The Best Fly Fishing Spots Near Otago

While you’re in Otago, you’re never far away from an incredible fly fishing opportunity. Take a virtual tour of the area before you plan your trip.
The Best Fly Fishing Spots Near Otago

So you’ve found yourself near the south of the South Island in Otago, a region filled with enough landscape variation to keep you occupied for a lifetime (or a holiday - if you’re just passing through). If you’re anything like us, you’ll love the weathered mountains, alpine herb fields, remote beaches and fast-flowing rivers. And you’ll be searching for the best places to go fly fishing near Otago.

While you’re in the area, you’ll never be far away from an incredible fly fishing opportunity. Surrounded by productive coastal streams as well as the famous Taiera and Pomahaka rivers, let’s explore the best fly fishing locations near Otago.


1. The Southern Lakes - Wakatipu, Wanaka & Hawea

You’ll find some of New Zealand’s most diverse waters down south - a “fishing paradise” some may say. By some, we mean us and the rest of the Otago fly fishing community. This stunning trio of lakes, Wakatipu, Wakana and Hawea, are a must-visit, as they’re teeming with salmon, rainbow and brown trout.

Lake Wakatipu (3-hour drive via State Hwy 6)

A well-stocked glacial lake surrounded by mountains and fed by a collection of rivers that hold their own as key fisheries, Lake Wakatipu is defined by rugged terrain and decent-sized salmon and trout. The spot goes hand-in-hand with trolling, the technique anglers tend to adopt here for the best results.


Lake Wanaka (less than a 3-hour drive via State Hwy 85)

A year-round destination, the crystal clear Lake Wanaka is set amongst breathtaking mountains. It houses self-sustaining populations of salmon and trout, attracting experienced fly fishers that like a challenge (and ideally have a boat).

Lake Hawea (less than a 3-hour drive via State Hwy 85)

At around 57km long, Lake Hawea is large, deep, and home to a good population of brown and rainbow trout - as well as some quinnat salmon. Head to the Hunter River at the northern end of Lake Hawea and you won’t be disappointed. Plus, the lake’s open all year round, so if you’re twiddling your thumbs through the winter months, why not brave it?


2. The Clutha River (2 ½ hour drive via State Hwy 85)

Brimming with sea-run and resident brown trout, Clutha is open for fishing throughout the year. If you’re out for salmon, head here between January and April (you’ll want to fish downstream near the main road from Milton to Alexandra).

The impressive size of this river makes it a playground of opportunities for experienced fly fishers in Otago. This turquoise river is the longest in the South Island and the swiftest in New Zealand. What a show-off.


3. Taieri River (15-minute drive via State Hwy 85)

There’s a good reason fly fishing is the most popular method of catching fish in the Taieri. Home to a good stock of brown trout, you’ll likely have a successful day with wet or dry fly fishing, as long as you caste accurately at the narrow parts of the river, such as the upper reaches.

Access the river by vehicle, since its swampy areas can make it a challenge to reach it on foot. Otherwise, the second largest river for fly fishing in Otago offers just the right conditions and terrain variety for a memorable day out.


4. Makarora River (3 ½ hour drive via State Hwy 6)

Grab a sink-tipped line and whitebait imitation when you take your spot by the clear waters of the Makorara, where you’ll find plenty of brownies, rainbow trout and salmon. Set against a backdrop of beech forest and high mountains, this scenic spot is best around the start and end of the season, when competition from anglers is at its lowest.


5. Lake Onslow (2 ½ hour drive via State Hwy 87)

A man-made lake that’s perfect for dry fishing when the weather picks up, Lake Onslow has a good stock of wild brown trout and is best accessed with a 4WD. Plan your venture around the weather, since a calm day at Lake Onslow makes all the difference!


6. Poolburn Dam (2-hour drive via State Hwy 87)

Otago Daily Times encourages you to pack a picnic if you’re going flyfishing in the Poolburn Dam. “It is worth the trip for the scenery alone,” the publication says. “This 300ha irrigation dam is surrounded by spectacular moonlike rock formations in a stark tussock landscape under huge skies.”

Your best bet is to fly fish close to the shore during the warmer months, when there’s no shortage of trout and koura that get friendly. Situated on the Ida Valley side of the Rough Ridge Range, access Poolburn Dam via the Poolburn Hotel. Near the start of the season, it’s recommended you use dry flies such as brown and green beetle, Royal Wulff and Coch-Y-Bonddu. When the season is coming to a close, imitate adult diving beetles using Black Gnat and Peveril of the Peak.


7. Upper Manorburn Dam (less than a 2-hour drive via State Hwy 87)

You’ll find the Upper Manorburn Dam at the south end of the Ida Valley. With a shoreline of 14 km, there’s enough rainbow trout to go around! Just like Poolburn Dam, the best access point is near the Poolburn Hotel.

Feathered lures prevail early on in the season and at the height of summer, there’s an abundant cicada hatch alongside midge hatches at dawn and dusk. November and December are the best months to head here, but you can also take on the smaller bays in March and April.


Fly fishing in Otago? Take your handcrafted fly rod with you

There’s really no shortage of lakes, rivers and fisheries in Otago. Make the most of it by fly fishing with the best fly rod you’ve ever cast. Epic Fly Rods is all about adding that little bit extra that takes your rod from ordinary to extraordinary. Trust us: You won’t want to go fly fishing in Otago without your Epic.

