Posts Tagged ‘Rolston’

Orange Fever

August 4, 2010

By the time you read this I should have one of these in my hands, at least I hope so.

Due to the wonders of modern technology, and for me anything more advanced than a slide rule is pretty wonderous I have to admit, I can post this when I am nowhere near a computer. In fact I am nowhere near anything much, or at least that is the plan.

By now we should be happily camped on the edge of the Orange River on the Namibian border with nothing to do but cast for yellowfish and perhaps tie the odd fly if the situation dictates. Preparations have been hectic, one minute we were chatting about a possible trip and the next thing we were going. It didn’t help that I found that I had the dates incorrect and had a day less than expected to prepare, but then as with all these types of things, eventually one realises that if you have forgotten something you will have to do without it and that is all that can be said.

The only real worry is that Mike, Albe and myself are all avid anglers which means we will no doubt have a plethora of rods, reels, lines and flies. Probably some alcohol and a few items of clothing and if we are really fortunate one of us is going to remember to bring some food.

Years back I did spend three days on the Vaal with little more than three bottles of beer some bread rolls and a packet of chips, but the fishing was good and I lost some weight, it is amazing what one will do to catch a few fish if you have the fishing gene.

Big Water, Big Sky, Big Desert and great fishing.

For those not familiar with yellowfish they are the unsung heros of fly fishermen in Southern Africa. Living in Cape Town we don’t have any really good quality yellowfish water near by and a trip out into the sticks is something of a winter ritual. It helps that the waters of the Orange River (it isn’t called the Orange because of its colour, although often it could be), run clear and low at exactly the same time that the Cape Streams are unfishable.

There are a number of species of yellowfish and related species which are technically not yellows but tend to be referred to under the same umbrella. An interesting evolutionary divergence is that each is pretty much tied to specific riverine systems.

The Smallmouth and Largemouths (our two targets on this trip), live in the Vaal / Orange River system, the Clanwilliam Yellowfish and the Sawfins are found in the Oliphant’s system, closer to home but hard to access. The Natal Scaly is found in the Eastern part of the country in Natal and the Smallscale and Largescales are found in the Limpopo systems and the occasional Witvis in the Breede River Catchment.

The trouble with all of that is that it makes conservation a problem, one can’t simply transplant fish from one watershed to another and whilst some of the species are not under threat the Clanwilliam and Sawfins are.

Still back to the Orange and our trip:

For those not in the know yellowfish were thought to be virtually uncatchable on fly for many years and those that were caught seemed to be some sort of lucky aberration. However advances in techniques of both fishing and fly tying saw the catch rates climb rapidly, particularly with spread of understanding of the Czech nymph style of fishing. Yellowfish are for the most part bottom feeders, focusing on larvae and pupae of aquatic insects hard on the bottom and frequently in very fast water. (The Largemouths as juveniles feed in much the same way but then become piscivorous once they gain size, and they can gain some serious dimensions).

Some of the species available on the Orange River

We will probably practise a variety of techniques, some because they are effective and others perhaps simply because they can be more fun. But the standard is to fish heavily weighted Czech nymph patterns on either a normal Czech nymph rig or even fishing with pure mono and no casting of any real sort.

The trick is to have the patterns running hard on the bottom in white water conditions on occasion and to still be able to detect what can frequently be very subtle takes. For those familiar with grayling fishing this is much the same except that the fish are far bigger, far stronger and the current and size of the rivers more vicious than most. Some Scandinavian rivers probably are of similar dimension and flow but few English rivers would be as large.

If one finds the fish and you are proficient at the methods you can literally “hammer ’em” and frequently after a while we will change to upstream indicator nymphing in the slightly slower and shallower waters, if only for some variety.

After years of competative angling where indicators other than flies are out of bounds it is going to be fun to experiment with variations and I have a few tricks up my sleeve worthy of testing out.

Then of course there is the chance if the water is clear that there could be some dry fly action, down on the lower reaches this isn’t common but it can occur and casting small dries for fish well above the average size of most trout makes for some exciting sport.

Plus we really should spend some time with streamers trying to nail some Largemouths, we have caught a good number on the lower reaches but usually as a byproduct of fishing for the smallmouths. It is amazing how large some of the fish are that will still take a tiny nymph, but to seek out really massive specimens we should focus a bit with some hard-core streamer fishing. This time we might even get around to it.

So if we don’t get lost, starve, drown or meet some equally dreadful fait such as poor fishing, there should be some more photos when we get back. Until then I am thankfully out of touch with the modern world.

Three Days at Lakensvlei

May 5, 2010

Sunset over the Cape Piscatorial Society's premier stillwater.

