Archive for March, 2013

The Great East Cape

March 31, 2013

Great EastCape Head

The Great East Cape … The Wild Trout Association Festival in Rhodes.

High up in the far North Eastern corner of the Cape Province, on the edge of the mountain kingdom of Lesotho sits the tiny village or Rhodes, nestled in the hills of the Southern Drakensberg range. It’s an isolated spot, serviced by dirt roads and protected by the natural barriers of high and often snow-capped peaks, well off what most people might consider to be the “beaten track”.

The Great EastCape
A little Easter Weekend Graphic frivolity.

If you are one for night life, theatres, entertainments of various kinds or even a reliable supply of electricity then it isn’t going to be your cup of tea. This is somewhere where children still arrive at school on horseback, it is a place of rugged 4 X 4 trucks, poor cellphone reception, and a shop that may or may not have the most basic of foodstuffs depending on the latest interval in a shelf restocking program that involves a lengthy drive to the Aliwal North several hours away. An unpredictable spot where the weather can turn on a sixpence and one might experience baking sun or freezing hail pretty much any month of the year. A proclaimed conservation area surrounded by remote sheep farms and not a lot else. Well not a lot else unless you are a trout fisherman, because if you are, the place boasts more running trout water than you can shake a rod at.

BokspruitScene

If this picture doesn’t make your mouth water, you aren’t a fly fisherman.

The headwaters of the mighty Orange River, South Africa’s largest river, flow down the slopes all around the village and the Wild Trout Association, a conglomeration of riparian land owners who allow angling on the waters that flow through their farms provides access to literally hundreds of kilometres of trout stream. The Bell, Sterkspruit, Bokspruit, Riflespruit, Klopperhoekspruit and other smaller streams all meander in an extensive network of prime fishing water bringing the rain waters and snowmelt down the valleys to join the Kraai River and ultimately the Orange.

SharlandBokspruit
Sharland Urquhart nets a fish on the Bokspruit.

In the summer months yellowfish move up into the highlands to spawn and all year round trout inhabit the clear cool waters, thriving an impressive food chain of various aquatic insects and breeding prolifically in the extensive redds of clean gravel. It is a trout’s and therefore by default an angler’s paradise.

ShadowsBokspruit

Shadows and Clear Water on the “Bok”.

Each year the WTA (Wild Trout Association) hold their annual Fly Fishing Festival, a laid back and yet in some ways intense get together for those of piscatorial bent, where the talk is of fishing, fishing and more fishing. Although conditions can vary dramatically from frigid downpours to baking droughts the scope of the angling generally means that there is still good water to be had, irrespective of climatic conditions. One can sit in the pub at Walkerbouts, WTA guide in one hand and a glass of the good stuff in the other and select your fishing as one might select a fine wine from an expansive cellar.

MorneBell

Morne Liebenberg plays a fish on a very low flowing Bell River.

If the waters are low, as they were this year, one might venture further down river in search of flow, at times of high water the feeder streams high in the mountains could be the ticket. This year the wandering thunder showers which affect the valleys in a rather aberrant manner, caused some streams to become murky whilst others flowed clear. One river might be near high and dry whilst just down the road and alternative catchment will be flowing smoothly over its green hued bedrock.

In fact some anglers ventured a good way downstream to the Kraai to target some remaining yellowfish which had yet to retreat from their summer haunts in the high-country whilst others chose to wade the gin clear waters of the Bokspruit which held so many fish that nymphing became the norm simply to avoid the constant re-drying of soaked dry flies.

BoatsButt
There is something about rural life which is as appealing as it is amusing.

All in all approximately forty anglers converged on the village to participate, there was some late night fly tying around the pub tables, a lot of idle chatter about flies and fly rods and some really great fishing.

Whether you choose to participate in the festival one year, a great introduction to the region’s angling, or simply plan to add a visit to your bucket list Rhodes and its surrounds should be in your fishing diary somewhere. Fishing guides are provided to those in need during the festival and outside of that Fred Steynberg and Tony Kietzman both provide guiding to visiting anglers. To put a South African spin on a popular book title, it really should be one of the “Fifty places to fish before you braai”.. 🙂

Contact information:

http://rhodesvillage.co.za/

http://wildtrout.co.za/

http://www.walkerbouts.co.za/

http://www.linecasters.co.za/

Books available from the author of this blog from Smashwords

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Tippet Mathematics

March 28, 2013

 

Tippet Head

I wish I had had a better maths teacher at school, it would have helped with my nymph fishing.

