SPRING 2022 // #32
SUDAN FLY FISHING THE RED SEA By Robert Pljuscec
THE VAMPIRES OF THE AMAZON By Helmut Zaderer
OTAMANGAKAU New Zealand’s Jurassic Lake www.intheloopmag.com
JAKO LUCAS An Interview with a Living Legend #32
A Tourist Magnet with Hidden Fly Fishing Possibilities Europe’s free online fly fishing magazine
WELCOME... Many things seem pointless in light of current affairs. When there was finally light at the end of the covidtunnel, a devastating new climate report was released by the United Nations and war had broken out in Europe. Many people now live in fear of environmental collapse, economic ruin, and even nuclear annihilation. These are dire times to be alive and it’s easy to succumb to the gravity of our predicaments – and just feel powerless and helpless. Afterall, what can we as individuals do? Well, first of all, we can continue finding traces of light in the dark and dedicate ourselves to staying positive. It’s spring, and there’s a whole new fly fishing season coming up. Get out there, re-energize, and reduce your stress- and anxiety levels by doing what you love the most. And then, when you return, be prepared to make a difference – in any thinkable way you can. Change doesn’t come all by itself. It’s kindled or ignited by hopeful minds full of renewed focus, resolve, and determination. So stay positive and safe out there, and be the best person you can – both on the water and off the water. The latter, especially, will prove vital for humankind…
Fly Fishing the Red Sea by Robert Pljuscec A Patagonian Hunt by Felix Hansvencl The Vampires of the Amazon by Helmut Zaderer A Tourist Magnet with Hidden Fly Fishing Possibilities by Marek Sidor The Road to El Dorado by Nick Torres New Zealand’s Jurassic Lake by Andrew Harding And much much more...
THE RIO GALLEGOS
Contributors ROBERT PLJUSCEC
In the Loop Magazine C/O Cast Away Media Org no: 999 320 147 www.intheloopmag.com
By BRIAN CHAKANYUKA, Alphonse Fishing Co.
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Croatian fly fisherman, guide, and explorer, Robert Pljuscec, is a passionate traveling photographer and videographer, who has spent considerable time scouting the Red Sea area for viable new fisheries. His photos and articles have featured in both local and international fishing magazines, and his films have excited people across the globe. For more info: www.instagram.com/rpljuscec/
Austrian fly fisherman and adventurer, Helmut Zaderer, has travelled the world extensively with his fly rod. He is particularly fond of targeting the gangster of the flats in the Seychelles, but he has an open mind to any fishing experience as long as it involves wild fish in pristine environments and disarming natural- and cultural encounters. Helmut does a lot of hosted trips, and you can find out more about them by visiting his website: https://flyfish-adventures.com/
We choose not to print this magazine and we are happy not to use paper and harmful inks as used in a conventional printing process. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher.
Felix started out in the sports industry, playing professional soccer for Bundesliga clubs such as Eintracht Frankfurt as a youngster. After finishing his studies – a B.A. in International Sports Management and a B.A. in International Business Administration – he was in charge of the International Business operations for Eintracht Frankfurt. At the age of 25, Felix started doing hosted fly fishing trips to various destinations worldwide and - 5 years later - he decided to leave the sports industry and focus fulltime on the destination angling sector. Since then he has worked as a travel agent as well as manager and guide for different lodges around the world, such as the Las Buitreras Lodge on the Rio Gallegos (Argentina). Photography plays a big role during his season and trips: www.flynature.eu
Slovakian fly fisherman, Marek Sidor, now resides in the Canary Islands. Here, he explores the many mountain lakes and reservoirs inland as well as the few saltwater fisheries that still exist along the coastline. Marek is an accomplished photographer, who likes to travel and target pike, zander, trout, grayling, and other species that can be targeted with relatively light gear. To follow his adventures, please check out his Instagram account: www.instagram.com/sidor_marek/
Andrew Harding is a fly-fishing-obsessed angler based in Wellington, at the bottom of New Zealand’s North Island, when he’s not in the office (which is virtually ever) you can find him pursuing beautiful red-spotted browns on his local Wellington rivers, an area he is incredibly passionate about.
Nick Torres; husband, father and fish chaser, works for Waterworks-Lamson as their Community Manager. Like Waterworks-Lamson, he is based in Boise, Idaho, and when he is not traveling the world to fly fish for salt- and freshwater gamefish, he is targeting brown trout and rainbow trout in Idaho and neighbouring states such as Oregon and Wyoming. For more info: https://www.instagram.com/dragfree/ and https://www.instagram.com/waterworkslamson/
Jako Lucas is a young and innovative South African photographer, guide and adventurer, who targets anything with a fly rod, so long as there are some considerable thrills involved. Jako fishes all over the globe, and as a professional guide he spends his time in Norway, Mongolia, and the Seychelles taking good care of fly fishing clients from all over the world. Besides his guiding, Jako run Cpt Jack Films, producing epic fly fishing video material from world-wide destinations. More at http://vimeo.com/user23981289
Do you have any great fly fishing photos, videos, or stories that you would like to share with our readers? If so, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are always looking for quality material for In the Loop Magazine, and we look forward to reviewing your material.
Fly Fishing the Red Sea There aren’t many places left on this planet that haven’t been fished intensively. The Red Sea is one of those places, and especially the Sudanese parts of it can provide extremely good flats fishing for triggerfish, bonefish, and giant trevally – just to name a few of the target species there.
By: ROBERT PLJUSCEC Photos by: ROBERT PLJUSCEC, NICOLA VITALI and TIM LEPPAN
The Red Sea is one of the last blue lungs of the earth, practically untouched by the onslaught of human industrialization. Local populations live like they did a century ago and industrial fishing, fortunately, remains undeveloped. It’s not that the Red Sea hasn’t seen any media exposure. Famous French marine explorer, Jacques Cousteau, was in love with the Red Sea for a good reason, and he passed this love on to his sons who have been involved in many research projects in the Sudanese parts of the Red Sea. Somehow, the forces of globalization and tourism have completely overlooked, especially, the Sudanese parts of the Red Sea, and – as a result – it remains one of the wildest and least fished places on the planet. 600 km of shoreline Many fly fishermen probably aren’t aware that Sudan even has a coastline. Nor that the coastline is 600 kilometres long. Additionally, there are several hundred kilometres of wonderful offshore coral barriers,
coral coastal areas, and lagoons with mangroves and gigantic flats, that will take years to explore. I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to flyfish Sudan, and during my exploratory trips I’ve been both encouraged and thoroughly excited. The flats areas are just gigantic; some appear endless, and the features are extremely varied ranging from soft, muddy bottoms to hard coral. Perhaps not surprisingly, not all the areas are good. However, it can be difficult to tell what makes certain areas prolific fish magnets and others rather barren. It makes exploring these parts even more exciting. You simply never know what you’re going to find. And things can change over time. For example, after a few years of fishing and exploring, I had the chance to revisit and fish a flat that I explored in the early days - without any results. This time around (maybe because of better knowledge, or better eyes), I found plenty of big triggers and a healthy population of huge bonefish.
The learning curve is steep when exploring the Sudanese coastline, and discovering new, exciting, and untouched fisheries along the way has kept me as excited as a kid in a candy store the whole time. I think anyone can understand why I’m totally hooked on exploring the Sudanese coastlines. My team and I love the challenge. We don’t simply fish a few places, or a few atolls in the middle of the ocean. We fish the entire country and that is why we have developed two itineraries: One north and another in the deep south. Both are very diverse and offer very different fisheries compared to each other. The northern one offers landbased flats fishing, while the southern one is based on fishing small islands and coral reefs in an area that offers challenging fishing in a unique environment.
The trigger mecca In some areas, we found incredible amounts of triggerfish: both titanand yellow-margin triggerfish, on average about 2-3 kilos. During a fully focused and dedicated day of trigger fishing, a fly fisherman can have more than twenty good shots at tailing fish, sometimes in super skinny water. Triggerfish are some of the most underrated sportfish out there. In my opinion, there is no fish on the planet with the same character and personality as Mr. Trigger. If I had to find one word to describe this species, I would choose the word ‘rainbow’. The triggerfish is such a colourful species, and they can be as aggressive as they are unpredictable. You can cast three meters from a fish and spook it, or you can get cut off by a fish, tie another fly on, and hook the same fish again. Or you can cast twenty times to the same fish and, suddenly, the fish spooks like crazy because light got deflected in the tippet. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
There is no limit to a triggerfish’ funny reactions. They can be selective, fussy, spooky, aggressive, shy, or different combinations of these moods and attitudes. To me, that’s what makes fly fishing for triggerfish one of the most fun, rewarding, and addictive things you can do on a flat.
“The triggerfish can be selective, fussy, spooky, aggressive, shy, or different combinations of these moods and attitudes” Besides being a fun and challenging fish to catch, the triggerfish is also very combative and rather photogenic in its beautiful ugliness. You can use 6 – 9-weight fly rods depending on the type of flat you are fishing.
Oftentimes, in sandy and shallow flats, you need to fish a lighter tackle for the most subtle presentation possible - for smaller flies with thin tippets. In these types of environments, there’s little risk of breaking the fish off on rocks and coral. However, in more craggy flats with coral structure you need heavier tackle to pull the fish out of the corals. The flipside is that the triggerfish in these environments are more aggressive, which then makes it possible to use thicker tippets and bigger flies. The variety In addition to the triggers, there are Indo-Pacific permit and milkfish to target on the flats. With the permit, we have sometimes been lucky, sometimes we have lost some big ones, and most of the time they have left us high and dry. With regards to milkfish in shallow water, we are starting to crack the code. They seem to like shrimp patterns, unlike any other milkfish we’ve ever encountered elsewhere on this planet.
Bonefish Bonefish are one of the most interesting fish on the Nubian Flats. The bonefish population isn’t exactly abundant, but we have recently discovered different flats areas where bonefish are resident - and always present.
“Bonefish are one of the most interesting fish on the Nubian Flats” What’s peculiar is the fact that, in almost all cases, if you cast to a bonefish, it will be a very good-sized fish and sometimes a real trophy. We have seen truly monstrous bonefish, that we have mistaken for being giant trevally.
