Casey Cravens

Years Fishing?


Years Guiding?


Who introduced you to fly fishing?

Boys' Life magazine, Field and Stream, Ernest Hemingway. I've always been internally motivated to fish. I spent the first ten years of my life in the West Texas Desert, dreaming of rivers I'd read about, in a family with no other anglers.

Can you tell us a little about your home waters and the fish you pursue there?

I fish the lower half of New Zealand’s South Island. My favorites are seasonal. In the spring I enjoy tributaries of rivers like the Clutha, Mataura, Waitaki and Grey. They require precise casting but reward you with big fish in intimate water. It’s a good way to dust off winter cobwebs. As summer approaches I head up to the wilderness rivers of the Southern Alps. There’s a moment every season when these rivers first clear of snow, the water drops and warms and the trout start looking up for the first time in months. Our yellow-winged Kakahi Queen mayflies emerge with our fat green manuka beetles. It’s as though someone pushed a button. You can feel the energy amping up and the landscape’s metabolism accelerating. It’s a magic time to be there. Between December and February I divide my time between the terrestrial fishing on mountain rivers and the more pastoral Mataura, which has the country’s best mayfly, caddis and midge hatches. It also fishes well in autumn. The summer tourists are gone. The poplars turn gold. And the duns and spinners waft over the river like smoke.

What's the height of the season for you? What time of year is your personal favorite?

I love the autumn hatches on the Mataura here. The river offers perhaps New Zealand's finest dry-fly fishing for brown trout.

What are your favorite travel destinations? What's on the bucket list?

In New Zealand, the Clutha- and Mataura-basin tributaries in the spring. The high-country wilderness rivers in summer, the Mataura in autumn. In Chile, the Coyhaique-area rivers Felipe Carrasco Mallia guides. In the Lonquimay region, the magical Spring Creek Triple Equis, which Eduardo Anguita Bahomonde introduced to me, and the Valdivia rivers of Ricardo Ordonez. The North Fork of the Blackfoot in Montana. Idaho's Siver Creek. My bucket list would include Lake Illiamna and the Skeena watershed, Mongolia taimen, Indian mahseer, and Tierra del Fuego.

What you like most about Thomas and Thomas rods? Which rods do you fish?

Their sweet casting style, even in the crisper-action models like the NS Series. I fish their NS I and IIs the most, in a five and six weight. But I also like their 12'9" #8 spey a great deal. And if I can ever pry it loose out of the hands of a favorite client and friend, the 8# Solar.

What's your current go-to fly?

Depends on the season. Right now, as our rivers transition from late winter into spring, a Gummy Minnow styled whitebait or Grey Ghost. Early season a Gingerman or Greenstoner, my custom nymph patterns. Midseason a green manuka beetle. And late summer to fall on the Mataura, a CDC upright or Burnt Wing Spinner.

Other than fly tackle, what piece of gear do you find indispensable?

My Nikon

My favorite thing about guiding is:

Sharing the beauty of New Zealand's rivers to people for the first time.

From the angler’s point of view, what do you see as the main value of going on a guided trip?

The first time my friend Felipe Carrasco Mallia guided me on the Paloma, he said one of the most perceptive things I've ever heard about guiding. That to be good, it teaches you empathy. You've got to see the world from your clients' point of view. And you've got to teach them yours. A good guide has secret places and patterns. But more than that, a way of seeing the world.

What can new fisherman expect to get out of a guided trip? My favorite thing to teach a client is ...

Our New Zealand sight fishing techniques for challenging brown trout in smooth water.

What's your ideal lunch when on the water? What do you actually pack?

I like smoked fish tacos. Wrapped in foil their pretty durable. I also always carry a high-cocoa-content dark chocolate if we're walking and a long way from camp. If we're out in a four-wheel drive vehicle a venison cranberry ragout is one of my favorites.

What fly fishing blogs/magazines do you read regularly?

My favorite magazines are New Zealand Fish and Game, Grey's Sporting Journal, Fly Rod & Reel and Fly Fisherman. I also always seek out John Gierach's columns. My favorite eZines and blogs would include Catch, Gink and Gasoline, Lavaguada, the Drake and Trout Underground. Dun magazine also recently caught my eye. I also enjoy Patagonia's Field Reports and T&T's blog.

When I'm not fishing you'll find me:

Reading or writing. On road trips. Tying flies. Capturing Otago landscapes with my Nikon. Cooking for friends. Or playing hoop with my tall sons.