Archive for June, 2010

Tying Flies and Writing Books

June 28, 2010

Winter and nothing to do but write and tie flies.

New Free E book Published.

The lack of content on this blog of late has been a result of a total lack of fishing, tricky to get motivated or to have something to rant about when you haven’t been on the water. More so when half the world is in the middle of their fishing season and the only result of reading magazines is envy. Not an honorable subject for a blog. If you have seen the latest edition of Fly Life you will understand the envy issue, those fish are so big as to upset the most level headed.

Still I have been trying to follow some of the competition scene; South Africa did well in the World Championships, getting their best placing ever I think, and finishing fifth. Sounds as though they were touch and go for a bronze medal up to the end but if you have ever fished a competition like this you know that it isn’t over until the fat lady sings.

The Commonwealth Championships also saw the SA men’s team take a fifth place and the Aussies get a gold. This is something of an achievement because to my mind in many ways the “out of towners” that is the New Zealanders, the South Africans and the Aussies have more of a disadvantage at the Commonwealths much of the time. They are fishing against teams who virtually regard the venues as home waters and they do a good deal more boat fishing than the Oceana crews do. So a great result for the Aussies. Well done.

Alas the ladies teams of both South Africa and Scotland were lying at the bottom of the log, it seems a great pity but I know that they don’t get a heap of help from the men most of the time and they don’t have quite the experience levels that many of the male teams do. I was particularly interested in the SA ladies team as I had some vested interest and had tried to offer some assistance prior to their departure. The South Africans got the Friendship trophy again, nice but I think that it is about time that we thrashed a few teams and annoyed a few people; the consensus is obviously that we can afford to be friendly because we aren’t a threat. 🙂

Still from my past experience the Commonwealths is really a friendly if at the same time highly competitive championship, and to my mind shows that one can have both without the loss of either. After all fishing is supposed to be fun at least most of the time, wet waders, cold hands and hooks in the ear are enough you don’t need to be unfriendly as well.

New E book published.

I have for a long time enjoyed playing with fishing flies and in particular as a fishing guide trying to both maximize their efficacy whist at the same time minimizing their complexity. As a result of experimentation and lots of thrashing over a hot vice there are some ideas which seem to have stuck and perhaps the most useful is the modernization of the way I tie parachute fly patterns. So recently I added another short e book to my collection at Smashwords on tying parachutes that are more durable, quicker to manufacture and quite possibly more imitative at the same time.

There are still many anglers who don’t particularly like parachute patterns and don’t necessarily understand their advantages. They probably do however understand their disadvantages, they tend to fall to bits the commercial ones are almost always overdressed and some methods of manufacture require specialized tools and different techniques. In my most recently published booklet, which is available to download for free I cover some of these problems and demonstrate an easy and durable means of whipping these flies out by the dozen in short order.

“Who Packed Your Parachute” is a short booklet that can be downloaded in a variety of formats from pdf file to Kindle editions and provides both text and illustrations on how I tie parachutes and hopefully provides some useful information for those who would like to do the same with more efficiency and durability built in.

You can download your own copy from Smashwords by clicking here.

In case you haven’t seen it there is another free e book (well it is really more of a fact sheet than a book but still) on the same site on building your own fly fishing lanyard and you are of course most welcome to download that as well you can get hold of it by clicking the front page image below.

Fact sheet on manufacturing your own lanyard.

I am supposedly going to get on the water next week at a commercial lodge, the fishing isn’t likely to be the best, I far prefer rivers to dams but the rivers are all closed and the dam fishing there is bank based on a relatively small bit of water. Still any port in a storm and it will be a pleasure to unleash a fly line again, no matter the water.

For now the sun is still shining, the river season is getting closer and there is still enough time to tie up some flies for the fishing and guiding season without having to rush things too much. The winter solstice is passed and we should be on the home run to the river season. In reality probably not, the worst of the winter storms generally come in after this point in the calendar and just because the club says that we will be able to fish in September doesn’t mean that the meteorologists will agree, either way it is something to  which to look forward.

Happy Birthday Paracaddis

June 6, 2010

A year in the life of the Fishing Gene Blog.

Goodness me, it is pretty much the Paracaddis Birthday and what started out as a means to occupy some time and perhaps do a little good in the cold days of a Cape Winter has turned into something a little bigger than expected and perhaps a little smaller than was hoped.

