Sight Fishing


There are some significant differences in fly fishing for Mahseer in Thailand, compared to trout fishing in the UK or US. Sight fishing is perhaps the biggest difference….

Some fish can be spotted by anyone….

New Zealand fishing guides are world-renowned for their remarkable ability to “spot” fish for their clients, and to then coach that client into getting the right fly into the right place – and all too often the client never actually sees the fish until the fly is taken!

That happens in Thailand as well…

There are sound reasons for this distinctive regional phenomenon;

  • Many of the mountain streams and rivers hold few fish per mile. They are bigger, more alert and as wild as can be, with an almost uncanny ability to sense danger!.

  • Because there are fewer fish per mile, it becomes much more important to get a good cast to every fish encountered. As a rule, you only get one chance per fish – they are very unforgiving of poor presentation!

  • Water clarity is excellent, especially in low summer flow periods.  A wary Mahseer can see out as well as the guide and his client can see in. Stealth is essential and fish will melt away unseen from the casual, careless approach of the average angler.

In my opinion, most anglers would be very lucky to see 10% of the fish that are actually present – that goes for locals as well as visitors, and is perhaps the real key to the reason that 10% of the anglers catch 90% of the fish.

Those big fish in clear but boisterous mountain water can be seen, but only by anglers who have perfected the art of the stealthy, measured approach. A lifetime of local experience builds a comprehensive knowledge of where fish lie in a given segment of the river, whilst years of searching hones the senses to the point where it becomes  intuition, almost a 6th sense.

Often we don’t actually “see” a fish at all – we see a blur or faint shadow move across a pale stone, maybe a gleam or flash as a deeper fish rolls to take a nymph. Movement is a giveaway to the trained eye, and a slow, cautious approach is essential.

Because of the water clarity, it is crucial to spot the fish before the fish spots you. Blind casting risks spooking unseen fish which often melt away, having spotted the line or the leader in the air.

Casting to sighted fish, especially big ones, is the most exciting facet of fly fishing for trout. Most guides get their thrills for the day by spotting those invisible fish that clients simply would not see.explanations.

Sight Fishing Prerequisites: – see Equipment Page for more details

  1. Good quality Polaroid glasses

  2. Broad-brimmed hat – not a baseball cap… this keeps the sun off the lenses of your glasses – dull colour is essential.

  3. Dull coloured clothing – sage, olive or camo

  4. Reduce bright (reflective) accessories – e.g. I always take off my stainless steel watch, and put on the old black rubber Casio G-Shock when I go out fishing…

  5. Use dull, non-reflective fly line – fluorescent orange is not the best choice for NZ conditions! The “clear” lines are a very poor choice –  unless you find some way of removing the reflective coating! E.g. rub mud all over it…. 🙂

  6. Use long leaders, a minimum of 12 ft and the usual is 16ft… fish will see the fly line in the air if your leader is too short, and they will also hear it land on the water….

  7. Move slowly, and concentrate intently.

  8. Learn how to recognise “good” water and prime feeding lies

  9. Use cover where available to approach good lies.

  10. Take a few steps and stop – its hard to pick up subtle movements when you are moving yourself!

  11. Look “through” the surface to the bottom. Follow moving “windows” downstream and pay close attention to every stick-shaped shadow aligned with the current. If its too big to be a log, its almost certainly a fish…. 🙂

  12. Always walk with your rod pointing back behind you – there is little point scaring fish 9 feet before you’d be close  enough to see them… It also reduces the chance of breaking it if you fall over!

  13. Don’t wade unless you have to… sound travels 5 times faster in water than in air. Gravel crunching underfoot, wading wake & noise will send trout fleeing to deep water long before you’ve a chance to see them!!!

  14. On average, 60% – 70% of the fish we catch are those we have spotted first. However, blind fishing is better than no fishing, and sometimes the conditions are such that you simply cannot see anything due to glare, turbulence, discoloration etc. Cast blind where you cannot see, but look with redoubled intensity where you can see.

  15. Don’t spend too much time in one place…. when fishing blind, cast a grid pattern and show the fly once only to each line you cast to. Fish are generally opportunistic feeders in our area, and usually take it the first time, or not at all. Keep moving, keep looking for fish that ARE feeding!

  16. Most feeding fish will be in less than thigh deep water… don’t wade out and cast across to the other bank…

  17. Above all, have fun….

Polaroid’s: We find the yellow or amber lens colour to be best. These give excellent definition, and brighten up the view on a dull day. Try to find glasses with side panels if possible – these minimise light entry from the side and improve vision


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