A recent conversation with Ian Cox at the WTA trout festival got me to thinking more about something I have been considering in simple terms for some time.

We were discussing weighting of flies and anyone who has read this blog or some of my other writings on matters piscatorial will know that I get rather disillusioned with discussions of “weight” of flies. When anglers are discussing weight of flies what they are trying to do is to get them to sink faster and stay near the bottom of the current, generally in fast water. It is just that weight isn’t the answer, in my opinion density is the answer. Reference on this blog Sink Rates, Brass, Tungsten and the Great Unknown.

What I was pointing out over a beer or two was that to my mind the greatest problem for the nymph angler is the effect of the drag of the surface layers of current on the nylon and during a lengthy trip home it had my mind wandering to things mathematical. Having my mind wander towards calculus and such is a tremendously dangerous thing at the best of times.

Of course there is plenty of subjective evidence which reinforces the idea that the thinner the tippet the better the flies will sink, we all know by now that if one uses pure mono when short line nymphing the flies sink and behave completely differently to when you have thick fly line in the water. But what actually is the relationship? To be honest I didn’t know, I wasn’t sure if the relationship between tippet diameter and drag was linear, exponential, logarithmic or what and I got this bee in my bonnet to try to find out.

Here I step into the murky waters of my mathematical inadequacies so I am going to trust that I am getting things right at least mostly right.

Frontal area of tippet in the water.

What difference does it actually make to the amount of surface area dragging in the current if you change from 6X to 4X for example? Well that was fairly easy to fiddle with, admittedly tippet is round and not square but the general principle can be seen in the attached diagrams. Roughly speaking for each X factor you go thicker you gain some 25% to 30% of frontal area in the water. These figures were calculated for Stroft, one imagines in less scientific nylons the results may well be worse.

TippetTable

That isn’t really very complicated but when you consider that fishing at a metre down (assuming that it is straight down, which of course it won’t be), jump from 4lb breaking strain Stroft to 6.6lb and the frontal area in the current increases by 600 square millimetres, which is a square approximately 2.4 cm on each side.

To scale this is what the frontal areas of 1 metre of various tippet material looks like.

TippetArea

Graphically represented below, this is what 600 square mm looks like compared to a standard match box, The white area is 600 square mm, (the difference in frontal area between1 metre of the 4lb and 6.6lb nylon as set out above). Would you be happy tying half a match box to your leader and then trying to fish a nymph with it?  Or more to the point, why bother with tying a slim Czech nymph if you are going to stick it on the end of a piece of nylon that far exceeds the size of the fly in terms of surface area in the water. Remember this is the difference between 4lb and 6.6 lb not the total area in the water, that is almost treble.

Matchbox

Reducing the diameter of your tippet could do more to enhance the sink rate and control of your subsurface patterns than anything else. It is something of which I have been firmly convinced for some time. When anglers keep on about adding more and more 4mm tungsten beads to their flies I know that they would do a whole lot better to reduce the tippet diameter that they are using. It makes a far more significant difference but I have never previously seriously considered the maths. I could still be wrong, it seems a helluva lot of area to me and I have checked my figures over and over. If I have cocked it up, please let me know but I strongly suspect that this is the actual reality of fishing thicker nylon and when seen like this it is more than a little disconcerting.

I do realise that there are a heap of factors beyond this, the current slows nearer to the bottom, the tippet it round and not square, the current varies and whilst sinking at least the tippet can go straight down. But then again once hanging in the current it is pretty much fully in the face of the effects of the moving water. With all those things taken into consideration I still think that it is a massive anomaly which most anglers don’t consider. They sit at home lashing lead and tungsten to their flies without so much as a thought for the tippet. Maybe it is time to change that.

