Posts Tagged ‘Stealth Fly Rod and Reel’

Going Micro

December 1, 2010

Things are still getting going with the season on the streams and there has been that (possibly) fortuitous influx of brownies, which are keeping many of our hopes alive because without the life long education that the stream born rainbows have received to be honest the brownies are still a little naïve.

So right now larger flies still work pretty much Ok and although you are likely to be getting refusals from some of the “bows” the brownies will frequently make an error of judgment. But summer is coming the late rains have added a flush to the system but pretty soon you are going to be reaching for that 7 or 8X tippet and the micro patterns.

Whilst it has taken a few years for their general acceptance it isn’t uncommon for one to find even neophyte anglers on the streams with tiny patterns and fine tippets, it has become accepted pretty much that small is often better when the going gets tough. Of course a quick glimpse at the size of the actual bugs on the river will confirm that much of what the trout eat is pretty tiny and it makes sense to copy that, at least the size if not the pattern. The fish have wised up to the idea that if something appears to be too good to be true then it probably is and I would have to say that most of the better fish that I have caught come on tiny dries or nymphs, particularly in lower water conditions.

So what patterns are likely to be effective and how can you best fish them?

My top producing micro patterns include:


The parachute micro caddis, these flies arrive in great numbers, last a long time on the water and definitely fall into the drink on a regular basis. In fact I am not sure that the hatch is that important, it is the residual caddis flies wandering about the rocks which provide a regular food source. They come in two primary colours, tan and black and you should carry patterns of both although the black one is a favourite.

Micro Spun Dun.


Spun duns manufactured out of deer hair can only be tied so small , after that they become problematic but a switch to using CDC or poly yarn as a wing will allow you to tied these flies down to minute sizes without much trouble or indeed expense. A favourite being the blue winged olives which can be readily manufactured with dun or gray poly yarn and olive thread bodies.

The Compar-ant.


Using similar methods to the spun dun techniques, this is a remarkably visible fly for a micro pattern and fish just love ants. Whilst falls of flying ants aren’t common they do produce superb fishing with almost every trout in the river “on the top”. Even when they are not about in numbers the fish will target them and you can frequently break the spell of a tricky fish by using an ant.

Sunk Patterns:

Fishing micro patterns sub surface is probably even more effective, if only because when reduced to micro tactics it is generally a result of  the water being low and clear and the fish  being particularly troublesome to tempt. The fishing of patterns sub surface not only sinks the leader or tippet but also often seems to tempt the trout more easily, they just seem more accepting of subsurface flies some how.

The brassie:


This is a giant amongst the micro flies and serves as my number one micro nymph pattern when the going is tough. I have switched to this fly after a refusal to a dry and ended up tempting the fish more times than I care to remember. It is simple to tie, sinks like a brick on fine tippet and is one of the few fast sinking nymphs that can be easily cast on the ultra-light tackle that we tend to use on the streams. I carry them in both tailed “mayfly nymph” versions and tailless “Midge” versions.

The drowned midge:


Another tiny pattern which could in fact represent any number of drowned bugs or emergers or stillborn flies. Tied with either a thread or wire body this pattern offers a bit more movement than the brassie and will frequently illicit a response when other flies fail.

Fishing micro flies:

For the dries I generally fish them alone on a fine 7  or 8X tippet, but if you are battling to see them then you can fish them in tandem behind another pattern that is a bit more visible. You will find that it is more difficult to get drag free drifts with two flies but it is better  than missing the take entirely and takes to microscopic dries are frequently pretty subtle so knowing exactly where the fly is can be a huge boon.

For the sunken patterns again I usually fish them with a dry fly indicator, a size 18 parachute will easily support these tiny subsurface flies, there is no need for a giant indicator pattern.

When targeting a visible fish one can forego the indicator dry but the trick then is to watch the fish and not the fly. If the fish makes a sudden turn to eat subsurface a strike will usually find your pattern firmly stuck in the scissors of the trout. No matter that you thought that the nymph was some way off, it is tricky if not impossible to actually guess exactly where the fly is under water and better to tighten on any distinct feeding movement of the fish.

Fishing Micro Patterns with a sighter dry fly.

You can click on the above diagram to see an enlarged version.

So as the water levels drop you will be faced with more sight fishing opportunities and at the same time probably more trouble getting the fish to eat bigger flies. Moving to the micro patterns is of course only one of a variety of options but it is definintely one that should be part of your armoury.