As they were swimming in our direction, we cracked out our 12-weights, only to realize - too late - that these single fish were huge bonefish. We’ve also hooked bonefish that bent- and opened our hooks and broke the leaders on our 9-weights; fish that were pushing 15lbs - Easily! The thing about the Nubian bonefish is that they’re not very spooky. They haven’t been fished before and they are fairly easy to catch as long as you see them soon enough. They are, however, usually single - or in small schools, and you will never see them happily tailing in the same area for a long time. They always cruise, fast or slow. But they cruise in a way that makes them possible to spot. Cast subtly and precisely and they will usually take the fly and then launch, explosively, into one of those maniacal runs that they’re so well-known for. Bumphead parrotfish Another interesting fish, which we have hooked a few times, but – sadly - never landed in Sudan, is the bumphead parrotfish; always in monstrous sizes. Unfortunately, they are difficult
to find tailing as most of the seabeds where we fish aren’t sufficiently flat and smooth. Usually, we find them feeding on the reef. And when they are present, we can see them from 200 meters away. Their jet-blue colours and huge, spade-like tails are dead-giveaways. We have hooked fish well over 40 kilos. The problem, however, is to land them. Not only because they are huge fish, but also because they have a mouth consisting of a bone plate capable of truncating anything. The result is usually a bent or broken hook – or a leader cut off on corals. Giant trevally Giant trevally are regular guests on the Sudanese flats. We have seen many; some large, and by “large” we mean fish from 20 to 40 kilos. However, the average size runs from about eight to fifteen kilos, which still is an excellent average size for the flats. The giant trevally are always on the move in search of prey, sometimes highly visible, sometimes appearing like ghosts from nowhere, resulting in a dramatic increase in adrenaline levels.
When giant trevally appear, we simply drop our puny 8-weights, crack out our 12-weights and try to cast as well as we can, praying that everything goes according to plan; that the line lands in the right place, without making too much noise, and - above all – that we succeed in stripping fast and furiously enough to entice the take. The strike and everything that follows is something you will remember the rest of your life!
“The strike and everything that follows is something you will remember the rest of your life” Some flats always provide shots at giant trevally. Some only seldomly. However, the main rule is to ALWAYS be ready. Teasing Another technique that provides great excitement is teasing. It consists of casting a heavy spinning lure, without hooks, to attract practically every predatory coral species from outside the drop-off. Having teased fish into shallow water you can then cast your fly at the fish (fish that would otherwise cut you immediately off on the coral reef drop-off).
Using this method, we have hooked and landed an abundance of snappers and bluefin trevally, but also groupers, coral trout, barracuda, dogtooth tuna, and obviously giant trevally. It might seem morally objectionable to some – especially compared to sight-fishing. However, I have to admit that it’s hard to knock teasing once you’ve tried it. On top of that, it’s just the perfect way to finish the day when the light is getting lower on the flat and sight-fishing isn’t viable
anymore. To many of our guests it’s the cherry on the cake after a long day of walking the flats. Sometimes, when the guide casts his teaser, the water starts exploding and bucket-sized mouths snap violently at the teaser right in front of your feet. Then you must calm your nerves and cast in the right place, at the right time, so that when the fish circle around or head back to the blue water, they can see your fly.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most intoxicating adrenaline peaks you can have, especially when you are about to cast on a mass of fish species that might include snapper, grouper, bluefin, and giant trevally all together, fins-to-fins, totally frantic. It’s definitely not your average fishing experience. A romantic point of view Sudan is one of the poorest and most undeveloped countries in the world, which means that – if you go - you are going to experience something you’ve probably never experienced before. And you will be surprised! People are friendly! They rise above any thinkable western expectations, and they’re beautifully simple and easy-going; just like the environment that surrounds them. They’ll make you feel far removed from the modern world and in a different time and era.
Finally, there is the beauty of the Sudanese landscapes, the contrast between the aridity of the desert and islands and the incredible, multi-coloured water bursting with life. And then there’s the unforgettable Sudanese sunsets behind the mountains and the pioneering and exploratory feeling of a forgotten sea – a complete anachronism in 2022. The strongest impression, however, is that of being the last patrons of a remote sea with no other boats in sight for a week. Only sea, desert, sun, and fish. That is something truly unique in today’s world!
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The Rio Gallegos
A Patagonian Hunt
By: FELIX HANSVENCL
Seatrout offer incredible sport along the wind-swept and barren rivers that meander through the desert-like and expansive Patagonian pampas. The Rio Gallegos is one of the most fabled rivers in the area, and it is one of those places where one can hunt for that elusive 20lb+ seatrout.
Six years ago, a special hunt started for me. It was like firing up a Formula-1 race car on a road and not knowing exactly where it will end up. That´s how I felt. Up until that point, I never had Argentina and fly fishing for sea-run browns (or seatrout, as we call them in Europe), on my radar. Sure, you see random pictures of Patagonian monsters, but – for the longest time - it was just seemed too remote and far away. Anyway, suddenly there I was - doing one of my first hosted trips with a group of like-minded anglers and friends, boarding Lufthansa’s direct flight to Buenos Aires, before a layover with (too much) empanadas, alfajores, and coffee – and then a connecting flight to Rio Gallegos. The rest is history; a history that left me highly addicted to the place, the fishery and the culture – and I am by far not the only one. It seems there is only one medicine capable of alleviating the withdrawals; to return year after year to the Estancia Las Buitreras.
A special place So what makes this place so special? I get this question a lot. I know there are many beautiful fly fishing destinations out there but there are only a few that have me coming back on a consistent basis. The Rio Gallegos is one of them because it offers the “full package” – everything you need to have an unforgettable trip, still providing you with a substantial challenge every time you go there because, in comparison to other fisheries, this river makes you “hunt” for your fish.
“The Rio Gallegos makes you “hunt” for your fish” The first time I fished the Rio Gallegos, it took me a few days to get used to the game. Casting a light double-hander with a floating line and some crazy looking flies (such as a size 10 or 12 rubberleg nymph), followed by continuous stripping. What the heck!? Now knowing better, I am
prepared when new clients look at me with eyes full of question marks. A 20lb sea-run brown trout on a small fly like that? Stripping a nymph or streamer on a spey rod? No SnapT’s if possible? Yes, you heard right, and I promise: You will love it! Pre-covid memories I remember my last fish from the pre-Covid season like it was yesterday. Together with Carlos and Ladd I fished a classic pool in the lower beats called “Puesto” during the “magic hour”, when the light fades in the evening and the seatrout get extra aggressive. It’s a perfect pool with all the right features but also a little tricky as you have a little back eddy scenario in the middle section. The goal is to make a precise 45 degrees downstream cast onto the opposite bank keeping your line straight, give the fly 3-4 seconds to sink followed by small and slow strips. On the Rio Gallegos, the goal is to present your fly in the right way. This is much more important than how far you cast, or which fly you fish with.
The river has really shown me how rewarding it is to focus on the fly and how it’s retrieved. I know this is not groundbreaking news or anything. But it’s vital! When fishing the Rio Gallegos, make sure the fly lands on a straight leader. Keep your focus and maintain direct contact with the fly always knowing where it is - and MOVE it! The thing needs to be alive.
“A big fish churns water like a washing machine” I did my best to cover the water well, taking small stealthy steps after each cast. When I finally arrived at one of the hot spots; a small pocket along the other side I was shaky. Still, I somehow managed to make a long cast and dump my Vitamin D-nymph right into the pocket. I was counting, 1, 2, 3, ok, strip, sloooowwly, don´t shit your pants! Strip, slooo…. Bang! Hold on tight!
Deep angry headshakes now propagate through the line as a big fish churns water like a washing machine. Meanwhile, I try to keep things tight and stay calm amidst all the chaos, (which, of course, never really works). It just never gets old! The takes are mostly violent and hard. The Rio Gallegos fish have nothing but bad intentions when going for your fly, no nibbling, no soft pulls, just pure destruction mode often followed by some of the most acrobatic jumps you have ever seen. Imagine the sun hitting the water with its last light and a fish flying through the air shining like a bar of silver while a guanaco is enjoying the view on the other side. I could probably do this all day, every day! The Rio Gallegos area The river is located in the southern-most part of the Santa Cruz Province; the second largest province in Argentina, which mainly exists on mining, oil, gas, and sheep. The city of Rio Gallegos is the capital of Santa Cruz.
It is situated right on the estuary where the river enters the Atlantic Ocean. Even Bruce Chatwin talks about this place in his book “In Patagonia”. While travelling through the region, he wrote about his own experiences and the history of the place and its person gallery - including the likes of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, who allegedly robbed a bank Rio Gallegos before escaping to Chile. The Rio Gallegos has its origins in the Andes, formed by its two tributaries, Rubens and Penitentes. After the confluence of these two rivers, it flows all the way eastwards into the Atlantic Ocean where the seatrout enter the river. The area is known for its pampas style landscape and is literally like a zoo at the end of the world. The river is a truly magnificent piece of water that meanders through the middle of nowhere. It houses resident brown trout most Europeans would wish to catch once a year on their local trout streams and obviously some
of the biggest seatrout you can find on this planet. It offers every feature you’d want if you could design your own river; big holding pools, small runs with cut banks, channel style pools with weed lines, Islands and so on. This river keeps you busy changing tactics and tackle. And on top of that it is simply stunning. You will be accompanied by rheas, foxes, armadillos, rabbits, skunks, flamingos, a list of birds that doesn’t even fit on a full page and a lot of other animals. With Patagonia being well-known for its paleontological treasures, it’s not difficult to imagine how a might suddenly T-Rex stumble across your fishing spot. Nowadays, a wild horse or a guanaco will do just that, and that’s not so bad either. But enough of this. Obviously, this is not the first article about the Patagonian realm, and who am I to talk about something so unique when so many great authors have already described the region in such elevated literary terms and sentences that I could only dream of ever expressing. Experience it yourself, you won’t be disappointed!
Estancia Las Buitreras The Estancia Las Buitreras owns the best piece of fishing water on the entire river with over 40 km of exclusive double bank fishing. Christer Sjöberg scouted this area back in 2002 and decided to build a lodge one year later, right in the middle of the Las Buitreras beats. Since then, the lodge has hosted fly fishers from all over the world with world-class service.
