Archive for July, 2009

Flies: Compara’ and Spun Duns

July 30, 2009

Comparaduns, Spun Duns and Derivatives.


So we get to choosing flies for our streams and although in the early season things may well be a little different, the water higher and the fish a tad less discerning after three months without being bothered by those of a piscatorial persuasion one of the main stay patterns in your box has to be a mayfly.

Now it is easy to suggest all manner of different mayfly patterns but much of the time finding a style of fly that you like and that suits you and simply changing the colour schemes is quite sufficient.

My absolute favourite mayfly patterns, no doubt partly influenced by the rate at which clients lose them in trees, fish and even their own clothing or anatomical protuberances, are Comparaduns, Spun Duns and their derivatives.

I rarely if ever fish standard hackled dry flies anymore, that is to say the Halfordian or Catskill ties with a collar of wound generic cock hackle. I do fish a lot of parachute patterns but even those are superceded by the spun duns and their relatives most of the time.

The flies, possibly the best dry flies in the world in my opinion have a lot going for them.

  • They don’t require difficult to obtain or expensive materials.
  • They are quick to tie.
  • They are inexpensive to manufacture.
  • They land the right way up everytime
  • They can be easily tied in a variety of colours and sizes and even densities to accommodate various water conditions and hatches.
  • Some of the variants can be modified on stream to represent spinners, midges, floating nymphs and emergers with the simple application of some saliva and or a quick trim with a pair of sharp scissors.

They are simply the most effective, quick and versatile upwinged fly imitations I have yet to find. In fact despite their apparent simplicity they frequently out fish more complex patterns. So let’s have a look at the variations and discuss the pro’s and con’s.

The Comparadun.

Olive Comparadun

Olive Comparadun

Launched to the world in the 1970’s by Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi, and popularized in their book “Comparahatch, these flies have gained a huge following and wide acceptance from what was to start with possibly a skeptical angling public. They just didn’t look like the flies we had all been using, where were the gorgeous and radically expensive generic hackles, the split duck quill or wood duck wings? Surely the trout wouldn’t accept such simplistic offerings?

Well truth be told the trout do and possibly with more enthusiasm than some of the more traditional ties. I personally feel that amongst other factors, the low floating properties are preferred by many feeding trout, plus they are sparse, simple and delicate, all attributes of the real thing and many traditional patterns appear far too “solid” and bulky by comparison.

It takes a little practice to tie these flies but they aren’t difficult, just different to what one has been used to in the past. Colour schemes are completely at your discretion and with readily available coloured deer hairs and dubbing materials comparaduns can be manufactured to copy almost any mayfly and quite a few midges as well.

The downside, if there is one, is that the tying buries the hair butts under the abdomen, which pretty much limits one to using dubbing as a body material, tends to make the flies a tad fatter than they should and makes the tying a little tricky to get neat and tidy. Plus with the natural hair the ability to trim them on stream without affecting the “look” is limited. Having said all of that these are classic and deadly patterns. Described by Skip Morris in his book “The Art of Tying the Dry Fly as “the most popular dry flies in the USA” or words to that effect. That is a terrific book by the way, and you will learn myriad tricks from it if you have never read it before.

The Spun Dun.

Olive Spun Dun

Olive Spun Dun

I have not been able, at the time of writing, to determine who came up with the spun dun pattern originally. It was first  shown to me by Eddie Gerber in Cape Town and I am not sure where he found it.

But it was I think originally tied by spinning deer hair around the hook and then trimming the lower section off afterwards. These days most of us only “flair” the hair on the top side of the fly, giving almost exactly the same profile as the comparadun but with the addition of a slightly spun collar/thorax of hair butts which both aid floatation and I suspect do a good job of imitating the thoracic thickening on real mayflies, perhaps even suggestions of a hind wing? One thing for sure, these are easier to tie than the Comparduns and what I really like about them is that you have no limitations as to body materials. You can use simple tying thread, dubbing, goose biot’s, quills, anything that you like and still get a slim and delicate body. Very many of the spun duns that I use are tied with little more than 120 denier tying thread, which both allows the creation of a slim coloured abdomen as well as obviating problems with breaking the thread when clinching down the hair nice and tight. Add to that a “super glue whip finish” and you have a remarkably simple, quick and durable pattern that you can churn out of the vice at a rate of knots.

The Poly Wing Spun Dun.

Poly Yarn Spun Dun

Poly Yarn Spun Dun

One of the limitations with using deer hair as the wing material is that it is tricky to use on tiny patterns, I find that #18 is about the limit of my abilities and then they start to look pretty ragged. But for years now I have been using smaller spun duns tied with polyyarn. The stuff is dirt cheap, available in a wide variety of colours and is totally resistant to the absorption of water and fish slime. The poly yarn versions are tied in exactly the same manner, however you can trim the yarn to the correct length afterwards as it isn’t tapered like the deer hair. This also means that you can trim the stuff on river and manufacture a wide range of emergers, spinners and floating nymphs from the same flies if you need to.

One point, when tying with the yarn, it doesn’t naturally flare well so you need to tug and pull it into shape.

The CDC spun Dun.

CDC Spun Dun

CDC Spun Dun

Again another variation, CDC is magic stuff but it tends to get wet and unusable, it does however make for superb small to micro patterns, provides wonderful delicacy of presentation and is both visible and not too bulky, all great attributes in a material for small dry flies.

By playing around with variations of these patterns, different colours , sizes and material combinations you can cover almost all of the mayflies that you are even likely to encounter, I even have a flying ant version which is deadly. So if you are going to start filling your boxes with useful flies you could do a lot worse than churning out a few dozen of these varieties in the next week. It won’t take you long and you will be amazed, come September, how fantastically effective these flies are.

Comparaduns and their derivatives are my “go to flies” when the  fish are being tricky or in larger sizes these patterns make excellent searching patterns to “drum up” some fish, even in the faster pockets.

The flies shown in this article all have split micro fibbet tails but again variations are plentiful, sparkle duns with zylon or antron tails, standard cock hackle, Coc du Leon tails, hair tails, water mongoose tails etc etc. These patterns really lend themselves to all manner of experimentation so don’t imagine that your flies need to look exactly like mine to work..

Fly Casting is yours letting you down?

July 28, 2009
Improving your casting could be the best preparation you can make.

Improving your casting could be the best preparation you can make.

You have sorted out your gear so what about your casting?

Ok let’s be honest, this post is unashamedly self promoting, but there is a good message in here none the less and well worth consideration, you would do yourself more good to take some instruction or have some casting practice than with almost any other preparation for the coming season.

The number one reason why most fly anglers fail.

I have guided clients from all over the world on our streams and I have taught dozens of local anglers the subtleties of approaching these catch and release waters and the NUMBER ONE reason that most anglers fail to get the results they should is because they simply don’t cast well enough.

When all is said and done most of us spend far too much time worrying about flies and leaders and all manner of gizmos without actually being able to use all that technology to good effect.

The expensive rod, the micrometer tuned degressive leader and the host of fly patterns all fail to work if the fly is  not presented properly and in the right place, and that means that YOU have to cast them. You aren’t out there with anyone else and don’t go blaming the wind or the trees or whatever, fly fishing is a sport where there is nowhere to hide, you are solely responsible and it amazes me how few anglers take their casting abilities, or too often lack of them, seriously.

The typical client.

