Wednesday, 04 March 2015 12:34

- All’s well that ends well…

Clem Booth and I were setting up to fish one of my favourite mountain streams last week when I discovered I’d left my fly vest at home, as inexcusable a blunder as the best man forgetting to bring the ring to the wedding. Clem had rigged up his gear, I had locked the truck and we were about to stroll off to do battle with the trout in this fragile, sundried little stream when I noticed a back tyre was flat. Anyone with a Toyota Hilux will know that changing a tyre on these beasts is an exercise that the manufacturer seems to have deliberately beset with frustrations and pitfalls.

And we were due to meet with Gordon Van der Spuy and Ruhan Neethling early that same afternoon. We just made it. Gordon demonstrated his latest dry fly, a neat combination of CDC and Cul de Canard feathers and Ruhan showed us his collection of traditional salmon flies all neatly laid out in an album, many of his own tying and equally many, collector’s pieces in mint condition from around the world, some over a hundred years old.

Click in images to enlarge them

GR and Clem booth IMG 1831

Gordon van der Spuy with a bunch of premium grade Coq de Leon feathers in his hand, keenly watched by Clem Booth, who later said, ‘The man’s a wizard’, or words to that effect.

In Ruhan’s vice was a rendition of an elaborately artistic salmon fly he was preparing for a project based on the Pink Floyd musical, The Wall, a worldwide initiative in which each tier makes up an impressionistic salmon fly to represent a song from the musical.

Ruhan Neethling IMG 1840

Ruhan’s artistic salmon fly for the Pink Floyd musical seen here as still work in progress,

Nice place for a trout over pebbles…

I sent a watercolour of two trout over pebbles to a buyer, Andrew McKenzie, who not infrequently graces the pages of my newsletter. He and his wife, Nancy, live in Sydney, Australia. He had this to say in a recent email and included a few pictures:

Just thought I would tell you that as I suspected, Nancy is rapt with your painting.  I will take it into the framer today with your instructions.  We plan to put it in the bedroom.  I am a very lucky man.  I don’t imagine that there would be many guys that get to have paintings with something to do with fishing in their bedrooms – I will have three.  I also have two David Scholes’s watercolours which I can look at from the bed and then dream about the Tassie Highlands!!  Now I will be able to dream about crystal clear South African trout streams as well…..

Trout over pebbles sutcliffe painting DSCN1074

The painting in question now in its frame and hanging above their bed

Quotes of the week from Dave Walker in Rhodes

I came across two quotes that I thought worth passing on. You may have come across them already but nonetheless, worth a re-read!

‘Only after the last tree has been cut down,

Only after the last river has been poisoned,

Only after the last fish has been caught,

Only then you will find that money cannot be eaten’

Cree Indian Prophecy

And the other is:

‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors,

We borrow it from our children.’

Native American proverb.

Tribute to Dave Rorke


The fly fishing community in South Africa has lost a great protagonist. Last week, Dave Rorke, who for 23 years was the managing editor of the popular magazine, Flyfishing, died after a brief illness. Things had not been easy for Dave for many years. He was confined to a wheelchair for much of his life, yet lived his time on this planet to the full. He was an outspoken, clear thinking advocate for cogent policies on environmental conservation and for a proper dispensation for trout in our country. I extend my condolences to his family, his friends and to the staff of Flyfishing Magazine where he will undoubtedly be sorely missed.

How interesting is this!

Greg Botha writes:

I was in a suburb on Vancouver’s north shore recently and noticed a yellow fish shape stencilled next to a drain on the road side. A resident told me that salmon migrate up the small tributaries running through the suburbs. Trout Unlimited Canada's Yellow Fish Road™ Program (http://www.yellowfishroad.org/) is a national conservation education initiative. Since 1991, thousands of Canadians raise awareness about pollution entering local water bodies through storm drains. 

Canadian yellow fish sign on drain

A painted storm drain

Painting storm drains reminds residents that anything that goes into the storm water system goes directly into the local water system. By educating communities about proper disposal of household hazardous wastes, they aim to reduce impacts on the aquatic ecosystem and ensure safe water for all living things. The large impervious surface areas in urban areas generate seasonal peaks in non-point source pollution when rainfall and snowmelt runoff are highest. The denizens of the rivers like the Liesbeek, Apies, Msunduzi and Jukskei can feel hard done by when one considers what is washed down the drains in our cities!

