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Hello Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing crew,
I just want to ask a couple of questions. I want to learn how to polariod and I was wondering if you could give me some tips on how to learn by myself. I normally fish on streams (small high country and lowland streams) and was wondering if without having a lesson I could learn on my own how to polaroid for trout?

David (I'm only 15 year old)

Hi David,

Hope the article helps you in taking those first steps to successful polaroiding. If you need any help just drop me an email or swing by the shop if you are ever in the area.

Good luck with it all.



Here is the article.....

Polaroiding for Dummies by Antony Boliancu

Polaroiding is a bit of a misnomer. While most aussie or kiwi fly fishers will know what you are talking about, the rest of the fly fishing world will be left in the dark when talking polaroiding. Sight fishing is the correct description of the method. Sight fishing with the aid of 'polarised glasses'. When we say polaroiding we mean using polarised sunglasses to remove the glare from the water's surface and allow us to see into the water and to find individual fish.

Polaroiding is hugely addictive. Once you have experienced it is hard to go back to just blind searching. Being able to see a fish before you present a fly is a huge advantage. In many instances you can watch a fish feeding for quite some time and make a very accurate choice of fly based on your observations. You can also put the fly in the best position possible, meaning the fish is not as likely to be spooked in the process and that the drift/presentation will be perfect. You can also see a fish's reaction and sometimes refusal of a fly, which will again give you great feedback and greatly speed up the learning curve. When you are fishing blind you get none of these clues to help you on your way.

What You Need?

To be a successful sight fisherman there are a few things that you cannot be without. First and foremost is the best pair of glass polaroids that you can afford. There are a number of great brands out there but we recommend the Spotters above all else. Their range of Penetrators are about as good as polarised glasses get. The colour, ability of the lens to change to suit the lighting conditions (photochromic) and their overall quality make them the first choice.

There are hundreds of frame styles out there. Many suitable for driving or wearing about town as well as fishing. But it is the most daggy looking ones that are best for polaroiding. The larger ones with the side shields are the pick of the pick. This was proven over the past few trips to A wide brimmed hat, quality polaroids and the correct coloured clothing. Roger has given himself every chance of successthe South Island where we took turns in changing between several styles to try and work out which worked the best. Time and again it was the person wearing the 'daggy' ones who saw more fish. Needless to say that is what we all use.

The second most important thing is a wide brimmed hat to shade the glasses. The difference between having such a hat and not is similar to the difference between wearing polaroids and normal sunglasses. Forget those baseball style caps. Invest $30 in a quality, pack able Boonie hat. They can be crushed down to nothing for traveling and can even fit in the pocket of a vest. Make sure you get one with a dark undersided brim, the darker you can get that space between hat and eyes the more you will see.

Now you have the glasses and have given them the best possible chance to work by shading them correctly, your attention must turn to making you invisible to the fish. What are you wearing? Chances are it does not match the situation as well as it could.

Colours must be drab and blend well with the surrounding environment. Fish, like all animals, see movement rather than form. Dress in white, red, yellow, orange or even fossil and the fish are going to have a much easier time seeing you. Walking the banks, casting a fly, it's all going to be more difficult if you cannot meld into the background. Have a look at the Columbia gear. The Bonehead shirts and the shorts/pants in the colour Sage will suit most freshwater fly fishing situations.

Also remember you are as only as strong as your weakest link. There is not point getting it 80% right with pants and shirt the right colour but a lovely red cap on! While it will make a lovely photo, that dash of colour, it will not help you in your quest to catch more fish! A couple of days on our most recent trip brought this fact home to me. On several occasions I was fishing with one of the guys while other members of the group tried catching up to us after fishing a few kilometres away. In one instance they walked right up to me and never saw me at all, instead focusing on the other angler whose vest gave him away from quite some distance away! Don't underestimate the importance of blending in.

So now we look the part, we can see the fish and move about without being too noticeable. What else can give us away? What other part of our gear do we need to disguise? Probably the most obvious thing, although maybe not until you are out on the water will you realise it, is the fly line! We only use green/khaki/sage coloured lines in our own personal fishing time. While we sometimes test a new line outside this colour spectrum or we may set up our beginner outfits with bright lines (mostly so they can see what they are doing), you will find that for the most part we only use dull coloured lines.