Take for instance a typical client, he is a great guy and super company on the river, he has travelled extensively and can regale one with wondrous stories of his fishing exploits. In fact I like this guy, and he really makes a super companion and client on the streams. However whilst he has fished for Taimen in Mongolia, Bonefish in the Seychelles, cast for Ponoi Peninsula Salmon, New Zealand Browns and Hutchen in Slovenia. Whilst he may have spent enough dollars to be able to pad a mattress on exotic location travel, guides and helicopters in all manner of places he can’t cast a fly well enough to hit a barn door from the inside? So what’s the problem here?

#1: You cannot learn to fly cast whilst fishing. (no more than you could learn to drive on a freeway).

Firstly you can’t learn to cast from your guide and I don’t teach casting when I am guiding, there is too much other stuff going on to get it right and you really need to practice, in fact you want to practice until it is right, then you will never have to think about it again. So all the expensive guided trips aren’t going to help you that much.

#2: You shouldn’t be reluctant to ask for help and get it right.

Secondly, for some odd reason, fly anglers seem reluctant to get help. Golfers automatically go to the pro, squash players, tennis stars etc all get coached by others to help them, but fly anglers seem to think that there is something demeaning in asking for assistance with the most basic of all functions, casting a fly or they simply think that they are good enough that they couldn’t do better. So they fiddle about on the lawn or the stream, they get taught bad habits by their buddies or they convince themselves that this is as good as it gets and carry on at the skill level that they have acquired. Perhaps part of this is simply because being a mostly solitary sport they aren’t aware of what is possible and don’t have a comparison.

#3 Not all the people who are prepared to teach you to cast are actually capable of doing so.

Thirdly, and this could be seen as somewhat contentious I admit, a lot of people who are teaching casting out there really aren’t that good at it, the teaching that is not necessarily the casting. One thing I dislike more than any other is the reliance on the “casting clock” system, which is almost diametrically opposed to what actually happens in a good fly cast, and a method of instruction that is so ingrained that few fly anglers have managed to completely avoid its pernicious acceptance. I have reviewed most of the casting  videos, DVD’s and books  that have ever been produced and there are few I would recommend. Perhaps the most honest approaches would have to be the thoughts of Charles Ritz on high line speed casting and the instruction of  Lefty Kreh, many others don’t cut the mustard as far as I am concerned. In fact based on what I see on the river every day, there is something drastically wrong with casting instruction because the efficacy of most of the anglers one sees just isn’t up there. If most owners of motor vehicles drove as poorly as most owners of fly rods cast, then the carnage on our highways would be considerably worse than it already is. In fact overpopulation and global warming could take a turn for the better.

So to start with here are a couple of tips or suggestions that may help you.

You shouldn’t judge your casting by the distance that you obtain but by the narrowness of the loop you can create. Narrow loops begat high line speed and high line speed gives you accuracy, control and in the end, if required, distance, not the other way around.

Casting short lines can be as or more demanding than long ones and on the streams that we fish accuracy and efficiency of delivery of the fly weigh far more heavily on the angler than bunging your pattern into the middle distance.

You should, on a stream, be able to present your fly with no more than a single false cast, more and you are both wasting fishing time and potentially spooking fish as well.

Accuracy isn’t really quite the “land the fly in a tea cup” that one reads about in the books, even if you are hot you aren’t going to do that all the time, but the ability to get the fly into the feeding lane of a targeted fish is pretty important and on small streams that still means that you may only have inches to play with.

Fishing short with light lines can benefit from “Double Haul” technique just as much as when fishing heavier gear at a distance. All accomplished fly anglers should be able to do this and as a word of warning, you can’t, and shouldn’t, try to learn to double haul until your basic cast is near perfect..

So is your casting up to scratch?

If any of the following regularly happen to you then sorry, but your casting isn’t up to scratch:

  • You get a lot of wind knots in your leader or worse still your fly line..
  • You have to pack it in when there is a moderate breeze.. (fly fishing is rarely as easy or as good in a howling gale, but you should be able to at least cast the fly in conditions other than flat calm).
  • You regularly catch the bushes behind you.
  • You regularly spook fish by casting on top of them
  • You can’t manage to fish with a leader longer than nine feet in length.
  • You get tired from casting a trout rod for a day.
  • You spend most of your time on stream undoing tangles.
  • It takes you half a dozen attempts to put the fly over the fish and often by then it is spooked.

If you have or do experience these things then fine, admit it and get some instruction, this isn’t meant to spoil your day, it is meant to point out what really should be obvious. The better you can cast the better and more enjoyable your fishing is likely to be so why not make a decision now that this year you are going to get it right and be able to enjoy future exertions more fully.

The anglers prayer:

Lord, grant that I may catch a fish so big that even I,

When speaking of it afterwards, may have no need to lie.

The guides prayer

Lord please send me one good client, no matter that he lie.
Who when called upon to do so, at least can cast his fly.

Ok here is the self promotion. You can of course obtain lessons and books, videos and DVDs from any source. Some are worthwhile and as said I would personally recommend those by Lefty Kreh, and the writings of Charles Ritz, although I am not sure you could actually call the later instruction. You will find a selection of casting instruction books available from netbooks. For a selection of books available on line on the subject click here.


If you would like to follow some simple, on the lawn exercises that WILL help you get better and allow you to once and for all get that poor casting monkey off you back then do consider getting a copy of my book “Learn to Fly Cast in a Weekend” . You can obtain it from a variety of on line book stores, as well as high street shops. It is currently listed with Angler’s Book Supply in the US and you can even get a copy direct from me. To be honest the economics of the project are not of issue here. The publishers have done a typically poor job of promoting it and it irks me to see so many people out there not casting well, not enjoying their fishing as much as they would like and not knowing what to do about it when a solution is in fact at hand.

Get some insight for Free

In fact you will be able to download a free copy of parts of the book from just so that you can decide if you think that it is worth it.. I can’t really say fairer than that.. but I will, I will say that if you get a copy of the book from me, you follow the instructions in it and you don’t see a noticeable improvement then you can return the book to me and I will give you your money back.

So stop hiding from the truth, the season is coming and you can make a choice now to enjoy it more than in the past or not. I promise you that the effort will be well worth it.

Coming soon on this blog: fly patterns for Western Cape Streams..

Fishing Cape Streams Part #3

July 23, 2009

inkwaziblogbanner1Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris, Cape Town’s number one fly fishing guiding service.

Gadgets and Gizmos for Cape Streams.

Alright, you have all been dying to fill your vests with lots of gizmos and look really cool out there on the water . So what do you need and what don’t you? It is a matter of personal opinion and preference but there are some bits and bobs which are essential.

Fly Boxes:


You will note that the title is in the plural, that is because I am firmly of the opinion that not only should you carry plenty of flies but that you should carry them in more than one box. You are going to lose one at some point and that can mean that your efforts, long hike in and the rare opportunity of ripping the motor vehicle from the clutches of your spouse or teenage offspring have all been wasted if you have to pack up for lack of something to throw at the fish. As a rough guide at least two boxes, with a selection of nymphs and dry flies is the minimum requirement. There are some excellent boxes out there on the market, some expensive and some not but they will all serve a purpose. I prefer “window” style boxes for the dries, it prevents them getting squashed and combination boxes that allow some nymphs to be neatly displayed in foam slots and windows for the dries are all you really need. Inexpensive clear plastic window style boxes are great for dry flies and although they aren’t waterproof they allow you to carry a lot of patterns in a small space and at little cost.