Chris Clemes, UK-based bamboo rod and reel maker has this to say…

I was out on the Kennet two weeks ago. It was right in the middle of the cold snap we were having with the majority of streams frozen over. I had a Grayling ticket for Barton Court Fishery and ventured down not expecting to catch much. Also being Valentine’s weekend I didn’t have much time with my girlfriend in tow.


Barton Court Manor in the background, fishing the manor pool

On my first cast I threw out a DDD with a bead head GHRE and was still stripping off line for a decent cast when a trout erupted from the surface with my DDD. I was amazed that they were even venturing near the surface on this icy day. I went on up the bank and 5 minutes later had a grayling but then proceeded to have two more trout cartwheel out of the water with my DDD (One I am sure was a sea trout). It was the best £20 and 1 hours fishing I have had in winter. I have attached some images from the day.

CL The middle of Winter on the River Kennett Barton Court fishery 52

The middle of winter on the River Kennet at Barton Court fishery


A tiny Grayling

CL Fishing companion found at the local pub dog 1

Fishing companion found at the local pub

CL The suspected sea trout Picture 72


The suspected sea trout much more silvery than the other two

CL The Lambourn river in East Garston. 97

The Lambourn River in East Garston. It joins the Kennet below the Barton Court Fishery

CL Picture1 009

A cottage on the banks of the Lambourn, in the town of East Garston in the Tambourin valley famous for race horse breeding. Apparently the soft chalk fields are good for them.

CL A more conventional Brown trout 42

A more conventional Brown trout

To visit Chris’s mouth watering website got to www.chrisclemes.co.uk 


Products of the Chris Clemes Company include split cane fly rods, reels and silk fly lines

KZN report from guide Jan Korrubel

The Bushman’s River is looking positively peachy, Rhuan Human landing this cracking brown last Sunday. 

15 22 Bushmans brown Rhuan Human 2

The Bushman’s looking perfect

15 33 22 Bushmans brown Rhuan Human

Ruhan Human’s brown trout

The Mooi River was also looking superb last weekend. (Pictures below from the Natal Fly Fishers Club Facebook page).

15 88 22 Bushmans brown-Rhuan Human


15 88 22 Bushmans brown-Rhuan Human

This week saw a spell of cooler weather. The storms appear to be sticking to a well established path – originating in the upper Lotheni and Kamberg Valleys, they skirt the eastern side of Nottingham Road, dropping the bulk of their rain lower down on Balgowan, Howick and Hilton and I am sure that the waters of the Dargle Valley are looking pretty good right now.

The weather forecast for the week ahead has us enjoying some sunshine and temperatures in the late ‘teen and early 20’s, with overcast conditions, cooler temps and some more rain towards the end of the week and into the weekend.

On the realities of dogs and fly fishing from Derek de la Harpe

My son and I took our young Labrador fishing at Dullstroom yesterday. She was delightful company but we learned a few important realities.

A trout stream is Labrador heaven. But her enjoyment of the stream is somewhat at odds with your angling efforts. For example, each new pool is greeted with delight. This delight is manifested in a need to swim in it, with the entry to the pool being as spectacular as possible.

DDLH jumping


If you fish from opposite sides of the stream, your Labrador will swim it every 5 minutes to share her enjoyment of it with each of you. This is not conducive to stealthy angling.

Your efforts to manage the fly line at your feet are not aided by an excited Labrador, especially if she is on a lead (to stop her leaping into the next pool) which tangles with the fly line (let alone her four feet, legs, head, tail etc).

DDLH splash


Your efforts to stalk the trout are not aided by your dog’s need to enter the water in the approved Labrador breed standard: with enthusiasm and confidence, resulting in massive splashes and lots of noise. Your excitement at hooking a fish is nothing compared to that of your dog.

Conversely, your dismay at losing a hooked fish is exacerbated by the look of pained hurt in your Labrador’s eyes.

DDLH swimming

If your Labrador swims at last light, she will remain wet until 9 pm in the cold mountain air. She will therefore become cold and seek to ‘cure’ that by getting into bed with you. This is to be discouraged, especially if you want to be welcomed back to your chosen accommodations in future.

