Saturday, 14 November 2015 08:38

including Steve Dugmore's new bamboo ferrule system, a Cape stream mayfly identified, a tribute to the late Keith Miller, trout in Spring Grove Dam in KZN, a new idea for picking up beads, Andrew Fowler's book 'Stippled Beauties' reviewed, Lee Wulff's 'Bush Pilot Angler reviewed, Sage rod for sale, the new Tacky fly box, Jay Lee's amazing Hopper patterns, Ed Herbst on trout's diet in fynbos, Clem Booth's chalkstream diary and more...

Testing a new rod

I got to test out my new Freestone 7' 9" 3-weight bamboo rod made by Steve Dugmore. After a day on a delightful stream, the upper Lourens, I found it's action smooth yet crisp and the rod made me feel like I was 'painting' the fly line on the water rather than casting it.

Steve has included a fascinating new ferrule system on the rod, where both male and female ferrules are made of bamboo and grip extremely well. He pointed out that the concept is still experimental at this stage, but after a long day's fishing I could detect absolutely no movement in the joint at all.

Click in images to enlarge them

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Dugmore's prototype bamboo on bamboo ferrule

My friend Robin Douglas was along and over a sandwich sitting on a mid-stream rock I asked him when he was going to convert to bamboo. 'When my horse comes home,' he replied – which, I told him, I hoped would be sooner rather than later.

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My new Freestone bamboo masterpiece. Note the 'brown trout' motif on the wooden reel seat.

For more info on Steve's rods see http://www.freestonerods.co.za.


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Robin on the Lourens on the rod-testing day

We had a number of insects hatching during the day, including micro caddis, mountain midges and a few coal-black mayflies that at first I thought were Choroterpes nigricans, but soon realised they weren't. Still they were very pretty and one was obliging enough to sit still for a close-up shot. It's a beautifully marked insect and I have seen it on Cape streams many times, usually in late September and into October. I will have it formally identified and let you know, but meanwhile, doesn't it just cry out to have one of our really creative fly tyers, someone like Gordon van der Spuy, invent us a juicy imitation!

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A mayfly that needs a juicy imitation invented. Tom Sutcliffe photo.

Since writing this piece last month, Dr Helen Barber-Jones, an aquatic biologist with the Albany Museum, responded as follows:

The beautiful Leptophlebiidae male in your photograph is Adenophlebia, probably A. dislocans. I have never seen one in life. It's lovely.

Robin Jeffrey on Spring Grove Dam in KZN

Says Robin...

I recently had the chance to fish the new Spring Grove dam with a friend with private access to the water. On an uncharacteristically warm morning we managed to land 10 rainbow trout ranging from about 700g-2kg.

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Robin Jeffrey (above) and friend (below)

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The following afternoon my friend managed to land a brown trout of about a kilogram. All of the fish were in perfect condition and from what I hear these are from the original farm dams that were flooded when the new dam filled. What was puzzling though, was the size of the fish; the smaller trout could only have been about a year old at most, meaning these were either stocked or spawned naturally in the river. There is a huge amount of structure in the small area we fished and the insect life is prolific.

I have read now that an artificial fish barrier was constructed above the Inchbreakie Falls on the Mooi River to prevent smallmouth bass migrating upstream into trout waters. It's quite interesting that at a time when trout are under regulatory persecution that they would be protected at great expense. If the trout are able to move upstream and spawn the future fly fishing potential is good for this dam and the river.

This is definitely a win for the trout in the light of recent regulatory events. 

Stipple Beauties – Seasons, Landscapes and Trout. Foreword by Peter Brigg.

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Stipple Beauties attractive cover

Andrew Fowler's new book is now available. It's not as much a didactic review of fly fishing techniques, as much as a warm, homely and entirely authentic account of one man's deep and unashamed passion in pursuit of trout. Andrew is a successful entrepreneur, but you get the sense that given half a chance he would happily swap his business life for that of a trout bum.