A note of caution, for some reason the “clip style” fly boxes are somehow viewed by many as the most sexy addition to one’s vest. At least for the types of flies you need on Cape Streams they are worse than useless, the clips bend and hooks fall out and they will squash your dry flies beyond recognition. Skip them and rather have a few cheap plastic boxes in your pocket. They may not look as fancy but they are far more practical.

Polarized glasses.

CostaDelMarThe Cape Streams offer exceptionally good opportunities to sight fish to visible feeding trout in clear water for much of the season and polarized specs are a must. Not to mention that wearing glasses of some kind is a good move if you wish to protect your eyes from the reflective glare, nasty and damaging UV radiation and wayward casts of sharp hooks. I prefer the amber colours, which seem to afford better contrast when looking for fish and the very best pairs that I have used include “Spotter and Costa Del Mar” glasses. You cannot polarize glass, so all polarized specs feature either plastic lenses or a plastic laminate lens. Plastic ones are less expensive, lighter, and don’t break if you drop them, the glass one’s are far more scratch resistant and at the same time heavier. Either way, put them on a string or lanyard so that you don’t drop them in the river. Good specs are worth the investment, but any pair is better than none and you shouldn’t venture out without them. Suppliers of Cost Del Mar glasses in South Africa are Stealth Fly Rod and Reel . Costa Del Mar home page

Please note several suppliers listed here for your convenience don’t supply direct to the public, but they will be able to put you in touch with a dealer in your vicinity.

Wading Boots.

I wasn’t entirely sure whether I should include your boots in the accessories or tackle part of these posts. They are almost as essential as your fishing gear, not quite perhaps, but close, so I have included them here.

For the most part actual waterproof waders are not required or even advisable on our streams. The water isn’t cold enough to warrant them and the walk in and out of some sections would prohibit their use. However a decent pair of wading boots is another matter entirely. We all used to experiment with various options in the footwear department but truth be told wading boots make your life a lot easier and a lot safer. Felt soled boots are good but wear down fast if you do a lot of walking, which you may well do on these streams. My personal favourites are boots with Aquastealth™ soles. The clever people at the Stealth Rubber company have come up with a rubber than is particularly sticky even when wet, almost all wading shoe manufacturers have either switched Aquastealth™ to or offer this as an alternative to their felt soles, partly driven by a need to prevent the spread of whirling disease (currently not a problem in the Cape waters). It works like felt but with the added advantage of being far harder wearing than felt. Almost any proper wading boots are going to serve you better than wearing tennis shoes, but if you have a choice I would go with the Aquastealth™ option. The boots will give you longer service than felt and I think that they are particularly good on our predominantly boulder strewn waters.

Tippet Material:

StroftYou should carry spools of tippet material from 3X to 7X, maybe even 8X, the heavier stuff is simply to adjust leaders that get snapped up or tangled in the middle, the lighter thinner tippet allows you to change the terminal tackle as and when required, lengthen the leader and adjust the turn over as conditions and fly sizes change. As a rough guide again, I generally nymph fish with 5X tippet, fish dries with 6X and use 7X and 8X once the waters drop and the fish get tricky. But a selection is essential and not some spool or arbitrary fishing line either. I prefer copolymer tippet for streams, the Flouro stuff is always a tad thicker and less flexible which makes it unsuitable for fishing tiny dries, something that I prefer to do when at all possible. I have been very happy with the Rio Powerflex tippet™ , Stroft™, Airflow™ products, Stroft™  seems to be the softest which is great for dry fly work. Soft tippets aid reduction of drag and that is a big issue on these waters.  How you carry the stuff is a choice, some packs and vests have really neat little dispenser options, or you can use a lanyard of sorts with the spools all neatly stacked in size order. Local stockists of Stroft StreamX Local suppliers of Rio products JandiTrading

Please note several suppliers listed here for your convenience don’t supply direct to the public, but they will be able to put you in touch with a dealer in your vicinity.

Hook Sharpener.

ModelSI don’t know how many hook sharpeners we sold when I was running a tackle shop, but a lot, it seems that even now many anglers consider their hooks are sharp enough. No serious light tackle angler wouldn’t have a hook sharpener somewhere about his person and the most serious NEVER tie on a fly that they don’t sharpen. This becomes all the more important when you are fishing light lines, the rods don’t apply much force in the first place and on 8X tippet you can’t be walloping the hook  home with brute force. Sharp barbless hooks will allow you to strike lightly with soft hands and still land the fish. I have tried a number of hook sharpeners and my all time favourite is the Model S sharpener from Eze Lap .

Just don’t use it in the “pen format” in which it comes. If you clip it to your vest pocket it will have a life expectancy of a Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot. Remove the top, make a hole in the end of the sharpener and attach a split ring/key ring to it, then you can clip it to your lanyard or zinger and not loose it.. Local suppliers of EZE LAP tools are Awesome Tools Please note several suppliers listed here for your convenience don’t supply direct to the public, but they will be able to put you in touch with a dealer in your vicinity.

Landing Net.

FishingNetWe fished for years without nets, figured that it was really cool to do so and that you really didn’t need one. Things have changed, if only for the good of the fish. With light tippets and feisty trout the chances or snapping off and leaving the fish with an (albeit barbless) hook in its jaw whilst trying to release it is greatly increased. Landing nets allow you to land the fish faster, more easily and reduces stress and possible damage to the fish. They are essential. Nets can be of a variety of styles but something not too large and with soft “Catch and Release Mesh” is the ticket. These nasty large holed rough net bags with massive knots that damage fish, rip into flesh and tear out maxilla’s are NOT for use on Catch and Release Trout streams.

Landing net holders:

NetMagnetsThere are some gadgets which really do make a difference and the new magnetic landing net holders are one of those fantastic inventions. Allowing easy and quick access to the net when required without fiddling about. If you don’t own one, get one, that simple. I have never found any means of carrying a net that works better than a magnetic quick release on the back of your vest.. Just remember to keep the net tied to you and for my money I would ditch the sexy little spiraled elastic cord which is generally supplied and replace it with some thin “prussic cord” or nylon string. That way if your net catches in the bush and you turn around you aren’t going to have to blow your fishing budget on and orthodontist after it knocks your teeth out.


ForcepsYou absolutely have to have some means of removing deep set and often tiny hooks from the fish with minimum fuss. It isn’t only convenience but your responsibility as an angler to look after the fish and ramming fingers down throats of small trout or leaving them with hooks in them isn’t a socially or environmentally acceptable behavior. There are a few quick release tools out there which work pretty well, but most of us opt for forceps, often referred to in the English press as “Spencer Wells”. Put them on a zinger and have quick access when required. Fish in the net and forceps at hand you will be able to release fish with little fuss or damage.


