Swedish version


The dead drift
An in depth analysis to fly fishing New Zealand

Many years ago I fly fished a wilderness river in the heart of Fiordland in South Island New Zealand. Fishing for trout in this river had everything a fly fisherman is looking for - water as clear as air, a healthy population of Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout that monstered dry fles freely from the surface, and scenery surpassing anything in the world. I had truly found a fly anglers paradise!

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"This is hunting/stalking, sight fishing on clear streams for large browns and rainbows (trout). Dean Bell has earned a reputatoin as one of New Zealands best, if not the best, guides. His fishing advice defines the sport." - John Randolph, Editor-in-Chief, Fly Fisherman magazine. - Advanced water and fish analysis before that all important first cast - How to fish for trout in difficult situations - Selection of fly fishing flies - Fly casting options - where, when & why - Too many trout fishing tips to mention.

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Video Review: The Dead Drift
January 19, 2012
By OwlJones.com

New Zealand. It brings the fly casters mind to thoughts of clear water and big, big trout. Over the years I’ve read alot about this far away land, both online and in fishing magazines. Today though, I received a special gift from the creator of an absolute gem of a DVD called The Dead Drift: An in depth analysis to fly fishing New Zealand.

The film is 65 minutes of some of the most beautiful – and most beautifully filmed – rivers and trout you’ve ever seen. Several times I put the video in reverse to take a second and even a third look at some of the great dry fly takes captured in close-up fashion. Filmed in The Wilderness Waters of Fiordland, South Island, New Zealand by Stealth Films, Ltd, the action is non-stop as professional guide Dean Bell talks you through each situation before the casting begins. Bell says that 80% of the game takes place before you cast, and as a freestone angler myself, I immediately realized the truth in that statement – as it’s the same “thinking man’s game” here in the freestone rivers of the Southeastern portion of the USA.

Watching Mr. Bell fish this water, however, something becomes immediately clear to me – and that is, the massive trout seem to be much harder to “spook” than the small fish here in Southern Appalachia. They seem to be much more like the trout I encountered last summer out West, who wouldn’t spook as easily – but also wouldn’t offer to take your fly, unless it was perfectly presented. Here in our freestone streams, the small trout are often far too eager to take a fly no matter how it’s presented and unless you are on one of the tailwater rivers the fishing is in some ways much less demanding. Not as much food equals a greater need to “get what you can” for our little mountain trout.

Also, I noticed that the size of the fish was astounding. The film showed shot after shot of these massive trout, most of which were around four pounds or so in weight. The guide, who has obviously caught his fair share of large trout, would often dismiss them as a ‘nice little fish” or some such – making me quiver a little with excitement at the thought of using the word little while holding a fish as long as my arm! Should I ever be able to fish there, I’d probably spend most of my time passed out on some stream-side rock from excitement, overwhelmed by the experience. It looks that good in this DVD. I can just imagine how amazing it would be in person. Can’t you just see…

Oh sorry. I was daydreaming there a bit.

As for the “feel” of this video, the guide is very “down to earth” in both his explanation of the methods and his general manner. Many scenes are filmed from an “over the shoulder” view and several times I thought about putting a friendly hand on his shoulder and telling him to either move forward and fish or get out of my way. Daydreaming again, naturally…but it felt as though I was right there with him the whole time.

Mr. Bell posses a sharp, low and powerful roll cast which he demonstrated several times. Obviously he’s very proficient with the long rod, but I couldn’t help noticing the absence of a “wiggle cast” in his arsenal. There were many times when the complexities of the varied currents would be the perfect situation for this type of cast – but he chose to use a reach or curve cast instead. This may be because of his fondness for a fly fishing truth he talked about in the film, which is: “the shorter the line, the more control.” Several times he mentions that you should always cast with control, and that even shooting a little line to gain more distance may put your cast off the mark. While this is true, as with most things in fly fishing – shooting line and the wiggle cast included – with practice you can become deadly accurate in situations where others might lose much or all of the control needed to place the fly on the fish. The wiggle cast is absolutely one of those casts that must be practiced again and again to get out the proper amount of line in the forward cast – because you’re going to “wiggle” away about 40% of that distance when you shake the rod tip, putting your fly’s position 40% shorter than the length of the total cast. But it can be done, and Mr. Bell could make good use of this technique – although perhaps as you can see in the film, he actually doesn’t need my help – or the wiggle cast – to catch plenty of nice fish! I just like the wiggle cast.

In short, if you like fly fishing videos you should add this one to your collection. Even if you never plan on fishing New Zealand ( or maybe especially if you never plan on fishing New Zealand! ) you should have this video to watch on a cold winter’s day. The close up shots of feeding trout alone are almost worth the price of admission. You can order the video straight from Stealth Films by visiting their website. The Dead Drift video is currently $32.02 in US Dollars and in my opinion it’s worth every penny and then some for the “hard core” angler. The casual angler might find the video to be a little too slow moving, but anyone who appreciates the finer aspects of fly fishing will absolutely love it. I actually watched it twice, back to back, before writing this review. I haven’t watched a film twice in a row since I was 12 years old and we sat though two showings of the timeless classic….Smokey and the Bandit – which is still one of my favorite films of all time. And now, I can add “The Dead Drift” to that list.

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The Dead Drift
Reviewed by Scott Richmond

The Dead Drift, subtitled "An In-Depth Analysis to Fly Fishing New Zealand," a DVD from Steve Couper of Stealth Films, Ltd. Available from the publisher (www.stealthfilms.co.nz) for $24.95. Trailer available on publisher's website.