“Imagine the sun hitting the water with its last light and a fish flying through the air shining like a bar of silver” When you arrive at Rio Gallegos airport, you will be picked up by one of the team members followed by a 45 min transfer to the lodge, which is situated just next to the banks of the river, a 10-minute walk from the home pool. The lodge accommodates up to 12 anglers per week with a fishing ra-
tio of 2 anglers per guide and offers a cozy- as well as high-level lodge experience with some of the best food and wine you can think of. Prepare yourself for maybe taking home 2 extra kilos of weight afterwards, it’s just so good. From 2022 onwards you will also have the chance to fish an add-on to your Las Buitreras stay, either a 3-day fishing package on the zone just above the regular Las Buitreras beats called “Zone Zero” with Las Buitreras lodge-accommodation, or a 3-day/week add-on at Estancia Glencross, residing in a very cool and traditional Estancia environment located on the borders of Argentina and Chile with the Cordillera de los Andes as a backdrop - appr. 1,5 hours’ drive from Las Buitreras. Combined with excellent resident brown trout fishing and a chance for seatrout you choose between three rivers, the two tributaries - Rubens and Penitentes - as well as the most upper part of the Rio Gallegos after the confluence.
Tackle Sea-run brown trout fishing A 7-weight 12-12,6 ft spey rod is the go-to rod on the Rio Gallegos offering you the perfect tool in your hands to give you accuracy and finesse for those smaller runs but enough backbone for bigger pools that require a longer presentation. Combined with a short Scandi style shooting head (e.g. Scientific Anglers UST Short or RIO Scandi Short) to enable you to strip the fly and an intermediate poly-/versileader (as well as a selection of a few other sink tips, just in case) you will be equipped for most scenarios. Remember, this is a fairly shallow river so there is no need to fish deep and heavy. During high water conditions you could grab your 8-weight 13 ft spey rod to have a bit more extra power and length. And last, but not least, if you experience calm/windless days, it is worth having a 7-weight 9,6 ft single hander in the truck to go into extra stealth mode and maybe even trick one of those monster chromers with a bomber. The single hander should be equipped with a floating or floating/intermediate fly line that has a short/medium body such as the Scientific Anglers Volantis Integrated – my favourite single-handed fly line currently.
The recommended fly patterns on the lodge are a.o. Yuk Bugs, Copper John, and Vitamin D nymphs in various colours, Leeches such as the Millers Electric Leech, Sunray Shadows, EMBs, Girdle Bugs, and Woolly Buggers, like the Yellow Yummy or Green Lantern. If you tie your own flies, make sure you use strong hooks. Don’t use ordinary trout hooks as a big seatrout will bend or straighten them. Resident brown trout fishing For resident brown trout bring a 5 or 6-weight single handed fly rod. Rig it up with the before mentioned floating fly line, short/medium body, and make sure you have a good selection of big foam style dry flies – you don´t want to miss out on this experience. Other than that, you can use your sea trout fly box for nymphand streamer fishing. Now, let’s get back to the question: What makes this place so special? I will summarize a few things here. Where else but on the Rio Gallegos do you find a healthy run of fish that can be targeted with light-double handers and floating lines, over 40 km of the most prolific water with over 50 different pools and a huge variety of water structure, which causes the fish to spread out among all these pools/runs – and not just stacking them up in single pools?
Fishing the Rio Gallegos never gets boring. It’s all about you and how- and where you place your fly. Every cast can win the jackpot. The lodging is excellent, the ‘vino tinto’ never disappoints. And then there’s the daily chance of catching that mythical 30 lbs seatrout. The BIG ones are present every year, (we lost one of in front of the net last season). Oh, and I almost forgot the incomparable light, beauty, and mystery of Patagonia. All of these things combined is why many clients come back year after year. Personally, I think Las Buitreras offers one of the most addictive sea-run brown trout fisheries on the planet. I certainly can´t wait to set foot on the magical banks of the Rio Gallegos again! For more info and to book your own spot, get in contact with Felix Hansvencl: firstname.lastname@example.org www.flynature.eu
The Vampires of the Amazon Helmut Zaderer has travelled the globe extensively in search of pristine fly fishing experiences. He loves to fly fish for giant trevally on the flats, but he is equally fascinated with fly fishing for the predators of the Amazon – including a scary-looking fish with enormous fang-like teeth.
By HELMUT ZADERER Photos by HELMUT ZADERER, LUCAS DE ZAN, VAIDAS USELIS, JAKO LUCAS and UNTAMED ANGLING
The Amazon is a giant of river, its wildlife and nature fascinating. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been obsessed with everything I’ve seen and read about the Amazon. And my enthusiasm hasn’t waned after several fishing trips into the heart of the Amazon jungle - quite the contrary! Over the last couple of years, I’ve kept seeing images of a certain Amazonian predator fish – one with massive and sharp dagger-like teeth and a reputation for being an aggressive adversary on a fly rod. The locals call it payara, Dracula fish, sabertusk barracuda, or dogtooth tetra, but most people refer to it as a vampire fish. Whatever the name, this particular fish caught my interest and I started researching. I found out that you can catch payara in many places in the Amazon but – because they’re a migratory and somewhat sporadic fish – they’re difficult to target specifically. As I found out, there is only one really good place where the payara can be successfully targeted with a fly rod. The remote Xingu River.
When I found out that Rodrigo Salles from Untamed Angling had set up a lodge there, I was sold. I immediately contacted Rodrigo, and he provided me with a bit of background information. Rodrigo relayed the story of how he found the Xingu River, came to acknowledge it as a top destination for payara, and how he convinced the local people, the Kayapos, to start up a joint sustainable lodge project: A concept that would be mutually beneficial for everyone involved: the natives, visiting fly fishermen – and the fish stocks. What is the Xingu River Project? The Xingu Lodge is a natural extension of Untamed Angling’s equitable partnership with Kayapo natives. The Xingu River inside the Kayapo land is the most protected area of this amazing emerald water river, and it holds a bursting population of payara, and several other species such as peacock bass, bicuda, wolfish, pacu, and more.
Untamed Angling researched so many different waters all over the amazon seeking for the best payara fly fishing destination before coming across River Xingu. And as pure luck would have it, it showed some 40 miles away from Untamed Angling’s first lodge with the Kayapos – the Kendjam Lodge at the Iriri river, which is a tributary of Xingu river. As Rodrigo explains: “The kayapos always told me that I must come and see with my own eyes how amazing the payara fishing was on the Xingu River. And in 2016 I came for the first time. I came back several times to scout the place and the river proved to be the most consistent payara fishery we have seen in thee Amazon! In 2019 we set up an exploratory season with 5 weeks of visiting fly fishermen there and decided to build a lodge with Untamed Angling standards. The pandemic hit us in 2020 but finally we finished the lodge in 2021 and we were able to run an incredible season!”
The Xingu Experience Jako Lukas, who joined the trip for Yellow Dog as host, my friend and film-maker Vaidas Uselis, Rodrigo Salles, Pamela Wendhausen and I had a week on us to catch payara. The journey started off with a small plane ride landing in the middle of the Amazon jungle. As soon as we got out, we were surrounded by the local Kayapos.
“It was solid proof of a very healthy eco-system” The Kayapos are known as the warriors of the Amazon and for their bravery in defending their land and rivers. They live in a complex of 4 different indigenous lands in the Xingu and Iriri river basin. Now, the fly fishing tourism project with Untamed Angling is their most important livelihood involving more than 14 villages in a sustainable project that is aimed at protecting their land from illegal mining and logging activity.
Those have been major threats to their land in the past.The lodge, located directly on the river, is brand new and offers more than you would expect from a far removed place in the middle of the Amazon jungle. Our first day began with a ceremony. We were painted by the Kayapos as if we were part of a local band of warriors. That would be our most important preparation for catching a payara. We were now ready to take on the challenge! Fly fishing for payara Each day we would take off with three guides, in motorboats, in order to chart new areas of the Xingu River system. The guides still had some exploring to do, but they seemed to know exactly where to find the fish. Every day we would see myriads of payara rise and roll. But – as it turned out – it wasn’t exactly easy to get a bite. Sometimes, it seemed downright impossible. Payara might look like something out of the twilight zone with their devilish looks and ghostly demeanor, but they
are fish like any other fish. And eventually, they must feed. When they did, not surprisingly, we would see blitzes and bursts of activity and suddenly our flies would be attacked with a brute force that I had no idea any Amazonian fish was capable of. We were mostly getting our bites in 10 – 20 meters of depth and had to work full sinking fly lines to get there. The guides have later discovered that, when the bite is really on, the payara can be caught in the surface – on noisy poppers.
“The locals call it payara, Dracula fish or dogtooth tetra, but most people refer to it as a vampire fish” Spoilt for choice Whenever we got tired of fishing with the sinking lines and found ourselves in need of a change, we would take advantage of the great species variety in the area and target different types of pacu, bicuda, peacock bass, and wolffish.
Using 5 and 7-weight fly rods and floating lines, we enjoyed some hectic fishing that – at least for a while – had us forget about the sharp-fanged ghosts in the deep. Furthermore, it was solid proof of a very healthy eco-system. At the end of the week, everyone had burned and scarred fingers from the extremely hard bites of the payara. And everyone had caught their trophy payara and had a memorable experience immersed in the jungle with all the sights, sounds, and smells that make this place so unique. A unique experience There is such a wealth of wildlife and as a photographer there’s plenty to keep you occupied. We saw so many different wild animals, and watching the Kayapos carry on with their lifestyle, which still hasn’t diverted too much from its historic path, was something truly unique to experience. Learning about their culture, philosophies, and way of life - and to hear the tales and stories of the Kayapo warriors would have been worth the whole trip inand of itself. It’s something I won’t forget anytime soon.