When the going gets tough, the tough go micro, at least some of the time.

Have fun out there.

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This blog was brought to you by Inkwazi Fly Fishing in conjunction with STEALTH FLY ROD AND REEL.

There is is, a quick low down on fishing tiny flies, it takes some getting used to, faith has a lot to do with it but time has taught me that the trouble it takes to get used to fishing small can pay handsome dividends come the low waters of summer.

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What Fly?

October 17, 2010

It’s not about the fly.

An imaginary scenario…………………… well mostly imaginary.

A boat angler is hammering them on a DI5 line fished out in the middle of the dam. He is making long casts of 30 metres or so, with a 20’ untapered leader of 6lb fluorocarbon, counting down the sink of his flies for fifteen seconds and then starting a slow pulsating retrieve, he pauses every few strokes. His three flies are exactly a meter and a half apart no more and no less.

He watches the end of his line where it leaves the rod tip for any hint of a tightening that could represent a fish taking a fly on the drop. When he gets to the last ten feet of line he sees the marker that he has affixed to the line and hangs the flies for five seconds before giving a long slow strip and hangs them again. Finally he roll casts the leader out of the water and smacks another effortless cast into the middle distance and waits once more for them to sink to the correct depth.
Every fifth cast or so he strikes into a glorious energetic rainbow trout between two and three pounds in weight, nets the fish and releases it. He is pleased, he changed lines three times to find the right depth, drifted various directions on the dam and covered different depths and bottom structures until he found some fish and finally mixed up the fly patterns on his leader until his catch rate was soaring to the point that it has now reached.

His boat partner isn’t such a good caster, he has a short leader about the same length as his rod because there is a large knot where the leader joins the fly line and he can’t pull that through the tip top guide. He isn’t sure of the breaking strain, it used to be 8lb at the tip but he has eaten some of that up changing patterns, and had to cut some out when he had a wind knot in it, it has been on the rod since last season so he isn’t quite sure if that was 8lb anyway, could have been 10lb but he thinks it is fluorocarbon, yes pretty sure about that.

Anyway, at least if he hooks a fish it won’t break off, that seems like a good call. He can’t cast three flies without getting a tangle so he uses one only on the point. He has a sinking line, he knows it is his sinker because it is brown and his other line, the bright orange one, is a floater and it is obvious that the fish are down deep. He has been watching his mate hammer them for over two hours now and he is using a brown line too. He might have had a take about half an hour ago, he had left his line to sink for ages whilst he was eating a sandwich and the line was just lying in the bottom of the boat until is sizzled out for a moment. Darn, never mind there will be another one. He recasts as his partner hooks into yet another fish that leaps from the water, trailing the deeply sunk line behind it. Feeling that perhaps he needs a bit of advice he turns towards the man with the bent rod and asks the perennial angler’s question. “What fly are you using”?

 

Most of the time "It's not about the fly"

 

I must have seen similar scenarios played out on rivers and dams on several continents, I have even seen the same thing happen with supposedly serious competitive anglers, neophytes, weekenders, float tuber’s, bank anglers and more.

What fly are you using?, it is like one of those action dolls that used to be common when I was a kid, you know before everyone switched to computer games and portable consoles, the ones where you pull a string at the back of the neck and it says the same catch phrase over and over,

“Go on punk, make my day”.. or indeed “What Fly are you using?”

Truth be known, it is something that I would have done myself a decade or so ago before I woke up, and it is an awakening make no mistake. Successful fly fishermen, like successful sportsmen of almost any discipline do things differently than the other 80%. The eighty twenty rule applies here as much as anywhere else and 20% of the anglers catch 80% of the fish and the other 80% out there on the water fight it out for the 20% left over. Why? Mostly because the 80% are so besotted with the idea that they have to have the “right” fly that they ignore all of the other stuff that is going on.

Sure there are occasions that the fly is critical or at least moderately important, but what about all the other stuff. What depth are the fish feeding at, are you getting good drifts, is the tippet sinking, can the fish see you, or see your rod or your watch flashing in the sun? What about the size of the fly? Is your leader fluorocarbon or mono? Is your line taking the flies to the depth at which the fish are feeding or perhaps going past them? Have you varied your retrieve, would you know if you got a take anyway?  Are you fishing in the right spots, are you covering fish, are the fish not there or simply ignoring your presentations such as they are?

