Stu's Story

Video - 2012 short film telling the story of Stu’s Superior Fly designs

Video - Stu’s Willow Grub has been featured in the Gin-Clear film “Hatch”

Video - Stu’s Fly Shop has been featured in Gambit Stone’s film “The Waters Of Greenstone”

Video - 2013 Trout Diaries interview with Stu Tripney

1976 - At the age of 9, Stu won his first competition - Schoolboys Championship

1977 - At the age of 10, Stu won the Schoolboys Championship for the 2nd year in a row

1978 - At the age of 11, Stu won the Schoolboys Championship for the 3rd year in a row

1979 - At the age of 12, Stu won the Schoolboys Championship for the 4th time!

1981 - At the age of 14, Stu with more trophies won at another angling club

1982 - At the age of 15, Stu became Junior Fishing Champion in Queenzieburn

1983 - At the age of 16, Stu with his biggest ever caught Scottish wild brown trout

1985 - Fishing in Scotland article by old fishing/poaching friend

1988 - Stu travelled, studied and worked throughout the world as a safari driver in Africa, spin and fly fishing - photo with Talapia

1990 - Stu registered his first fishing company in Uganda - “Uganda Sportfishing Safaris Limited”

1991 - Some of Stu’s flies have been featured in the USA Fly Tying book “Fly Patterns: Tie Thousands Of Flies” by Randall & Mary Kaufman

2001 - Stu’s NZ Guided Fly Fishing adventures began - Born To Fish

2002 - Queenstown Fly Fishing School

2004 - Stu became a Royalty Fly Tier for the Umqua Feather Merchants fly tying pro team who produced 17 of Stu’s fly designs. Stu had no control over his designs so he dropped out of the program.

2005 - Stu became a Royalty Fly Tier and member of Rainy USA fly tying program. He was the first fly tier outside of America ever to sign a contract by a large American fly tying company.

2005 - Stu was commissioned to design and tie flies by an Auckland Real Estate company for the promotion for the selling of some NZ prime real estate life style properties. The fly designed and tied was called the Bendemeer Beauty.

2006 - Stu won the 1st gold medal for fly tying in Australasia – the People’s Choice Award in an international fly tying competition with his fly the Bionic Bug

2006 - Stu’s fly designs are featured in the book NZ best trout flies - 6 pages of flies

2006 - Stu became a certified IFFF Fly Casting Instructor

2006- Grub Club started

2007 - Stu released his cutting edge fly tying film, A Foam Odyssey

2007 - 'High flyer born to fish in NZ' - Southland Express, Oct 11, 2007

2007 - Stu went to the USA and became the 1st FFF certified master fly casting instructor in Australasia

2007 - Stu with the legend and inspiration Mel Krieger and other FFF Masters

2007 - Stu represented NZ Southland as a guest fly tier at the 22nd FFF conclave in Livingston, Montana, USA

2007 - Fly-fisherman Stu masters his goals Otago Daily Times

2007 - Rise Article in Trout Fisher magazine, August 2007

2008 - Article by Rob Sloane from FlyLife

2008 - Article in NewsLink Oct 2, 2008

2008 - Article In Troutfisher, February/March 2008 'Chasing your dreams or goals'

2009 - The Complete Flyfisherman - article about Stu bringing the foam back into the world of fly tying

2009 - Stu as a saltwater guide in Northern Australia, Cape York

2010 - Front cover of Flyfisher magazine, flies and article

2010 - Article 'Flash Flies' in 'Be Guided' Winter 2010 issue

2010 - The Southland Times article, Oct 29, 2010 'The Artistry of Fly-tying'

2010 - The Waters Of Greenstone featuring Stu

2010 - New York Times featuring Stu fishing the Mataura river - Jan 31, 2010

2010 - FlyLife Article, Autumn 2010 'Review - Stu's Superior Flies'

2011 - Flyfishing & Tying Journal, Fall 2011 – 'Neutral Buoyancy Nymphs' article

2011 - Stu’s fly designs are featured in the top selling fly fishing book The Trout Diaries

2011 - Stu’s flies were painted for the month October in the NZ fly fishing calendar

2011 - The Complete Fly Fisherman, Nov 2011 - Stu appeared besides well-known other fly fishing legends, authors and industry players e.g. Lefty Kreh

2011 - Election newspaper article, The Southland Times, Nov 2, 2011

2011 - SAGE advert featuring Stu's Fly Shop

2012 - Stu’s saltwater crab fly got a mention in The Western Australia Fishing Magazine Nov/Dec 2012, Issue 6

2012 - Stu was interviewed and filmed for the Willow Grub section of the award winning Fly Fishing Film 'Hatch'

2012 - Trout Fisherman article 'Foam? Subtle? Some mistake surely...'