Payara Payara, a species distributed across the Amazon basin (mainly in Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela), like fast-moving water and typically reside in rapids and cascading water below waterfalls. They’re a carnivorous fish that feeds on shrimps, minnows, tetra, piranhas, and other Amazonian prey items. Especially when hunting prey fish, they’ll slash, pierce, and impale their prey with their fang-like
teeth before picking them up and swallowing them whole. Payara can be separated into two distinct families: Hydrolycus scomberoides and Hydrolycus armatus. While both fish are similar in appearance with their silvery flanks, laterally flattened form, and canine teeth, the latter is, by far, the biggest of the two reaching lengths of up to 120 cm and weights in excess of 15 kilos.
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A Tourist Magnet with Hidden Fly Fishing Possibilities Gran Canaria is a beautiful and remote Spanish island off the coast of Morocco and Western Sahara. It is part of the Canary Islands, which – geographically – belons to the African continent. Gran Canaria is an incredibly popular tourist destination, but relatively few people know about the varied fly fishing possibilities here.
By: MAREK SIDOR
I have been living and working on the island of Gran Canaria since 2005. In my spare time, I dedicate myself to fly fishing, photography and videography. The island offers a surprisingly vast array of quality possibilities for visiting fly fishermen. The ocean, of course, is a resource all its own, but – to me – the freshwater fisheries are the main attraction. For instance, there are several inland reservoirs, which can provide visitors with great challenges and surprises – in addition to beautiful sceneries and hikes. Most of these reservoirs were established during Franco’s dictatorship in order to supply tomato plantations with sufficient amounts of water. (Before the arrival of tourism, tomato plantations were the main basis of economic growth on the island). In an attempt to regulate the insects and algae in the reservoirs, they were stocked with carp, black bass, tilapia (and pumpkinseed) in the early 1960s. Since then, the fish have established and adapted and are reproducing like in the wild – without any human interference. It could therefore be argued that we are now talking
about “wild” species that thrive naturally on Gran Canaria. Year-round Fishing Possibilities Fly fishing possibilities are available throughout the year, thanks to the pleasant climate offered by the islands. Because of the climate, the fish don’t hibernate and go into winter-induced lethargy. Instead, they practically feed non-stop – and as a result, they grow faster than in most of the other Spanish provinces – or elsewhere in Europe, for that matter, where similar species are found. Tilapia and pumpkinseed are aggressive fish that provide great fun on light gear, when using small nymphs and streamers. Black bass are mighty predators that can be targeted using poppers or pulsating streamers and they’re known for being dogged fighters that hit the flies with great determination and power. The carp are clever; built like tanks and full of muscles that they employ in a maniacal and explosive way once hooked. And they can be sight-fished in shallow water, providing nerve-wracking excitement and drag-burning runs.
Risk Factors A risk factor in the survival of the local Gran Canarian species is the regular use of reservoirs for irrigation, which – to this date - continues to be practiced by local farmers. This activity relates to the high temperatures and droughts due to lack of rain, which is evidently becoming more and more common every year due to climate change. It can radically reduce the water levels, thereby threatening all aquatic life and affecting fish reproduction.
“Most of the reservois are situated in the central part of the island” Over the years, I have been observing problems relating to irrigation in a number of fish habitats. Fortunately, to my surprise, I have also found the fish to be very resilient. I’ve seen how the different species have revived and kicked back in a vital way
once the rain finally comes and fills the dams and reservoirs with life at the onset of the spring season. The adaptation abilities of the local species in many of the small-sized dams are amazing, especially considering the large size many of the fish achieve during their lifespan. On some occasions, we’ve even seen hatchlings during winter, which has me wondering if the black bass, which usually reproduce in spring, can also breed at other times throughout the year? Reservoirs upon Reservoirs Gran Canaria has a large number of reservoirs in many different locations where exciting fly fishing possibilities can be found. Most of the reservoirs are situated in the central part of the island, due to the varied geological structures and microclimates here. The northern zone is greener and rainier. Its biodiversity and prolific fauna and flora are highlighted by the Canarian pine forest, which is very resistant to the frequent wildfires during dry seasons.
The mountain ravines are ideal structures for the construction of dam walls, and many of the manmade dams have given life to different bodies of water by filling them up during the rains. The southern area mostly consists of deserts with a bustling tourism industry due to the many beautiful beaches here. Reservoirs, dams, and lakes, however, can be found all over – so if you do come, be sure to bring your fly fishing equipment. What Gear to Bring? I use various fly fishing kits ranging from 5-weights to 8-weights depending on the species I’ll be targeting and where I’ll be targeting them. Since I mainly sight-fish from the shoreline, I typically use floating lines, but every now and then – when I’m bellyboating for bass, I use fast sinking lines, so I can reach the fish at depth. The flies I use include streamers, poppers, nymphs, and bread patterns etc. I personally prefer natural colors such as gray, brown, olive and so on in order to best imitate some of the naturally occurring prey items. The hooks I use are always barbless. Especially for the Black Bass - due to the way they hunt and inhale prey items, I find that it’s important to use barbless hooks. This species feeds by creating a vacuum with their bucket-sized mouths and sucking its prey inside.
A light, hovering fly can easily end up in the gills or the throat, endangering the life of the fish. I’m therefore inclined to using Clouser Minnow-style flies with heavy eyes, which I know from experience are less likely to result in deep-hooking. Combining this type of fly with a floating line and a fluorocarbon leader somewhere between 3 and 3.5 meters is ideal when it comes to reaching the necessary depth of the reservoir when fishing from the bank. The leaders should taper into 0.28 – 0.30mm tippet sections, so you can really put pressure on the fish during the fight. Depending on the size of the black bass (and not least the size of the flies used) 9’ 5 – 7-weight rods can be used. The black bass, especially, can be picky and moody, so be sure to vary your retrieves and try different fly patterns and fishing depths until you succeed hooking up with one of these incredibly entertaining fish. Fly Fishing for Carp For carp fishing, we usually use 9’ 7and 8-weight outfits and search for cruising or feeding fish in the shal-
lows. This type of fishing is incredibly exciting, and it requires a stealthy approach and calm nerves. Once you’ve intercepted a carp, it’s all about presenting the fly – a small nymph or leech pattern, in front of the fish and slowly start stripping as the fish approaches. The takes are typically quite subtle, while the resulting runs are the absolute opposite. Be prepared for backing to be exposed as many of the carp here are both big and powerful. Dressed for Success The clothing we use here is designed to protect us from the sun’s rays. We use UV-protecting neck gaitors, gloves, and caps when fishing during the summer months, and if we’re fishing in shorts and t-shirts, we apply ample amounts of sunscreen to any exposed skin. The sun can be relentless! Mainly, we’re just fishing from the banks, but sometimes it’s nice to get in and do a bit of wet wading. (Mostly for the cooling effect, though). When fishing during the cooler winter season, we usually wear waders.
The wading shoes need to be strong and suitable for walking on unstable and rugged terrain. Vibram soles are to be preferred and, in some spots, studs are recommended too. Why Freshwater Fishing? While speaking of fishing in Gran Canaria, it may seem strange not to mention the possibility of fly fishing in the sea. Gran Canaria, after all, is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. The reason why I spend 95% of my time fly fishing freshwater is because the sea is quite overfished.
“They are aggressive fish that hit hard” I prefer to spend most of my time in reservoirs where catch and release can be practiced, and the fish species may continue to thrive. However, in case anyone is interested in fly fishing in the sea, I would recommend visiting the areas with sandy beaches as you have the possibility of fishing for seabass here. It’s not a native species, however - it was introduced accidentally by local fish farms.
They are prospering, however, and they are aggressive fish that hit hard – which makes them fun to target on a fly rod. They threaten the local fish species by occupying their living space and feeding on their fry, so don’t be afraid to harvest a few and prepare them for dinner. (They’re really good eating!) There is also the possibility of fly fishing for tuna, barracuda etc. But as I have already mentioned in the beginning, they are scarce. Furthermore, they usually occupy rocky areas or areas with deep water where it can be rather dangerous for someone with little local knowledge and experience. As a result, I always recommend contacting a local guide or to head out with a charter boat. Want to Fish Gran Canaria? There are weekly flights to Las Palmas, which is the capitol of the Gran Canary Islands and the biggest city on Gran Canaria. From here, simply rent a car and go explore. There are plenty of reservoirs, mountain lakes and dams to fish and most of them have good populations of carp, black bass, and tilapia – in addition to a few pumpkinseed. A freshwater fishing license is only 10 Euros for a 15-day license (or 25Euros for a full year), and it can be pre-ordered online: https://www.gran-canaria-beaches.com/gran-canaria-freshwater-fishing-licence.html For more information about Gran Canaria, please refer to: https://www.grancanaria.com/turismo/en/
The Road to El Dorado Last light, last cast, and last chance to find one of the big girls that we came here for. It’s the second to last day of a week-long, two-lodge, golden dorado program with Nervous Waters in northern Argentina. A country known more for Patagonia and trout fishing than for the native dorado that are abundant in the north. Here, they’re just known as the ‘national fish’. An icon in this country along the lines of Maradona or Evita; known to all and chased by local fishermen with the same fervor of any bass angler back home. We’ve found plenty of them here in “los esteros Ibera” (the Ibera Marshlands) to begin the week, but have set out for the Parana river looking for something of a different caliber. By NICK TORRES Photos by TRAVIS BRADFORD, NICK TORRES and JAY JOHNSON
It’s the tail-end of the trip and we’re at Suinda lodge on the upper Parana river. I greet the sun with my best fish of the trip so far. A mid-day lunch and siesta, and we’re back on the boat, not having had much luck as the sun drips toward the horizon. I pull out my box of musky flies and ask our guide, Sergio, if maybe we should try one of the big bugs in hopes of tempting a different class of fish. He agrees. With the sun already below the horizon and the last glimmers of light fading fast, I put out a decent backhand cast, throwing the entirety of the SA custom jungle tip line that we are using for depth. The fly starts swinging through the “zone” in front of the structure we are targeting: a handful of submerged boulders sitting squarely in the middle of the second largest river in South America. I can feel the massive fly doing exactly what I want, searching and hunting like a bird dog through the water column. About halfway through the swing all hell breaks loose. It’s a grab like only a “top-of-the-food-chain” predator can give you. I hammer down on a hard strip set and feel the fly find anchor. My adrenaline is pumping and I watch the water erupt with the last little bit of light that remains. This is the one I came here for.