Having had quite some layoff from things piscatorial events conspired to produce a surfeit of angling over the past week or so. Much of the best of it being at Lakensvlei dam, a water owned by the Hex River Water Board with the fishing controlled by the Cape Piscatorial Society here in Cape Town.

Influenced by competition fishing many of us have taken to drift boat fishing this relatively large water and recently I became the proud part owner of a “Fishduc” inflatable. The inflatable packs up small, is exceptionally versatile and affords an excellent fishing platform for drift boating when combined with a drogue system to reduce the rate of the drift.

Mike Spinola with a nice fish from our new boat.

Up until then most anglers here would fish from float tubes, personally I never liked them if only for the reason that you inevitably end up trolling and not casting, some anglers could be seen only casting about once every half an hour. Anyway, do you really want to spend the rest of your fishing days going backwards?

The drift boat option affords the opportunity to drift onto new water constantly whilst searching fish and the ability to locate the fish efficiently in a large body of water is really the great advantage of this style. The advantages of being able to chat to your boat partner, pick up your coffee cup, fags or a stiff whisky don’t go amiss either for that matter.

The isolated fishing hut on the banks makes for a rustic but perfectly comfortable home for a day or two with only gas stove and candles or gas lamps spending a couple of nights out there really does bring things into perspective in terms of what is really important and what isn’t.

Waking in the early hours the sunrise over the rapidly cooling dam and the consequent low clouds of early morning mist were a picture and the sunsets in the evenings, well something special that’s for sure.

The first day saw us work hard for fish but we managed seven each by day’s end, an exhausting day’s end to be sure and I was glad that I was staying over and not having to make the two hour drive back to town. We drifted a great deal of the lake and didn’t ever really find too much of a concentration of fish except where they were on the top , besotted with a fall of flying ants and taking no interest in most of the flies that we had to throw at them. It would seem that like their riverine brethren stillwater trout love ants.

In fact one of the fish that was badly hooked and therefore killed subsequently proved to be literally “stuffed to the gills” with these little hymenoptera no wonder they wouldn’t look at anything else.

Yes that entire pile of food is just ants.. trout love ants..

Day two saw me afloat with a client and if anything the fish were even less in evidence, we fished hard covered a lot of water and only later in the evening when the fish started to move on the top did we have any degree of success. Although rising fish moping up the remnants of the ant fall seemed a little less choosy, perhaps the numbers of ants was waning and as a result the fish becoming a little less selective.

Day three and my third fishing partner of the extended weekend and we cracked it, we found good numbers of fish in one of the arms and caught some thirty trout between us for the day. Many still showing evidence of being stuffed with ants, although I believe that quite a few were feeding just under the surface to the sunken insects. All the fish were in the extreme shallows, perhaps lured there by the drifting ants being piled up on the windward bank by the breeze and offering easy pickings.

Time to return home after three hard days of rowing and fishing, having caught approximately thirty trout to my rod and having enjoyed a wonderfully peaceful and basic existence on the edge of a gorgeous stillwater. Not to mention the chance to share the experience with three different anglers on different days. It rarely gets much better than this and although I returned tired out from casting and rowing, the boat is in the garage and I can go back pretty any time I wish.  Winter is here and that means I may well wish to return quite a lot.

Our new ARK inflatable boat. The world is now our oyster, or at least the wet bits are.


ARK inflatables.

If you would like to find out more about ARK inflatable craft for white water rafting, fishing or simply family recreation they have outlets all over the world. You can locate a dealer near you by visiting

Ark have outlets in: South Africa, USA and Canada, Sweden, Costa Rica and the UK. With a wide variety of craft and the option to custom build you something really special visit their site and have a look at what they have to offer. Visit their website at or e mail them for information at ARK inflatables.

Fly fishing in and around Cape Town South Africa.

This post is sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris, Cape Town’s top flyfishing guiding service, you can find out more about what they have to offer on or e mail them at Inkwazi Flyfishing

The Cape Piscatorial Society.

You can reach the Cape Piscatorial Society on the link or contact the secretary at Cape Piscatorial Society

Fishduc Hire in Cape Town:

You can hire these boats from ARK inflatables.

Or StreamX e mail: StreamX

Mud and Aquaculture

October 8, 2009

Mud, Trout, Small Flies and Long Leaders.

This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

You may have seen the story in the Cape Piscatorial Society’s Newsletter about the pollution of the Smallblaar (Molenaars) River. You will find below the images of the filthy water pouring into the stream from the Du Toit’s Estate.

However apparently Deon Roussouw of Nature Conservation has been in contact with the transgressors and they have agreed to close the outlet from the dams whilst the work is underway and only reopen them once the water has had time to settle out.  With rain today hopefully most of the filth will be washed out of the system in short order and be back to normal.

