A Waikato dairy farmer and keen angler has won a handcrafted fly rod from Fish & Game — and he knows exactly how to use it.
Tirau local Kevin Taylor won the Epic rod handcrafted in Wanaka by Swift Fly Fishing Company, in a prize draw for readers of Fish & Game's monthly electronic angling newsletter Reel Life.
Kevin is delighted with the prize.
"It's pretty special actually," he says. "I haven't ever had anything like this."
The Epic four-piece rod took Swift's crafts-people more than 10 hours to make.
Swift describes the nine-foot 690C as a premium quality carbon fibre (graphite) fly rod that is "light, silky smooth and incredibly tough".
Kevin is impressed with the quality of the rod and is keenly anticipating giving it a work out.
Having been a keen fisher since he was seven, he has a lifetime of skill to make sure he gets the best from his prize.
A dairy farmer and kiwifruit grower in his 50s, who is "pretty busy still," Kevin grew up in the Matamata area.
His first fishing trips included trolling Lake Taupō with his father.
"And I used to catch eels down the creek, of course," he adds.
Starting out, his early fishing experiences included lots of spin fishing at rivers around the Matamata district.
Later on, he and a friend keenly fished the river mouths at Lake Rotorua in summer.
In recent years he has jigged for trout as well.
He got interested in fly fishing when he was about 18.
"I don't know why I was drawn to it, I can't remember, but I just loved fly fishing because of the skill factor involved in catching trout," he says.
Kevin mainly used wet flies to fish the drop offs at local lakes at night.
These days he fishes from the family's holiday home at Whareroa, near Kuratau at Lake Taupō.
"If the kids are there I go for a bit of a troll with them, but I fly fish at night mainly, at the river mouth.
"These days if I don't catch a trout within an hour I wander off home…try again the next night," he laughs.
Why night fishing?
"It's probably a time thing — I'm busy during the day and the night is a time when I can do things and fishing is very relaxing."
Kevin says the best fish he's caught trout fishing was 5.3kg — hooked at the eastern end of Lake Rotoiti.
At the prize-giving, Kevin puts the four-piece rod together with quiet elation and anticipation.
He is already planning to head out with a mate who is "real keen" on river fishing.
"I'll go out with him a bit and try the rod out."
It's a safe bet that as a serious fly fisher, Kevin will hook some beauties with his unique rod.