NippersSure we all use our teeth to bite nylon, a dentist client once spent most of his fishing day berating me for the behavior, but you will get neater and more effective trimming of knots if you use nippers. Long tag ends on leader knots cause a lot of tangles and water disturbance as well for that matter. Drug store nail clippers will do at a push, but you aren’t going to score any points in the “best dressed fly angler” competition if you resort to them.. Actually the only real problem with those is that they are curved and require opening to use.. Local suppliers of Dr Slick are Stealth Fly Rod and Reel

Fly Floatant:

FloatantA gel type fly floatant or similar is again a must have item, there are lots of them, some anglers prefer to pre-treat their dry flies with Hydrostop, but that demands a level of dedication and organisation beyond my abilities and I don’t always want the flies to sit high and dry so I treat them on the water. Airflo, Loon, Rio, and Flyagra all have suitable products.. Just don’t baste your flies in a massive blob of the stuff, you are only trying to waterproof the fibres. A tiny drop rubbing into your fingers and then gently massaged into the hackles is sufficient.

On the subject, it is well worth having one of those neat little attachments that holds your bottle of floatant upside down, makes for easier use and simple availability without having to shake the darn stuff like a medical thermometer.

Fly drying powder:

TopRideThis was another innovation one that I thought yet more affectation from the marketing departments of fishing tackle companies running out of stuff to sell us. Not so, this stuff works really well and I don’t know any serious Cape Stream Anglers who don’t carry it. Airflo and Loon make good products but there are others. The drier looks like fine powder and sucks moisture out of damp patterns and makes them float high on the water. This isn’t a replacement for the floatant mentioned above. It is for drying flies off, particularly after catching fish. Fish slime is hydrophilic (loves water) and causes flies to lose their water repellant qualities in short order. A rinse in the stream and a quick dusting with this powder will have your flies , as a friend describes it, “floating up, high heels and all” . It is one of the few “innovative” products which I really would miss if it was unavailable. The powder is also essential if you are fishing CDC dry flies which cannot be greased up with the normal floatants. (It is worth noting that soft paper facial tissues are pretty effective at drying flies as well, but of course they are prone to getting wet when you don’t want them to. At a push however a pocket pack of them isn’t a bad option to add to your vest, putting them in a ziplock packet will increase their lifespan).

Amadou fly drying pad:

AmadouPadAnother option for fly drying, and a present from a happy client. This little pad of treated fungus sucks water out of damp flies exceptionally well and I carry it for use particularly with the CDC patterns. Not essential if you have the powder but at least the pad can’t run out in the middle of the day.

Leader degreaser:

Particularly in later season  with bright sunshine and low water floating tippets spook fish and some means of breaking the surface tension and degreasing the tippet is pretty much essential. Having said that I have tried dozens of home made and commercial products and not one of them is particularly effective. They tend to work for a cast or two and then wash off. But a small bottle of washing up liquid or a commercial degreasing paste is worth carrying, if only because on the occasional tricky fish cleaning the leader before the cast may buy you a smidgen more chance of success.


LanyardThis is an option and one that I like, you can tend to look a little like a witchdoctor ready to “throw the bones” with all of your gear hanging about your neck but compared to zingers and pocket’s full of stuff a lanyard provides easy access to the things that you need most often. There are commercial options available but you can manufacture your own with little effort, a trip to the bead shop and some snap swivels. You can obtain instructions on manufacturing your own lanyard by sending us a note, just click “Please send me information sheet on Making Your Own Lanyard”.

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Indicator Yarn or putty.

YarnFor most of the time I will use a dry fly as an indicator whilst nymph fishing, I figure that one may as well have two chances at fooling a fish as one, and large bright indicators spook wary fish more often than you would think. They have seen it all before. However it doesn’t hurt to have some yarn or putty on hand when you wish to make a quick cast with a nymph at a recalcitrant fish who simply won’t rise up for a dry. Dispensers of pre-treated yarn, Egg Yarn that you have treated with Hydrostop yourself or some floating putty make good additions to the vest and can come in handy. Restrict the size of the indicator though, you don’t need a golf ball sized hunk, something the size of a pea is more than sufficient to serve the purpose.


Carrying scissors is a potentially hazardous occupation, having sharp pointed stuff in your pocket in a fall can prove nasty and you don’t need them much of the time, however if you are planning on using yarn indicators a sharp pair of scissors is essential. If not you can waive them and simply use nippers for all other needs. If you are carrying scissors put a small piece of flexible plastic tubing over the points to protect both them and yourself.


ZingerZingers are those sweet little self retractable reels that allow you to pull out your essential gadget and then let go, the only trouble with them is that they are very prone to breakage and the subsequent loss of your gizmo. I personally only use a zinger for the forceps; being able to easily maneuver the forceps when releasing a fish and not having to worry about dropping them is a major advantage. All the other stuff I carry goes onto the lanyard. If you prefer not to use a lanyard then a few zingers are well worth the investment. Or consider the self retracting spiral cords manufactured by various suppliers such as Fish Pond. They seem less prone to problems with getting wet, rusting and breaking.

Spare braided loops.

A couple of braided loops in a small zip loc bag tucked away for an emergency make for worthy additions to your vest. Should disaster strike and you have a major leader failure you can pretty quickly be back in action. Braided loops can be purchased or easily manufactured yourself. They will hold onto the fly line pretty much on their own so a simple whip finish with some tippet material will suffice to keep you fishing until you get home and can do the job properly.

Sewing needle:

A fine needle, lodging in your lapel makes for a useful tool, particularly if you aren’t tying your own flies as so many commercial ones have varnish in the eyes of the hooks that something on hand to clean out the stuff isn’t a bad idea. Although you can at a push simply use another fly hook.

Split shot and sink putty:

It is highly unlikely that you are going to need such additional weighting fishing these streams, and it probably isn’t necessary for you to carry such stuff. Of course if you were out after yellowfish on the Orange  River they would make for a useful addition to your kit.


The Author Tim Rolston with an Orange River Yellowfish

That’s about the lot, other stuff is really pretty optional. For the record my gear set up looks like this:

Lanyard: Nippers, Fly Floatant, Degreaser, Indicator Yarn, Hook Sharpener, Amadou fly drying pad and fly drying powder.

On a separate Tippet lanyard: clipped to the vest: A selection of tippet spools of differing diameters down to 8X

In pockets: A spare 4X tapered leader, scissors, braided loops and of course fly boxes.

Clipped to the inside of the vest (to avoid flash) and hanging on a zinger are the forceps. I put them on the left side so that I can easily get them with my right hand when I am holding a fish, ready for release.

That’s the lot, most of the other stuff is optional, I hope that it will prove to be of use to you, whether you are fishing the Cape Streams or not. Don’t forget to keep up to date with the RSS feeds option on this blog or mail us for more information.

Planning a visit to SA? Why not book a day with us on a Cape Stream, you can visit our website at or mail us at Inkwazi Flyfishing..

Inkwazi Fly Fishing also provides on stream tutorials to local anglers and I receive comments like the one below all the time which is very encouraging because the goal is to help you fish more effectively and have more fun.

“Testament to your expert instruction and advice  which I put to good use.

I echo and confirm all those praiseworthy testimonials/ references  that you have on your website !!” …………………………Greg Wright Cape Town.

So if you need help contact us Inkwazi Flyfishing

Fishing Cape Streams Part #2

July 22, 2009

Gearing up for Cape Streams..


Inkwazi Fly Fishing, Cape Town’s leading Fly Fishing Guiding service.

Ok so if you followed the advice from the previous post on Cape Streams you have now organized the permits and memberships that you will require, more than likely had a think about which rivers you would most like to target and it is time to start putting your gear together..