Digging out old ponds caused severe discolouration of the waters of the normally pristine Smallblaar Stream.

Digging out old ponds caused severe discolouration of the waters of the normally pristine Smallblaar Stream.

So well done to Deon and to Molopong Aquaculture for taking action to protect the stream.. I understand that the new owners of the estate have requested a meeting with the CPS chairman to obviate similar problems in the future, all of which are good signs of some concern and cooperation..

I am not sure that really makes me feel a whole lot better about having an intensive fish farming operation on the banks of a pristine mountain river but it is a start that they have taken our concerns seriously enough to stop or reduce the damage, and that is all to the good..

DuToits Polution #1

Gone Fishing:

Due to the pollution of the river, as mentioned above, and to avoid a total waste of my afternoon having been booked to fish on the Smallblaar, I rescheduled to fish the Elandspad, Phoned the office, established that there was no-one booked and managed a couple of hours of remarkably good fishing given the late hour, near dark conditions and a nasty, cold and gusty wind..

The tiny tiddlers that seemed to be the only fish we could take a week ago were replaced by some nice fish and a decent hatch of mayflies did no harm, although most of the fish weren’t rising.

The only word of warning is that despite the still moderately high water, the lack of sunshine and the blustery wind the better trout were still quite reluctant to commit to any fly that was too big or which dragged in the slightest. A difficult presentation to make when fishing with a long fine leader in an inconsistent gale. It would however have been impossible with a shorter leader as the complex currents would have dragged the fly in moments.

I didn’t fish well, so the “good fishing” epithet refers to the trout and the stream and not the efficacy of the angler. I missed fish, broke off on fish and messed up more often than I would normally expect. Mind you the weather wasn’t nice and didn’t make things easy.

The top fly? Yet again the Spun Dun, although the smaller poly yarn version worked better it was very tricky to see in the poor light and much of the time I had to use a slightly larger deer hair version, which was more visible but I am convinced that some of the fish failed to commit to it at the last moment and , as the Brit’s would say “Came short”. When possible under the conditions, 7X tippet, an 18’ leader and smaller more sparse fly patterns did the trick, and if the fish are being that discerning already we are going to have our work cut out later in the season. I think that I might start breaking out the #22 hooks shortly.. 🙂

Something new: I ran out of floatant the other day and in a rush didn’t have much choice, the tackle shop where I stopped only had one lonesome container of Loon Payette Floatant, there were no alternatives available so I took it. It is a fairly solid paste with the consistency of “lip gloss”,  in a small plastic “bucket” type of container and you simply rub a smidgen onto your fingers and then on to the flies. Having sullied almost all of my fishing shirts with greasy dribbles from the normal “upside down” semi liquid floatants this stuff looked to have an advantage. It worked really well and proved to be far less messy, plus it doesn’t have the problem of squirting all over the place due to the change in pressure from driving up to the mountians. If it can stand the heat in summer without pouring all over my shirt fronts I might have found something of a winner here.  I think that it is probably supplied by Jandi Trading here in South Africa and you should keep your eye open for it, currently I am quite taken with the stuff.

I will say that it is a long time since I have been on the water in the late afternoon, it is frequently not that productive and usually I am either returning a client to his hotel or simply too tired to carry on into the dusk. I really must try it more often, despite the adverse conditions the fishing was, as said, very good and had I been “on form” I would have had thirty fish in a couple of hours.

New Website Launched.

September 9, 2009

Forgive me father for I have sinned, it has been three weeks since my last post.. Things have been more than a little hectic, not least because I have been studiously banging away on the keyboard to try to put together and updated website at But that has  now been completed, if they every really are and the only thing standing between me and some fishing is dreadful weather.. Oh well that is always the way of things early in the season and we have come to expect as much.

This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

WOW..1100 visits this blog has now had over a thousand visits, not a lot in the grand scheme of things perhaps but rewarding none the less and thank you to all of you who have taken a look at the content and provided feedback.

The latest newsletter from the Cape Piscatorial Society follows:

Cape Piscatorial Society Newsletter.                                      Thursday, September 10, 2009

There are times when I completely impress myself with my psychic and spiritual powers, not the least important manifestation of which is the ability to produce rain when called upon to do so. It has become apparent over the years that all I need to do to induce unexpectedly severe precipitation is to book a beat on a trout stream in early September. The moment the booking is confirmed and I have grafted like a dog with other tasks to free up time to allow some piscatorial pleasure the heavens open.