Beginnings We began our golden dorado experience almost a week prior at Pira Lodge. The first of two Nervous Waters’ lodges that we would be fishing for the week. Located on the protected Ibera marshlands of northern Argentina, in the province of Corrientes.
“My adrenaline is pumping and I watch the water erupt with the last little bit of light that remains” It’s a late arrival with a warm welcome from all the staff and guides followed by a delicious meal and a couple glasses of wine before bed. My alarm sounds off at 7:00am for a full spread breakfast, on the boats by 8, and ready for the day. We’re here to test out some new Velocity fly rods and Litespeed F reels from Waterworks-Lamson. With no idea what the week has in store, we’re all pretty excited to get started and ready to put these new rigs through their paces. Our tools exceed all expectations. These rods rip! The Velocity 8wt being the star of the show.
Pira Lodge Pira lodge is outfitted with a fleet of saltwater flats skiffs perfectly suited for navigating the labyrinthine, narrow channels and waterways of the skinny marsh. Some of the most technical water I’ve ever seen. Our guides fly through the maze like only seasoned boatmen in this area are capable of. These guys are world class.
“We finished up with a first evening of fishing I will never forget” The morning session starts slow, but the sheer amount of life and biodiversity in this ecosystem is incredible. There are times when the beauty of the natural world can just astound and leave you breathless. The land, the marsh and the sky are all teeming with life.
Sabalo, piranha, and other baitfish ripple through the water’s surface as far as you can see. Birds we’ve never heard of fill the air. The banks are populated by massive capybara (world’s largest rodent, think a small hippo with fur), and the sunbathing 8-foot caiman gators are the rule rather than the exception. Marshland dorados We get into a couple of smaller dorado and many more razor toothed piranha who can cut your fly down to the head with more precision than the most expensive pair of fly-tying scissors. The water is at all-time low levels after months of unprecedented drought which limits the amount of fishable water to choose from. Headed back for our midday lunch and siesta with a creeping feeling in my stomach that with the drought, we might not be seeing the numbers of fish that I had expected here at Pira. Right before my nap, I’m rummaging through my suitcase and find a stowaway note from my 5-yr-old daughter:
“I hope you catch the fish you are looking for to catch. I hope you have a great time there. I love you. -Mia.” With everything in its proper perspective, we head back out at 4:00 to fish until sunset and what turns into one of the best nights on the water that I’ve ever had. Losing count of fish caught is always a good thing. Connecting with your guide on a human level is even better.
“A 17 pounder ate the fly right as it hit the water and this one knew how to use the current” Head guide Jose, puts me in the juice and we find fish after fish. Pausing in between with the weight off our shoulders to sit down for a beer, soak it all in, tell some fishing stories; and talk about our lives away from the water. It’s everything I had imagined and more.
A good average fish at Pira lodge is typically between 5-7 pounds. That night I landed a 12-14lb resident dorado and several others pushing 7-9lbs. The sunset was perfect, the company even better, and we finished up with a first evening of fishing I will never forget. Lodge life The next two days at Pira lodge passed like a dream. With a 12+ pound fish coming to my hand each of the following days. Our other two guides, Jose Luis and Tyler were both amazing and continued to put us on the fish. The guiding, the food, the staff and the hospitality from managers Marco and Laura, all ranking in the top tier of world-class fly fishing destination lodges. This place makes you feel like family. Our five-star chef, Daniel and the rest of the crew kept our appetites at bay. Argentina’s red wine flowed and our glasses stayed full well into the late hours each evening. From one lodge to the next The sun shone hard on us those few summer days as we passed from one lodge to the next.
Entering the gates of the access property located a few miles outside the town of Itati, we were greeted by a convoy of boats and our guides for the remainder of the week; waiting to take us about a mile upstream to the banks of Suinda Lodge.
“The big girl takes hold with extreme prejudice, crashing through and against the surface in sheer denial of her predicament” Along with the unprecedented drought, was a heatwave that even the local “Correntinos” were unaccustomed to. Candles left outside for evening lights were found melted down to the table from the heat of the day. We had to shift our fishing schedule accordingly. Sun rise and sun set were the name of the game. Up at 4:30 am for breakfast and on the boats by 5, we would all
motor to our prospective spots and begin casting as we met the first light of day. That was the program for the rest of the week. Fish sunrise from 5 – 10am, head to the lodge for lunch and siesta, a quick cocktail and then back on the boat at 6pm until dark. Endless expanses The sounds of the jungle echoed... Cicadas the size of a candy bar could be seen clinging to anything made of wood. Our first evening we stumbled upon a large adult howler monkey, black and covered in shaggy fur, sitting on the bank and nursing some kind of wound. Whether from a jaguar or boat prop, we weren’t sure. Immediately, we could hear and then see the rest of his family calling out from the trees above, screeching hopefully at his expected return. A fairly short 4-hour drive from the Pira Lodge marshlands, it felt like we had come to a new world. Where before we found close quarters, small water, and abundant fish; we were now dealing with a river wider than the Mississippi and what seemed an endless expanse of water and structure to explore, divide, and attempt to conquer.
We spent a good deal of time looking for Pacu near what had once been the water beneath the trees on the bank. Among the hardest fighting species in the river, I was hopeful to cross one off my list. But with the drought, the water had receded away from the vegetation and we found it increasingly difficult to entice one of these human-toothed, ‘freshwater permit’ to take a fly. Out of commission It was day three of a terrible stomach bug for one of our crew. Jay had gone down hard with some kind of unknown illness and was totally out of commission. It had gotten to the point where we were starting to worry and something had to be done. As I headed out for my second morning of fishing at Suinda my head was not in the game. It was a late start and I knew I would be headed back early to take my friend to the hospital in the nearest city, Corrientes. Just hoping the doctor would give us something, anything to get him back on his feet. When your buddy is hurting, it’s hard to think about anything so seemingly silly as catching a fish.
My guide Sergio and I got out that morning for what I thought might be an exercise in futility. Assuming we would just go through the motions for an hour or two before I needed to head back and get Jay to the doctor. My casting was shit, my mind was elsewhere, and I was keenly aware that I was doing my worst fishing of the trip to that point. But fishing poorly doesn’t always equal a poor outcome... Just look at most of the state records out there. It might be a 5-year-old kid or someone’s grandma, but it’s usually not the guy who went out there looking for it. Whatever the case, I found myself suddenly hooked into my biggest dorado of the trip so far. A 17 pounder ate the fly right as it hit the water and this one knew how to use the current. It quickly put me in my backing before I was even sure I had a solid hook set. Jump after jump she kept showing herself convincing me that these fish must be responsible for the Tango that Argentina is famous for. A dance so beautiful it was at one time outlawed by the government from being performed in the streets.
A visit to the doctor I arrived back to the lodge at mid-day with not much else on my mind but the task at hand: get Jay to the doctor and get him feeling better. The other two members of our crew returned, grinning from ear to ear. Travis had roped into a fish that morning in the upper 20’s, maybe pushing 30 pounds and had sealed the deal; claiming the title for our group’s biggest fish of the trip. We were all elated and there was much back-slapping back at the bar. A quick one-hour drive to the nearest viable hospital and we have Jay at least set up with the meds he needs and a little food in his stomach. Back to the lodge, I get in a short siesta and a quick visit to the bar before our evening session. This is a fishery of quality versus quantity. We are looking for big fish, and that means not messing around on the bank where the smaller ones lie. We get through the first two hours without sight nor sign of anything that wants to eat. We’ve been fishing the 3-4 inch baitfish flies that have proven very effective so far…but it feels like we need to make a change. I have a
box of musky flies that I brought along specifically with the fish of Suinda lodge in mind. I figure if one big toothy apex predator in the northern hemisphere will eat them, then maybe a big toothy apex predator in the southern hemisphere might too. That, and the fact that the sabalo, which these larger fish are feeding on, are much closer in size to my 8-10inch musky flies than they are to our 4-inch andino streamers. Last cast The light is gone and Sergio calls out, “last cast”. Halfway through the swing it’s like there’s a party on the water. The big girl takes hold with extreme prejudice, crashing through and against the surface in sheer denial of her predicament. She’s mine and just doesn’t know it yet.