Before we gaze wistfully into the murky waters of gadgets, oh but how alluring they all are, let’s first get down to some basics because never mind what is hanging from your vest, the only links between you and the fish are  your rod, reel, line and leader.. If these elements aren’t working for you are you are starting at a serious disadvantage.


There has been a lot of debate about rods in general and rods for small Cape Streams in particular, trends change constantly. I have fished for years with a number of different #2 weight rods in the 7’9’ range with complete contentment but at the same time have played of late with some other tackle, particularly a Scott #3 weight and a Deep Red #3 weight from Stealth Fly Rod and Reel that are longer and I have loved fishing with both of them, they offer the advantage of a little more reach and a tad more line control without being burdensome or being too stiff to cast short. What you absolutely don’t need is a rod that is too stiff to cast very short lines. The currents in our streams are nefarious, convoluted little devils and they often get more so as the waters drop, just about the same time that the trout get even more taciturn.

The fish have worked out that drag is a warning sign of ill intent and even small fish quickly learn to ignore any flies behaving inappropriately. Two of the main means of avoiding the early onset of drag, you can never actually avoid it forever, are to use long flexible leaders and to cast as short as is possible. Stiff rods that don’t perform without a good amount of line out are going to hinder your progress and fish catching abilities no end and I would far rather fish with an inexpensive soft rod than a super fast one that cost a king’s ransom.. The ability to cast long leaders with very little line out and with some accuracy is paramount to our fishing. Don’t anyone tell you that distance casting is tricky, accurate short casting with line control is more demanding and the best rod that you can afford for the job is money well spent. Generally speaking you don’t want a rod rated for more that an AFTMA #3 , you can go much lower too but I have found that the #2 and #3 rods cover most of the bases for me. If you are in doubt get some advice, and not only from the guy trying to get you to part with several grand either.

Matt finishing your rod.

I have been accused of heresy, threatened with burning at the stake and all manner of other ill will for saying this but I am going to say it again.. We fish in bright sunshine and blue skies more often than almost any other fly fishing nation on the planet, in the Cape we do it to well educated fish in crystal clear and skinny water. Flash of rods, reels, lines, forceps watches etc are all bad news when stalking trout and the propensity for rod manufactures to produce bright shiny and reflective gear simply demonstrates that most rods are bought from their looks in the shop and not their functionality on stream.

You may not choose to follow my advice, some people claim that warranties are made void by this approach, but if you are going to take your fishing seriously, rub the blank down with light wet and dry paper or polishing paste to matt off that varnish and reduce the flash. The rod flash may only spook one fish in ten or even twenty, but it could be the only catchable fish of the day and it could be the fish of a lifetime, why take the chance? I have guided enough to see fish scatter for no apparent reason, only to realize that something flashed during the client’s cast. For the same reasons I don’t have any shiny stuff on my vest, and I either remove my watch or at least turn it around on my arm on sunny days. Oh and before the accusations fly about me sanding down “cheap rubbish rods”, I have put brand new Winstons Sages and Scotts through the treatment and if those illustrious manufacturers manufactured the darned things without the gloss I wouldn’t have to.


The reel is more than likely the least important piece of your gear in that it doesn’t have to do much, lightness is a major plus and any small reel that is light in weight will do. The more you spend the lighter they are in general, a sort of inverse proportionality of finance versus mass, but light is good and smooth is important if you, as you most likely are, are going to fish with light tippets. But click and pawl reels are fine, you don’t need fancy and heavy disc systems on reels for these streams.. Small, light and smooth is great, if they aren’t too flashy that is a major bonus.


Your reel however needs to be checked out, especially after a hard season, bits of grit, sand and unrecognizable flotsam is more than likely clogging up the insides and a good wash with some soapy water and a toothbrush followed by some re-greasing will bring it back into tip top condition. Oh and a word on the drag, set it just enough so that it won’t overwind, you can control more pressure with your hand if needs be, but fishing fine tippets and setting drags too stiff is a very good way to lose the fish of the season.


On these rivers you will not require anything more than a floating line, at least not for any morally acceptable fishing techniques. Bright coloured lines are probably not a great idea but don’t purchase or dye lines too dark or you will not follow them on the water and drag will become a problem. Light tans and olives are good. You can successfully dye lines quite easily with Hot Dylon, just let the water cool off a little below the boil before you dunk your new R400 line in there, and don’t leave it too long. Dark Olive produces a super tan colour on orange lines and a lovely light green on cream and white lines. I have dyed numerous lines without incident but if you can find a neutral colour out of the box then use that.

Overweighting with higher AFTMA # lines.

There is a tendency to over weight fly lines for these streams and it may well help with the short presentations required, it isn’t however a remedy for buying a super fast rod in the first place and then trying to overweight it into submission. Some manufacturers such as Rio do produce special tapers for stream fishing which push the weight a bit more forward in the lines for short casting. Beware triangle and delta taper lines for stream fishing, they do not work optimally at close range and aren’t designed to do so. Personally I like double taper lines for streams, you are never going to even see the middle and you get two lines for the price of one. Some of my reels only have half a line on them, I don’t remember which ones, you can’t tell when you are fishing.


The backing of Dacron or similar is of virtually no importance at all other than to keep your reel full and reduce line memory. Don’t be tempted to use nylon it isn’t great for the purpose and fill your reels optimally, but don’t over do it. An overly full reel will cause the line to snag if you are winding in in haste, such as when you are playing a large fish. A few millimeters of freeboard on the drum is good and allows you to get away with the odd sloppy bit of winding in an emergency.

Leader attachment:


If you follow the advice throughout this series of posts you are going to be fishing leaders longer than you ever have before. We will get to why later, but the problem with long leaders is that you always have the joint with the fly line coming back into the rod guides, at least every time you move upstream.

I really don’t like nail knots, they jam and with a fish on that means that your 7X tippet is going to snap like cotton. Braided loops have a bad reputation but they are in general better than nail knots for this type of fishing. My personal favourite and the method of choice for my light stream gear is to super glue the butt section of the leader into tip of the fly line. It is easily strong enough when you are fishing light, it is super smooth and will eliminate all manner of hassles with your casting and presentations.

There are some tricks to doing it easily and you can get hold of those by just sending me a note on this link Superglue Leader Link ( leader link and leader formula)

The only disadvantage with this is that should you break the leader right off then you have to resort to some on stream fix, so I generally carry a few braided loops in my pocket just in case, I have never yet had to use one.

Whatever linkage you use, now is the time to change it, knots get tired and worn and you should be treating yourself to a new leader anyhow. Whatever you do, don’t use those nasty little metal loops that you are supposed to push into the end of the line, they are a recipe for disaster, and don’t use braided leaders, they were popular with us all, until we realized just how much spray they send off and that scares fish.


I am one of those anglers who thinks that your leader is the most important part of your gear, a correctly constructed leader will allow you to present with accuracy and delicacy every time, it will protect fine tippets at the end and will not snag, tangle or spook fish. There are some really good leader designs out there, some only obtainable from the inventor on the signing of a blood oath, or the sacrificing of a sibling on the altar of the fishing Gods. However of the hand-made variety the degressive ones popularized by Pascal Cognard three time world fly fishing champion, have a strong following amongst the best anglers in the Cape. Oh and for those who feel that a micrometer is an essential piece of on stream equipment I am tempted to offer the phone number of my therapist.. Personally I don’t use complex, multi-knotted designs, I have too many clients tangling too many lines too often so opt for a more simple approach that works for me.