In fact, this time around the process was so completely effective that not only did it rain but the weather deteriorated sufficiently to produce snow on the Stellenbosch Mountains and to ground a bulk tanker off Blouberg beach and if anyone finds out that it was my fault things could get a little tricky. I may find that I am in fact responsible for a localized environmental disaster and all I really wanted to do was to go fishing..

So in short, I have managed to induce foul weather once again, failed to hit the streams in the first two weeks of the season and consequently have very little to report. I did get a report from Greg Madgin, he apparently did manage some stream time on Saturday and despite high water was able to cast a line and catch some fish, although he reported that the Elandspad was particularly slippery underfoot. In fact he alluded to problems with the grip afforded by his Aquastealth soles, a problem that I have never faced but we shall see.

As an aside Greg also mentioned that he curtailed operations early to get home to watch the rugby, but of course slipping into frigid torrents may have proved a little more exciting and less frustrating than actually enduring the total pig’s ear that the Boks made of their first attempt to secure the tri nations crown. With some good fortune perhaps either the streams or the Boks will perform better this weekend..

There is still hope:

I am due to spend some time with the WP B team this coming weekend, in preparation for their assault on the National Fly Fishing Championships to be held on our local waters in October. So may have something to report next week. In fact, given that I didn’t actually make any bookings I may just circumvent the weather Gods and trick them into allowing some sunshine. Let’s hope so.

Forthcoming events: Fly Fishing Heritage Day

Don’t forget that we have a new national holiday a week next Thursday with Fly Fishing Heritage Day being celebrated at Stream X in Milnerton on September 24th. Craig Thom will be hosting an open day with various attractions, including but not confined to Fly tying and fly casting demonstrations and / or instruction as well as copious amount of beer and apparently a “fly casting challenge”. I suspect it would be best if you partake of the challenge before the beer but then on the other hand both my darts and pool playing is generally improved by intake of some “Dutch Courage” so who knows? .

An interesting aside:

I was recently reading a book on bites and stings, (Bitten by Pamela Nagami.M.D.) an odd subject you may well think but interesting none the less. One of the chapters dealt with the infestation of fire ants that has gradually moved across the continental United States. These nasty and highly toxic little critters have apparently even been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of trout who have fed on mating swarms of flying fire ants and succumbed to the toxins contained therein. So not only, as we all know, do trout just love ants but it would seem that they are even willing to die for them.. the efficacy of including a few ant patterns in one’s fly box can’t be sneezed at.

And Finally:

I have recently launched a completely updated “Inkwazi Fly Fishing” website, with free downloads, some fly pattern information, links and lots of other , what I hope will prove to be, useful stuff. You can check it out at

Sink Rates, Brass, Tungsten and the great unknown.

August 12, 2009

The dangers of mixing alcohol, spreadsheets and too little mathematical knowledge.

My real interest in sink rates of flies was sparked by an introduction to Czech style nymphing and spawned from that “mono nymphing”, particularly where it relates to catching yellowfish in the rapid waters of the Vaal and Orange Rivers. (  Favourite haunts of us at Inkwazi Fly Fishing). Very early on it became quite apparent that as anglers most of us, or a least me, were grossly over estimating the rate at which our flies went down to the fish, in particular in moving water. Many also did and still do misinterpret the reasons for the sink rate and don’t adjust our gear and flies accordingly, our conclusions being based on incorrect logic.

Now I have been pondering these variables for some time and a recent newsletter from the guys at Fly Talk, (well worth reading and interesting stuff that they put out), had me thinking about it all over again.

You can subscribe to their newsletter on this link Fly Talk Subscribe

Combine a little bit of interest in the subject, a dose of insomnia and a few whiskies and you are well on your way to hours of interesting hypothesis..

Here was the story in brief from Phillip at Fly Talk:

The flies used in the "Test"

The flies used in the "Test"

They measured the sink rates of four apparently identical wooly buggers with tungsten and brass beads in two bead sizes. The average sink rates were:

3mm Brass                         8 sec / metre

3mm Tungsten                  5 sec/ metre

4mm Brass                         7 sec/metre

4mm Tungsten                  4 sec/metre

The tentative hypothesis was that a mm increase in bead diameter resulted in a 1 sec /metre increase  in sink rate..

Now I just love that the guys are thinking about this and I really do admire them for putting the ideas out there, it is useful stuff, however there are some considerations, (some mentioned in passing by Phillip I have to add), which throw a spanner in the works and it got me thinking. So armed with ADSL and unlimited access to google, Wikipedia and a spreadsheet I crunched some numbers.

Why I hadn’t listened as school when they were discussing the volumes of spheres and the densities of various metals lord only knows, if only my teachers had explained that it could affect the efficacy of my fishing I may have paid a little more attention.

