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
More info and DVD-shop
"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
January 19, 2012
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
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
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
Overall, the videography in The Dead
Drift is excellent, the audio is clear, and the concept is a good one.
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
(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
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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