Again to save space here, you can obtain the details from this link Easy Leader Formula (Leader formula and leader connection info)

Furled leaders can be very good if you have a lot of patience, but for my money a simple and effective leader that is just a tad unbalanced so that it won’t completely turn over is the ticket. Mine vary from a short 14’ to about 18’ depending on conditions. There is no perfect all around formula in my opinion, the size and aerodynamics of the fly, the wind direction and the level of the river all make a difference and you need to be able to change things about during the day so don’t get too hung up on complexity, functionality is what you are after.

Boiling leaders:

Copolymer leaders and nylon leaders change significantly if boiled briefly in water, or at least dropped into boiling water for a minute. They become far more elastic, flexible and soft to the touch, all good in my opinion and I have now taken to giving all my leaders this treatment. When I tell you that last season I took some very very good fish on 8X Stroft tippet perhaps that will show that this little adjustment can be worthwhile. I certainly think that it is worth the effort, particularly later in the season when fine tippets are a must. Because the base of my easy leader formula is a standard tapered leader with quite a thick butt section I think that the boiling process improves them quite significantly you should try it.

So your next tasks in preparing for the new season are to clean out those dirty reels, unspool and check your flylines, change the leader connections and make up some leaders if you need to. Boil a few and try them out and of course look out for the next blog post on your preparations.

Also keep an eye out for our forthcoming “fly fishing school” to be held in Cape Town within the next few months, or contact us now so that we know you are interested on Fly Fishing School and we can be sure you get the message via e mail.

Thanks for reading.

Don’t forget you can get notified of further posts using the RSS feed or e mail us so that we can keep in touch. E mail Us.

Fishing Cape Streams Part #1

July 20, 2009

Sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris, Cape Town’s leading Trout Guiding Service.

Getting ready:

Preparing for a new season on the streams and planning your approach for the best season ever.

In the next six or seven weeks I will be putting together a number of posts to help you prepare for the coming trout stream season. Covering all the essential things that you really should be up to now to insure a seamless and fun start to the season as well as offering some advice which should help you make it one of the best seasons to date.

I will be covering topics related to sorting out your gear, tying essential fly patterns, rigging leaders, and top tips on ways to improve your efficacy out there on the streams. Most social anglers don’t get anywhere near to their potential and one of the differences between them and the “experts” is the way that they approach things and the preparations they undertake before the time. You simply aren’t going to make the best of it if you head out with a rummage bag of bits and bobs and hope for the best.

To start the ball rolling here are some things to think about in the coming week:

Permits: Don’t forget that whilst the rivers of the Limietberg Reserve are essentially public water you need permits both to fish and to be in the reserve as well as a freshwater angling license. To be honest the freshwater license is a bit of a stretch because there is very little checking up and our illustrious administrators in government simply want to take your money without doing a whole lot for it. You are however supposed to have one and you can obtain them from most of the angling shops. These freshwater licenses are NOT the ones that you get from the post office so don’t be mistaken; those are sea angling permits and not the same thing.

If you are not already a member, join the CPS (Cape Piscatorial Society)

On a cost effectiveness basis if you belong to the Cape Piscatorial Society you can reduce the costs and improve the ease with which you book water and should you intend to fish more than five times or so in the season. (One would hope that if you are reading this then that is the case) it is significantly cost effective to join up. If you live out of Cape Town you can join for even less dough as a “country member” so it is well worth the investment. Members with Season River Fishing permits can simply book water by phone, without the hassle of making additional bank deposits, sending faxes and all the rest of it and that alone makes it worth obtaining membership and a season permit. The society also boasts a fantastic fishing library for members, have regular meetings and act as coordinators for all bookings of water in the Limietberg. You can contact them on and visit their website at have a chat to Elizabeth or Jean at the offices and they will help you set up whatever needs to be done.

Wild Cards.

You will also need a permit to be in the reserve and again if you are South African you are advised to obtain a “wild card” which covers entry into the reserve as well as a heap of other ones. The wild card can be purchased as “Cape Cluster” which affords you free access to the fishing waters as well as free entry to Boulder’s Beach, Table Mountain National Park, Cape Point reserve (this will cost you R60 a trip without the card so you can easily get your money back), Silvermine reserve and others. If you pay a little bit more you can cover entry into all the SAN parks reserves in the country, which means that trip to the Richtersveld Reserve in search of Yellowfish or any number of other spots becomes highly cost effective.

You can get more information on the wild card system from for those based in the Southern Suburbs I recommend that you chat to Cathy at the National Parks office in Westlake, she is am amazingly efficient and cheerful lady and one of the parks employees who seems to take her job seriously and has proven to be wonderfully helpful to me in the past. Wild Cards are significantly more expensive for non SA residents but could prove to be worthwhile if you intend to fish a lot or visit other reserves whilst here.

The primary trout streams of the Western Cape and the home waters of Cape Town Anglers

The waters that we fish are for the most part public access waters in the Limietberg Reserve and are effectively three rivers although the nomenclature used in angling circles would indicate that there are more.

All the rivers are divided into beats which can be booked for one party of anglers (maximum two) for the day. This brilliant and probably unique system for public access means that you are not bothered by other anglers and the fish are not overly stressed with people casting over them all day. It is a super system and makes the best use of the resource, so remember if you are new at this, booking is essential and you can’t just pitch up and fish when and where you feel like it. Remember: ALL the waters are strictly catch and release, no barbed hooks, no kill fisheries.. these are not places to go and collect your lunch, but they offer superb angling for non indigenous but self sustaining populations of trout which are wary and street smart. Technique is the key to success, not necessarily matching the hatch but fly presentation is what separates the men from the boys on all of these waters and they can be a real challenge. Many of the waters offer superb sight fishing to visible fish much of the season when the water is low and clear enough to target specific fish. With some care you may spend an entire day rarely casting blind at all.

The rivers are:

The Holsloot River: This stream is a “tailwater” fishery, flowing out of the Stettynskloof Dam on the outskirts of Rawsonville. The stream is particularly useful in that it generally maintains better flows in the heat of summer and paradoxically, as a result of the capacitor like effects of the dam, lower flows when the other streams are in flood. It can make for a particularly good venue in early season and again in mid summer. There is private water on this stream managed by Dwarsberg Farm, where you can also book into one of a number of cottages or camp sites and fish the private sections. The stream has a reputation of blowing hot and cold and there are days when the fishing can be excellent or alternatively particularly slow. In addition to permits and bookings you will require an access code from the CPS office to be able to enter the gate and drive up the dirt road to the fishing waters. Don’t venture out without that code or you are going to get stuck. The code varies on a weekly basis so make sure that you obtain it when you are booking water.

The Molenaars Beat:

The Molenaars beat is a private section of water that is currently included in the fishery management of the CPS, it is in reality simply the lower section of the Smallblaar River, boasts fewer but larger trout on average and can provide some really really good fishing, particularly earlier in the season. Being lower down the mountains the waters tend to become very warm in mid summer and the fishing becomes less good. This is a section to be targeted early and late season in particular but it probably offers the best chance of a twenty inch plus fish of all the streams.