There is so very very much more to fly fishing than the fly that I would be willing to bet that most good anglers would go out with half a dozen favourites and still kick butt most of the time if they had to. Of course they wouldn’t limit themselves like that, they are prepared and part of being prepared is having a variety of fly patterns in various sizes, but it is only PART of it!!.

Do your honestly believe that Pascal Cognard won umpteen World Championships over a period of years fishing in rivers and dams on various continents and numerous countries because by some miracle he had a fly that nobody else had?  Do you think that the guy in our little scenario is catching because he has the “right fly” and that if he gave one to his boat partner it would make a jot of difference? Probably not.

Fly fishing is or at least can be a complicated business and you can’t learn it all at once, you can spend time on the water, read as much as possible, fish with guys who know more than you do, go on a course, take a guide, watch videos and search the internet for information, all of which will help.

You don’t need to make it overly complex but the one thing that you don’t want to do is keep thinking that the reason for your limited success is the fly. Of course there are times when it could be but I am prepared to guarantee you right here and now that most of the time that isn’t it. By focusing on the fly you take your eye off all of the other factors that could be affecting your efficacy, and that is the real problem.

I would have to say the most of the time when I am fishing with a buddy, on a river or lake we rarely use exactly the same flies, frequently ones that are considerably different for that matter but that doesn’t affect us too much. We probably are however doing a whole lot of other stuff that is near as dammit exactly the same and that is what adds up to success.

I love flies, I love tying them and having hundreds gives me a sense of control and optimism that would be lacking if my fly boxes weren’t full. However I wouldn’t turn the car around if I had forgotten one of those boxes. Had I left the polaroids, the 7X tippet, the forceps, the hook sharpener, the leader degreaser or the fly floatant at home I would be pulling a 6 G “U” turn in the middle of the freeway. So don’t worry so much about the fly, carry a few trusted favorites, hopefully some variety in sizes and after that focus on technique and presentation, you will I am sure do a whole lot better once you catch on to this reality.  I just hope that you aren’t still worrying about that first scenario with our imaginary angler in the boat, because I sense that even now perhaps you are thinking, “but he never said what fly that guy was using”.

Brought to you in the interests of entertainment and instruction by

Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris and Stealth Fly Rod and Reel.

 

Brought to you by Inkwazi Flyfishing Cape Town's best fly fishing guiding service.

 

 

This blog was brought to you by Inkwazi Fly Fishing in conjunction with STEALTH FLY ROD AND REEL.

 

Disclaimer: Google Ads are sometimes attached to these blogs, we have no control over them nor do we receive any reward for their presence. Whilst they may prove useful, their presence doesn’t indicate any relationship with or endorsement from the participants in this blog.

On Stream Arms Race

October 11, 2010

I can still recall the early days when I fished the streams of the Limietberg, Schalk Van Der Merwe and I would climb down the concrete retaining blocks of the old road bridge to access the river. There was no fancy tunnel through the mountains and the trip would always be prolonged by the slow progress of trucks up over the Du Toit’s Kloos Pass in front of us. With only a few places to overtake and the fishing awaiting us on the other side it was frequently a frustrating journey.

On the river there were no beats, no catch and release, you only had to notify the club that you were going to be on the water and that was it. We rarely saw anyone else but there were a few spots which we might stake out early where late arriving anglers wouldn’t be able to get in front of us on the stream.

There were more trees on the rivers in those days, the new freeway had yet to be conceived and on some sections of the stream the old road ran close enough to the river, with picnic spots along the way such that it wasn’t uncommon to sneak around a bend in pursuit of trout only to find someone bathing in your favourite run.

 

We didn’t have two weight rods back then either, the standard was a #4 weight, although of generally sloppy action and we used to fish a mixture of dries and nymphs although the dries where our favorites, we already had visions of some kind of “purism” despite the fact that the trout would pretty much eat anything. I can recall that we experimented with all manner of indicators and tied weighted nymphs to represent the heptagenid mayflies as well as the more standard baetis going to some lengths to flatten the bodies and weave in legs and eyes and all manner of subtleties. To be honest we thought that we were pretty hot at this.

Occasionally we would venture further into the mountains, but there was no real path in those days and a long hike up the river would require and equally long return trip back down the river bed at day’s end.

 

Big bushy high floating flies were all that was required.

