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The big success of a small Taupo company, C3 Flies

From the humble rivers of his English hometown, now to the backcountry rivers of the Kaimanawas’, Category 3 owner Sean Andrews and his famous fishing flies have found sanctuary in the moana of the Taupo region.

Anglers around New Zealand may certainly know the Category 3 Flies brand (C3), but did you know that the flies were established right here in Taupo? Sean Andrews’, C3 Founder & Owner, fishing story begins in English ponds and rivers as a young lad with his father and uncle, and from here has grown a passion for fly-fishing that has taken him to waters around the world as a guide for the last 30 years, 20 of those right here in Aotearoa.
Sean raves about the fishing conditions in NZ;

"New Zealand without doubt is one of the world premier destinations for fly-fishing; the water is gin clear and the trout are large. Fortunately there is very little private water which offers anglers the opportunity to really get out and explore."

Sean Andrews - C3 Flies fly fishing

Settling in New Zealand in the early 2000’s, Sean began to create his own fly designs to suit NZ conditions. After 15 years of developing patterns, tweaking old ones and many days product testing, the Category 3 fly company was born.

By 2017 business started booming in NZ so to keep up with demand the majority of production was moved off-shore to the Philippines, in partnership with a facility that provides a high standard of workmanship in an ethical environment. C3 Flies can now be found around the world, including other popular fly-fishing destinations like Australia and the United States.

Sean Andrews - C3 Flies stock

When it comes to fishing around Lake Taupo, no one fly is the golden ticket” explains Sean discussing a few factors to consider when selecting your flies.

One of the most important things is the quality of the hook your fly is tied on; you need a good, strong hook for these feisty New Zealand trout – we use high quality Japanese hooks. It’s always a good idea to pop into your local tackle shop and ask for advice about current’ conditions; they will be able to point you in the right direction on which flies might be best to use depending on the day and location.” Many tackle store staff in the Taupo region fish on a regular basis and will be able to give valuable insight into which rivers are fishing the best.

Sean says you can’t go wrong picking up a few C3 101 nymph flies for the Taupo region, as these are good all-rounders.

Sean Andrews - C3 Flies fly fishing rainbow trout

Fly fishing in New Zealand can be pretty technical, and it can take a long time to learn. Getting a guide for a day or two will mean you can focus on instruction and technique, and will save you years of frustration!” If you do decide to hire a guide, find one that’s a member of the New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association.

NZPFGA members not only have the skill to provide a quality experience they are also compliant on matters of Health & Safety and First Aid. (You can see the list of certified guides in the Central Plateau region here).

Sean Andrews - C3 Flies fly fishing friends

The name Category 3 has a great backstory, Sean explained;

"I have a repeat American client and friend who is 80 years old and has been visiting the region for over 20 years. For weeks we were trying to find an appropriate name for the fly company. One day over lunch we were discussing a motivational speaker who talked about the three different categories of fun.

  1. Activities that are normal/regular fun.
  2. Activities that are not fun to do, but fun to look back on.
  3. Activities that are so much fun you don’t want them to end.

After lunch we had to swim through a gorge as there was no other means of navigating ourselves up-river. Having swum through the gorge I was up on a rocky ledge and looked down into the river to see an 80 year old man swimming through the pool with a huge grin on his face. I shouted out 'are you having fun?' to which he replied 'Category 3 man, Category 3'".

Sean Andrews - C3 Flies fly fishing river

All C3 packaging is plastic free and stocked in the local stores below:

Taupo town:

Turangi:

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