Extracts from my Spirit of Fly Fishing Newsletter, December 2016

Extracts from my Spirit of Fly Fishing Newsletter, December 2016

Friday, 23 December 2016 06:16

 - Most Enjoyable Articles from 2016's Newsletters...

I asked a number of friends to review The Spirit of Fly Fishing's 2016 newsletters and select their favourite articles, images, flies, quotes, or whatever else had struck a chord with them; a thankless job, but they came up trumps. I did not influence their choices and made no selections myself, but, interestingly, the similarities in their choices were remarkable. All I had to do was group their inputs under appropriate headings, like best quotes, best travel, best flies, funniest article, book of the year, best photo essay and so on. Then someone suggested December 2015 be included to make it a calendaryear, and I agreed.


I have added the month each newsletter appeared (for your reference in case you file your newsletters away, as some apparently do). Unfortunately, I couldn't include all submissions for lack of space, and where an article was too long, I abbreviated it. But if you want to read the full text you can always type a reference into the search engine on the upper left-hand side of the home page on my website and it will pop up for you.


I added a few new pictures here and there, so at least some of this newsletter is new.


Here's what came out in the wash!

The Best of December 2015...

 From Hugh Rosen in La Jolla California:

 Hugh is a medical research scientist and a keen fly fisher and fly tier, who often graces this column with his articles. He sent this lovely image of two classic dry flies perched on a Wheatley fly box; a Kite’s Imperial in grey (left) and an Olive Variant (right).

1 Hugh Rosen

Click in images to enlarge them

To get the picture, Hugh used a Nikon D610 camera with a 105 mm Nikkor macro lens, stopped right down. He set the camera on a tripod with the mirror locked up, and used a cable release to allow fora really long exposure.


Most Talked About Flies for 2016

 Philip Meyer's Para-RAB (frequent mentions), Christian Schmidt's experimental Klipspringer Hair Emerger (February), Marcel Terblanche's Sunken Fire Ant pattern (May), Peter Brigg's Spider – latest variant, (September) and the Peeping Caddis from Clem Booth (November).

 4 Philip Meyer Para RAB

The Para-RAB (tied by Mark Krige).

 3 Klipspringer emerger 1

Christian Schmidt's experimental Klipspringer Hair Emerger.

4 sunken ant trout fly 

Marcel Terblanche's back-to-front Sunken Fire Ant with Ice Fibre legs.

 5 Smalblaar rainbow on ant

A 17-inch rainbow deceived by a Sunken Fire Ant in the Smalblaar River.

 6 Peter Brigg Spider

Peter Brigg's Spider Variant.

 7 Clem Booth caddis 2

Peeping Caddis (Lead Head) patterns tied by Clem Booth.



 Voted the Best Quotes


By Christopher Camuto from his book In Praise of Wild Trout (April 2016).


'I think of trout as an affair of landscape – not something in it, but something of it. In Chinese, the term for landscape, shan shui, means literally "mountains of water." Roughly speaking, if you rub a mountain with cold, flowing water, you get a trout. This is to take a compressed view of geology and evolution, but mythic and scientific ways of thinking about things converge in extraordinary expressions of being, like trout.'


Then there were two quotes from Nick Lyons' book, The Seasonable Angler. (July 2016).  

The first is on discovering fly fishing:

 ... one spring day when a brisk Hendrickson hatch was on the water, I took my first trout on a fly, and I saw it was possible, and then I traded my spinning rod and all my lures and lost my heart to

bamboo and a hat full of flies.'


The second quote from Nick is on fishing the dry fly (and, as it happens, probably my favourite quote of the year.):

 'I like the 'lawfulness' of the classic hatches, the technical problems of 'matching the hatch', accurate presentation, the avoidance of drag; but most, I think, I enjoy the incomparable rise, the abrupt

opening of the stream, the dramatic splash, the electricity from stream, to eye, to hand.'


Most Joyful News! (January 2016)

 From Basie Vosloo, owner of Birkhall, a farm on the Sterkspruit River in the Eastern Cape Highlands, at the epicentre of their terrible drought:


8 IMG 5958

The Sterkspruit River at 8.45 am on 12 January, 2016.

 9 IMG 5959

The Sterkspruit River at 9.45 am on the same day, just one hour later!

 (Photographs per kind favour of Basie Vosloo.)