 

Dry fly fishing was a case of flipping a buoyant dry into the pockets and waiting for a take, if you missed it there was little real problem, another cast, perhaps with a little more focus and in a serious looking crouch and the fish would come again. They would always come again and give you a second chance. The flies were huge by today’s standards, size 12 or even 10, buoyant deer hair patterns, Elk Hair Caddis, Humpies and the like. I seem to recall that one of my favourites was a “Royal Humpy” whilst Schalk preferred a “Rat Faced McDougal, some days we would venture out with little more in the fly box than a selection of hoppers, matching the hatch was for sissies, these were real fish in search of a real meal. Darn I think that there were still barbs on those hooks and certainly Schalk would always take a few fish home for supper.

I recall once fishing behind Schalk when he broke off on the strike to a fish, a remarkable achievement in itself; I doubt the tippet was less than 6 lb breaking strain. That Rat Faced McDougal popped up from the depths right in front of me and I picked it off the water and gave it back to Schalk, some indication of the size and buoyancy of the pattern.

If you wanted to kill a fish the size limit back then was 10” and I think that one could keep quite a few fish if one wished, It could have been as many as ten per day although I don’t honestly recall. What I do remember is that by the season’s end almost all the fish in the stream would be nine and a half inches long or less.

Regretfully Schalk passed on and new fishing partners came and went, but we kept on working on improvement.

We also developed a highly effective manner of dealing with the occasional difficult or selective fish, we simply went and found another one that was more accommodating, it worked every time. If you do that today you are going to be finished with your beat by lunchtime, some level of experimentation and effort is no required and you can’t simply move on to the next fish at each refusal.

Of course over time things change and they did for us, we promoted catch and release fishing, to start  with only the upper beat of the Elandspad was subject to this regulation and even then the old school were complaining about it. Comments such as “it isn’t really fishing if you don’t take a frying pan with you” were commonplace and we were troublesome young bucks with some hidden agenda, equally vilified and distrusted by the more established anglers.

Mind you as with everything else there was more pressure on the streams, more trouble with people getting in each others way on the river and leapfrogging groups would effectively put the fish down for everyone. The beat system was born where you could book your section for the day which not only meant that one could enjoy uninterrupted fishing, but equally that you didn’t have to rise at sparrows fart simply to secure some privacy.

The catch and release regulations spread, the fish, given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes started to get smarter and better educated. No longer would they always come twice and the rainbows started to rise in far more circumspect fashion than was previously the case. Reacting more like cautious browns, sipping in flies and eschewing any poor presentations or dragging flies.

 

The fish were getting smarter, they still are.

 

In fact on our brown trout stream some of the fish had been tagged and we would discuss the relative condition and latest measurements of number 423567 as each season passed. It wasn’t scientific but it proved one thing, that the fish would survive capture if you were careful with them and it laid to rest the argument of the old timers who insisted that the trout was going to go “belly up” anyway so you may as well chuck it in a pan and have it for lunch.

We started to change tactics in response to changes in the fish’s behaviour, gradually flies got a lot smaller and I well recall bringing back from Australia the first size 22 hooks that we had ever actually seen. We stopped simply using nylon and purchased “tippet” material on neat little spools that cost the earth but offered better presentation. Gradually the terminal tackle got thinner and we started going out on a limb with 6 X tippet and eventually 7X (currently the extreme is 8X and even 10X is now available in local stores).

We built our own ultralight rods, to start with the Orvis “Superfine 7’ 9”  #2 weight became the standard, those with the old favourite “Osprey #4’s” were now regarded as little more than hackers.

 

The availability of fine soft tippet material is still probably one of the greatest weapons in the stream angler's arsenal.

 

With the advent of light rods and catch and release we were now fishing barbless hooks all the time, we had figured out that you actually land more fish on those and we started to sharpen our hooks, first with pebbles from the stream bed and later with purpose built diamond dust hones carried in our pockets.

Leaders got longer and finer, we degreased them to make them sink and took much more care in our positions and presentations on the streams. The fish were larger now, larger and wiser and consequently more demanding. There were even occasions when one would have to match the hatch, particularly if there were ants on the water.

A further and oft ignored development of the Catch and Release regulations was that at one level information was more easily passed from one angler to another. Now there was no need to hide the truth about the flies which one fished or the best beats or your knowledge of a good fish on a particular section. Previously one would keep quite, not wishing to encourage someone to improve only to go and whip out your favourite nineteen incher tucked away under the bushes of “dry fly run”.