The Smallblaar River:

This is where things become a little tricky, the Smallblaar is labeled by the roads department as the Molenaars River and as such can cause some confusion to first timers, the fact that you see a road sign indicating “Molenaars River” doesn’t mean that you are on the Molenaars Stretch so take care and ask for some advice if you are not sure where to go to find your beat. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the Smallblaar River’s beats have a private section in the middle of them so that beats one to five are below the Du Toit’s Kloof Hotel, the hotel section can also be booked but it isn’t a recommended piece over weekends when it can become inundated with swimmers and casual observers. The last beat of this stream, beat six, is well above the hotel, separated from the rest by a private section. Beat six is a tiny tributary of the main river joining up at the intersection with the Elandspad. Parking for Beat six is the same as parking for the Elandspad River. As with the Molenaars, there are some exceptionally good fish on this stream, and the catch and release regulations have seen the growth of both fish densities and size over the past few years. Also as with the Molenaars, although to a lesser degree, the stream suffers from very warm water in mid summer and is best left alone at that time. Not simply because the fishing isn’t as good but because you are likely to over stress the fish and kill them in the warm waters of mid summer.

The Elandspad River:

This stream offers no vehicular access and requires that you walk in to your beat along the footpath, which if you are nervous of heights may prove a little taxing. The lower beats are not far from the road but you can hike and hour or two in and out of the upper sections. The stream probably provides the main spawning areas for most of this entire system, fish density is high and as you progress to the upper beats on average the numbers of fish go up and the overall size of fish comes down. Don’t be mislead though, there are fish up to 19” plus up there and for the active the stream offers some superb angling.

The Witte River:

This is our only Brown Trout stream and is high up on Bain’s Kloof Pass. The fishing of late has suffered in the lower beats which used to be home to some quality fish. The continuous abstraction of nearly the entire flow of the stream in the summer months by agricultural concerns leads to near stagnation lower down and makes it very difficult for sustainable fish populations to survive. Beats above the take off furrow however provide good angling at the price of some severe walking. There is no vehicular access to these beats and you have to leg it in. The height of the stream and its location make for some pretty dramatic scenery and some equally dramatic weather changes, strong winds and rain squalls in early season can make your trip a real gamble. There are less fish in this stream than in most of the rainbow waters and the river if fished mostly by those who particularly like to target browns. The browns behave slightly differently to the rainbows of the other waters and represent a challenge unique to this stream and that particular species. All in all you will either fall in love with this water or learn to hate it depending on your particular view point. Don’t even consider this stream unless you are prepared to leg it up into the mountains and don’t go without suitable clothing, things change up there fast and early season hypothermia can become a real threat.

The season runs from Sept to May inclusive on these streams and some planning will afford good angling throughout those nine months of open season.

So there they are, with some planning you can have great fishing season through, targeting the Holsloot throughout the year, The Witte for brown’s early season in particular, the Molenaars and the Smallblaar for all but the hottest months and the Elandspad again for much of the entire season. Plenty to choose from.

Organise your permits, licenses and membership fees now and in the next post we will discuss some preparations of gear and flies for the coming season.

If you want more information try visiting, or mail us at

Inkwazi Flyfishing Safaris offers guided fishing experiences on these waters, including full service guiding and tutorial guiding for those who wish to hone techniques and improve their effectiveness. Most clients find that they will double their catch rates after some on stream tuition so if you are planning on making this your best season ever, consider booking a day with us to refine your skills.

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Cape Piscatorial Newsletter July 16th

July 15, 2009

Cape Piscatorial Society Newsletter

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Had enough rain yet?

I suppose I could fish out of my window, there is enough water in the garden to easily cover a ten pound something but it doesn’t really appeal and to be frank it is too darned cold to be considering such activities. I also happen to have been particularly busy so that hasn’t helped.

On a positive note the dams around Cape Town are apparently at all time highs and that includes the new public water works facilities in main road Somerset West and Camps Bay, although rumours that we will be moving the Bell’s Festival indoors to Blues Restaurant are premature. There is a fair likelihood that the water will have subsided come September. It has however been pretty miserable out and about, if you have kids on school hols it more than likely has been pretty miserable in as well but that is another story entirely.


The only real options are some stillwater angling and I would suspect that Lakensvlei would be performing particularly well at the present time, the fish seem to revel in the colder conditions and of course you can always take a break and build a snowman next to the hut if things are a bit slow.

Just remember to dress warm and I wouldn’t even consider float tubing in a wet suit unless hypothermia is some sort of twisted sadomasochistic goal of yours.. it is going to be chilly out there with a capital “C” I would be sorely tempted to skip the beers and take soup.

There is of course fishing to be had closer at hand, with Jonkershoek hosting the Bell’s Festival on the 25th of this month and Eikendal will be open and should be offering good fishing. On all the stillwaters there is a considerable likelihood that the fish will be getting into spawning mode and acting a little strangely so orange patterns and annoying attractors are valid choices if the imitative approach doesn’t work.


Saltwater action is obviously not at its best at the present time but there have been quite a lot of snoek about so those with a boat and a hankering to get down and dirty with some big toothed denizens of the deep could well consider that an option. I haven’t been snoek angling in a long time but it can prove to be great fun and if conditions are pleasant makes for a super outing. All you need are some very large flashy flies and a fast sinking (DI7) line and you are in business. Just a case of making sure that the flies get down deep enough and that usually means that you need what ever little breeze that there may be going in the same direction as the current. Opposing forces will tend to keep the line too shallow. Plus remember that for whatever reason the fish seem not to be keen to take a fly if there is a lot of bait in the water so you need to either wait until the commercials move off the shoal or find your own fish for success. We have always used very flashy 4/0 Clouser style flies, if only because they don’t foul as easily when casting and they are something of a handful to throw without any more drama. Large dumbbell eyes keep them sinking which prevents fouling with the fast sinking lines, and remember some bite trace of wire or heavy mono you will get a lot of bite offs if you don’t.

The River season:

Now is certainly the time to start preparations, I am busy tidying up my fly tying room and there is a possibility that I shall actually be able to see the floor by September, it needs a real sort out and I have to get on with building up a stock of patterns. I have however at least put a rod rack into the cupboard so that I don’t get brained by stray rod tubes every time I open the door.

I start every winter with good intentions and this time I may actually get around to it. The promised postings of fly patterns and instructions haven’t been forgotten, although they have been a tad delayed but I will keep you up to date on that score. With the National Championships to be fished on our home waters again in October I think that the Bell’s Festival will be held in September so keep your eyes open for notification of the exact dates coming soon.

For all of the bad weather, the necessity of the electric blanket and the lighting of the gas heater every day the positive side to things is that there should be a good flow of water in the streams throughout the season , it is just now a case of waiting out the remainder of the winter months, tying some flies and being as best prepared as possible come September. It seems a long way off but it isn’t really, let’s just hope that the streams will be fishable early and we won’t have a late deluge as last season keeping us from fishing for an additional month. Withdrawal symptoms are setting in already and further delays could be hazardous to one’s health.

If you are heading out to the dams or off into the briny in search of snoek, as always “Be Careful Out There”.


Housing for Trout?

July 15, 2009
A good feeding lie, behind a mistream obstruction?

A good feeding lie, behind a mistream obstruction?

We are blessed down here in Cape Town at the Southern Tip of Africa, we have gorgeous scenery, some really great fishing and a mild climate with a short winter of only about three months.. Well that is what the travel brochures say, they neglect however to mention that the climate isn’t quite that mild all of the time and the  winter can be remarkably harsh despite the short duration.