 From My Introductory Paragraphs to Each Newsletter. (September 2016. Text abbreviated.)

 On an outing last week the trout were difficult, despite a clear day and good flows, but after recent rains and a dusting of snow on nearby mountains, the water was a cool 12 degrees C. And we had to contend with a really tricky upstream breeze that teased the leader this way and that, mostly just as the fly was landing. My companions were Robin Douglas and his son, Keith, and we'd decided on dry fly only, and stuck with it, though there were times when we just knew, or at least could seriously surmise, that a deep-sunk nymph would have taken trout from likely lies that produced nothing on the dry fly.


There was a hatch of one sort or another all day; a few tiny mayfly spinners, a couple of smart-looking September Brown duns, micro-caddis, net-winged midges and plenty of those ubiquitous tiny black bugs you just can't even guess at.

10 P9300178

A September Brown mayfly dun photographed on the day.


Here and there we saw a fish rise, but the rises were strangely sparse given the number of bugs on the water, though when we did see a fish come up, we invariably caught it. On some outings I set out with a particular plan in mind, and yesterday it was to get a series of photographs of a trout being released, never an easy task and one that requires that you carefully set up the camera, take note of where sun is, position the angler accordingly, and sort out a heap of other incidentals, well ahead of shooting the actual sequence. It worked out well enough.

11 IMG 8397

 So we chalked up another lovely day on this tiny Cape stream, and spent time remarking on the beauty of its trout with their hues of blue and lilac and shades of apricot and spots spread as randomly as stardust. They're that pretty it's no wonder we don't care they aren't any bigger.

 12 IMG 8362

Hues of blue and lilac, shades of apricot.



 Memorable Insect Pictures of 2016

 13 Adenoleptophlebia dislocans

The mayfly Adenophlebia dislocans. (November 2016. Tom Sutcliffe photograph.)

 13 simulid

Simulid larvae, Lourens River Somerset West. (March 2016. Robin Douglas photograph.)



Best Fly Ties of the Year

 14 African King

Ruhan Neethling's African King. (November 2016).

 15 Fra Diavolo

Gordon Van der Spuy's traditionally dressed Fra Diavolo. (July 2016, Fly Fishing Expo).


 Strangest Happenings

 From Clem Booth. (April 2016).

 'Interesting day on the Loddon! I'm minding my own business fishing one of my favourite pools today when suddenly there is an almighty commotion on the far bank at which point a deer falls in! The water is deep and fast flowing so thoughts of plunging in to save it soon abate. Instead I made like a sheepdog and chased it upstream where it was able to find some shallower water and escape. That was a first! I had to evade a snake a couple of times on Cape streams, but never a deer! Couple of nice fish completed a most interesting day. never a dull moment on the water it seems...'

 16 deer 2


 Fly-Fishing Book of the Year. (September 2016).

 It is Andrew Fowler's much celebrated book, Stippled Beauties – Seasons, Landscapes & Trout. To order a copy email Andrew at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 17 Fowler 1


 Most Popular Destination Articles

 Nick Taransky described a few small-stream gems in the Snowy Mountains of NSW, Australia. (June 2016).

 (I've shortened this piece, but the full text is available if you type Snowy Mountains into the search engine on my website.)

 Says Nick:

 'We have three main areas that we fish, with overlapping times when they are at their best.  I’ve never gone to the trouble of writing down a season overview of these places from a 20,000 foot level, but thought it might be useful to your readers (as well as useful to me)!  The website of my fishing mate Paul Bourne (a full-time guide) is also worth a look, as it has a month by month fishing report on the region as well: http://www.snowymonaroflyfishing.com.au


Snowy Mountains

High Country, freestone streams, mostly in the Kosciuszko National Park, of different sizes.  Larger rivers (still not large by international standards) like the Eucumbene, Thredbo, Murrumbidgee, and a large number of tributaries.  A mix of browns and rainbows (often together in the same stream), with one notable stream with wild Brookies too (as well as rainbows).  

 18 Snowy Mountains stream

Snowy Mountain streams, above and below.

 19 Snowy Mt stream 1

The fish are for the most part unselective, with a range of dries (terrestrials, mayfly, caddis and “standard") usually being productive. Same for nymphs.