Whilst all the time the fish were getting better and better at the game as well, it may seem an unfair battle , what with us using micrometer measured tippets, carbon graphite rods, camouflage clothing, fancy dry fly floatants, hooks sharpeners and all the mod cons but I am not sure that our catch rates ever climbed that much. We would do better for a while but the fish would get smarter and things would level off again.

 

Of all the improvements in gear, using your brains is still what will keep you ahead.

 

Today the streams of the Limietberg probably offer the most technically demanding fishing in the country. There are plenty of fish to be sure, and there are some really good ones too for that matter, but they are a whole heap more demanding of the angler compared to the days of climbing down those bridge supports in search of supper.

We don’t actually fish in a pristine natural environment, much as we may enjoy the illusion, we fish in the midst of a highly technical arms race where we get better weapons and the trout continuously update their defenses. I have to confess that this is the way that I like it, but there is one down side, beginners to the sport are in for something of a rough ride without help. The trout on these streams have already received their education and if you are a neophyte angler you start off at something of a disadvantage. The only option is to go out on the water and start working on your education to catch up.

 

Bells provide essential support for the education of neophyte anglers

 

Shortly the Cape Piscatorial Society, together with Bell’s Whiskey, will host the latest “Bell’s Fly Fishing Festival“. Unlike most other fishing festivals it isn’t a competition. In the context of this article it is more like “infantry school”, where newcomers can get some on stream experience from old hands and learn some of the subtleties and tricks of the trade. In times past this may have simply been a fun way to spend the weekend and a means of perhaps improving one’s catch rate. Today, with the arms race if full swing it is more of an essential right of passage. Without some help it is going to take the average newcomer a lot of time on the water to catch up. As said previously, if you are starting out, the fish are way ahead of you and learning more each season.

This article is dedicated to those who came before us and created this fishery and the people who still look after it for the benefit of all. It is also in recognition of the assistance offered by Bells and the dedicated anglers who act as guides, who provide the means for so many newcomers to get a start at this wonderful obsession we call fly fishing. Welcome to the arms race.

Brought to you by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris and Stealth Fly Rod and Reel.

 

Brought to you by Inkwazi Flyfishing Cape Town's best fly fishing guiding service.

 

 

This blog was brought to you by Inkwazi Fly Fishing in conjunction with STEALTH FLY ROD AND REEL.

 

Disclaimer: These blogs sometimes attract Google Ads advertising, we have no control over their appearance nor do we derive any financial benefit from their presence. Whilst they may prove of value to you appearance of these adverts does not  infer any relationship with or endorsement by the participants of this blog.

Trout and the Flat Earth Society.

October 7, 2010

Now it strikes me that if I were a trout in a catch and release stream it wouldn’t take too long for it to dawn on me that most of the sh1t in my life came from “up there”. You know above that little silvery window that is the ceiling of my aquatic world.

Fish eagles, otters, kingfishers (at least when I was little) and of course anglers, plus like a small child afraid of the dark I wouldn’t have a particularly good feeling about stuff that I can’t see and my view is limited at the best of times.

So rather as humankind were a bit wary of the horizon in times past and fearful of dropping off the edge of the world so for a trout the outer world would be a little scary. I mean I don’t need to identify every bump in the dark to be fearful of it and, were I a trout, anything untoward, a glimpse of movement or a flash is enough to put me on edge and perhaps even take a runner and stick my head under a rock for a while until the perceived danger is passed. (The ichthyological  equivalent of locking yourself in the bathroom).

Trout don’t need to identify a threat to be wary of it.

I well remember fishing with my fishing mate (and drinking partner) Gordon McKay years back when he was casting and I was “spotting” for him. There he was all lined up on a trout that we could both see clearly in the crystal waters. The fish was feeding away happily, occasionally broaching the surface and unaware of either of us, just doing what a trout does when breakfast is on the table.

It so happened however that just as Gordon made his presentation a large dragonfly came bumbling up the stream, casting a shadow like a pterodactyl in the bright sunshine and flew directly up behind the fish such that it didn’t notice until the last moment. The passage of that shadow coincided exactly with Gordon’s dry fly presentation and as the fly was in the air the fish bolted for cover. Poor Gordon, who from his point of view couldn’t see this all unfold simply assumed that he had made some mistake but in all fairness that wasn’t the case at all. The fish bolted simply because of the shadow of a dragonfly that wasn’t in any real sense a threat.  Trout don’t like surprises and they particularly don’t like surprises that come from “up there”.

