Fly fishing at Moffat Falls

17 September 2020

The Ebor-Dorrigo plateau is well known for having some of the best trout waters in Australia. The region offers some excellent rainbow and brown trout fishing, both in natural streams and stocked dams. Our fly-fishing season starts on the NSW October long weekend and ends on the NSW June long weekend every year. Here are some tips and tricks for fly fishing at Moffat Falls.

Firstly, dry fly fishing is often most effective when chasing the smaller rainbow trout in the eastern flowing streams around Ebor. These fish tend to be opportunistic feeders and a well-presented beetle pattern often works. Even so, enough seem to have learned that a royal wulf can contain a nasty surprise and refusals are common. Many of the Ebor streams are tight and lined with tea-tree. A 25cm rainbow can be a handful in these confines. Ebor rainbows have a habit of running straight at the angler to put slack in the line, or wrapping leaders around a low branch.  

For beginners, getting little rainbows to take the fly is rarely the problem. The challenge is staying attached to the fish for more than three seconds. Sight fishing to rainbows holding on station in the crystal-clear shallows can be nerve testing. The temptation to lift the rod tip before that flash of white mouth closes is over-whelming for some. Other times, the fish won’t give your perfect beetle imitation the time of day. The rainbows (and occasional lunker brown) in the Guy Fawkes become extremely selective when there is a good hatch of black spinners. Without a decent spinner pattern in your fly-box, these fish will drive you mad.

As well as feisty rainbows, some streams in the region hold brown trout. With the exception of the rainbows in the Wollomombi system where 2-3 kilo fish are common, the browns reach a larger average size (around a kilo) than the eastern rainbows. On a hot day, fishing a caddis pattern or black nymph, you can hook-up every half hour or so. On a cold day, you could swear there are no trout in the stream.

In terms of equipment, it is best to leave the seven and eight weight outfits at home. You will catch fish on heavier gear, but it is much more fun doing battle with New England trout on a four or five weight rod. Shorter rods of 7-8 feet (2.1-2.4m) are better to get under and around the vegetation and will result in less tree climbing. In general, floating lines are the best option though for some of the stocked dams and deeper sections of the Wollomombi system, sinking lines or leaders can be essential, particularly under hot conditions. When it comes to flies, there are a few have-to-haves including dry flies like the royal wulf and red tag, black and brown nymphs, gold bead head nymphs when the water is fast and dirty, woolly buggers and black spinners. Happy fishing!

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