Manic Tackle Project National Pairs 2021
Wet weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of the competitors at this year’s Manic Tackle Project National Pairs competition as 744 trout were caught at Lake Rotoaira across three fantastic sessions of fishing.
The annual pairs competition is the biggest event in the SFFNZ calendar and Manic Tackle Project once again returned as sponsors. Billy Thrupp and teammate Craig Anderson took out a dominant win in the team competition, beating 12 other pairs for the victory; meaning a second win in three years for Billy after also partnering Cory Scott to the title in 2019. Craig Anderson fished fantastically across the weekend catching 57 fish (meaning a 19 fish-per-session average) to secure top individual honours. The full results were:
1st Billy Thrupp and Craig Anderson
2nd Cory Scott and Ben Henton
3rd Ollie Bassett and James Fuller
1st Craig Anderson
2nd Johnny Gummer
3rd Cory Scott
Manic Tackle Project’s Lucas Allen said they were proud to be associated with the event, especially given the major focus of the weekend was to encourage new anglers to get involved.
“It was clearly a wonderful event, even if the weather was a bit hairy at times, and it’s great from Manic’s perspective to be involved with helping advance fly fishing in whatever way we can. The pro-am feel of the tournament, where experienced competition anglers pair up with newcomers is really cool to see, and bringing new people into the sport like that is something we’re happy to support.”
Lake Rotoaira, just south of Lake Taupo, in the middle of New Zealand's North Island, is a beautiful location. This 13km² gem - flanked by the peaks of Pihanga, Tihia and Käkaramea to the north and the brooding volcanic dome of Mount Tongariro to the south — was used as a venue in both the 2008 World Championships and 2020 Commonwealth Championships.
A stubborn weather front obscured this beauty for much of the weekend unfortunately as it hung over the central North Island; meaning the 26 anglers’ wet weather gear was well tested. COVID-19 restrictions prevented the competition being larger, with anglers from Auckland and Waikato unable to compete. The original entrants list featured 44 anglers; an encouraging sign for the future.
The prize pool provided by Manic Tackle Project included two Simms Dockwear Packs, two Airflo Sixth Sense Fly Lines, two Loon Neckvest Lanyards and two Simms Taco bags. And for the best individual performance there was a new Primal Raw 10' #6 to take home. The deserved winner of that prize was Craig Anderson.
“I had checked the forecast a day or two earlier and was expecting the odd passing shower and a nice steady North or NW breeze over the weekend,” said Craig. “Instead we got 60mm of rain that didn’t let up until late in the third session and no wind for the entire first session and most of the second.
“Ironically not entering the Pairs in 2020 probably worked in my favour as I could get some practice in about this time last year. I found that while both plonking and stripping were equally good I lost less fish plonking and also made some modifications to the standard plonking rig to simplify my life, eliminate tangles and thereby spend more time actually fishing.”
Saturday’s two sessions were at the Island (western) end of the lake and Craig and his boat partner, Nick Lyon, successfully fished the Wairehu Canal mouth area. Craig won the session with 24 fish.
“The second session in the afternoon I was drawn with Peter Scott,” said Craig. “I felt we struggled to find the fish and so moved around a fair bit. About halfway through I realized I was soaked to the skin and started feeling very cold which didn’t help the concentration as I mentally calculated how far away the nearest Wild Bean Café coffee was!”
Sunday morning’s session was fished at the Poutu (eastern) end of the lake where a light north-westerly soon strengthened to white caps.
“Late in the session I was playing a fish when my hat blew off into the water,” said Craig. “I had to net it first and somehow the fish still stayed on.
“After six previous attempts I was pretty pleased to take out the individual honours and share the Pairs title with Billy (Thrupp) who also showed incredible consistency to finish 4th overall. With Johnny Gummer coming second overall, the Manawatu is the place to be! It was also great to meet some newbies, particularly the ladies who are so keen to learn and to catch up with previous legends like Strato (Cotsilinis). Thanks to the sponsors and the organisers.”
One of those organisers, and one half of the winning pair, Billy Thrupp said the competition had gone well.
“It went smoothly which is great as it had been a lot of work in the week leading up to it. It was great to do well actually because often if you’re doing a lot of the organisational work beforehand that can affect your fishing.
“It was nice to win it for a second time. My partner Craig Anderson fished extremely well and he pulled us through a bit. All my boat partners across the weekend were good and I really enjoyed fishing with all of them.”
Billy said there were a number of thank-yous he would like to make.
“I would like to thank the Lake Rotoaira Trust for allowing us to hold the competition on the lake, it’s a fantastic place to fish and never fails to deliver. Also thank you to Chris Young, Paul Dewar and Tim Rich for their help as well as Paul Bassett for scoring over the weekend.
“And I’d like to give a special thanks to Manic for sponsoring the competition, it’s great that they continue to support the sport in the way they do.”
Competitors were encouraged to stay at The Park Hotel Ruapehu - National Park across the weekend, and the SFFNZ AGM was held there on Saturday night. As well as AGM business, the evening included a meal and prizegiving for the preceding 2020-21 season.
The Pairs podium, L-R: 3rd- Ollie Bassett/James Fuller
1st- Craig Anderson/ Billy Thrupp, 2nd- Cory Scott/Ben Henton..
Craig Anderson - 1st Individual.