Shop the best sellers  before you plan your tour of the area.



Fly Tying Tool Kit by Epic Fly Tying Tool Kit by Epic
Backcountry Fly Tying Kit $199.00
Backcountry Fly Tying Kit Equally at home on a trip or on your fly tying bench, our Backcountry Fly Tying kit features the very best Italian made tools by Stonfo and a pair of remarkable hand crafted fly tying scissors by Renomed of Poland. There are no finer fly tying tools made. We've taken the best of the best and presented them in a thoughtful waxed cotton canvas tool roll featuring genuine leather trim and straps fastened with classic brass catches. The hand stitched waterproof tool roll houses & protects these high quality tools and features two additional pouches to tuck away fly tying materials and hooks. The Renomed "Fly Tier" scissors feature a 'super cut' finely serrated blade that makes cutting deer hair and fur a breeze, and the larger scissor handles afford comfort and extraordinary durability and functionality. Tool Collection  Renomed Fly Tier Super Cut scissors (retail US$45) Stonfo Dubbing Twister Stonfo Hackle pliers Stonfo Elite Bodkin (Stainless Steel) Stonfo Dubbing Brush Stonfo Bobtec1  Adjustable Bobbin With Ceramic Insert (Stainless Steel) Stonfo Elite Bodkin (Stainless steel) Stonfo Elite Whip Finisher (Stainless Steel)
Streamer wallet fly wallet Streamer wallet fly wallet
Backcountry Streamer Wallet $69.95
Back Country Streamer Wallet Carry and show off your streamers in style in our cotton canvas fly wallet Handcrafted and waterproof in waxed cotton Canvas, genuine sheepskin and hand tooled leather. Each wallet is hand cut and stitched from waxed cotton canvas and lined with lambswool. Measuring  12cm wide by 17 cm closed (4.5" x 7") Big enough to house and protect even the biggest lures and streamers. Streamer wallets have a few advantages over dropping your expensive streamers in a fly box. The open ended design and fine lambswool liner drys flies and lets them breath Flies are kept separated - No more tangled flies and hooks Easy to see and easy to grab - particularly if you have stinger hooks on your streamers They look sensational and big fish love them! Measuring 11cm wide by 17 cm long closed (4.5" x 7") Waterproof, small enough to fit in a wader pocket but capable of holding a large collection of flies
Skeleton Pocket Knife Skeleton Pocket Knife
Skeleton Pocket Knife $49.95
Stainless Steel Skeleton Utility Knife Our paired back skeleton knife features a locking blade and belt clip. Easy to clean, and at just over 2 inches folded (55mm) and pocket knife size, it's the perfect everyday carry or the ideal addition to your fly fishing kit. Sheeps-foot Blade A sheepsfoot blade is shaped with one flat edge that meets the opposing edge at a curved tip; one edge is flat to the tip while the other edge runs parallel, curving at the sharp end to provide a curved tip. The dull flat edge is ideal for providing the user with lots of control over the blade and is favoured for whittling, trimming and cutting where a high degree of control is required.   Blade material: 3CR13 s/s Handle material: 2cr13 Blade length: 55mm Blade thickness: 2.5MM Blade finished: steel Knife length: 140mm A great quality handy utility knife
Fly Tying Vice Travel Fly Tying Vice
Backcountry Travel Vise $69.95
Backcountry Travel Vice Equally at home on a trip or on your fly tying bench, our Backcountry vice is a robust, beautifully built, no-nonsense fly tying vice. Featuring hard steel jaws, quick lock cam and all packed away in a stylin' protective felt case made from recycled plastic bottles! Holds hooks from size 2 to 22 Hard steel jaws Quick-lock cam' operation Rotary head Fully adjustable Allen key Recycled PET felt carry pouch
Stroft Tippet carry system Tippet Stroft Cutter and Carry System - Complete Set
Stroft Cutter and Carry System - 3 spool Set $27.95
3 Spool Stroft tippet system Three high quality German made Stroft Cutter & retaining rings - made to fit over standard Stroft tippet Spools. Spool Holder Stroft short strap - Vest strap & Carabiner The ideal system to hold, dispense and trim Stroft tippet A retainer rings and high quality cutter ring. Cutter is razor sharp, and coated in come magical stuff that is corrosion resistant. (We couldn't even spell the alloy) Fits all Stroft spools from 25m to 50m (ABR, GTM, FC!, FC2, Fluer) Includes color coded easy peel labels  This is an incredibly well made tippet system! *does not include spools of tippet material - Stroft Tippet Spools available for purchase separately  Got questions? - Drop us a line, we'd love to hear from you.
Stainless steel Hip Flask Hip Flask
Good Libations Stainless Hip Flask $24.95
The Good Libations Stainless Steel Hip Flask  Carry your favourite adult beverage in style with our Good Libations Stainless Steel Hip flask. About the size of a small fly box it's the perfect addition to your fly vest or bag. Smooth rounded corners make for quick extraction in times of celebration. Stainless steel and about as tough as they come, at a hearty 9oz ( 28 ml) there's plenty to share! Stainless Steel Silicon cap retainer Easy sippin' ergo design Bigger than most Cheers! Capacity: 9oz ( 266 ml) Dimensions: 127mm x 83mm x 29ml Material: Stainless Steel Positive Mood Adjustment

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