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Author Andrew Fowler

He relishes every moment he can escape his office, load his truck, head for the hills and jump into the trout waters of Kwa Zulu-Natal or, at times, fish a few of the gems in the Eastern Cape Highlands. He writes lyrically about these trips, at times reflecting back to his youth, and to his beginnings, describing events, people, places, family and angling strategies all with equal ease and candour. He even touches on the particular nuances each season in the year brings, right down to, believe it or not – and I can – the seasonal-changes in the smell of the veld grasses lining riverbanks.

I ask no more of a book like this than that it soothes me in the times that I can't get out fishing and Andrew doesn't disappoint! He writes about his addiction to fishing for trout as enthusiastically and convincingly as a Skid Row junkie would extol the virtues of Tennessee's fine rye whiskey. It's a lovely read.

To get yourself a copy, visit Andrew's blog site on: http://truttablog.com/book-launch

A new Tacky fly box

Jerome Goslett, managing Director of Omni Sport says:

As a company, 'Tacky Fly Fishing' is committed to creating and developing meaningful products to improve the fly fishing experience. Their first box, the 'Original Tacky Fly Box', has taken the industry by storm and will be available at leading fly stores.

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The Day Pack, a small, light, sleek, and compact box has a clear lid for visible access to flies. Specs are 5" x 3" x 3/4" and it weighs 3.1 oz.

This is a patent-pending fly storage system with a new bi-directional slit design to hold up to 180 Flies. It has a latch-less closure system with neodymium magnets. The box is made of extremely durable polycarbonate.

Book review - Bush Pilot Angler - A Memoir by Lee Wulff. Down East Books, 2000.

I have just re-read Bush Pilot Angler, where Lee Wulff describes his fishing trips into remote Canadian lakes and rivers back in the early '50's, some of them only reachable by float-plane. A few were already established fishing destinations, many were newly discovered, but most were virgin waters, where huge fish cued up waiting for the fly.


Bush Pilot Angler

Lee had an ongoing love affair with Atlantic salmon all his life, and was one of the first bush pilot anglers. He was also co-founder, along with Alain Perfontaine, of the 16/20 Club, that required you to catch a sixteen-pound salmon on a size 20 dry fly to get membership.

Lee made his first flight into Newfoundland in his 65 horsepower, J3 Piper Cub, named Yellow Bird, only days after getting his pilot's license. The aircraft had been built to his specs and donated to him in exchange for film footage of fly fishers catching leaping salmon on remote waters with the Piper Cub floating in the background.


Back cover

He continued flying for forty-five years until he died at the controls of his Super Cub, Lima Whiskey, at the age of eighty-six.  

He recounts early part of his fishing and flying life eloquently and with a disarming mater-of-factness. To say it makes riveting and intriguing reading is an understatement. In my view, it is now unquestionably one of angling's classics, not for the writing – that's good enough – but because it records a revolutionary milestone in modern fly fishing.

Craig Thom of NetBooks ( http://www.netbooks.co.za) might be able to source a copy for you.

Trout diet in the Fynbos Biome

In this marvelously complete and comprehensive article, Ed Herbst describes the insect life of the Western Cape fynbos trout stream biome. This is a very detailed, invaluable and extremely well illustrated article. It's a 'must-read' for all Cape fly fishers!


From angling book publisher, Paul Curtis, in Wales.

Says Paul:

Just saw this in the latest Classic Angling magazine. It’s an article from 'The Fishing Gazette' of November 1894 - they apparently reproduced it for American 'Field and Stream'.

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Image with credit to 'Classic Angling'.

 By the way - The Flyfishers' Club of London are reviewing my book 'Fishing Wider Margins' for their magazine.

(Paul, through his latest book, Fishing Wider Margins, and through his many other angling publications, has provided a wonderful service to South African fly fishers. In my view, if there was a South African Fly Fishing Hall of Fame, he would deserve a place in it. To contact Paul about his latest book see 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. .TS.)  

A tribute to a master South African fly fisher, the late Keith Miller, by Barry Kent.

Says Barry:
I was asked by a dear friend, Kaye Miller, to create a very special fly in memory of her late husband Keith, for a very special reason and a very special occasion.