The light is gone but I can still just barely see the commotion on the water. The audio is even better. I hear her repeatedly come up and crash back down on the surface like a kid jumping off the dock at some lake cabin back home. Taking to the air more times than I’m sure any fish of this size has any right to do, or at least any energy for. I hold steady and do everything I can to maintain composure. Every fish can be moved in a similar fashion once hooked. I just have to stay calm and fall back on experience to bring this one in. A handful of minutes dogging down like a big striped bass against the strain and I have her to the side of the boat and scooped into the net. We take the weight and a couple quick measurements, 10 kilos or 22 pounds, it really doesn’t matter the exact number. The whole of my being is pure jubilation in accomplishing this goal. Something I had imagined since high school when my Dad would bring me fishing magazines from his visits to Argentina. Cover shots of massive
golden dorado, a fish like I had never seen before nor had any sincere expectation of ever actually being able to touch with my own two hands. Yet here I was, holding onto this incredible creature that I had first dreamed of so long ago... Glow and contentment I got back to the lodge that night with a glow and contentment that one expects to only find sitting under the bodhi tree. Travis and I spent our final day fishing for pacu. The one species there that had eluded us. We didn’t get the pacu. The receded banks of the river made sure of that. And while there’s nothing I love more than new species in new places, I couldn’t be bothered with thoughts of missed opportunities. I had found what I came to this place looking for. And I was happy. “Over the Mountains Of the Moon, Down the Valley of the Shadow, Ride, boldly ride,” The shade replied“If you seek for Eldorado!” - Edgar Allan Poe
The Brand Buffet
Fly Fishing Photography: KASE WOLVERINE POLARISER FILTER If you want a super high quality polariser filter for your fly fishing photography, at a great price, look no further. The best thing about the Kase Polariser system is the magnetic mount. The filter is held in place with the adapter ring by a powerful magnet. The polariser itself don’t rotate, but the rotation is built into the adapter rings. It makes the construction of the polarisation filter much simpler, and placing the filter is super easy thanks to the magnet. The Kase Wolverine Magnetic CPL Filter have outstanding image quality and a very rugged, durable design. The magnetic adapter ring makes it easier to attach and stack filters on the fly, much more quickly, which is a great deal in our sport of fly fishing, where everything often happens quite quickly. We found the image quality to be very impressive and the overall design and magnetic concept is super innovative and could mean, that you’re more likely to use different filters, if you find the conventional circular filters too much of a hassle. For more info, please refer to: https://kasefilter.eu
Neptvn: FULLY EQUIPPED INFLATABLE BOAT The Neptvn Pro 400 boat features a hull made of Valmex fabric, comes with a fully EVA-covered 100D dropstitch floor, and 2 railblaza ribports. It also has a leaning post (central seat) that makes it perfect for fly fishing. 4 meters in length (by 120cm), the boat features a 400kg max capacity and a 10HP max outboard. Deflated it measures a mere 85 x 65 x45cm. Made in Italy, these boats are well-designed and sturdy, and will prove popular among fly fishermen who are eager to get out and explore local lakes, rivers, and fjords. For more info: www.neptvn.com
The Brand Buffet Fly Tying Tools: SMHAEN MASTER DUBBING TWISTER The new Master Dubbing Twister from SMHAEN, is an innovative new tool that is perfectly balanced and have the neverbefore-seen feature where you can easily open and close the dubbing loop. This feature allows you to open your dubbing loop with the same hand that is holding the dubbing twister something that makes it easier to insert and distribute dubbing material. For more info: www.smhaen.com
Simms: FLYWEIGHT ACCESS BOOT The new Flyweight Access wading boots from Simms are constructed of ultra lightweight mesh with high-frequency welded polyurethane in high abuse areas. They come fitted with Vibram Idropgrip Lite soles - exclusive to Simms; a sole that provides the highest grip possible. The boots are compression molded, feature a dual-density EVA midsole for all day cushioning and support, as well as welded TPU overlays in high-abrasion areas for added durability. Supportive, but lightweight and comfortable webbing lacing hardware across the foot ensures a snug fit. For more info, please refer to www.simmsfishing.com or the European dealer: www.flyfisheurope.com
Superflies: FLIES THAT WIN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS Last year, Superflies teamed up with Fly Fishing Team Finland with what turned out to be a real win-win deal. The team custom designed a series of their favorite nymphs, and Superflies made sure their fly boxes stayed full on their way to 2021 FIPS-Mouche World Fly Fishing Championships. The team ended up clearing the trophy table in the World Champs: in addition to winning the world team championship, Heikki Kurtti won the individual gold and Jari Heikkinen silver. The flies that came out of this project were Orange Tag in three different bead colors, Pink Rib Killer and Red Rib Killer. Each with several different bead weights, specifically tailored for euro-style nymphing. This year, a series of new dry flies, buggers, and more nymphs will be available. For more info: www.superflies.com/
Hemingway Inshore: A SMALL US BRAND WITH A BIG LEGACY Based in Naples, Florida, Ernest Hemingway Inshore provides elegant fly fishing tackle inspired by the man who started it all: American journalist, novelist, story writer and avid fisherman; Ernest Hemingway. The collection features a beautifully crafted saltwater splitcane fly rod and matching reel for targeting some of the flats fish that Ernest, himself, loved – including tarpon. For more info, please refer to: www.ernesthemingwayinshore.com
Rep Your Water: 2022 SPRING APPAREL COLLECTION “The Spring 2022 Collection is the perfect blend of what has been the base of RepYourWater since their inception in 2011 and the product and design innovation they’ve had,” states RepYourWater co-founders Garrison and Corinne Doctor. Among the 2022 news are the Merino Wool Blend Sun Shirts and Hoodies. The softness of this merino wool and polyester blend is perfect for a single layer of sun protection or as the ideal base layer on cooler days. The merino provides anti-microbial, odor reducing, moisture wicking and quick dry properties while also adding softness to the polyester. These shirts and hoodies will be available in several colors and graphics options. For more info, please refer to: www.repyourwater.com
Double-handers: HARDY ULTRALITE NSX DH The new, comprehensive range of Hardy Ultralite NSX two-handed rods bring increased levels of feel, in-hand balance, and all-important fish fighting power when you need it most. They feature a Sintrix NSX construction, ceramic lined titanium recoil guides, aluminium and carbon custom reel seat, and come supplied in a hard travel tube For more info, please check out www.hardyfishing.eu
The Brand Buffet Bajio: ROCA POLARIZED SUNGLASSES Sight-fishing requires laser focus on the slightest indication—that split-second opportunity when you’ll either set the hook or lament over the one that got away. With so much on the line, you need sunglasses that give you every available advantage. Something solid as a rock. Introducing Roca (rock in Spanish), a solid pair of performance shades from Bajio. Made with tough, bio-based nylon, this modern oversized frame protects eyes with complete coverage and vented side shields, reducing glare off the water and overall light intrusion without fogging up. For enhanced clarity and acuity, the color-enhancing polarized lenses feature Bajío’s blue light-blocking LAPIS™ technology that minimizes eye-fatigue and strain for longer, more productive days out on the water. For more info: www.bajiosunglasses.com
Simms G3 Waders: THE RETURN OF AN AWARD-WINNER Simms’ long-standing, award-winning wader is back with an exciting update to the material package, improved fit, and an enhanced feature set while remaining one of the most comfortable, reliable, and performance-driven waders ever. They feature: An updated material lamination package with even more durable, breathable, and comfortable Gore-Tex Pro Shell 3-layer upper and 4-layer lower, adjustable spacer air-mesh suspender system with a fabric suspender divider, top access zippered stretch pocket plus zippered, reach-through micro-fleece lined hand-warming chest pocket, a removable Tippet-Tender Pocket and a stretch-woven flank pocket on the inside, built-in low-profile back belt loops with high and low options; 1.5 inch stretch nylon belt included, and a patented front and back leg seams deliver articulated fit, improved mobility, and increased durability. More info is available at www.simmsfishing.com or the European dealer: www.flyfisheurope.com
Fly Tying: STREAMART DESIGN Small Spanish fly tying company, StreamArt Design, keeps expanding their assortment of rubber fly tying components for crab-, shrimp, squid-, and baitfish imitations. If you’re looking to make the most realistic-looking prey imitations imaginable, you should check out their products. To do so, follow them on Instagram: www.instagram.com/streamartdesigns/
Fly Tying: SQUIRREL DUBBING A new squirrel dubbing, made by four friends and fellow fly tyers in Sweden, is now available - carefully tested for just the right shimmer and transparency. The new dubbing comes in six colors, both standard and sparkle; perfect for both nymphs and streamers. You can choose from specific colours or simply get a complete dispenser with all twelve sorts. This dubbing is the perfect choice for buggy looking flies! For more info, please visit: www.trouthooks.com
The Brand Buffet Easy Shrimp Eyes: MICRO EYES FOR MICRO SHIMP (AND CRABS) Using Easy Shrimp Eyes’ new Micro Shrimp Eyes makes it a super-smooth and quick experience to tie natural-looking shrimp imitations. We’ve also found that they’re perfect for small Alphlexo Crabs – they just look better with a pair of lifelike eyes. The Micro Shrimp Eyes are incredibly sturdy, and they come in a number of different colours including a few that are fluorescent and glow-in-the-dark for murky water and night-time fishing. An incredible product that we highly recommend. For more information: www.easyshrimpeyes.dk
Smith Optics: EMBARK SUNGLASSES ChromaPop™ delivers color and contrastboosting performance throughout the full range of the lens, so you always have the best possible view with the new Smith Embark sunglasses. Removable and ventilated side shields add peripheral light coverage, and low-profile, adjustable temple arms let you customize the fit. A goggle-inspired retainer strap adds the security to keep them in place. For more info, please refer to the European distributor: www.flyfisheurope.com
Fly Reels: WATERWORKS-LAMSON ADORNS NEW COLOURS The Remix and Liquid reels from Waterworks-Lamson are known for their clever and weight-reducing mix between CNCmachined frames and die-cast spools. These reasonably priced reels are tried-and-tested, and they now come in a striking glacier colour that will match nicely with fly rods that have black or aluminum seats and fittings. More info is available via the European dealer, Flyfish Europe: www.flyfisheurope.com
Recycled: VISION SAVE SHIRTS Vision has now launched a range of t-shirts Manufactured by Pure Waste Ltd from recycled materials. The shirts are called SAVE, and are part of Vision’s work to aid in the protection of Scandinavia’s wild trout and salmon stocks. For more info, please visit their website: https://visionflyfishing.com/
Vision: TIPPET SPOOL HOLDER Visions new tippet holder does a simple but important job - it holds your tippet spools in place while allowing the spools to rotate for easy use. With the quick clip you can attach it easily to your waders, vest or fishing bag. For more info: www.visionflyfishing.com
YETI: HOPPER M30 SOFT COOLER The new and improved YETI Hopper® M30 continues to shine as our tough-as-nails soft cooler. Completely re-engineered with MagShield Access, the extra-wide mouth top stays open when needed, making it easier than ever to load and unload food and drink for weekend excursions. Equipped with a strip of ultra-strong magnets, the top seals tight and locks cold in, while the Quick-Release Buckles add an extra layer of protection. More information can be found on https://eu.yeti.com
Varivas: SUPER TIPPET MASTER SPEC II - NYLON Japanese brand, VARIVAS, has now released their Super Tippet Master Spec II - Nylon - reborn with a smooth tech coating! Without compromising strength, thin line variations are manufactured to emphasize turn performance, while thick line variations are manufactured for suppleness. Available in sizes: 3x ~ 10x and in 50 meter spools. For more info, please refer to: www.varivas.fishing
The Brand Buffet AquaTech 16” Dome Port
THE SECRET TO CAPTURING THE PERFECT OVER/UNDER IMAGE
The AquaTech PD-16 Dome Port released in 2020 is the ideal dome port for shooting exceptional underwater images and splits shot. The PD-16 is compatible with AquaTech’s entire range of Sport Water Housings for a large variety of professional Mirrorless/ DSLR cameras. AquaTech also suits a wide assortment of cameras and lenses so whatever your setup is you are covered.
port counteracts the magnification effect that happens to light when it passes through water. When viewed through a flat surface (like your snorkel mask or a fish tank) subjects underwater will appear bigger than they actually are. This is not a problem when your entire composition is underwater, but when you want to view a subject above and below the surface things begin to get weird…
Why 16”? There are in fact many reasons why you would use this specialized equipment, but there are 2 main reasons large dome ports are used for creating over/under images. Magnification and Dome Radius. The curved surface of a dome
The large radius of a 16” dome also adds more distance between the camera lens and the water surface. This distance allows the lens to easily see above and below the water plane and also provides a smaller water line in your image which is less distracting and more visually pleasing.
