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The Wandle
16 Sep 2013

A final word on the Wandle, a truly historic chalk stream in London

In last week’s newsletter I made mention of the Wandle, a small chalk stream in the south of London that was restored from a ditch carrying polluted water into a sparkling stream carrying a nice head of brown trout. The equally interesting aspect of this river is its rich history; for example, this is where FM Halford first cast a dry fly and where he caught his biggest trout.

But I was alerted to yet more history on this stream. No lesser fly fisher than Admiral Lord Nelson lived in Merton Place on its banks and when in residence he fished the stream regularly. He bought Merton Place, a large estate, for his mistress, Emma Hamilton. History has it that she was some lady. She is said to have danced at a young age naked on a table at the protracted stag party of one Sir Harry Featherstonhaugh. Whatever, I think we'd better park the Wandle’s history right there for the moment.

10 Sep 2013

Photo Essay on Croatia

I will soon be publishing a short photo and word essay on Croatia by Alan Jellis. Given Greg Botha’s recent article on this country’s fly fishing ( and Alan’s contribution, it’s clear they have something of a fly fisher’s paradise. Here is one of Alan’s images from his trip to Croatia.

Luca Montanari
3 Sep 2013

The image is of a fly tied by Luca Montenari


(Luca is a celebrated fly fisher and fly tyer, specialising in salmon flies, but a master of most aspects of the art.)

Here in Italy we are in the heart of the trout season and I try to go fishing whenever I have a little of free time.

I started a few months ago to make videos on fly tying and now I have a Youtube channel, which I update quite regularly with a new fly.

One of the videos I have already published shows how to tie the Brown Iris, that small mayfly imitation that I used on the Elandspad River with you and that I showed you at Mark Krige's home. Maybe you will be interested in seeing how to tie it. If so here is the link to the Video page of my web site

(This is a lovely site and well worth a visit. TS)

The Sneeuberg
27 Aug 2013


(The Sneeuberg Mountains are in the vast and arid plains of the greater Karoo, inland of the historic town of Graaff-Reinet and about the last place on earth you would ever expect to find a trout stream!)

Says Pierre Swartz, local guide in the area

I had the good fortune of being up in the Sneeuberg again on Saturday and had a walk up a tiny stream we have discovered to see how the trout are doing.  

I was fishing with a young boy, Hardus du Plessis, who is a regular client of mine. The trout we saw were in full spawning colours and could be seen as they move about in the shallow water.  

In a particular pool I came across a large cock fish of over 3 pounds slowly cruising the margins of a long, deep pool and when it became aware of our presence it turned and dived straight for the cover of an overhang.  

After many attempts to fool the fish we gave up and headed further upstream to do some more exploring. The spring is still running strong even during the dry winter we have experienced. 

For more information about fishing in this part of the Karoo contact Pierre at [email protected]

Lake Jindabyne
20 Aug 2013

FROM NICK TARANSKY - Australian master bamboo rod maker on Lake Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales

Says Nick:

I might sneak out to Lake Jindabyne on Thursday for some winter ‘Polaroiding’. Jindabyne is a high country hydro lake here, up near the ski fields. It's quite barren, and can feel a little like fishing on the moon. When the wild browns drop back from the Thredbo River after spawning, they slowly cruise the edges and can make for challenging fishing.

Image: A friend, Danny Spelic, stalking Lake Jindabyne

(Subsequently, after I expressed great interest in this fishing, Nick sent me an article he had done on a trip to Lake Jindabyne. See

Fishing Highland Lodge
13 Aug 2013

This was a wonderful August to be fishing Highland Lodge because the trout were exceptional and the weather was a touch milder than in previous years. My performance was dismal when it came to hooking and landing trout and I got nowhere near the results my mates Chris Bladen, Darryl Lampert, Gerrit Redpath and Jean Bence did. They out fished me with ease. I had a few days of a flu-like illness, even had to spend a valuable angling day resting up, but that to one side, my fishing was simply not on song on this trip. Next year I will turn the tables around.

Water temperatures were around 6 to 7 ° and clarity was slightly down on previous years I think because of days of high winds blowing across very parched landscapes and depositing dust. Darryl Lampert showed us all why he is such a successful angler. He thinks a lot about what he is doing, isn't scared to innovate and never ever gives up. His high point in my view was a day when he landed a dozen hefty rainbows many of them taken on size 16 Soft Hackle patterns! Gerrit Redpath just went his quiet way catching fish after fish.

As usual we all spent plenty of time behind cameras and at one stage on a particularly lovely day weather-wise, I ended up in a float tube with no less than three heavy SLR cameras draped around my neck. Something tells me I’m just destined to be a stranger to the need to rationalise! 

Most days we left the lakes well after sunset when the air temperature dropped to around 0 to -2 °. I did get some lovely and some unusual images though, and once I have gone through them properly I will post a photo-essay of this year’s trip on my website.