2012 - 'The Essence Of Fly Casting', Derek Grzelewski

2012 - Article in Fliegenfischen (Germany’s biggest fly fishing magazine), Issue 1/13, Dec, 2012

2013 - FlyLife Magazine Article 'Shop Locally'

2012 - FlyLife Advert, Edition 69, Spring 2012

2013 - Front Cover of NZ Trout Fisher magazine, Feb/March 2013

2013 - Stu’s advertising and cutting edge marketing campaigns inspired professional Australian photographer Jesse Whyte

2013 - Some of Stu’s Superior Flies have been painted by Wanaka artist Stella Eve Senior for the NZ Trout Bohemia book

2013 - Stu's Fly Shop is listed at

2014 - Stu is featured at 'Around The Mountains'

2014 - 'Fisherman Content in His Niche', Otago Daily Times

2014 - FlyLife Advert, Edition 75, Autumn 2014

2014 - Stonefly Magazine Advert

2014 - Trout Unlimited Advert, Summer 2014

2014 - Stu's Fly Shop and New Zealand Fly Fishing School are listed at

2014 - Field & Stream Review by Kirk Deeter, July 2014

2014 - Stu fly tying at Sage factory usa

2015 - Field and Stream Blog Q & A with Stu on the NZ Mouse 'Hatch'

2015 - TROUT Spring 2015 article

2015 - The Last Word in Denizen Magazine

2015 - Drake Fly Fishing magazine story

2015 - NZ fly school buys land

2015 - Australian fly fishing club talks

2015 - World's first trout truck

2015 - Trigger joins the team

2015 - Stu's book vision's

2016 - Stu's adventures, so many .

2017 - Stu's world famous fly shop - closes its doors

2017 - Stu starts on the new, NZ Fly School building and fish tank home

2018 - To the Jungle.

2018- The fly school /house takes shape

2018 - NZ Fly School, creative area & home is complete

2019- Trout Diaries books & Stu

2019 - Stu visits Nepal & India yet again - Two books

2019 - NZ fly fishing school, Stu opens new building and casting area.

2019 - Queenstown Writers Festial- Stu gives book talk

2020 - NZ fly fishing school History - 18 + years

2020 - Stu & fly fishing history

2020 - Jungle Blues book nearly finished

2020 - JUNGLE BLUES BOOK - Crowd funding launch

2020 -The Best Fly Fishing Book in Years - FROM ANGLING TRADE MAGAZINE

2020 - Jungle Blues vol-3 - book reviews

2012 - 'The Essence Of Fly Casting', Derek Grzelewski

October, 8th, 2012

Researching my new Trout Bohemia book I spent a few days with Stu Tripney in Athol, looking at the casting: his and mine. 

At heart, Stu is still a Glasgow punk-rocker, with tats and studs, and the choice of wardrobe colors and music that go with it. He is perhaps best known for his innovative flies – realistic, slim and robust, and well thought out. Like his pogo nymph: a foam-body mayfly larvae imitation which, when held down by a heavier fly, bounces merrily near the bottom, looking and behaving just like the real thing.

But Stu is also the country’s most qualified fly casting instructor. Behind his tackle shop in Athol there is a grassy casting area with brightly-coloured hula-hoops set up on stands to challenge the size of your casting loops. Tight loops are all the rage these days, unless you’re using bamboo, but in “casting according to Stu,” the secrets of expertise are in understanding the mechanics of a good cast and then having the ability to adapt it to your requirements. Once you do that, you can cast any loops you want at any plane – vertical, sideways or off-shoulder – and that is imminently applicable in fishing.

“People often come to me psyched up for big trout and action-packed fishing,” he told me. “I look at their casting and say: ‘well, I can take your money, drag you around the river all day and show you the big fish but, casting like that, you haven’t gotta show to catch them.” This can be humbling for the clients and not the best self-marketing strategy for a guide but it keeps things honest, and it shows the clients for who they are, whether true fly fishermen, albeit beginners, or just shoppers for trophy experiences, interested only in the results and not the art itself.