About AquaTech Founded in 1998 AquaTech is a leader in the design and manufacture of photographic accessories used in action water sports, fashion, advertising and lifestyle. From our beginning we have focused on exceptional designs and products offering a range of lightweight and durable Water Housing equipment and accessories. Today AquaTech products and accessories are used by professional and amateur photographers alike in advertising, surfing, sailing, seascape art, fashion, fishing, and more. Headquartered in Woonona, NSW, Australia AquaTech is a globally recognized brand in action water sports with an office in Southern California and retail distributors located in the USA, Europe and Australia. For more information about AxisGO 13 or AquaTech Imaging Solutions visit www.aquatech.net or visit us on Instagram and Youtube.
The Brand Buffet
When the good guys from AquaTech released the first preview shots of the 16” dome, I felt triggered… in a good way. A split shot is more than just a bubble dome on a lens. It’s a subtle symbiosis between focal length, distance to the front dome part, and - ultimately - the amazing effect of waves, streams, bubbles, and currents. Personally, I believe in creative chaos. The more water I can split in a dynamic fashion, the better. The 16inch dome allows me exactly that. It can comfortably split my entire field of vision on a 14mm/16mm setup all the way to the edges. It’s a godsend. It’s a big piece of equipment but the images are like nothing you will ever see out there… And this is a competitive advantage in a world where ”normal” and ”easy” have been overexposed on social media.
Stephan Dombaj Jr, Fly Fishing Nation.
The Brand Buffet
For a long time, the secret to capturing the perfect over/under image was kept close to the chest of some of the world’s best water photographers, however we pulled back the curtain and introduced the PD-16, a 16” Dome Port. Lens Selection It is possible to use a wide variety of lenses and focal lengths in combination with the PD16” Dome Port. From fisheyes to 50s, it’s just about possible to fit any wide angle lens in the PD-16. When choosing a lens it is practical to use an extension port in the same fashion as you would when using an 8” dome port to achieve the best results. So if your lens is shown as requiring an extension to work with the PD-85 on our P Series Lens Port Chart, then the same combination would generally apply
when using the PD-16”. Over/unders or “split shots” are some of the most sought after images when it comes to underwater photography. They combine the scene above the water level, with the view below the water’s surface to create an image which is not possible to see with the naked eye. They’re an image that connects the terrestrial world with the marine environment from a perspective that can only be seen by the use of specialised equipment. The PD-16 is a perfect companion accessory for an AquaTech housing for those who want to take their image creation to the next level. The AquaTech PD-16” Dome is available through its new EU online store at: www.eu.aquatech.net.
JOIN THE FISH FLAG CONTEST The Fish Flag Contest is part of World Fish Migration Day. This day culminates every two years in a global celebration to create awareness about the importance of migratory ﬁsh and free-ﬂowing rivers.
FISHFLAGS.ORG HOSTED BY
Organizations from around the world coordinate their own events around the common theme of connecting ﬁsh, rivers, and people. And this year it’s all about breaking free!
The new European store Trouthooks.com is the new European online shop for fly fishing & fly tying enthusiasts. The swedish founder of “Svenskaflugor”, Simon Johansson, has noticed an increased demand of especially their unique fly tying materials. Therefor he translated the swedish site into english, with the new name, Trouthooks. We focus sales mainly in the European Union.
A m t
Trouthooks.com offers unique materials, like Floatant Chenille. It´s the perfect choice when tying extended bodies on a mayfly, caddis and nymph. This material floats perfect and very realistic in the surface film, which seem to attract the fish more rather than using high buoyancy materials, like foam.
What to expect from us ▪ High quality materials ▪ Excellent personal service ▪ Guidance about fly tying ▪ Quick deliveries ▪ Right prices
Floatant Chenille 1.19€
F T v b a I
Firehole Outdoors are now known world wide for their top notch products. The “stupid sharp” hooks are probably the best fly hooks ever created. Firehole sticks come in more than 20 different models, and in many sizes! All hooks are of course barbless. Firehole Outdoors also have other cool products, like round and slotted tungsten beads in a great varity of cool colours.
Have you tied on the best hooks out there?
At the year 2018 we were the first store in Sweden to offer the range of Firehole Outdoors. Today we have the exclusives of their magnificent products in Sweden. Also we don’t sell any other brand of hooks, because we only focus on the best to get for our customers. Below you can read about our personal favorites. See the full range of Firehole at Trouthooks.com
Firehole Sticks 315 This model is one of our favorites. Flies with extended bodies, emergers, nymphs and more! In sizes from 6 to 22.
Firehole Sticks 609 The 609 is probably designed for nymphs and wet flies, but we also tie dries with deer hair on these. Available in sizes 8-20.
Firehole Sticks 718 The universal hook! It works for almost every kind of pattern. Comes in sizes 4-24
Firehole Sticks 811 There’s probably no better hook for streamers out there! Available in sizes 1-10.
The Red Butt Shrimp Fly Frequent users of Instagram and YouTube know that Morten Hansen, also known as Coastfly, likes realistic imitations of shrimp. Nonetheless, his favourite shrimp fly is simple and features no feelers, shell, or eyes. Tag along as Coastfly explains how he ties his Baboon Shrimp. By PETER LYNGBY
Today, shrimp flies dominate most seatrout fly boxes and after the introduction of the Glitter Shrimp, the Piglet, Honey Shrimp, Final Shrimp, Glass Shrimp, and many more the era of ultra-realistic shrimp patterns seems to be nearing its end. For years, fly tiers have been debating feelers, legs, shrimp shells, colour combinations, tapers, and transparency. A truce has been settled amongst Scandinavian fly tiers and the overarching focus has shifted towards more simple and effective flies for sea trout. South Jutland Shrimp Morten Hansen from the southern part of Jutland, Denmark, is a great believer in shrimp flies. He’s better known as Coastfly on YouTube and Instagram with plenty of followers. He’s also the man behind the very realistic Glass Shrimp, but his favourite fly for his home waters near Gråsten and on the island of Als, has more classic traits. The “Baboon”, just like the actual primate, features a striking red “hind part”, but apart from that there’s noth-
ing spectacular about the fly. The Devil’s Advocate might even claim that it bears very little resemblance to the natural prey item - especially when sitting in the vice. It has no eyes and no feelers. - The fly comes to life in the water because of the chosen materials, not so much because it looks like a shrimp, Morten explains. - The realistic shrimp imitations can be very effective in warmer water, but now, in the cold season, it’s more effective to fish smaller flies tied with softer materials. The Baboon is sparsely dressed and lightweight. The low weight ensures it can be fished slowly, hovering in the water, as the hackle and brushed dubbing body actually give a nice impression of a small shrimp. - There’s no guarantee for success, but a less precise imitation can be an advantage, as sea trout might also take it for other small prey. The fly is simple and fast to tie, which is an added bonus, Morten concludes.
Good weather fisherman Even if the seatrout-fanatic Dane prefers shrimp flies, he does take the sea trout’s relationship with imitations with a grain of salt. • There’s a special feeling looking at a realistic shrimp fly in the vice, but I doubt the sea trout really appreciates the exact colour nuances and the spacing of the stripes on the rubber legs. I believe more in points of attraction as the hot pink strike point on the Baboon. And then of course it’s important to entice the sea trout with how the fly is moved. • I prefer good weather. I like a mild day and not too much wind. That often means clear and calm water, which would often lead to the use of exact imitations, but I don’t find it crucial, stresses Morten. Seek the shrimp Morten believes more in the right choice of fishing spot, and he doesn’t mind sharing how- and where he chases sea trout with his Baboon-fly.
Material List// Hook: Ahrex NS 156, size 8-10 Thread: Veevus G02 30D Strike point: Fluorescent pink UTC 70D w. UC resin Rib: Pearl mylar tinsel, small Body: SLF Squirrel Dubbing, natural grey Hackle: Grizzle cock hackle
• Seatrout like shrimp, so I often seek out spots, where I suspect there are plenty of shrimp. When I spot shrimp in the shallows, I know that the seatrout won’t be far away. And since I prefer clam and mild conditions, I’m often able to spot seatrout and I really enjoy the visual aspect in casting to spotted fish with light tackle. • There’s nothing unusual about my choice of tackle. I use a 6-wt rod, an intermediate line and 12-14’ of leader, ending in a 0,24mm tippet. I usually retrieve the Baboon in long, slow retrieves with accentuated pauses, where the fly just hovers. Like most, I often get a take when the fly sits static. Tested on spinning tackle Most fly fishers don’t care about how their flies perform on spinning tackle not so with Morten. A local gear fisherman tests a lot of Morten’s flies, so he knows. • My brother-in-law fishes mainly spin, and he likes my flies. He’s had great success with the Baboon, so I know it works on spinning tackle as well. Fishing it on a bombarda is the obvious choice, but it also works well as a dropper above a lure.
Tying Tips Tying the Baboon is almost as simple as tying the flies beginners are usually presented with in the clubs, books, and in clinics. Yet Morten has a few tips and short cuts to share before you tie your first Baboon. • Usually, I make the strike point with tying thread covered with UV resin, but you can make it entirely out of UV resin. The fluorescent UV resins
on the market are good for purposes like this. When you tie the hackle over the flash rib as I do, it’s exposed to the sea trout’s teeth, but you can reinforce with a rib of 0,18mm monofilament. That’s the way I show it in the video on youTube. Otherwise, I recommend getting a house with a bathtub. Our new house has one and it’s invaluable when testing and developing flies, says Morten with a grin.