Keith was my closest friend during my South African life. It seemed at times as if we were joined at the hip during our fly fishing, tying and golfing adventures. Keith was a stellar sportsman, incredibly fit, very astute and skilled in his fly tying and fishing exploits. He boiled over with enthusiasm in everything he pursued.  Like me, Keith regarded fly tying and fishing as part of his very soul! 

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Left to right: Barry Kent, Keith Miller and Sean Larkin

He was a pharmacist by profession, but became nationally known for his fly tying and fishing. He was pursuing his dream of a professional fly-fishing life when he tragically died. During a weekend guiding with clients he drowned when his float tube burst while fishing alone. I had moved to Florida when the accident happened. Shock waves went around the world in fly fishing communities. Keith had so much more of life to live and share with his friends and family. This was truly a tragic time for all who loved him.

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Keith Miller Memorial Fly brooch. 

Kaye and Keith have three beautiful daughters, Louise, Michelle and Claire. Claire was married to Oliver Payne on July 11th, 2015 and I was asked to create a new fly pattern in memory of Keith. At the wedding, each daughter wore brooch throughout the ceremony.

Jay Lee's amazing hopper pattern

Jay Lee from Rotterdam in the Netherlands, sent me a letter and a couple of his foam hoppers named The Alien Bug. His tying is quite exceptional.

Says Jay:

During the mid-1990's high density foam made its debut as the main material for buoyancy  on dry flies. In 1995, the odd-looking fly called the Chernobyl Ant won the Jackson Hole 'One Fly' event. The basic idea is a 3 mm high density black foam strip tied in several different segments to the abdomen and head. The addition of rubber legs at the side gave the critter a very lifelike action.

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Here's my foam hopper pattern I have been using for the past 6 years or so: the Alien Bug. This foam hopper is made of easy to get foam sheets that are easy to tie, float forever and are easy to track  on the water. The basic ingredient is using two or three sheets of 3 mm high density foam. You can buy these sheets at your local hobby shop in many different colours.

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There are no rules for colours in my take on this style of Hopper. I use bright colours on top and more subdued colours below. Before tying, glue the closed-cell foam sheets together using superglue. Cut the glued sheets about 5 – 7 mm wide.

Hook: Tiemco TMC 2312

Thread: Uni Thread 6/0

Body: Sandwiched foam. (Note this foam came conveniently coated on one side with an Antron-like fluff.)

Legs: Round medium rubber

Wing: Elk or deer hair

Tail: Goose biots

Indicator: Hot orange or chartreuse

Since this pattern floats so well it is also a great strike indicator to fish with nymphs, even heavily weighted ones.

Clem Booth's diary

Clem and I are in almost weekly email contact, sharing ideas and experiences on fly fishing in particular, on tackle, especially bamboo rods, and on cameras and rugby. Here are extracts from some of Clem's missives of last month:


Sparkling day on the Loddon today, a tributary of the Thames, despite very heavy rain for days before and high and coloured water. Together with two good friends, Sigi and Don, we set out for a day on the Loddon and Lyde. We rather sensibly girded out loins with a full English breakfast at the nearby Wellington Arms beforehand; is there a better way to start a day's fishing?

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On the Loddon

The fish weren't easy at any stage but there were regular signs of interest and by lunchtime, we'd all had some. In the afternoon, the steady action continued and by the end of the day, some 25 fish had been landed between us. I only saw one surface rise the whole day! It was 20 yards ahead....it took forever to swap my nymph for a sedge, but sure enough, a lovely wild brownie was landed. All the rest - and there were plenty - were on nymphs. 

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Brown trout from the Loddon (above and below).

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The three of us reflected on a good day on the water. We are unbelievably privileged to have rivers of this quality so close to home. In my case half an hour...just a short hop. Spending a day on the water with good friends is really special. Yes, catching a few fish is important; I for one would never deny this. But sharing a day with kindred spirits is even more so. 


