The July 2019 Spirit of Fly Fishing Newsletter.
I recently attended a fly-tying function hosted by the Cape Piscatorial Society (CPS) organised by Mission Magazine's Tudor Caradock-Davies (editor) and Conrad Botha (editor at large) and fly tyer, Gordon Van der Spuy, to celebrate the recovery of a South African fly-fishing notable, Tim Rolston and to raise funds to help him cope with his medical costs. He had a serious brush with pneumonia that kept him in hospital, and off work obviously, for over a month. When he's fit he's one of this country's premier fly-fishing guides, fly tyers and authors. See Tim Rolston.
Vice-president of the CPS, Tony Biggs with Chris Bladen (sculptor) and Gordon Van Der Spuy (fly tyer) in the CPS club rooms.
At the function were the President and Vice-president of this august society, Ed Herbst and Tony Biggs. Tony is the inventor, if that's ever the right word for it, of the now legendary South Africa dry fly, the RAB.
A typical (high-water) RAB
Ed Herbst I choose to think of, at least when it comes to fly patterns, as the inventor of Ed's Hopper and, of course, many micro- ant and beetle imitations. All enduring patterns.
Ed's Hopper in situ!
I will be auctioning an artwork through Mission Magazine to help support Tim. It's the original art used in Chapter 1 of Yet More Sweet Days, a large piece in pen and ink on art paper, 40 x 26 cms.
There’s this nice little stream called the Lima...
Jay Lee writes of some Italian fly fishing he recently did.
Last week I was on a family vacation in Lucca, Tuscany, Italy, for a week.
During family vacations I usually don’t bring my fishing gear but this vacation I was allowed.
There’s this nice little stream called the Lima near the town of Bagni di Lucca.
Didn’t bring bamboo this time. I wanted a very packable rod to keep the luggage light so I chose the four piece 7ft #4 fibreglass rod.
Fishing consisted of just one morning until around 1 PM. A local fisherman was so kind to show me the Lima.
Weather was gorgeous, scenery is amazing, wild browns in a stream that mesmerized.
We did the regular visits to the famous spots in Tuscany like the tower of Pisa, the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.
Early July I have a short fishing trip planned to the Spanish Pyrenees. Unusual lot of fishing for me this season – grin.
From Michiel Hendrix writes from Scotland...
A couple of weekends ago I joined a group at Middleton-in-Teesdale on the upper reaches of the River Tees, in the North Pennines, the western part County Durham.
It’s a beautiful place, and the river is great for both trout and grayling. We ran a casting instruction course for a small group wanting to learn the Italian Casting Style, and had some great fishing as well. After dinner that night we fished till darkness at about 10:30 pm. Though we all caught and landed some fish, both trout and grayling, the fishing was a little disappointing. The insect hatch was copious enough, but the quality dry fly fishing we hoped for didn’t materialise.
The next day, as the weather was very settled, we decided to head upstream to the Widdybank beat, in the Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve. This is fairly elevated and exposed moorland and can get very blustery. The river there is fantastic dry fly water, fast-flowing, lots of boulders making for a lot of pocket water, with some flatter parts; very challenging nymph fishing because the river bottom is all boulders from small to large. This also makes it a bit more interesting to wade. If one was a Tenkara artist, this place would be heaven. I had a very happy day, with a decent bag of small, feisty wild brown trout.
Quotes of the month...
'...buying a fly rod in the average city store, that is, joining it up and safely waggling it a bit, is much like seeing a woman's arm protruding from a car window: all one can readily be sure of is that the window is open.'
Anatomy of a Fisherman by Robert Traver. (Traver wrote two notable angling classics, Trout Madness and Trout Magic.)
'The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back; and who knows if the fish that you caught isn't someone else's gift to you?'
Lee Wulff on a visit to South Africa in November 1989at the invitation of FOSAF, with Ian Lehr (then CPS Chairman, left) and Dr Willie Van Niekerk (then Chairman of the Council of Provinces, right). He is pictured here at a dinner given in his honour at the Groote Schuur Estate, Cape Town on 3 November. The party of FOSAF guests also included Joan Wulff and Gary Borger, and from the UK, Taff Price and Peter Cockwill.
A temporary chaos comes with the arrival of a new book...
The eye of the storm has passed. I can live a semi-normal life again, but there was a time of great chaos and clutter after the printers dropped off a few copies of my new book, Yet More Sweet Days, at my home. The arrival of the books occasioned a hectic two-week-long routine of responding to emails, filling in courier forms, wrapping books, folding cardboard boxes, all the while navigating for free space in the clutter that was once a sacred place, my sanctuary for reclusive escape, my study.
The clutter that was once my study – Steve Boshoff photograph
Addressing orders has gone smoothly enough, but here and there I hit a few bumps. One such bump was the order I got from one Carlos, a fly fisher who lives in a rural Western Cape town. He ordered a leather-bound limited edition, but in error I posted him a soft-cover. He sent a concerned email pointing out my error; I confessed; told him to keep the book (he paid for it anyway). Then in the brief space of a couple of days I repeated the same mistake. I sent him a soft-cover book, again; not once, but twice more !
He naturally got twitchy about ever receiving a limited edition, had the courtesy to stay relatively calm in our email exchanges, if, reading between the lines, a little dubious and concerned. So when it finally came to posting his leather-bound edition, I labelled the package as in the image below - just to lift his pulse rate a little. It did! (Carlos took the picture.)
Mentioned in dispatches...
Greg Carstens sent the photograph below of his son, Jason, with a decent fish from a late season Sterkspruit, saying, 'I was up in our favourite place just a week or so ago and the fishing was the best it’s ever been!'
(By 'our favourite place,' he means the Rhodes-Barkly-East area.)