This is not wilderness beauty of the mountain streams, but they have a pastoral charm to them, and each has their own character.  It’s all sight fishing and stalking, often best with a second “spotter” concealed up on the bank somewhere calling out instructions to the person with the rod.  The fish are mostly selective (among several species of mayflies) and nearly always very spooky.  It’s our Blue Ribbon fishery and world class in my view, as much of the action is dry fly, heart-in-your-mouth stuff, to fish from 1½ to 6 pounds or more.  

 20 Monaro Region Australia flyfishing

Monaro streams

21 Monaro trout NSW

Delegate Region

This region is south of the Snowy Monaro, sort of the shoulder of the mountains, but cooler than the Monaro.  The streams run through peaty forest, and are again mainly on farmland (with access never an issue). The largest river (still a stream, really) is the Delegate, along with many other smaller rivers.

 23 Delegate Region NSW trout

Delegate Region

24 Delegate Region Trout

 Other Highly Commended Destination Articles

 Alex Hathorn's Grayling Fishing in the Yorkshire Dales. (November 2016.)


 Most Talked About Fly-Fishing Destinations

 Walkerbouts Inn, Rhodes, Eastern Cape Highlands

 This popular venue, and its proprietor, Dave Walker, were often featured in newsletters during the year.

 27 Dave Walker profile

Dave Walker. Tom Sutcliffe photograph.



 The Angler and Antelope Guesthouse, Somerset East.

 Run by Alan and Annabelle Hobson, this venue has become an important bucket list destination for many anglers in South Africa and was mentioned many times in 2016 newsletters. (See The Angler and Antelope Guesthouse, Somerset East, mid-Karoo Eastern Cape, http://www.anglerandantelope.co.za)

  29 Alan Hobson 9

Angler and Antelope Guesthouse at sunset.(Photograph per Alan Hobson.)

28 Alan Hobsom fly guide 

Alan Hobson, mine host, consummate fly tier, and fishing guide.


Gateshead Lodge

 This iconic venue was mentioned in newsletters throughout the year.

 30 Gateshead Lodge landscape

Gateshead Cottage, one of the Holy shrines of South African fly fishing. (Tom Sutcliffe photograph.)



 The Perfect Home? (May 2016.)

 In a back issue of Trout & Salmon I came across my perfect home. Advertised as a 13th-century thatched mill cottage fully restored, it straddles the Arle, a chalkstream tributary of the Itchen. The kitchen is built over the stream with a glass viewing panel in the floor!

  Sharland Urquhart, in her selection of the most-liked articles for the year, was very taken with this home and sent a comment and a delightful poem that she had written on it – off the cuff!

 Says Sharland:

'The photograph of this 13th century thatched mill cottage made me dream – a perfect dream until the telephone rang…' 

 I sat and dreamt a dream…


Of fish beneath my kitchen floor


A river running wild outside my wooden door


For those who fly fish


Who could we wish for more?



 Most Memorable Function of 2016. (July 2016.)

 No horse in the race. It was the resoundingly successful Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Expo organised by Gordon Van der Spuy and held at Lourensford Estate outside Somerset West.

 31 q Herman Botes 1

Herman Botes demonstrating his Papa Roach at the Expo.

 32 EXPO IMG 8320

Gordon Van der Spuy in 'compelling auction-mode'.


 Enjoyed Fishing Trip Articles

Andrew Apsey on Fishing the Dart. (October 2016):

I include a few pictures and a little of the text. The full article is available on my website under Andrew Apsey.

 'On the first day I investigated the main East Dart, starting downstream from the little town of Postbridge. Described as 'providing miles of classic brown trout fishing set amongst beautiful moorland', it did not disappoint.


34 Dart River

 The Dart

 Despite the absence of hatches I had an urge to fish small emerger patterns for the wild brownies that inhabit these rivers. I have to be honest; I don't think any of these little beauties tested my 3WT to any great extent, but each and every one brought a smile to my face.'

 35 Dart rainbow

The Dart's wild brownies


 Clem Booth on Patagonia. (February 2016.)

 Says Clem:

 'Back from another wonderful trip to Estancia Laguna Verde at Lake Strobel in Patagonia. The weather wasn't always great with strong winds to contend with, but we also enjoyed some good days and, in any case, there is always a way of getting the fly into the water! On the calmer days I fished a bamboo rod was purpose made by Chris Carlin in Alaska and  it worked a treat. Coupled with a reel by Joe Saracione, it was more than possible to deal with some pretty huge fish. The rainbows in the lake – 'chromers' as the guides call them – are the finest specimens one could imagine; silver and with a girth which confirms the adequacy of the food source! Smaller flies did well this year and I had good results on smallish Teeny nymphs which I tied up on very strong, heavy gauge hooks.' 