Luciano Albo, proprietor of the wonderful Estancia Laguna Verde at Lake Strobelin Patagonia, joined me yesterday for some fishing on the Loddon. A good day was had by all and I was able to also further whet my appetite for my return trip to lake Strobel in late January 2016! Luciano is a larger than life character and a good friend; he very much enjoyed our chalk stream fishing and put his experience on the Patagonia streams to good effect.

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Luciano Albo (on the Loddon, above and with a brown trout below).

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Clem with a Loddon brown trout.


Great day on the Avon today Tom........for me the prince of the chalk streams. Some outstanding wild brownies...3 1/4 pounds and 3 pounds, both on dry crane flies. Windy, cold and raining at times, but still the fish came up. Simply superb fish and only one hour from our home in Ascot! We are truly blessed. 

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Avon brown trout (above and below).

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As the leaves begin to fall, so we turn our attention to the Grayling, just the most beautiful of all our chalkstream fish. The bigger ones are such very special prizes. Will be concentrating on them for the next couple of months!

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The most beautiful of all our chalkstream fish, the grayling (above and below).

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Had a splendid last day on the Loddon before the season closes at the end of this month. In something of a McNab, I had all three of our Loddon fish; rainbow, a chub and brownies. The chub was small, but what a beautiful little bar of silver!

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Loddon rainbow  

It has been an excellent season on the Loddon; perhaps as much to do with being semi-retired and having a bit more time than the quality of the fishing!

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Loddon chub (above) and brown trout (below).

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I will close out the trout season on the Test at Timsbury tomorrow. That promises to be a good day.......with a bit of luck there will be plenty of crane flies about! 

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3-pound brownie

3-pound brownie while fishing for grayling yesterday. It looks smaller due to camera angle and hand being closer to the lens than the fish. I need to let the fish lie on top of my arm in future. Was a great fish though. 

Image of the month by Dale Harrison of Cape Town, of his friend, Petrus Gouws, fishing in the Drakensberg

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Both Dale and Petrus are fly-fishing ophthalmic surgeons. At a recent lunch we had together in Cape Town, I asked Petrus for his permission to publish this poem he wrote. He gladly agred.

Infelicitous Synchronicity


No matter when you choose to fish,

last week was always better…

This seems to be a truism

down to the final letter!

I tritely state the obvious:

despite what we are wishing,

that fishing always is the best

when no-one's actually fishing!

Goods wanted to buy. Vaughan Berry writes

Going tiger fishing in December and need the right gear. Looking for a 9-wt fly rod and reel. I am Jo'burg based at fax +27 (0)861 776 827 or mobile +27 (0)83 388 7115.

Newly released!

Freshwater Life  -  A field guide to the plants and animals of southern Africa by Charles Griffiths, Jenny Day & Mike Picker.

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This is the first comprehensive, illustrated field guide to aquatic life in the wider southern African region. This ground-breaking book spans all aquatic life forms, from the large and conspicuous vertebrates, through insects, molluscs and other invertebrates, to aquatic plants and microscopic algae. More than 1,000 freshwater organisms are included.

 For more information, visit www.randomstruik.co.za

New Sage TXL-F for sale

Ryan Bradfield offers:

IJ KUT 6765 889

A new Sage TXL-f 1wt 7'10 & new Sage QDT 1wt line. Includes blank warranty card.

Asking R 5700 ex postage

Contact Ryan on 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.

The Beadmaster!

Ed Herbst writes:

Getting a 1.5 mm bead on to a #18 hook is a struggle at the best of times and a process not assisted by advancing age. Enter the Beadmaster which I have just bought from Morne Bayman’s online fly tying shop, African Fly Anger.


Just Google Beadmaster + YouTube or go straight to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jluutro8Yco

The Karringmelk Stream


The Karnemelk. Photo Tom Sutcliffe


The Karnemelk in Lady Grey is justifiably regarded as one of the finest trout streams in the country and if you are thinking of visiting the town, do contact Dalene Oertel of the local tourism association who has just produced a business directory: 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.. You can also visit the town’s website at http://www.ladygrey.co.za/


Tom Sutcliffe


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