THE SPIRIT OF FLY FISHING NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 2019
A word of caution about Santa Claus
Let me start by wishing you a Blessed Christmas and at the same time, express the hope that your long back-ordered special piece of Christmas fly-fishing gear actually gets to you. I'll tell you why.
It seems that one of the elves employed in the North Pole division of Santa's factory has leaked to the press a story suggesting that Santa might be intercepting goods along his annual distribution route and putting them to his own use. Says the Elf in question, "The boss has just gone ballistic on fly fishing and we can't keep up with him stealing stuff, especially flies and bamboo rods." The elf, who prefers for obvious reasons not to be named, says there's hard evidence and that Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) are working on leads in conjunction with Greenland's Police Force, who are using Polar Bear sniffers.
Santa seen with his chief of elves in Helsinki's Police Department
An artist's impression of the culprit in the act
From my friend Fred Von Reibnitz who lives near Canberra in Australia.
I'm just back from a very enjoyable week's fishing in the South Island of New Zealand, taking a few cane rods, including a 69-year old Hardy Fairchild. It was as lovely to fish with as I'd hoped, and my guide took the attached photo of it under load.
The other photo is of a brown I caught with the little DeGere taper rod I built inNick Taransky'sclass last year. The fish was resting quietly after release, so we took the chance of a quick photo with the rod alongside - rather staged, but fun.
Is your name Alan, or maybe Hans?
I have particularly enjoyed adding sketches to copies ofYet More Sweet Days. Problem is when you get orders for a number of books, with say for four or five different people wanting sketches, you're bound to make a few blues – and I have. I've ended up with duplicate copies to an 'Alan' and a fellow named 'Hans'.
Second-Hand Hardy and Orvis fish fly fishing gear for sale from Angelo Komis for a friend...
Hardy Bougle3 1/2'” Mk VI (Cortland 444 Sylk Wf6f) – R 6500
Hardy The Sunbeam5/6 (SA Dt5s) – R 2 250
Hardy Marquis#7 (Orvis WF7F) – R 2 250
Hardy Marquis#4 + Spool (Cortland WF4F;Airflo WF4i) – R 3 250
Hardy Marquis#2/3 (SA WF2F) – R 2 000
Hardy L.R.H Lightweight+ Spool (Orvis WF7s) – R 4 500-00, This comes with a second cage, although damaged can be used for spares.
Hardy The Flyweight (SA WF2F) – R 2 500
SA System Two 1011 + Spool (SA Tarpon Taper WF12F; SA Tarpon Taper WF12 I) – R 2 500
Orvis DXR 9/10 Reel + Spool (Orvis Wf10f; Airflo Wf10i) – R 4 000-00
Martin Zeus Mach 8 + Spool (SA WF8F; SA WF8F/S) – R 1 250
Hardy Palakona L.R.H Dry Fly 8’9” 6-wt 3-Piece 2-Tip – R000
Hardy Graphite Favourite 7’0” 2/3 Wt 2-Piece – R 1 500
Hardy Graphite Favourite 7’6” ¾ Wt 2-Piece – R 1500
Orvis 7’9” Ultrafine 2wt 2-Piece – R 2 750
Orvis 9’0” HLS Powerhouse 8wt 2-Piece – R 2 250
Sage RPLX 9’0” 11wt 2-Piece – Custom Built – R 2 000
St Croix 9’0” 8wt 2-Piece – R 1000
If you are interested contact Angelo 083 347 6682
My daughter Alison invited me to breakfast at a place where you paint pots between eating eggs and bacon and drinking endless cups of coffee. Called theClay Cafeit's on the outskirts of Hout Bay and it's certainly the most fun you can have eating breakfast.
I did a couple of pieces (mugs and a large salad bowl) for close friends, but the next time I go I will take a range of more suitable brushes and budget a whole lot more time.
Ed Herbst writes on small hooks for large fish :
One of the problems which Alan Hobson found in his increasingly successful experiments with micro-patterns at Sterkfontein Dam for yellowfish and for trout in the very fertile Mountain Dam at Somerset East is that the fish which usually weigh more than a kilogram and are very powerful, tend to straighten conventional midge hooks.
Having just fished Thrift Dam with Craig Thom, he was able to relay to glad tidings that Craig has just become the South African agent for the superb Ahrexhooks which are made in Finland.