 33 Clem Strobel 4 

Clem with purpose-made Chris Carlin bamboo rod, Saracione reel and one of the chromers. Photo per Clem Booth.


 Greg Carstens on fishing around Vrederus and Rhodes. Text and images by Greg May  2016.

 This essay is about discovering new and remote small stream fishing grounds that surround Vrederus and Rhodes, catching trout in testy conditions and Greg's happy discovery that bamboo fly rods beat anything else for fishing small streams. It is on my website under 'Vrederus April 2016'.

34 The Bell River above Rhodes

Magical Streams 

35 Sunrise Vrederus

Vrederus at sunset


 Fly Fishing Argentina and Chile on a Shoestring Budget – with Text and Images from Paul and Marion Frost  (February 2016.)

 This article was judged by many as one of most useful for those wishing to do exactly what the title says. The full article is available on my website.


 Most Popular Photo Essay  (May 2016.)

 Ritchie Morris, a fly fisher and keen amateur photographer, wrote of a trip to Rhodes, Maclear and Hogsback and added a fine photo essay. As always, Ritchie's images are excellent. The text is on my website. Just type Ritchie Morris into the search engine. 

 37 Barkly Pass1

Snow on the Barkley Pass.

38 Vegetation encroachment Little  Pot 

The Little Pot River at Woodcliffe.

 39  Falls Mertoun Bell River

Mertoun beat on the Bell River.

 39 Rhodes waiting for lover

A home in Rhodes looking for someone to love it.  

 40 Rhodes peak time traffic

And Rhodes in peak-hour traffic.


Most Humorous Article

 From Hugh Rosen in La Jolla California (April 2016).

 Says Hugh (text abbreviated):

 'I wanted to share with you some wonderful new gear with a software tool for the relief of ennui in the Armchair Angler.  The images below of the trophy wild rainbow can now be acquired without the inconvenience of the 450 mile drive from San Diego to the High Sierras, or the braving of inclement El Nino winter weather, nor the hit and miss of many hours on-stream looking for suitable fish to target with little nymphs. Neither rain nor runoff impacting on water clarity have any material impact. I have acquired a selection of two dozen lifelike 3-D polymer trophy trout with articulated jaws from the outstanding trout conservation non-profit www.allfishermanareliars.org. They cover many different species from rainbow, brown, golden, cutthroat, Lahontan cutthroat, steelhead , sea-trout, and various salmon species from Atlantic to Coho. Marble trout and huchen are available by special order. For the maintenance of a credible on-line presence,  I use a randomization schedule that reflects the prevalence of rainbow, brown, cutthroat or brook trout in the appropriate river.

 41 Sierras 2

Owens River rainbow. (Oh really?)

 The photograph is then prepared by dressing in full fishing regalia and posing with the polymer fish spritzed with water on a green screen background. State of the art CGI is then used to superimpose the image on a river background. Allfishermanareliars.org provide comprehensive software support with a library of high-resolution images covering the best pools in Blue Ribbon trout streams of the world...'


Image Most Deserving of a caption! (July 2016, Fly Fishing Expo)

 42 Alan H 1

Annabelle Hobson photograph.

A tongue-in-cheek picture of fly fishing guide Alan Hobson taken by his wife. Your suggested captions would be welcome – and 'Oh, f*%#*' will not be considered a suitable entry!


 Best under water shot of the year. (September 2016.)

Paul Colley; is he already in a league of his own in underwater trout photography?

43 Best under water image

Yes, I think he is. I came across an image of his on Earth Shots, a weekly photography newsletter I subscribe to. (see Earth Shots.org). then I had a look at his website and I was left in no doubt that he is a master of the art of underwater photography generally, not just trout. See his website http://www.mpcolley.com and click on 'The Trout Project'.


Best Trout Image (November 2016.)

 44 Tim Leppan1

From Tim Leppan, Western Cape fly stream rainbow.

Season's Greetings …

  45 Xmas 2016

 Tom Sutcliffe, December 2016.


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