Drag: (I am really exceeding my limitations on this one)

If I managed somehow to roughly calculate the area of the tippet in the water the equations for drag left me standing. There are all manner of factors, including the velocity of the fluid (water), the speed of the fluid (current in the river), turbulence (behind the object, in this case the tippet), the drag coefficient of the object (the nearest I could find was a sphere with a coefficient of 0.45)

It should already be patently apparent that I am a very long way from a mathematician never mind an engineer.

The equation for drag is apparently: FD=½CpAv2

Where FD is Drag Force
C is the Drag Coefficient of the object.
p is the Fluid Density

A is the frontal area

And V is the velocity.

Of course I am not particularly interested in the actual drag force, just the relationship between area, current speed and drag.

So with my limited mathematical capabilities it would appear that the relationship between drag and area is linear. The more area you have in the system the more drag you are going to get, increase the area by 30% (as in going up a tippet size) and you will increase the drag by an equivalent amount. (at least that is the way it looks to me).

On the other hand if you increase the velocity of the current there is a square relationship, double the current speed and quadruple the drag. That is a whole different ball game.

In pondering this little lot it strikes me in very simple terms that your tippet diameter when fishing sunken flies is a very very significant factor and not only that but as the current speed increases so it becomes even more significant in a squared mathematical relationship.

Which probably explains why as current speed increases you quickly become unable to fish deep flies with an indicator and as it increases further you become unable to do so with a Czech nymph rig and finally you end up on pure mono or even braid in a desperate attempt to keep those carefully fashioned tungsten tidbits down there near the fish.

It is indeed food for thought and no doubt some wag will be suggesting we take flow metres and micrometres with us on the stream. I am not suggesting that, what I am suggesting, and I would tentatively venture have proven, is that the diameter of your tippet has a massive effect on the way your flies fish and that the thinking angler should be more aware of that than I suspect most of us are.

I have been fly fishing for a long time and contemplating all this to some degree or other for much of that and the graphic examples truly shocked me.

Your thoughts are most welcome as indeed are your mathematical brains, if I am missing something please don’t be shy to share. I have been vilified before, it is a risk I take when combining limited maths skills, a passion for fishing and a drop of scotch.

Ten Lessons from Tiny Trout

March 27, 2013

TinyTrout Head

Ten lessons from tiny trout.

I recently spent ten days in Rhodes, it isn’t exactly the same as “Seven Years in Tibet” but probably closer than you may imagine. The place could be the “Centre of the Universe” but you are hard pressed to find: bread, deodorant or even a pack of smokes on some days. The bottle store is so called because it has a bottle or two in it but don’t expect 15 year old single malts, actually scratch the idea of Scotch entirely. Brandy is available in limited vintage, it isn’t something you would worry too much about diluting with cola and the rivers were for the most part about as dry as the off-license.

That said there was some tremendous fishing, a lot of small fish, OK perhaps too many small fish but it did offer ample opportunity to experiment and when I am not guiding experimentation is something that I love to do on a river.

So, as the British Government are apt to recite on a regular basis, generally after some monumental cock up on in the health system or similar, “Lessons were be learned”, and they will stand me in good stead for the future.

WTA5

The Festival is about fun and learning.

Lesson #1: Good presentation is Good Presentation.

It mattered not that the fish were tiny and quite probably more naïve than a virgin on wedding night, they still responded a lot more positively to good drag free drifts, lack of line shadow and all the other things that go with that. In brief you can never short cut presentation.

Lesson #2: Tastes vary.

On one day these little fish would respond well to a dry fly and the next to a nymph or a soft hackle, you just didn’t know which. Playing with combination rigs of dry and dropper I found that if they kept on hitting the dry you could forego the subsurface pattern, but if they didn’t you would do very well to leave it on. On top of that if the soft hackle didn’t produce a slightly heavier 2mm tungsten bead nymph would often produce a few more fish or perhaps on occasion the first one from a run. It paid to keep at it and ring the changes even if the water looked too low to throw a subsurface pattern at all.

WTA4

We were blessed with low but crystal clear water.

Lesson #3: A response to a fly isn’t a hook up.

These small trout would get such a rush of blood to the head if they had a large dry fly land anywhere near them that they would attack it with glee. Trouble is that they would frequently miss the fly and on one notable occasion a fish missed the fly in an act of suicidal youthful exuberance and landed on the bank anyway, I did mention that the water was low didn’t I? Yes that low!!