So given the calculation for the volume of spheres,VSphere

(I ignored the hole in the middle, it was complicated enough already), the relative weights, densities and gains per mm increase in diameter were calculated for both Tungsten and brass beads..(Brass isn’t a standard material, being made up of various combinations of metals but I used an average of density of 8.4 g/cm-3)

Here are the results:

Diameter Volume Sphere cm-3 Gain in V Variation Mass Gain mass %Gain
Tungsten Beads






















Brass Beads






















The table shows a couple of interesting things, (listen I am not a mathematician so they were interesting to me, although perhaps obvious to the better informed). The gain in volume and therefore mass of the beads per mm increase in diameter gradually reduces as the beads get larger. That is to say you get less gain for a 1mm increase because obviously the increase in volume as a proportion of the size of the previous bead becomes less. I suppose that is to be expected but it also highlights that adding larger and larger beads is going to give you less of an effect, something worth remembering for the “bigger is better” brigade who seem to imagine that you can solve all ills by using larger beads.

The mass difference between the tungsten and brass is significant, nearly double in the case of Tungsten, (a 50% increase is what they say in the catalogues but twice the mass is perhaps a better way of expressing it).

So a 4mm Tungsten bead weighs a bit over twice as much as a 3mm tungsten bead.. and yet the sink rate isn’t affected by more than 20%. That is to say according to Phillip’s findings the 4mm tungsten version sank at 1 sec per metre faster than the 3mm.. So why doesn’t it sink twice as fast?

Why the bigger bead version doesn’t sink twice as fast.

The first really big thing to consider, which wasn’t measured is how fast the bead would sink on its own, it wouldn’t make any difference between the 3mm and 4mm bead, it is a function of density, perhaps a little for the additional drag of the larger bead, (I am not a physicist either) but it wouldn’t make much difference if any.

The second, really really big thing to consider is that a woolly bugger is perhaps the worst style of pattern to use for the experiment, even in non scientific terms it is obvious to me that the sink rate is far more a function of the woolly bugger’s profile, and inherent drag than it is affected by the mass or size of the bead.

I am quite sure that given a slimmer fly, such as a buzzer or Czech nymph you would see a dramatically different picture emerging.

Thirdly I would hypothesize that the maximum sink rate would be of the bead alone and that any variation is therefore an inherent property of the fly’s natural drag, profile etc. i.e. no version of a fly is going to sink as rapidly as the sink rate of the bead alone, that being an inherent maximum if you wish.

Which then only goes to show that the design of your sinking flies is more important than the size of the bead or even the material of the bead that you use.

Sure Tungsten will overcome the drag more effectively than brass, sure a slimmer fly will sink faster and more importantly a slimmer fly will show a marked improvement in sink rate per increase in bead size, at least until the overall density of the fly approaches that of pure tungsten.

Add to that thickness of the leader and you are into a whole new ball game.

Another point:

It struck me after looking over this discussion that perhaps the really interesting point is that a fly with a 4mm brass bead of a mass of approximately .28 of a gram sinks at 7 sec per metre, whilst one with a 3mm Tungsten bead with a mass of .27 of a gram sinks at 5 sec per metre and yet theoretically they weigh almost exactly the same.

Surely this is even more demonstrable proof that it is the density and not the mass which really has an effect on the fly. ? Something that I have been trying to get across to lot of people in the past.. Two flies of near identical mass which if Phillip’s experiment can be judged as accurate, sink at completely different rates.

I have had considerable discussions, verging on argument, with various anglers about the use of massively heavy flies, for Czech nymphing in particular, and the truth is that you gain less and less as you increase the size of the bead and gain a whole lot more if you consider using slimmer flies with less drag and thinner nylon for the same reason.

This I am sure will attract the interest of the mathematicians and physicists out there, which is fine, do give me some feedback, as said my skills in such areas are limited and errors in the formulae or conclusions are more  than likely. Double so after a late night and some scotch, but the point I think is pretty clear, the fly and leader are far more important variables than the bead and to be effective one should consider them very carefully.

The bead effectively increases the density of the overall fly or rig, but if you are trying to change the properties of something so inherently unsinkable as a woolly bugger the variations are minimal.

Given that the bead is by far the most dense part of the system it stands to reason it is more a question of the other “stuff” slowing things down than it is a question of the bead “speeding it up”. Which is perhaps why one of my most effective sinking patterns on the streams, for normal nymphing is a tiny brassie fished on thin tippet, it doesn’t weigh much, but the overall density is probably as good as that massive tungsten bead woolly bugger and in the end that is what counts.

Food for thought.

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..

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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Get our fact sheet

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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