The Annual
23 Jul 2013

The regular flow of this newsletter will be interrupted next Sunday by my annual week-long trip to Highland Lodge in the Eastern Cape where we regularly fish a bunch of stillwaters. I’ll again be in the company of Chris Bladen, Gerrit Redpath and Darryl Lampert.

Note the snow drift on the hillsidesIt’s character building stuff up there fishing  in midwinter, with evening temperatures hovering around -16° (or lower), lake margins icing up overnight, occasional snow falls and even in your float tube and waders, water that feels like you poured it straight out your deepfreeze. So we often lapse into those, ‘What the hell are we doing here’ sort of questions, even if we know we will always keep coming back!

That’s because the landscapes are from heaven, the water is as clear as ice, the trout are in spawning colours and there are plenty of real big hogs around.

I expect the anticipation of hooking one helps keep the blood warm, along with multiple hi-tech thermal layers, beanies, hot soup, frequent jolts of single malts, roaring fires, sheep skin slippers and hot water bottles.

Flyfishing Outside the Box
23 Jul 2013


It’s difficult to find the right adjective to describe Peter Hayes’ new book, Fly Fishing Outside the Box - Emerging Heresies. Many come to mind – intriguing, enlightening, fascinating – but none really do this brilliant work full justice and the title delivers precisely what it promises.

Hayes undertakes a major debunking of many long held rituals, beliefs and philosophies in fly fishing and fly tying and he does it convincingly – with surgical precision in some instances – and always with underlying modesty and an unassuming grace.

Examples? Well he explains why you do want your dry fly leader to float, not sink; how we mostly fish our dry flies facing in the wrong direction.  He writes a marvelous exposé on how when we think we are fishing duns we are actually fishing emergers and reasons convincingly why beads work on nymphs and why tall white ‘wings’ or posts on adult mayfly imitations (like the Royal Wulff) are such effective triggers. In one of the most fascinating sections he describes how he ‘borrows’ the best triggers from some of the world’s most successful flies – including the Tups Indispensible, Greenwell’s Glory, the Royal Wulff, Kite’s Imperial, the Grey Duster and the Orange Quill – to gradually build his own ideas on what makes flies work and to help develop his own celebrated dry fly, the PHD.

I could go on, but I’d rather you discovered this book’s wisdoms and gems yourself.  Looking around my study right now and doing a quick count, I have a little over 550 fly fishing books on my shelves. I’d guess 60% of those are ‘How to’ books, say around 330. This book is now firmly among the top 10 best of all those.

Should you buy this book? Yes

Will it help you catch more fish? Yes

Will it teach you a lot and make you think, no matter how good an angler you are? Yes

How much does it cost? It doesn’t matter.

Coch-y-Bonddu Books, 2013. Full colour, many drawings, 272 pages.
ISBN 978 1 904784 56 2

17 Jul 2013


Better known to me as Rikki, this young man guided Robin Renwick and me in Iceland the year before last when he got both of us into heaps of salmon. He was a little bemused on that trip when one day I stuck my camera under water to take a few shots of a big fish. But he was clearly intrigued with the results. We've remained in contact ever since and I still rate him the best guide it has ever been my pleasure to fish alongside. This week he wrote to say:

Thanks to you and your inspiring moment on the Rangá with your camera I now love taking pictures under water. Here is an ice-age brown trout and very rare in our lakes. This one is 84 cm long and they can be up to 115 cm in Lake Tingvellir. We are trying to protect them and I was appointed Fishing Guard in the national park by the government. Best time to catch them is from April to June. Lake Tingvellir is my favourite lake and largest in Iceland and near my home. Tingvellir is on the UNESCO world Heritage list.

I will post many more of Rikki’s images on Iceland’s fishing  on my website this week. If you want to know more about Iceland’s rich fly fishing bounty, email Rikki [email protected].

For Feathers!
17 Jul 2013


Traditionally you don’t get much for feathers, or so the saying goes. Well I struck it lucky after sending Herman Botes a bunch of French Partridge feathers I had dyed a deep olive green. I thought Herman might find them useful in tying his popular Papa Roach.

After putting them to use Herman replied, ‘At first I was gonna use them for my BWO’s and stillwater nymphs, but was pleasantly surprised when I found them perfectly suitable for the wing case on the Papa Roach. The feathers are more suitable for tying the Roach than mallard flank feathers, because of their consistent size.’

I was delighted. But then a few days later, as if to prove his point, a dozen exquisitely tied Roaches arrived in my post box, per kind favour of Herman. This man can tie a mean fly, believe me.

Dramatic Rescue
25 Jun 2013

The story and pictures on my website of how three determined fly fishers rescued a tiny antelope from the freezing waters of the Western Cape’s Lakenvlei dam will certainly warm your heart. See

It is a wonderful piece about the selfless commitment of her rescuers.

