up its momentum.

I took a deep breath and it came out as a seismic sigh, and Maya’s tail walloped three times like the clap of applause. It was time to cheer up, she was implying. As so many times in the past, and they were always good times, we were again ‘Gone Fishing’ together. Might be some time and out of range. Incommunicado. Address unknown. We were going to the best place we knew: to the peace, solitude and the silences of the rivers.

bohemia cover 3d_small


SIGNED COPIES of THE TROUT BOHEMIA are available in my online bookshop here. Worldwide shipping.


Two hours later we were in Southland, heading further into the vast green plains through which so many good trout rivers meander. In spring, Southland can be a volatile place and this time it was no different. Apocalyptic hail storms bore down on us like giant waves from the Roaring Forties, pelting the camper canopy with hailstones the size of peas. The ice bounced off the road and crunched under the tyres. There were bands of brilliant sunshine in-between the storms, and full, double-arch rainbows, and this stark illumination made the farm hills glow with surreal green, so bright it seemed almost fluorescent. It was blinding like the surface of a glacier but lush and fresh and dotted with the confetti of shorn sheep and lambs prancing on newly found legs.

The forecast was good so I was not too concerned about the passing tempests. Here and there along the way, at Anglers’ Access signs and by numerous bridges, I saw fly-fishers’ cars parked, each staking a claim of privacy to an upstream beat, but the opening- day fever was tapering off and I was confident that, like every early season over the past decade, I’d have ‘my’ river largely to myself.

By now, the sense that by driving away I was stretching some invisible rubber cord which would either snap or pull me back to Ella was gone, replaced by the gravitational pull of the river which was growing stronger. I hadn’t been back here for nearly a year and the anticipation was delicious. Butterflies in the stomach. It felt like going to visit an old friend — solid and reliable, always welcoming and always there in times of need.


The river is not especially well known, nor is it a better fishery than any other waterway in Southland. But because of my experiences there — the rapid evolution of skills it had forced me into, the friendships and camaraderie I’d found there, the moments of magic so numerous and stacked so close together they overshadowed all other memories — it has always been a special place for me. Secret and sacred. The river of the heart.

Two years had passed since I completed The Trout Diaries and much had happened in the meantime. Firstly, like a doting teenager again, I had fallen in love just as when, this late in mid-life, I thought I was immune to such afflictions. Then there was the sad news from Grandpa Trout.   Continue reading

The Trout Diaries TV trailer is here!

Here’s a preview trailer for our upcoming TROUT DIARIES TV series, featuring the best of fly fishing in New Zealand.  Enjoy and come back as soon I’ll be uploading the entire pilot episode in sequential 5min clips so you can get the full taste of what the thing is about.

The show has been inspired by my travels and adventures during the research and the writing of both The Trout Diaries and The Trout Bohemia books. It really brought home the fact that when it comes to fly fishing for big wild trout, there is no better place than New Zealand. Realising and pursuing that has certainly been the greatest adventure of my life. 

If you’d like to fish in New Zealand and are looking for information, guides, itineraries and places to stay, Contact me as I am now also a consultant and location scout for which is the leading agency and itinerary provider for fly fishing in our Country of Trout.

Happy fishing and see you on a river!


Writing a book is like having a child

Writing a book is like having a child: you conceive it – that’s the easy part – you feed it, and take care of it, and then at some point you have to let it go. I’ve just let The Trout Bohemia go, to the printers, and out into the world. Here’s the dust jacket for your visual pleasure. The book will be out worldwide in early August, you can pre-order a signed copy in our online bookshop

Trout Bohemia jacket copy

Nature of Sight Fishing in New Zealand


Trout Diaries Radio, Episode 5:

a chat with Ian Cole, top fly fishing guide in New Zealand


In Episode 5 of the Trout Diaries Radio we chat with Ian Cole, one of the most experienced fly fishing guides in New Zealand, and a character in both The Trout Diaries and The Trout Bohemia books. We talk about the nature of sight fishing, how to do it well and how not to get into trouble with other anglers pursuing similar goals. River etiquette for sight fishing is totally different from all other styles and, if we want our space and trout solitudes respected, we need to do the same towards others. So listen and learn what are the exact rules of engagement.