Lesson #5: Be efficient.

The smaller fish were grabbing the dry on occasion so frequently that one spent nearly the whole day trying to dry it off. I found that by fishing very small but visible flies as indicators I would pick up the odd fish on the top but they would then often take the nymph or soft hackle, getting a better hook up and avoiding that endless shaking of damp morsels in the top ride powder.

WTA3

Catch and Release is the norm on these waters.

Lesson #6: Strike sideways.

Small fish offer little by way of resistance when you strike, they are too small and weigh too little to give the required opposition to set the hook. By striking low and sideways I managed to greatly increase the hook ups of the tiddlers and at the same time never missed a bigger fish. It would seem that a low strike drags the fish through the water, providing more to pull against and for longer allowing the hook to set properly. I am trying to adapt to that for all my fishing, it seemed remarkably effective.

Lesson #7: Sharp Hooks are happy hooks.

Yes I have said that before, but with small fish and light tackle it was all the more apparent and every fly got a good working over with the hook sharpener. On a couple of occasions the clients (when I had some) inadvertently tied on flies with micro barbs, when they hooked a trout with those, and that wasn’t too often because barbs are an anathema to good hook ups on light gear, it was a dreadful struggle to remove the offending metal. Barbs are nasty little things, bad for hook ups, bad for the trout and bad for you if you stick one in your ear. Barbs are best removed or barbless hooks used for all trout fishing and no doubt a good deal of other situations too.

WTA2

Guide Tony Kietzman casts on a very low Bell River.

Lesson #8: Casting is important:

You simply cannot fish well and effectively if you can’t cast well. Poor casting results in poor presentation, poor line control, lots of tangles and a whole lot less fish. Every “client” I guided over the course of the WTA festival caught a good deal less fish than they might have simply because their casting wasn’t up to scratch. It’s silly because casting is the one thing that you actually can practise away from the river. Casting is king actually, learn to do it well, ingrain it and forget it. Not only will you catch a LOT more fish but you will enjoy your angling a heap more to boot.

Lesson #9: The 1%’ers count.

By combining sharpening of hooks, long leaders, 8X tippet, matted down rod blanks, careful presentations and sideways strikes as well as doing all I could to dissuade the fish from eating the dry fly where possible I did on one occasion land 160 trout in a day. That is a helluva lot of fish and although naïve and small fish for the most part it just showed that the little things add up more than you may imagine when fishing. Fly fishing hasn’t got a great deal to do with luck, it has to do with playing the percentages, focusing on good technique and thinking the problems through. I haven’t fished much of late so the past week or so was a wonderful opportunity to “get my eye in”. I am better prepared now and feeling more confident than I have in a while. I don’t wish to spend my life beating up baby trout but it proved a worthwhile exercise none the less.

WTA1

Even the better fish weren’t that large but it was all great fun.

Lesson #10: Friends are as important as the fishing.

My time in Rhodes afforded me the opportunity to meet up with old friends and make some new ones. To the old ones “it was lovely to see you again” to the new ones “thanks for participating and being amenable to learning something”. Fly Fishing is a great sport, it is in my blood but for all the fish it is the people who make it special. Dedicated, perhaps a little obsessive, passionate and suffering mostly from some form of OCD, you are all appreciated. 🙂 Thanks for the memories.

WTA6

Further information:

The WTA festival is held each year at the same time, centred in Rhodes in the Eastern Cape Highlands. Participation affords access to hundreds of kilometres of fly fishing water, guides are available for those in need of them and the entire weekend is simply an immersion in the passion of fly fishing. For more information contact Dave Walker at Walkerbouts dave@walkerbouts.co.za

Read an eBook Week

March 4, 2013

Readabook

This week, up until March 9th is the Annual Smashwords “Read an eBook promotion”, providing people with the option of downloading books of all types from fiction to non fiction at discount prices. There are loads of books, even free ones to suit every taste and if you are new to electronic books the promotion offers you a great opportunity to test the waters at low cost. Mind you, electronic books are generally cheaper in the first place, they also provide all manner of advantages to traditional books.

