North of Taupo, the Waikato River is known for good fly fishing opportunities. The Waikato River is the largest in New Zealand, and offers a number of high catch rate fishing opportunities. Anglers keen to escape the crowds will find that the Waikato River system and associated hydro lakes are well worth a visit. There are several tailwater fishing areas along this dam controlled river, most notable being Waikato Dam tail waters. The Waikato River holds a huge trout population. Brown trout are abundant throughout the length of the river, while rainbows are plentiful upstream of Hamilton. In the Waikato River, you can expect to find rainbow trout averaging around 1kg, and you can find brown trout averaging about 1.5kg.
The best fishing is generally at twilight or after dark. The lower river fishes best during the winter months, while good fishing can be experienced throughout the year in the upper reaches. Popular spots include beneath the Karapiro Dam (track on western side), and the Karapiro Stream mouth at Cambridge. Good fishing water can also be accessed from riverside tracks in Hamilton and Cambridge.
The choice of fly is anything that will resemble the largish baitfish that provide the main food source for these fish; Muddler Minnow, Woolly Bugger, Booby, Jacks Sprat etc. However, it is very hard to go past the simple but deadly rabbit fly, it seems to supply just the right action. The current popular colours are dark olive green for daytime/dusk and black for night-time. If you tie your own flies, use chemically sharpened hooks in a heavy gauge, around size 4, but you can go as small as size 8. Use a good long rabbit strip to accentuate the tail action, and you can add flashabou and red hackles or tails to your daylight/dusk creations. A plain, big black rabbit is probably the best for night or coloured water use. Surprisingly, the darker colours stand out better in the discoloured water.
Overall, Waikato River is the 2nd most popular fly fishing river of all 8 fly fishing spots in New Zealand.