When you think about it, it all makes sense! The thing that the fish is most likely to see is a bright fly line waving back and forth around them. Some people say that a white line is hard to see against the sky but this is rubbish. A white line flashes the entire time it is in the air and stands out against any sort of streamside foliage. If you cannot afford to buy a new line then buy a tin of Dylon dye from the local chemist and dye only the front thirty feet of line the appropriate colour. Please use an 'old pot' and none of the good cooking gear out of the kitchen or you could be putting you newly assembled camouflage gear to good use, having to hide in the garden for the better part of a week!

Learning to be Sneaky!

This comes naturally for some e.g. lawyers and accountants, but for the rest of us some practice is usually needed! Again getting back to what fish see, that is movement, we must think about how we go about moving along the riverbank. Firstly you must go slowly! Going slowly you are much less likely to be seen. You also see a lot more. When you are walking you are constantly moving your head and having to focus and as a result you will spook lots of fish. The slower you walk the more of a focus you are able to get on the bottom and consequently the fish. Move a few slow steps and then stop. Wait a few minutes. WatchingKeep low using any cover possible carefully before moving up a few more metres and stopping. Use any hiding places that you can. A tree or high grass or a fence post can make all the difference. Use these places for an extended viewing of the water near to them.

Keep your profile off the skyline…..use whatever you can to shield yourself from view. Use a high bank behind you to move along slowly, the high bank screening your profile. Keep as low as is comfortably possible. Hide behind trees, boulders etc. Sometimes you may even have to get down and crawl into position (depending on how desperate you are!).

Tread gently. While fish cannot hear you talking as all sounds are reflected off the water's surface, it is not the case when walking along the banks. Vibrations can be carried a long way through the water, and clomping along will spook many fish. Use gentle steps and go slow.

Keep your shadow off the water. A shadow thrown out across the water will spook a fish just the same as if you threw a rock in. Shadows should be managed so that they land on the bank. While sometimes this is almost impossible, particularly later in the afternoon, to some extent this can be avoided by walking well back from the bank. Staying well back from the bank can also reduce your profile so that only your head is visible to the fish rather than your whole body. Minimising the amount of you that is out in the open is always recommended.

Remember the deeper the fish is, the more that it can see outside its underwater world. Conversely the closer it is to the surface or the shallower the water; the less the fish can see. This is worth noting, as you don't want to be moving if the fish has a great view of the outside world. Often, when a fish is in shallow water or rising, I will take the time to move into a better position, knowing that I can take a calculated risk that I won't be seen.

This also means that any presentation to a fish sitting near the surface must be spot on for the fish to see it. The deeper it is the more leeway you have. Often when a fish is staying within a foot of the surface, rising consistently we have found that that unless the fly is in the fish's exact path then there is little chance of a take. On the flip side we have seen fish come a few metres in deeper water to take a fly. Not the be all and end all but definitely something to be aware of.

What Should I Look For?

Of course the most obvious answer is fish! Sometimes it will be that easy. You may have great light over your shoulder from behind at about lunchtime on a hot January day while on a high bank with a broad brimmed hat shielding your polaroids and you will see everything. Every speck on the bottom will be obvious. But more often than not conditions will not be perfect. The wind may be up, or you may have patchy cloud, it may even be late in the day. But don't despair, as there are many clues that trout offer up to the trained eye.

Movement - The first thing that you are most likely to notice is movement. Movement is what most predators first use to distinguish items of prey from the background. This can be a dark shape down deep or even the flash of white as the fish takes a nymph and his mouth opens and closes. Even the flash off the flank of a fish as it turns on its side to take a nymph.

Shadows - Trout can be almost invisible, especially rainbows in fast water! But there is one thing that doesn't lie. That is the shadow dropped by a fish in bright light. While this can sometimes be mistaken for the fish itself it is of little consequence as it still means a fish is present. Shadows are one of the most important clues as to a fish's whereabouts.