  • They are available near instantly (no going to the shopping centre, parking the car or dodging the traffic)
  • They are more eco-friendly (no shipping, no chopping down trees)
  • They are more easily searched (you don’t need to fold down the corners to find your favourite bits)
  • They are available in numerous formats to suit whatever devices you have from.pdf files to Kindle editions.
  • They offer the advantages of both internal and external links and even video something that no paper book can provide.
  • They are instantly available anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
  • And probably more important to me than you, the author who has slaved over the graphics and content and shared their input, knowledge or literary skill actually gets some remuneration for their efforts, unlike the pathetic pennies offered up by traditional publishers.

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So why not try a eBook today?

You can search for titles on all manner of subjects on www.smashwords.com and for those with a distinct piscatorial bent interested in fly tying, fly casting and tackle rigging I provide you unashamedly with links to my on line books all discounted for this week on the Smashwords website. Just click on the image to be transported to the relevant page.

Don’t forget to use the special promotional code to get your discount. !!

You can even see a preview of the some of the content of the books before purchase, by following the relevant links.

WhoPackedFREE: Who Packed Your Parachute:

Yes this one is always free not just this week and it provides some great information on tying Parachute Fly Patterns. If your parachute patterns are troublesome to tie and tend to fall to bits it makes for a great investment. Better than great because it will cost you zip!!!

Review comments “Who Packed your Parachute”: This simple little booklet has proved a real winner. I have always had problems with parachute flies falling to bits after a fish or two. Rolston’s insights and descriptions have changed the way that I tie flies and there won’t be any going back to the old ways for me. If you are a fly tyer you are going to love this simple explanation of how to make your parachute flies more durable, more imitative and faster to manufacture.

LTFC50% OFF: Learn to Fly-Cast in a Weekend:

Originally published in soft cover and now out of print this book in electronic format provides explanations as to how fly casting really works and more importantly a pile of exercises which you can do in the garden to improve your casting skills. 80% of the clients I guide would catch a lot more fish if their casting was up to scratch. Now you can get that monkey off your back at a ludicrously low cost or give the book as a gift to anyone anywhere in the world using the gifting option.

Review comments: Learn to Fly-Cast in a Weekend:

I’ve finished Learn to Flycast in a Weekend and I have to say this book is a must have for every fly fisherman whether you think you’re casting is perfect or not. It will help you get rid of all of those bad habits and teach you a new way to better your casts, timing and eventually distance accuracy. if you are a new caster this book is for you. You can have the technique down in four sessions and believe me when I tell you, you won’t need any lessons afterwards. A true find and as I said a must have.

EFTT 50% OFF: Essential Fly Tying Techniques

A book that has been described as “A World First”, the original on disc contains embedded video of all the techniques as well as graphic and written descriptions of numerous essential techniques and a number of different and highly effective fly patterns. The electronic version provides links to the very same video clips and all the same graphics and instructions. A book for novice fly tyers and containing a lot of tips that may well help the old hands as well.

Review comments “Essential Fly Tying Techniques”: some amazingly simple techniques that make ALL the difference to things that I have been battling with for ages e.g. tying posts are now so much less messy and complicated.

AFTMA50% OFF: An AFTMA Fairytale

A compendium of some of the most popular posts on The Fishing Gene Blog, light reading but some useful information too, just the thing for a rainy day when the season is closed or the rivers in flood.

Review comments “An AFTMA Fairytale”: I loved this….it is warm and funny. Tim’s anecdotes are amusing and informative, beautifully written little gemstones containing many lessons from years of experience and true passion. You learn and smile at the same time, the sign of a great teacher.

100Tips50% OFF:  100 Tips, Tricks and Techniques of tackle rigging. 

Tips, tricks and techniques that will help you enjoy your fishing more, catch more fish and be better prepared on the water. Filled with graphics of knots and other tips to make you a more effective angler.

Review comments for 100 TipsFull of simple easy-to-follow tips that are a great help and clearly have stood the test of time in the hands of an expert and dedicated fisherman. Great for reference and dipping into.
The diagrams are some of the best I have seen.
Strongly to be recommended.

So whether you choose to download a copy of one of my books or someone elses, give eBooks a try, for those of us hell bent on instant gratification you can be reading your new tome in a matter of minutes..