Image: Stephen Boshoff

Bavarian Lakes
18 Jun 2013

Extraordinary Bavarian Stillwater – Förchensee is a four hectare lake in Bavaria.

This week I posted a delightful photo essay on this spectacular venue sent by Andre Pollow who lives in Switzerland and who earlier this year fished with me in the Western Cape. As Andre shows, Förchensee’s crystalline water produces large trout and char on the dry fly!


Matt Zilliox goes after Steelhead
11 Jun 2013


In terms of fishing, I have gone full bore trying to catch steelhead.  I got two this winter, after lots of trying.  But even more recently, I have begun tying old salmon flies from the Dee River Valley, circa 1880. Here are a few examples of what I'm tying lately.

There is something so majestic about steelhead that I think they warrant being fished to with really fancy flies.  There is so much tradition in Salmon and Steelhead fishing, and it’s incredibly hard to catch them.  I've become a bit obsessed.  They are tied on traditional blind eye hooks with gut as the eye.  These are about 2/0 or 3/0 and very long.  The Gardener Dee was first listed as a pattern in 1884. The image is of a Dunt Dee.

I have only maybe tied a dozen Dee flies now, so they need more work before I gift them, but they are so very pretty, and steeped in tradition.

( Matt is an American who spent a year in Cape Town where he worked for John Yelland in Upstream Fly fishing and got to know the Cape waters well. And if you are interested in Dee salmon flies you may want to look at Bob Frandsen’s website, )

Peter Hayes visit to Cape Town
4 Jun 2013


Peter Hayes, an Australian and a friend of Nick Taransky, is a former Australian world casting champion and is now a guide and lodge owner in Tasmania where he runs the Australian Fly Fishing Conclave. He is currently on a tour of South Africa mesmerising anglers with his casting and knot tying skills. On Saturday he joined me at my home for the morning where he heaped one fly fishing revelation after another on my head; the Penny knot, two really useful casts for tight places, the frailties of the old ’10 o’clock – 2 o’clock’ teaching method, a patented instrument that uses a ball bearing in a clear plastic tube to teach the rhythm of casting, how the dynamics of casting bamboo differ intrinsically from casting graphite and why, I could go on.

He tried my Steve Boshoff and Steve Dugmore bamboos and was genuinely impressed with both. Three hours disappeared in what seemed like ten minutes.

Then yesterday 40 or more disciples gathered on the lawns at Philip Meyer’s Fly Shop on the wine farm Eikendal for a brilliant casting display backed up by lucid explanations about the theory and the anatomy and physiology of casts. It was a polished, practical and at times eye-popping display of total and absolute mastery. Peter’s demo was aimed not only in making you a better caster, but a fetter fly fisher. A 10 out of 10 performance in my book.

By the way, Peter Hayes backs his Penny Knot as 100% and the best there is for tying flies onto nylon. Have a look at it on:

Good Works
4 Jun 2013

From Peter Brigg

I thought this may be of interest to you. There is a project that has been started up in the Kamberg area by the KZN Fly Fishing Association assisted by Linda Gorlei and others. They are restoring a section of the Mooi River between Peter Moller’s farm Riverside and the Kamberg Nature Reserve. This weekend the Durban Fly Tyers went up to Kamberg to introduce the local community to fly tying and Jay Smit produced some training vices for them.

Peter Hayes in South Africa
21 May 2013


Peter Hayes has won numerous Australian and international casting championships and awards and is in South Africa doing to do casting demonstrations, some sightseeing and a spot of fishing. In the Western Cape we have the pleasure of his company on the 26th of May. Meanwhile I’ve heard the following from his Johannesburg and Durban appearances:

From Gordon Van der Spuy (Johannesburg):

Attended Peter Hayes' casting clinic yesterday, Brilliant, the guy shoots common casting theory out of the water, and backs his arguments up, by actually showing you what he's on about. He can roll cast and entire line out with minimal, if any effort. The guy is also an excellent teacher. He makes it simple for the guys. I learnt a lot as did everyone who was there. Really worth going to, the man is a genius. You're going to have fun.

From Peter Brigg (Durban):

I was at Peter Hayes's casting demo last night, very informative and in my case, helpful to correct some of those bad habits developed over many years. He also passed on some general tips including the Penny Knot. It’s quick and easy to tie, and effective.


He also had a beautiful 6' bamboo rod made by an Australian craftsman - cast like a dream. The finish with engraved reel seat and ferrules was stunning.

(I could help Pete Brigg with the rod. It was made by Nick Taransky.)

And remember if you are anywhere near Cape Town on the 26th of this month, Peter Hayes will be doing a fly casting demonstration at Philip Meyer’s fly shop on the Eikendal wine farm midway between Stellenbosch and Somerset West. The function starts at 9:00 sharp and ends at 1:00. The price is R250 or R350 for couples or families. This includes a light lunch. Contact details are:

Phone (021) 855 2646 or email [email protected]


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