The concept of ‘catch and release’ is completely foreign, if not outright offensive, to a Labrador RETRIEVER. Indeed, she will go to great lengths to recover the fish that you have so carelessly released.

We are going to try again in a month, this time at Rhodes.  The Lab is a bit older and calmer now and so hopefully it won’t be such a 'dog-show'!

And further on dogs and fly fishing from Simon Jeffreys

534674 378839272204894 1595574889 n

Dogs and fly fishing has to be this - me and my old dog Boo on Loch Veyatie in Sutherland, Scotland in his usual boat-fishing pose. Just after this I hooked him with a wet mayfly that I removed safely back home at the end of the day.

And on dogs from John Dreyer in New Zealand

Mohaka river Ian Ruthven guide with his fox terrier

Mohaka River. Ian Ruthven, a fly guide, holding a fish, with his fox terrier, two weeks ago.

Patagonia’s new take on the fly vest

My friend Mark Mortimore thinks he’s found the perfect fly vest/backpack system.

48155 836

See https://www.patagonia.com/eu/enCZ/product/fly-fishing-vest-front-sling?p=48155-0

Says Mark:

Patagonia new fly vest jg1

This is my friend Glenn Philips’s vest and contents. The red flask is interesting. It’s a thermos water bottle, double skinned stainless steel. Glenn says it keeps his drinks cool or hot all day, it’s made by Ryder and it came from Amazon in the UK.

Images of the week from John Dreyer fishing rivers in North Island New Zealand

Says John:

Thought you might like to see images of the backcountry fishing I did in North Island New Zealand!

Backcountry fly fishing North Island New zealand  111

Backcountry fly fishing North Island New zealand  119

Backcountry fly fishing North Island New zealand  411

Backcountry fly fishing North Island New zealand  17

Backcountry fly fishing North Island New zealand  223

Backcountry fly fishing North Island New zealand  119

Backcountry fly fishing North Island New zealand  11

Pause to admire this picture of my 14 lb fish! (Okay, it’s only 7 lb, but I caught it twice! Having snatched the cicada fly from its jaws it made no mistake taking the fly on my second cast. Got to love a rainbow!

Conditions in Rhodes in the Eastern Cape Highlands

 Tony Kietzman writes:

Conditions are hard at present, especially with the high temperatures. There are yellows around and the trout that one does meet are in stunning condition.

It's not the sort of fishing we normally experience with lots of babies, there are some around though. Saturday we found fish, deep in pools, not interested in the dead drift, but as soon as one started retrieving...bang. Some great fish were taken. Got broken by a large yellow as well. Haven't been seeing many hatches although there were large flying ant hatches in the village this morning. I think it is worth coming, but be prepared to work for your fish.

87997 Tony Kietzman Dugmore Bamboo fly rod Mount Mourne

Tony Kietzman on Mt Mourne near Rhodes with his Steve Dugmore bamboo rod

The Epson Fly fishing Festival

One of the staples on the South African fly fishing calendar, the annual Epson Fly Fishing Festival takes place in Rhodes in three weeks’ time and Dave Walker tells me that bookings can still be made as there are a few vacant slots.

Ed Herbst has posted articles on my website about the festival and will be posting another in the coming week on fly fishing festivals in general.


You can contact Dave at d 045 9749303 or 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.

Derek Smith, custom fly rod maker, writes

I thought you may be interested in seeing some pictures of a Kabuto 7’ 3 wt, 3 piece yellow fibre glass rod I’ve recently built. The Kabuto blanks are truly beautiful with an un-sanded snake belly finish and a wonderful translucent colour.

The action is decidedly progressive and the rod loads with minimal effort.

I’ve built this rod with a stacked cane reel seat insert, top grade cigar cork grip, and light tan silk thread wrap.

The blanks are made by Yasuyuki Kabuto from Japan and I’ve brought in both 6 ½’ 2wt and 7’ 3wt blanks in yellow clear and brown if anyone is interested in having one built.

Fly rod glass kabuto 3

Fly rod kabuto 2


Fly rod kabuto 4

Contact Derek 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.

Tom Sutcliffe 

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