Dave Lambroughton of Armstrong, British Columbia, sent this recent catch, a lovely steelhead taken on a Moose Hair Skater.
A tub of Dave's Moose Hair Skaters
From Dr Vanessa Trewick, Norfolk UK
says Vanessa fishing an East Anglian chalkstream:
The DDD proved a winner again last week (it’s been too hot to fish this week - Norfolk has been basking in 32 degree heat), this time in natural livery....I have attached a photo of the trout...a lovely wild brown hen....safely released to fight another day.
Ed Herbst writes about some new innovations in fly tying:
When I started fly fishing in the early 1980s, Cape Town had only one shop catering for our needs, Lemkus Sports at the bottom of Adderly Street.
There you could buy a small range of flies from the garish Mountain Swallow to the very effective Caribou Spider and, if you had the money, fibreglass rods like the Hardy Jet.
That changed when Roger Baert acquired the Orvis agency for South Africa and opened 'The Flyfisherman' in Pietermaritzburg in 1982.
For fly tyers, the arrival of the annual Orvis fly tying catalogue was like Christmas for a child. Sadly, Orvis is no longer represented in South Africa, but whenever Morne Bayman at the online fly tying shop African Fly Angler puts in an order from the huge Hareline or Veniard catalogues, I order what I need.
John Geils says the Wapsi and Semperfli products will be loaded on the Xplorer website within a fortnight.
Hareline has a huge inventory and what I found most interesting in my latest order are the Ahrex FW 506/507 and FEW 516/517 midge hooks and the new Solarez colour UV light-cured resins.
The Ahrex midge hooks have a bigger-than-usual eye but, unlike the Daiichi 1110 dry fly hook (which is based on an Orvis patent) they are made of slightly heavier wire and have a wider gape.
This will make them ideal for the micro-patterns that Alan Hobson is, with increasing success, using for trout on the Mountain Dam in Somerset East and the yellowfish which he is catching in significant numbers on these tiny flies at the Sterkfontein Dam near Harrismith.
Alan Hobson’s micro-pattern imitating an adult chironomid
Alan Hobson with a trout that took a #22 midge on the Mountain Dam in Somerset East
In last month’s newsletter I wrote about mixing clear Solarez resins with Wilson & Maclagan glitter dust which comes in colours such as red, orange, black and green and is available from craft shops such as PnA.
Well, the new Solarez colour range includes Topaz Sparkle and Copper Shimmer which incorporates minute specks of glitter. I use the Solarez Copper Shimmer as a sighter on my Veniard Ultra Ant bodies and coat the underside of the fly with Solarez black resin mixed with black glitter dust.
A blood worm imitation which uses no thread. The red wire rib is ultrafine Semperfli, the bead is a Toho 15/0 silver-lined red bead and the fly is coated with fluo red Solarez resin mixed with orange glitter dust.
The principle is not new, nail polish manufacturers such as Sally Hansen's Top Coat Megashine also has these embedded specks - but it takes longer to dry.
The author’s version of Pat Dorsey’s Mercury Black Magic.
The first layer is Loon Fluorescing resin mixed with black glitter dust. The second layer is Solarez Topaz Sparkle which contains minute blue specks. The bead is a 15/0 Toho silver-lined grey and the hook is a #20 Dohiku 302
The author’s Mercury Black Magic under UV light which shows up the embedded black glitter dust.
A Veniard foam body ant using Solarez Copper Shimmer as highly-visible and light-reflecting sighter. The hook is a #16 Dohiku 303
The best UV torches on the market at the moment, in my opinion, are the Loon Infiniti and the Semperfli because not only are they powerful but they can be charged through the USB port on your computer. The Semperfli torch does not need a separate charging cable and has a hooded lens. On smaller flies this means that you can cover the fly with the torch and your eyes are not exposed to the light. Its beam is not as bright as the Loon model, although I doubt this makes any difference to curing time. Both are available through Xplorer in Durban.
The author’s Semperfli torch being charged from his computer
Alan has brought to my attention that the Czech fly fishing company, Hends, has a representative, Hansie Meyer, in South Africa. Hends played a role in the evolution of the Czech-nymph technique more than a decade ago and their fine lead wire is in a class of its own.
Hansie, of CMF Fly Fishing sent me some Hends Synton thread which is probably a 17/0 and consists of two very fine threads in parallel.
8 Hansie Meyer, the Hends representative in South Africa
The bobbin spool is smaller than normal so I invested in a C&F Midge bobbin from Frontier Fly Fishing which, like my favourite TMC bobbin, is exemplary in design and finish.
Hends Synton thread and the beautifully finished C&F bobbin holder
Hends Synton has long been a favourite of micro-pattern tyers in Europe and, having a dual thread, is ideal for split-thread CDC patterns.
Even thinner is 20 denier Uni-Caenis, available from Morne Bayman at the African Fly Angler, which I demonstrated at last week’s fly tying function held at the Cape Piscatorial Society to help Tim Rolston defray his recent medical expenses.
As I pointed out, because it is so thin, you will break it sooner or later but, unlike thicker threads, it does not unravel on the fly and you simply start again.
Rubber leg threaders have been around in various forms for a number of years. There’s the Zuddy’s Leg Puller and the small threader made locally by Jay Smith in Durban.
Now Craig Thom of Stream-X in Milnerton, Cape Town has come up with an innovative and inexpensive leg puller.
From left, the Zuddy’s Leg Puller, the JVice model, Craig Thom’s new creation and the C&F threader
But there is another way as I discovered when I came across this video which shows a bobbin threader being used to insert a sighter into a foam rubber beetle pattern. The threader with the thinnest wire is the C&F model which I got from Frontier Fly Fishing.