Smart trout:

 

Success on a drowned Midge Pattern.

 

Further were I a trout it would come to pass at some point that I might realize that most of the time eating stuff off the surface is a high risk occupation in an environment where most anglers prefer to fish dry fly.

It isn’t just a snobbish affliction, we all like the drift of the fly, the vision of a spotted shadow rising on the current to intercept our offering and the glorious heart stopping moment when the mouth flashes white and we try to time our strike, nerves jangling as we attempt to avoid being too hasty.  So if I were a trout I think that I would tend to find other sources of food if possible and what better and easier pickings could there be than drowned bugs just under the surface?

You see it doesn’t escape me that in the bubbling freestone rivers that I fish most of the time insects that are falling on or hatching from the stream have pretty limited windows of opportunity to escape before they are done in by the next waterfall. The waterfalls don’t need to be huge, if you are a size 20 midge a moderate boulder will create a stopper wave that in comparison to one’s size is like the rapids of the Colorado. For a small bug in a freestone stream drowning is only ever a short drift away.

One can look back at the angling literature and there are numerous indications that trout might very well enjoy the easy pickings that lie just under the surface. Soft hackles, emergers, stillborns, Klinkhammers and probably quite a few “low floating” dry flies are all good imitations of bugs that have been swamped.

Recently I have been revisiting this idea with a good deal of success, for years I have fished dry flies designed as much so that I can see them as that they imitate the fish’s food but there are problems associated with fishing like this. Not least that the fish are wary of the surface, that drag is all the more noticeable on a floating fly and that no matter what you do you can’t get the darn tippet to sink much of the time.

The idea is that by going just subsurface you eliminate many of those problems and with a lot of net winged midges on the water of late I had been thinking that perhaps fishing a fly just under the water I might give myself a better chance of deception.

The further advantage is that bugs that have just been given the wash cycle treatment are going to look a little disheveled at best and therefore with my limited fly tying skills it would be a lot easier to imitate them. I mean I just had to lash some stuff on a hook and stamp on it a few times to get the required effect. The only real objection being that I couldn’t see the darn things in the water.

So was born the “drowned midge”, it takes about a minute to tie one, the rougher the better (remember that the required look is sort of microscopic road kill). Fished on a fine tippet to allow the weight of the hook to sink the pattern a few inches and a dry fly to act as an indicator I was ready to experiment.

 

Loose dubbing, a brush with some velcro, a couple of hackle point wings and you are in business.

 

On two recent trips to the stream this tactic has proven to be  a real winner, sure a number of the fish eat the dry, perhaps even the majority but the ones that refuse it will frequently take the midge and more to the point will sometimes simply ignore the floating pattern entirely.

It also seemed to me that the takes on the subsurface pattern were more positive whereas takes on the dry seemed to indicate that the better fish were eating the thing with what locally might be referred to as “Lang Tande”, (that is “long teeth” for the uninitiated) and indicative of less than true commitment to swallowing the floating imitation.

The fly fishes so close to the surface that most of the time you will see the take anyway and you still have the dry as a back up. It is a wonderfully effective tactic and a real “go to” trick when the fish are coming short or offering up inspection and refusal rises, something that seems to be getting more common.

Perhaps you might like to try this next time you are on the stream, the fish seem a whole lot more confident in chomping down on some hapless bug that has been swamped and if they can be sneaky enough to avoid eating high floating dries I can certainly be sneaky enough to go subsurface after them.

The Drowned Net Winged Midge:

Hook: size 18 moderately heavy wire.

Abdomen: Black 70 Denier Thread dressed short.

Thorax: Soft black dubbing, rabbit or similar brushed out with velcro.

Wings: Dun Hackle points.

Front Thorax: A pinch more loose dubbing.

Brought to you by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris in conjunction with STEALTH FLY ROD AND REEL, suppliers of Gamakatsu Hooks, Airflo Lines, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, Deep Red Fly Rods, Scott Rods and more.

 

Brought to you by Inkwazi Flyfishing Cape Town's best fly fishing guiding service.

 


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:

C&FBox

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.

Forceps.

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.

Nippers.

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.

Lanyard:

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

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Indicator Yarn or putty.

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

Scissors:

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

Zingers:

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.

Tim_yellowfish1

The Author Tim Rolston with an Orange River Yellowfish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So if you need help contact us Inkwazi Flyfishing