Craig Thom, Ahrex agent, fishing Thrift Dam near Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape
Craig has the agency for saltwater Ahrex hooks but can source the freshwater range if asked.
The 507 is available in#18 – 22and the 517 in#18 – 20.
Ahrex hooks in sizes 20 - 22
What sets these hooks apart for Alan’s purposes is that they are made of medium-weight wire and have a big eye.
TheAhrex NS150,which Craig has in stock, is my favourite hook for dragonfly nymph patterns. Place the eyes on top of the hook shank and it flips over to become more weedless.
A zonker fur and marabou dragonfly nymph pattern tied on the Ahrex NS150 hook by the author.
Midge hook challenges:
Tying with tiny hooks can be challenging particularly if, like me, your eyesight is weak and you have a tremor in your hands.
I use prescription reading glasses and the Donegan Optivisor (available from Cape Watch in Cape Town) equipped with the 3.5 x magnification lenses.
Tim Flagler has an excellentYouTube videoon handling tiny hooks but I have a slightly different approach which works for me.
I transfer my hooks from the packet to a fly box with magnetic compartments. I use a magnet made for picking up hearing aid batteries mounted in a wooden handle to remove them from the fly box. All the midge hooks I now tie with, the Gamakatsu C12-BM, the Allen N304 and the Ahrex models are straight-eye hooks and I use the Loon Ergo hackle plier to transfer the hook from the magnet to the vise jaws.
The author’s system for handling midge hooks without dropping them
Shock absorbing leaders
Landing trout and yellowfish on a kg or more on 7-8 x tippets is proving challenging for Alan Hobson’s clients. In the book John Goddard’s Trout-Fishing Techniques (Lyons & Burford, 1996) we read of Goddard’s experiments with leaders incorporating Powergum
Alan had tried this but was not happy with it. In the UK and Europe, pole anglers use Slip Elastic for tiny fish like dace and up to and including carp.
Preston Slip Elastic seems to be a favourite (see here and here), so I got a friend in England to send some to Alan. He thinks it has great potential and will keep us posted.
Will the Preston Slip Elastic make 7-8x tippets feasible on our dams? Alan Hobson is keen to find out.
Air bubbles which aquatic insects such as corixa use to breathe are obvious trigger signals for trout but they also feature in egg-laying Baetis adults and emerging simulium adults. Pat Dorsey is the best-known modern exponent of silver-lined beads to exploit this characteristic with his Mercury series of nymph patterns. The first mention I came across of the resemblance of the air bubbles clinging to aquatic insects like drops of mercury was in the 1960 book, Lake Flies and their Imitation – A Practical Entomology For The Stillwater Flyfisher by C.F.Walker.
"This may come as a surprise to those who have never looked below the surface, but the fact is that an air bubble under water looks exactly like a drop of quick-silver. There is a green algal growth at the bottom of my aquarium at this moment which is covered with small air bubbles, the effect being as if someone had broken a thermometer over a billiards table.”
Miyuki rocailles from 'Beads Direct' which the author feels will enhance midge patterns.
I’ve tied a CDC soft hackle in Tenkara style on an Ahrex 507 #18 hook incorporating this bead which I want Alan to try on the fish at Sterkfontein and Mountain dams.
The author’s CDC soft hackle incorporating the 15/0 Miyuki bead in ‘Galvanised Silver’.
Clients report that, at the moment, the trout are feeding in the Mountain Dam shallows on a smorgasbord of tiny insects most of which have been reduced by current action to an amorphous blob. The Mountain Dam Soft Hackle covers a lot of bases from emergers to dead adults.
Branksome Country Lodge
As I mentioned in my last newsletter, Rene Vosloo has converted the old homestead and sandstone sheds onBranksomeinto a five-bedroom lodge with a restaurant catering for guests and, happily also, to any passing anglers who might feel like spoiling themselves with a good meal, or maybe a cold beer, after a day of the Sterkspruit River. The added blessing is that this area has since had good rains and the rivers are once again flowing well. Rene tells me she has already had nibbles from overseas anglers wanting creature comforts and a spot of excellent fishing.
I hope my Spirit of Fly Fishing Newsletter readers, now 2575 from 16 countries around the world, enjoy a peaceful New Year.