Right now we are in the midst of the worst of the weather and only last week I was warning of the risk of praying for rain. Sure we need rain, we don’t get it for much of the year and the farmers and more importantly to readers of this column, the fish need a serious deluge over these few months to keep the ground water levels high and the rivers flowing throughout the warm summer.

I do try to see the bigger picture and tell myself that this inconvenient and frigid down pouring is indeed just housing for trout at its most basic level but that doesn’t mean that I particularly enjoy it. There had been far too little of the stuff of late and with the fishing season on the local trout streams but a few months away it was apparent that winter had yet to really kick in. So a little of my energy went towards hoping that the cold fronts would come and drop some much needed liquid over the mountains.

I didn’t realize that I had quite the psychic power that I apparently wield because since those thoughts last week it hasn’t stopped. Cape Town apparently over the past weekend had more rain than it has seen in such a short period of time for over fifty years. Roads flooded, roofs leaked and the temperatures dropped to levels that are really rather uncomfortable in an environment where most houses lack double glazing or even any inbuilt form of heating.

More trout housing that you know what to do with in Camps Bay.

More trout housing that you know what to do with in Camps Bay.

Its all very well assuming that one can use the dark days usefully to tie flies and fill boxes in preparation for the coming season but with frozen fingers and steam clouding one’s vision the size 22’s will have to wait, manufacturing them is simply too tricky and drinking enough scotch to take your mind off the chill merely makes fly manufacture even less productive.

There is some sunshine due in a couple of days but right now overnight temperatures are plummeting like proverbial concrete parachutes and being tucked up in bed with the electric blanket and a copy of “Trout Hunter” by Rene Harrop is about the only course of action keeping me alive, never mind sane.

Trout Hunter Front Cover

In fact if things don’t slow down a tad I could be casting at Tuna out of the bedroom window. The Cape Flats, the remarkably level and low lying bit of ground that prevents the Indian and Atlantic Oceans from joining up and usurping the Pacific as the largest body of water may well lose the battle. Another weekend like that past and shipping could take a short cut over Mitchell’s Plain and avoid the dangers of rounding the Cape of Good Hope altogether.

So for now I am focusing on staying as dry as possible, tidying out the fly tying room and once again considering the financial implications of installing heating.

As my mother is want to quote “this too shall pass” and hopefully come September the rivers will be full, the trout happy and fishing able to start in earnest. If I put in that heater I may even warm up enough to tie a few flies in preparation. Don’t forget to visit our website, in great need admittedly of update at

CPS Newsletter June 2nd

July 2, 2009

Cape Piscatorial Society Newsletter.                                                                                   Thursday, July 02, 2009

Here we are a third of the closed season over with and for once the berg winds are blowing and winter seems to have taken a slight step back. If you are a meteorologist or simply a pessimistic old fart you will know that this in more than likely a harbinger of climactic holocaust to come but for now I suppose one should try to enjoy it.

There is due to be some rain today but the first part of the weekend is predicted to be warm and sunny again so a pleasant time to be out and about on a dam somewhere casting a line. Eikendal, Jonkershoek and La Ferme all offer fishing relatively close to home and will provide the chance to still get away in time to watch the rugby in the afternoon.

My only trouble is that I have been so busy with tiling peoples bathrooms and laying laminate flooring that I really haven’t even considered fishing for the past week and have no plans that things are likely to change on that front in the near future.

I did venture out ,at the kind invitation of Mercedes Labuschagne, to fish at La Ferme last Sunday, the weather was great, even perhaps a little too pleasant for quality fishing but it was glorious out there in Franschoek and well worth the trip if only for the drive through some spectacularly scenic countryside. There was a pretty good turnout of anglers for their competition and although the fishing was a little slow, fish were caught, prizes awarded and I think that pretty much most of the people enjoyed there time. One of the wonderful things about such venues is that they offer a great opportunity for children to start enjoying fly fishing in relative ease and safety at the same time. Lets face it, our streams these days are not the ideal place for a young neophyte to cut their angling teeth and the smaller venues with plenty of casting space offer a wonderful introduction to fly fishing.

There were a number of youngsters fishing and I was most encouraged to see them there, in the days of PlayStation and other electronic and indoor distractions it seems that far too many children don’t get out and about anywhere near as much as they should and when you live in a place as attractive as the Cape one can’t help but think that is a pity. Not to mention darned unhealthy to boot.

La Ferme Franschoek.

So a very big thank you to Mercedes for the invite and if you have never been to La Ferme you should plan a visit some time. What with lovely surroundings, cottages to rent and ostriches and buck wandering about the place it would make for a super weekend getaway with the kids, get in some fishing and still not requiring you to drive too far. There is a further report back and some images of the competition venue to bee seen on my Fishing Gene Blog at if you would like to see that. Don’t forget to link to the RSS feed on the blog so that you can be notified of updates other than the CPS news. There will be more coming along on there in the near future, including fly tying information and of course as soon as the streams open one would hope that regular updates of the state of play on our waters will feature as well.

Future events:

Don’t forget the Jonkershoek Juniors Develo Junior Fly fishing festival is to be held at Jonkershoek on the 11th, more information can be obtained from plus for the more chronologically advanced there is the Bells Fly Fishing festival on the 25th of July , that is if the juniors leave any fish in there for you. Information available from the above web site.

Fly Tying at Eikendal.

The fly-talk crew will be hosting fly tying again this evening, a regular event on the first Thursday of the month for those interested. Start time for the session is 18.30 and they repeat the demo on the following Saturday, you can reach the fly talk guys on


From all accounts the fishing at Lakensvlei has slowed down a bit of late, I suspect that the fish are getting a little distracted by the breeding season and with hormones raging they are playing silly blighters and proving a little more difficult to tempt to the fly. Still that said the fishing was tremendous before and it isn’t half bad now either but on my last visit it required some work to find fish and rewards come to those who persevere, try different lines, methods and flies and cover some water to try to find the fish.

Piscator Website:

Craig Thom has been doing quite a bit of work on the CPS website at and things there are being revamped gradually. One of the innovations is to have revolving advertising so that all advertisers get a fair crack of the whip, you may have noticed the changes. For those with services, venues , tackle or whatever for sale to the fly fishing community the advertising offers some cost effective exposure to a selected target market and you can get your banner put onto the site for only R750 per annum, peanuts on the advertising front these days. If you are interested please contact me on or Craig at . Should you require any assistance in designing your banner I can do that for you for a small fee so even if you are not a graphically orientated person there is no reason to miss out on the opportunity. Links to your own websites etc come as part of the package so let us know.


This reminds me that I am not sure if Craig has yet put downloadable subscription forms on the site yet? I will check up as subs are now due and we will make sure that you can get the required information from the site by next week.

Finally sorry that there has been a glitch in transposing the internet links on this newsletter to the e mail verso sent out to members, I am hoping that we will have solved that problem but if not know that we are working on making it all easier for you.

For now if you can get out fishing make the most of the weather, if not tie a few flies, the stream season is approaching faster that you think and as always it pays to avoid that made dash to the vice in August when you suddenly realize that you boxes are severely depleted. Right the sun is up and after a very early start to the day to keep you all informed I have to get on my bike and do some more work, no rest for the wicked. If you are venturing onto the water somewhere, as always  “Be Careful Out there”.