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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.
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.
The 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.
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.
You 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.
I 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.
We 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:
There 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.
You 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.
Sure 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
A 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:
This 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:
Another 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.
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.
This 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.
For 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.
Zingers 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.
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 www.inkwaziflyfishing.co.za 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.
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