Shape - On a river or lake bottom shapes are important. Your eyes will quickly learn to distinguish the more important ones. In rivers in particular you will often see logs and odd shaped rocks that could be a fish. If you cannot determine exactly assume it is a fish. Otherwise use skills of deduction to work out whether it is in fact a trout. A trick that works for us is to try and work out which way the object is facing. If it is across, even slightly angled across the current, it is more than likely, not a fish. If it is sitting head on into the current then I would at least try and fish it. The last trip for NZ was an eye opener. In the last week of the trip, in mid-March, the sun was getting low in the sky. On at least five occasions we decided that it was a rock and not a fish only to spook it seconds later. It is very annoying spooking 8lb 'rocks', so give everything that could possibly be a trout a going over with the fly. You will surprise yourself.

Basic Overview of Possibilities

The places/situations that you can Polaroid a trout are endless. From the tiniest alpine creek to the largest lake, a little bit of knowledge can help you to unlock the potential of any destination.

Small Streams - Alpine Creeks While dry fly fishing and blind fishing are the norm there are plenty of opportunities to see a fish or two. But due to the type of water it will be limited to mostly the pools. As many of these streams require you to wade and therefore cut down your view of the water, and also because the sun is not around for a long time in narrow, steep sided valleys, options are limited. Stick to the obvious spots…the tail outs of the pools, the bubble lines and the seams. E.g. - Any river coming off the Great Dividing Range in Southeast Australia.

Small Streams - Slower Rivers These rivers (the Rubicon is a great example) offer a heap of possibilities. They are generally deeper, being incised into the floodplain and are characterised by deep stable pools, high undercut banks and lots of structure. Fish will most likely be found near to structure with the polaroids. Because of the volume of water that is often coming down, the pools will be harder to sight fish pre-January. Once levels drop in late summer and autumn the fish in the pools can be easily seen lining the bubble lines, tail outs and the main body of the pool. Use any structure available to screen yourself from the fish. Second only to later season low water is hopper time. Where you can reliably find fish out along the edges near structure waiting for a large meal to drift by. E.g. Rubicon River, Delegate River

Large Tailrace Rivers - These are my favorite as they generally have very clear and cold water with the largest flows during the hottest months. Making them excellent when most other rivers are slowing because of the heat. These rivers swell to many times their usual size as demands for irrigation water downstream are met. Rivers like the Goulburn, Mitta Mitta, Swampy Plain and Tumut are great examples.

While the bottom colours of the freestone tailraces can make polaroiding tough you can maximise the chances of finding fish in even these tough circumstances. In the Swampy fish will be seeking respite from the full effects of the current. The seams, the places where fast water meets slow water are perfect places to concentrate on. The inside of river bends are great spots to find large fish lined up waiting for food to be brought to them.

Other rivers like the Goulburn provide a different style of polaroiding. That is edgewater based sight fishing. Fish can be found on station in close to the bank and also cruising in backwaters. In fact, the Goulburn arguably provides the best sight fishing in the state! Look for off river lagoons and backwaters with little or no flow where fish will be found cruising. Also smaller current reverses and in amongst the willows between the Breakaway and Eildon will offer countless opportunities. E.g. Goulburn, Swampy.

Lakes - You can find trout cruising in any lake that they have been out into. Having said that, some waters are better than others. If you really want to do serious polaroiding in lakes I would suggest heading to Tasmania and getting out on the flats. The main problem is that you do need sunlight; and Tassie can be a real hassle when it comes to consistently getting quality light conditions.

While fish can be found working the edges on the deeper lakes it is the shallow, silt/sand bottom lakes we love for this style of fishing. Shallow water from shin to mid-thigh depth is perfect and you should wade down wind using the waves that open to get a look into the water. This style of fishing is very popular and the place to be is the Western Lakes in Tasmania. E.g. Western Lakes E.g. Botsford, Double Bar, Rocky, Ada etc E.g. of mainland lake Pretty Valley Pondage (bank edges), Eucumbene/Jindabyne,

New Zealand - There is nothing like NZ when it comes to sighting fish. The waters are crystal clear, they are abundant and the fish are large. Once you have earned your dues at home this is the place I would most recommend a visit to.

The sheer number of different options means that I cannot go into any real detail here. But it has everything mentioned only more of it and of a much higher quality. Fish are often seen in minute detail, you can almost count the spots. If you have a passion for sight fishing you owe it to yourself to get over there. E.g. Most rivers on the South Island! Hundreds of them!

I put this together on a quiet Sunday afternoon because of a request for info via email last week. If there is anything that you would like to see in the near future on the site please email me as we are always looking for new ideas for content.




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