The paracaddis blog has to date published some 34 Posts, received 35 comments and had well over 4000 views. Not exactly Facebook I suppose but the activity has been pleasing none the less and it certainly has been an interesting project.


Of all of those posts the most visited in a single day “The Ultimate Catch and Release” was in fact not directly a fishing one at all, but about the release of two Ragged Tooth Sharks from the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. The blog not only focused on the release of the sharks but also the dreadful abuse of the sharks of our seas and the seas in general for that matter. Great to know that there are so many concerned and eco-minded people out there.

The release of two sharks back into the wild and its focus on the plight of our much abused marine life proved the most popular piece of the year.

Over time the most visited blogs were related to fishing small streams, particularly those in the Cape Province of South Africa.

Fishing Cape Streams part 1 focused on preparing for a new season. Primarily about what could be done over those gray weekends of winter to get ready.

Fishing Cape Streams part 2 was all about the tackle that would serve best and what modifications you could make to be best prepared for your new season.

Fishing Cape Streams part 3 featured information about all those gadgets and gizmos some of which you might actually need.

To start with though with the rivers closed most information related to fishing stillwaters:

Drift boating: a bit about experiences with this style of fishing, particularly in a place where it is still a fairly new phenomenon, where lakes don’t have their own boats or bailiffs or day tickets. It was one of the first posts on this blog and set the tone for many of the future posts.

First find the fish: Experiences in drift boating when the going is tough and the mantra of all boat anglers is to “Find the fish, find the depth, find the fly”.

Targeting Daphnia Feeders: Experiences with targeting deep water daphnia feeders. A frequently difficult proposition but one that can be over come with the right search tactics and a handful of flies.

All of the above posts received a good amount of attention and that was most rewarding as above all else it was always the hope that this blog would actually help people enjoy their fishing more, primarily by getting better at it.

Of course it couldn’t all be too serious and there was the odd post that was more than a little tongue in cheek. Perhaps the most notorious being the rather naughty new version of the DDD, perhaps one of SA’s most famous flies.

Would the real DDD please stand up?: Well what can I say? This post elicited more comment than most, it seems to still get regular hits and when all is said and done perhaps reminds us that sometimes we take this fishing lark all a tad too seriously.

Duckworth's Dirty Dangler, caused some comment.

On the flip side, there were some onerously detailed, near scientific bits, such as the piece about weighting flies and the myths and unscientific assumptions of anglers about what difference more weight on your fly has. Sure it took a bottle of Jack Daniels, a late night on the keyboard and the revisiting of some long lost school boy maths but the results were interesting. Sink rates, Brass, Tungsten and the great unknown took a seriously detailed look at beaded flies.

Just occasionally we included complex mathematics and got serious.

In the same vein sometimes I took the view that what was really needed was some “talking turkey” and of all the limitations of most fly anglers it is my belief that it is their casting that provides the most trouble, and creates the greatest limitation. Fly Casting Is Yours letting you down? An exploration of why it is that people don’t tend to sort out their casting once and for all. Maybe not what people want to hear but more than likely what they should, call it social responsibility or maybe crass marketing of my book “Learn to Fly Cast in a Weekend”, either way that post still gets quite a bit of attention.

Finally there were a few bits about flies and fly tying, you can’t really have a blog about fly fishing without including some stuff on flies and fly tying I suppose.  Flies, Compara’ and Spun Duns. A pretty detailed look at what I consider to be some of the very best dry flies ever invented and a step away from the more normal Halfordian, Catskill style and parachute patterns.

All in all it has been a busy year, those weeks seemed to whizz by and often times fishing took a back seat, having something worthwhile to write about was on occasion a struggle when I hadn’t been on the water. But now a year later I hope that those efforts provided all the readers with something of interest, something to amuse and occasionally something that really did help you enjoy your fishing more and improve your catch rate.

When I was a child the recipe for our Christmas stockings went along the lines of: Something to eat, something to play with now, something to use long into the future, something educational and something frivolous and my mother would try to include all those things. Hopefully the mix of this blog hasn’t been too different.

Variety is as they say “the spice of life” and one hopes that in writing this blog over the past twelve months I have achieved enough variation to entertain, educate, annoy, amuse and stimulate the readership. Thank you to those who have supported the blog and taken time out to read the musings contained within. If you are a newcomer then I hope that some of the past posts will still prove worthy of your time and that future blogs will prove to be better as experience grows.

Thank you all and happy Birthday “Paracaddis”.