“It’s common for guys to buy these expensive rods believing that this’ll fix their casting,” he said. “I say to them: ‘if you spent the same money on yourself, on learning the skills, you’ll cast better with a broomstick than you can now with this Ferrari of a fly rod.”

I had the Ferraris already, and no desire to go back to the broomstick.

“So how about it Stu?” I said. And so we began. 

He asked me to cast, short, medium and long lines, and as I did he walked around taking in my performance from every angle. After a while I began to wonder: was it a frown on his face or was he just squinting into the low autumn sun? I thought I could cast reasonably well. Most people I fished with told me that too. Clearly though, Stu did not share that opinion.

First he corrected my grip. For short and medium casts the rod should be held like a hammer, with a slight kink in the thumb. For distance casting a key-grip was more efficient, holding the rod handle the way you would a key when you turn in a door lock. The length of a casting stroke – how much the rod moved back and forth – had to be matched to the amount of line out in the air.

“Most anglers I see have the same casting stroke regardless of the distance they are trying to reach,” Stu said. “That’s why their cast is usually quite good at one particular distance, when the length of the line accidentally matches their rod action, but it falls apart at both ends, when they go short or beyond their usual length.”

Another common mistake was that the rod was never properly loaded, that no matter with how much vehemence it was being waved back and forth, it stayed more or less straight.

“It’s like having that Ferrari and only driving it in the first gear,” Stu said, and it was clear he had seen many of those.

Whatever you hand did the rod tip would do as well, and so it was imperative for the hand to travel in a straight line. This was called tracking.

“Best way to get that is to imagine you’re painting a low ceiling with a brush or even better, with a roller,” Stu explained. “Nice and smooth, back and forth. Short strokes, long strokes, practice both as the action is the same, only the length changes. As you get better at that, you may start adding the wrist snap at the each end.”

This power snap of the wrist, a smooth acceleration to a crisp stop, is the most important ingredient of all. This is what gives the line its tight loop and the arrow-head aerodynamic profile which cuts through the air, and the wind, and which is much more efficient than a wide and slow “elephant ear” loop that can get blown around and lacks accuracy.

The power snap is not a natural movement and so it needs to be practiced diligently until it becomes an unvarying habit. A good training tool for that is Tim Rajeff’s micro practice rod (MPR.) It looks like a kids’ toy but is in fact a precise teaching aid, and the bright-colored macramé yarn which acts as the fly line is so finely balanced it “anchors” on the carpet like the line on the water so you can use it for roll and spey casts as well. Only when the power snap is firmly ingrained into your muscle memory, can you start thinking about hauling, double-hauling and all the other fancy stuff.

I had two full days of this MRI analysis of my casting. My power snap was too fluffy, Stu had diagnosed, and so I practiced it obsessively in every spare moment, while walking the dog along the river during our lunch break, and again in the evening when, sprawled out on big leather couches, we drunk dark beer and watched hours of fish porn from Stu’s extensive library. At times it felt I lost it altogether, that everything I did was wrong, and how on earth did I ever manage to catch fish casting like I had. But this was all good news because I knew from a similar progressions in learning to ski that when it was all falling apart the most, the greatest improvements were being made.

On the third day we went fishing on a little Southland creek, full of brown trout and with not another angler in sight. We had discarded the teacher-student roles by now, and were but two friends on a river, drinking in the last of the season. Only then I realised that, living his dream lifestyle as he was, Stu had actually extremely little time to fish for himself. This added to the rarity of the moment. He was like a little kid again, just happy to be on the water.

Stu, for once not guiding or teaching but just fishing for himself, was soon lost in the joy of casting, of laying out perfect loops into most fishy places, forgoing the sight-fishing because in that mode he wouldn’t get to cast anywhere near as much as he wanted to.

“These two guys from Turangi came into the shop once, both nearly at the end of their tether,” Stu said. “They go: mate, we own a house on the Tongariro. We have a fish smoker in the backyard, we live on fish back home, and here we can’t touch a thing. I says to them: brothers, I feel your pain. Years ago, it happened to me too. Come, let me offer you the cure for your problems.”

The two old trout dogs both had #8 wallopers of the rods and casting strokes of backwoods axemen.

“It only took half a day to fix their casting and they couldn’t believe how quickly they progressed to catching the difficult Mataura fish once they got their technique sorted. They thought I was a magician or something.”

Well, if he is then the rod is his magic wand.

Next time you think you need a better rod, consider a casting lesson first. With a bit of proper tuition the magic you seek is not that hard to conjure.