Boaties trying their luck on the Tongariro River delta
Image: Ray Bond | DOC


The Tongariro delta is a prime spot for fly fishing. Catch fish as they prepare to enter the river to spawn.

The Tongariro delta is a prime spot for fly fishing. Get fat fish as they prepare to enter the river to spawn in winter and spring. It is also very good during the summer months when the fish are chasing baitfish nearer the surface. Fishing either from an anchored boat or from the shore can be excellent when the conditions are right.

How to fish

The most common technique used at the delta is to position the boat in the current above the drop-off at the mouth, and cast a heavy sinking line or shooting head out into deep water. The flies are allowed to sink to or near the bottom before being very slowly retrieved. Anglers can fly fish from the shore, but take great care wading near the drop-off, as the sand is very soft, and can slip away underfoot.

Where to fish

The delta can only be accessed by boat, and the nearest boat ramp is at the Tokaanu Wharf. From there it is only a short trip of approximately 2 km to reach the first of the 2 branches of the Tongariro which make up the delta.

Rod and Line

The ideal rod for the delta would be a 9 weight, combined with a full length fast sinking line, or a 300 grain sinking shooting head. This gear is needed to get the flies deep down to where the fish like to patrol.


Floating patterns like boobies or glo bugs work well here,fished on a short leader which allows them to suspend just above the bottom. Smelt patterns can also work well, as can general patterns like woolly buggers.

Visit your local tackle shop  for advice on where the fish are biting.

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