I here's nothing like getting into the mind of an expert angler. You can talk all you want about fly patterns and casting and how to find fish. But you'll have trouble putting it all together until you get into the head of someone who knows what they're doing.

That's the value of this video from New Zealand. It gives you some mental ammunition to use when you chase big fish in crystal clear streams.

What You'll See

You may have seen videos of people sight-fishing for big browns and rainbows in the improbably clear and beautiful streams of the south island. It looks like fun--until you stop to think about how difficult it all is.

The tricky part is setting up your presentation so your targeted fish will eat your fly with confidence. As guide Dean Bell says about New Zealand fly fishing, 80 percent of the work happens before your first cast. It's a mental game of figuring out how to present your fly in a way that maximizes the odds of a take.

Bell is the "talent" in The Dead Drift, a 65-minute video from Stealth Films. The camera follows him along a stream in the Wilderness Waters of Fiordland on the New Zealand's south island. Bell talks about each fishing situation and goes through the reasoning behind his presentation--why he's standing where he is, where he's planning to cast and why, and what some of the problems are. Sometimes there's a slow-mo replay with voice-over commentary offering additional explanations.

Overall, the videography in The Dead Drift is excellent, the audio is clear, and the concept is a good one.

Bottom Line

New Zealand is high on my list of future fishing trips, and I have no delusions of the difficulty of some of the fishing. But I know this for sure: if I were going to spend thousands of dollars on a trip to New Zealand, I'd be foolish not to spend an additional $25 for a video that might help me double the number of fish I'll catch.

Preparation is everything. Before I make my first trip there, I will watch this video a few more times, take careful notes, and practice my stealthy presentations. If you're planning a trip to that part of world, you might want to do the same.

Bottom Line: Must-see if you're planning your first trip to the south island. Reviewer Rating: 4

Scott Richmond is Westfly's creator and Executive Director. He is the author of eight books on Oregon fly fishing, including Fishing Oregon's Deschutes River (second edition).

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The Dead Drift – DVD Review

By Cutthroat Stalker (Scott) January 2, 2010

The Dead Drift does indeed talk about that most famous of all drifts—the one in which the artificial dry fly stays perfectly still on the water—the dead drift. But that’s not all.

Dean Bell, one of New Zealand’s premiere guides, is filmed fishing Fiordland of New Zealand’s South Island. If you aren’t familiar with this part of the world, it is truly beautiful: fjords with their lush landscape and plunging waterfalls; glaciers; the towering mountains of the Southern Alps; and lacing their way through it all are clear, pristine rivers bearing large trout.

If you are interested in a travel DVD, or in any way hope to see the natural wonders of New Zealand (with the exception of beautiful rivers), this is not the DVD for you. I was slightly disappointed because it has been over 20 years since I lived in New Zealand, and visited these places, and I really wanted to revisit them through the DVD—but that is not the purpose of this DVD. If you are planning a trip to NZ to fish, and you want that kind of DVD, there are lots of others out there for that purpose.

If you like watching large brown and rainbow trout caught on large dry flies in incredibly clear water, then pop this DVD in, turn off the volume, and watch 65 minutes of High Definition footage as Dean catches and releases over 20 of these big boys. It looked great on my 50” widescreen, putting me right into the action as if I were there, at Dean’s side.

If, however, you are interested in learning some (mostly) dry fly tactics suitable for not only New Zealand, but anywhere with clear water and picky trout, then turn up the volume and listen in as Dean instructs on not only the “dead drift,” but pre-casting analysis of the conditions of the lie, the cast, and playing the fish to bring it to hand.

He revolves each of these aspects around reading the structure of the water: the rocks and the hydrology of the water caused by those rocks. The lies created by the hydrology dictating where to cast to get the drift that is needed to 1) get the fly to the fish and 2) present the fly in the most natural way possible. And then how to best use the current to play the fish and bring it in.

Dean does an excellent job talking through his immediate thoughts right there on the water. There is the occasional voice-over done in post-processing where some additional analysis goes on as he talks through the different aspects of fishing for a particular fish he caught. (I’m not sure why, but this voice-over was done in Dean’s best “golf commentator” voice. I found this slightly bothersome because when he was on the water, he typically used his regular voice and the fish certainly would hear him better there than in post-processing. It’s not a huge issue, but a non-modulated voice would work a little better for me.)

Steve Couper’s Stealth Films Ltd. did a fine job in filming and editing the audio and video of the DVD. The only suggestions I have for future DVD’s is to change the voice-overs and to add a little extra content at the end. Dean does a nice job summarizing at the end of the DVD, but maybe another section of the DVD accessed through the menu with these points in text format (a bulleted list kind of thing), as well as some of the other salient points made throughout the DVD, would be nice.

This is an enjoyable DVD to just sit back and watch to get your fishing fix (especially during the off season). It also has excellent information to help you improve your sight-fishing skills. Dean is a delightful host who keeps things interesting and exciting without showboating his successes or haranguing his failures.

Purchase the DVD through Stealth Films http://www.stealthfilms.co.nz (go to this link to purchase directly) for $25 + shipping (I thought well worth the price). Check out the 1 minute 16 second trailer here. Steve Couper of Stealth Films was prompt in answering a couple of my questions (see previous post here). The DVD was shipped promptly and arrived quickly.

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First impression A very educating and beautiful DVD about NZ fishing with guide Dean Bell as a very good angler and instructor.

By Martin Joergensen
Global Fly Fisher

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