7We also stray into river conservation issues, it is difficult not to these days. Ian is a vocal activist for water quality and he will also appear in our upcoming documentary The Trout Heaven and Hell.

Enjoy the show and tune in to more of our episodes brining you the best of fly fishing in New Zealand



From my latest column at


The Fables of La Fontaine


Do you have a river of your dreams, a place that comes first to your mind whenever you think “flyfishing?” It may be a memory snapshot of somewhere you’ve already been or a mental compilation of everything that is the best in our pursuit. Picture it for a moment, what’s it like?

What size, with what backdrop, in what country? Does it have long smooth glides where rise-rings take forever to dissipate, or is it fast and boisterous, with plenty of big rocks for rainbows to sit against? Is it an easy ego-pampering water à la Timaru Creek or a fair dinkum test like the lower Tongariro where massive browns regard you with contempt? Whenever I closed my eyes I always saw my river clearly but only this spring I realised that it actually exist, and that it has a name. I also got to fish it for all of three days. Talk about vision becoming a reality!

The river is called La Fontaine and it seeps out of the swampy paddocks on the New Zealand’s West Coast, two hours north of the glaciers, near the farming settlement of Hari Hari. It’d be tempting to think that it was named after the writer Gary LaFontaine who, as one journalist noted in Gary’s 2002 obituary, “was a flyfisherman—in much the same way Albert Einstein was a mathematician.” You may have come across his books – Trout Flies: Proven Patterns, Caddisflies, and The Dry Fly: New Angles – they are classics in their field. But it’s more likely, certain in fact, that the river carries the name of another scribe, the Frenchman Jean de La Fontaine, a conjurer of magic and fables. For a dream river such association seems particularly fitting.

I’d been meaning to explore it for years and never had but this time we’d finally set a date and made it happen. My fishing compadre David Lloyd flew in from Hong Kong and one sunny November day we set off in my camper, from Wanaka and up the coast. By that time we’d already had a week’s fishing on our favourite River X, hard but rewarding, and it was the most memorable trip ever (sorry mates, no GPS coordinates here.) Sight-fishing to eager browns, the solitude and the luxury of having the river to ourselves had raised our standards, honed the expectations. Thus we arrived in Hari Hari a little too cocky perhaps, two self-professed experts ready to kick butt. The La Fontaine browns would see to it that we did not delude ourselves for long.

lafontaine_releaseLa Fontaine is a river-size spring creek, with fat weed beds waving in the current over clear patches of light gravel and sand, all of which makes for rather good spotting. David and I delight in sight fishing, now almost to an exclusion of any other style, and the “See no fish, cast not” adage has become something of our modus operandi. We are happy to walk for miles just looking for the moments of magic this particular kind of voyeurism affords, knowing that to see even one fish react to a fly – to see it  take, inspect or refuse – is an experience far more intense and memorable than catching half a dozen fish blind.

Maybe it’s because we’d both done our river mileage, flogging the water without seeing the fish first, or perhaps it is a residue of my years as a fishing guide. For a guide, watching his clients fishing blind can be intolerably boring which is why we so insist on finding the fish. Spotting makes a guide feel useful and engaged, a part of the adventure. All other alternatives are grim by comparison. Consider the renown Scottish gillie who was asked what was the single most important skill for a career fishing guide. After scratching his beard in deep thought he replied: “I’d have to say it’ll be the ability to yawn with your mouth shut.”

Continue reading …


New video from The Trout Diaries team


Our first video clip, a part of a larger documentary The Trout Heaven and Hell

Still coming to terms with the Final Cut Studio which is an amazing but also intimidating piece of kit. 44 Gigabits of software alone! Have a look and tell us what you think, all feedback welcome. Please use the Comments sections below.

I have already fixed a few things: audio balance and some colour correction, and I’ll upload the clip to Vimeo as well, in much higher resolution