Canterbury Backcountry Rivers

Backcountry rivers and headwaters are the most common fisheries to be associated with New Zealand Fly Fishing adventures. This is where we spend the majority of our guide days, given favourable conditions.The synergy of gin clear water within wilderness scenery make for adventurous often more physical angling for larger than average trout. By their nature, backcountry rivers are often more difficult to access often involving 4×4, helicopter and more commonly just lengthy walks that often take anglers out of their comfort zone.


Sight fishing with it’s mix of dry fly and nymphs, is the norm here. Once a trout is spotted a careful strategy is employed encompassing approach, presentation and very original trout fly patterns that I craft. The fun part is each fish becomes more important in backcountry with populations not as high as other rivers. The term boom or bust sometimes applies frequently as headwaters hold far less but larger trout. Often Boom equates to a fish of a life time, and Bust the fish was not caught but still it’s never a bad day. Some Backcountry rivers can have higher populations of more modest fish also.

Getting the correct timing when choosing these locations becomes paramount by tuning into the weather and river conditions and also being aware these rivers can at times get much higher pressure from anglers and guides so exceptional timing and planning are vital. It’s also important to note there are I can find less physical anglers a Backcountry experience most of the time.