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The Guide Diaries: Tony Entwistle

Updated: Apr 27

A few months ago, I decided to embark on a journey that would lead me down a rather untraditional career path. In the grand scheme of things, becoming a fly fishing guide doesn't offer much financial stability, and it certainly isn't easy on the body. Nevertheless, it's the only pursuit that has ever truly felt right to me.

After having this profound epiphany, I did something not many 20-something year olds do. Instead of calling my mom, I called 70-year old Tony Entwistle, the ‘Rodfather’ of guided fly fishing here in New Zealand and asked for his advice. This is how that phone call went:

“Hey Tony, it’s Shelen Boyes down in Queenstown. How are things?”

“Shelen my girl, Sharon and I are good. How are you?”

“I’m doing well thanks. I wanted to ring you because I need a bit of counsel on something. I’m thinking about coming a fly fishing guide. What do you think?”

“Ah alright… Well I’m going to ask you the thing I’ve always asked all of my new guides- are you SURE you want to be a guide?”

And the rest is history.

Not long after that call, plans were made so that I would fly down to Nelson at the end of the season to visit Tony and his lovely family for a few days. It had been several years since I’d seen him or his better half Sharon but they set me up a room in their house and naturally made it feel like home. The first night we made plans to fish a local honey hole as the weather predicted blue skies with a bit of a breeze in the afternoon.

We got up early, had a delicious omelette paired with the perfect cup of joe before hopping in the Landcruiser bound for fall browns. Once we were all set up, Tony and I started to stalk our way up the same beat my mentor had been entertained by many times before. The forecast had called for blue skies but unfortunately, we were instead gifted with overcast skies and terrible spotting conditions.

In this scenario, I found that it’s best to slow your walking right down and try to find any higher vantage point to peer down into the pools rather than looking far ahead. The only problem with this though, is that trout can still make out shapes at angles above them, especially on a skyline view so the key is to move slowly or peek around a tree or objects to use as camouflage to break up your silhouette. We spotted a few trout but none were actively feeding. An anglers greatest joy (in my opinion anyways) is when you see a trout swaying from side-to-side, happily feeding away, eager to hopefully take whatever fly you put in their feeding zone.  That’s not to say a less active trout will always refuse your imitations, but it might take more strategy and accuracy to entice the fish.

Later in the afternoon, Tony had switched tactics to Czech nymphing due to the horrific spotting conditions. He started covering areas in the river that a trout would most likely sit behind: boulders, riffles and deeper pools we couldn’t see into the glare. In a matter of minutes, he had a bend in the rod paired with a screaming reel! A gorgeous 5lb hen brown came to the net in all her glory. As the day came to a close and we began packing up our gear, Tony brought to my attention a fun tradition he liked to call the 'drinking of beer ceremony.' We sat on some old camping chairs, still clad in our waders, and shared a cold brew before heading home.

In the days before my departure back to Queenstown, Tony showed me the ropes on running a successful guide business, helped fine-tune my casting technique, and shared niche secrets that I'll carry with me for a lifetime. He and Sharon graciously opened their home to me, treating me to more roast dinners in a few days  than I had enjoyed in the last 12 months. It was a perfect trip, to say the least, and I've already started making plans to visit again next year.

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1 commentaire

28 avr.

What a great experience….

Memories of a lifetime, lucky you ☘️


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