Place the hook in the vice. A hook with a nice, continuous curve is a good choice.
Tie a small ball with the pink thread opposite the barb.
Cover the strike point with UV resin and cure with the torch.
Attach the white thread and tie in the tinsel in front of the strike point.
Strip the leading edge of the hackle and tie in by the tip, right in front of the strike point.
Move the thread to the eye and dub a thin layer of dubbing towards the strike point. Then dub a second layer forwards with a fuller, but loosely dubbed thread.
Step 7 Rib the fly with tight wraps of the tinsel.
Step 8 Follow along with the hackle, placing it alongside the rib.
Fly Fi in the h g n e G of
We have been fly fishing in Mongolia for three decades. We established these o eries. Now, both of our operations, Mongolia River Outfitters and Fish Mongoli leadership. Our taimen conservation programs and remote fly-fishing camps
ishing e Land n a h K s i h
operations for the specific purpose of protecting Mongolia’s wild rivers and fishia, are recognized for outstanding service, wonderful fishing, and conservation provide access to and help protect hundreds of kilometers of taimen habitat.
AN INTERVIEW WITH A LIVING LEGEND
Jako Lucas Sometimes, although fly fishing is just for the nerds of the world, you get a little star-struck. That’s exactly what happened a few years ago, when we bumped into South African fly fishing guide and explorer, Jako Lucas, at the IFTD Show in Denver, Colorado. There is so much fly fishing talent coming out of South Africa, and Jako is a living legend and a great example.
Full name: Jako Lucas Born: 22 July 1982 Country of origin: South Africa Occupation: Fly Fishing Guide Social Media: @captjackproductions
Apparently, he’s also a genuinely nice guy! The person we met at IFTD was a friendly, down-to-earth, and witty person – someone anyone would love to spend a full day in a boat with fly fishing for… whatever. Legends come in many forms, but they always involve a bit of mystery. That’s why we’ve sat down and had a chat with Jako; about his dreams and aspirations, about his life as a guide, about how it all started, and where it’s likely to end… How did you get started fly fishing and why? As with the majority of us, I started at a very early age conventional fishing with my father and grandfather. I have very early memories from around the age of 4 fishing little pools between the rocks, while my dad was fishing in the ocean. It was love at first bit. I spent every moment I could fishing and even did it competitively for a while.
I always loved to watch fishing shows on TV, happened to watch a few fly fishing shows, and was intrigued. My parents bought me a beginner fly fishing kit and I then started fishing for trout and our local yellowfish. This was around my final year of primary school and from the first time I caught a fish on fly, I wanted to catch everything on fly. I love everything about it, the challenges and the hunt.
What is it that fascinates you about fly fishing? The biggest thing that fascinates me about fly fishing are the possibilities: They’re truly endless. We are only limited by our own dedication and pursuit. There are so many examples of accomplishments, especially with some of the true legends and pioneers of the sport. A few great, relatively recent examples are probably milkfish and bumphead parrotfish. They were deemed uncatchable for the longest time until hard work and dedication from a few local guides paid off. I remember how proud I was of landing some of the first bumphead parrotfish ever landed on fly. I believe it was number 3 and 4 in the same session with a client from Scotland, Ronnie at Providence Atoll. As mentioned before the challenge and the hunt is what it is all about. I also believe that fly fishing is one of the best ways to connect with nature; your surroundings and the whole process of catching a fish on fly, but also being able to let the fish go back home. Fly Fishing takes us to some amazing places, even if it is just your secret spot in your backyard. My father and grandfather taught me a lot from the conventional side, conditions, reading water, but I definitely needed to refine my approach with fly fishing. At the end of the day, I always tell my clients, “The day you decided to catch fish on the
fly, is the day you increase the challenge of catching fish, but it is totally worth it”. It always amazes me that we can tie an imitation with natural and synthetic material that will look so realistic that it can fool a fish into thinking it’s getting a free meal. There’s so much fly fishing talent coming out of your home country South Africa. Why is that, do you think? Although social media might have made guiding look like a very glamorous job, it definitely is not. There is a lot more than just taking clients fishing, that most people will never understand until they do it. Pre-season prep, getting the lodge ready, working on boats, cleaning, guide meetings, strategy… The list goes on. Not only that, but you spend a lot of time away from home and civilization. The extreme heat and/or cold weather also takes its toll on most guides over time. I believe that the reason why so many South African guides have excelled in this profession, is our pure stubbornness, ability to work really hard for very little and pride in a hard day’s work. We are also pretty competitive people and I think that helps. Although these locations around the world are a team effort, it is always good to have that drive. Unfortunately, we are also pretty hard people to guide, because we don’t have a strong culture of guiding and want to DIY everything, haha! But things are changing slowly.
How did you end up being a guide – and why? It is probably the South African in me and everything I learned from my parents that gave me the drive to always want to accomplish what I set my mind to. In the final year of my Bachelor Degree in Marketing, I met Keith RoseInnes by pure accident. When I saw him, he did look like a long-term guide that just finished up a season somewhere off the grind. He had just finished a season in Russia and was working on his Seychelles program. I asked a million questions and asked him what I should do. I followed every step, finished my degree, went to London, worked at a Fly Shop called Farlows, met as many industry professionals as I could, learned everything I could and one year later called him up about a job. Luckily enough, I got a position to guide in Cosmoledo. I had done some guiding before that, but this was the big league and I had to put on my big boy pants. The rest is history. I could not believe that I was going to make a living doing what I love!
What’s the best part of being a guide? And what is the worst part of it? I believe that guiding is probably one of the most rewarding jobs that you could do in this world. Being able to make someone’s dream come true, catching a fish of a lifetime and sharing that magic moment of excitement, I mean, how much better does that get? Not only are we able to make a living doing what we are most passionate about, but our office is also damn amazing. I would much rather have a tough day on the water than in an office. As much as I love helping clients have a great day on the water, unfortunately this does not always go to plan, no matter how hard a guide works. Not only are we dealing with an unpredictable animal, but conditions and weather can also have a huge impact. I think the important thing for all clients to know is that we are to make sure that they always have the best opportunity possible for that dream fish. What are the biggest misconceptions and mistakes you see in your clientele? Unfortunately, the expectations within a client’s ability can be high sometimes. I know that I am guilty of it, but with films and social media, we can sometimes make it look easier than it actually is.
The reality is that we don’t always catch fish. I have been on many trips that we will not catch for quite some time. But with determination and hard work, it will happen at some stage. There are also a few key things that will help clients maximize their opportunities. Firstly is the ability to cast a pretty good line. I will always prefer accuracy over distance. A 40ft cast accurately can get it done most of the time. I believe that it is also very important to do one’s best guiding a client within a client’s ability. Meaning, a guide should always try and position the clients in the best possible position for them to make the shot. I have seen it so many times that the guide gets frustrated when the client cannot make a 60-foot cast in the wind or whatever the situation may be. Yes, we would always love the clients to practice their casting, but sometimes they just don’t have enough time with their business or work schedule. Some of these exotic trips are very expensive and require hard work to pay for them. So, if you can get past the frustration of the client struggling, rather try and help them become a better angler. Casting, positioning, managing their expectations. If you can get back to the dock at the end of a day with tough fishing, better fishermen and smiling clients, then you have done everything you could.
What’s the most important advice you can give to people who consider hiring a guide? Some of the best guides I have worked with, did not always have the best fishing resume. Someone that has an open mind, good personality, willing to learn, passionate and works their ass off, those are the people that will go a long way. At the end of the day a guide has to wear many hats. Not only are you a fishing guide, but a friend, psychologist, entertainer, teacher, mechanic… Any guide can look like a rockstar when the fishing is on fire, but those that can work under the pressure of bad conditions and fishing are the ones that can take it to the next level. It is also important to be able to work a camera. Capturing these moments for your clients is a massive bonus. Like I also mentioned before, it is your objective to get your clients into fish, no one cares about how good you are as a fly fisherman when you are guiding them, it is all about your ability to get them into fish. I spent several years guiding the Seychelles without picking up a fly rod, as hard as it was, I believe it also helped me to be a better guide. It helped me guide clients with their ability and not my ability.
You’ve travelled (and guided) all over the world. What’s your favourite destination and why? It would be hard for me to not say, the Seychelles. I started guiding the Seychelles in 2006 and knew from the very first moment that this was one of the most unique and special locations in the world. It is impossible to deny that the Seychelles is probably the number one dream trip for any saltwater fly fisherman. The Seychelles is just so pristine and offers unbelievable wading and amazing fly fishing opportunities for an incredible number of different species. Anything from huge numbers of bonefish, milkfish, triggerfish, bumphead parrotfish, permit and dozens of other reef and flats species. And several different types of trevally including the gangster of the flats; the Giant Trevally. These trips are very expensive and a long way to travel, but definitely worth it, “that once in a lifetime trip”. Is there a certain destination or species that you’re itching to fish? As with most fishermen, my bucket list is still growing. I have been so fortunate to travel to so many amazing locations, but that has just been the driving force for me to see even more. From an adventure perspective, I would probably have to say the Chingo river, fishing for Goliath Tigerfish. Francios Botha and Ed Ghaui have put in some serious hard work to make this a possibility. Fishing in a pristine river in Africa for the biggest species of Tigerfish and not even to mention the other species, that sounds pretty damn sweet.
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What are your plans and aspirations as a fly fisherman and guide for the future? In a personal capacity I would still love to guide and travel as much as possible. Guiding is still my favourite part of what I do, and I just want to keep getting better at it. Traveling to new locations to learn and grow as a fly fisherman. The other priority is to educate new people to the sport and the conservation of our fisheries. I believe that at the end of the day when we are not on this planet anymore, people will remember you for what you have done and not just taken away for the sport. Oliver White and myself are busy working on a Fly Fishing Educational program that will help more people get opportunities to build a future in our industry. Unfortunately, I can not say a lot more, but we hope to go public in the near future. Conservation is always going to be an uncomfortable topic. Because most people fish as a hobby, passion for the outdoors or to simply get away from their daily grind, most people don’t want to think about this subject. Or they are simply not getting educated on the importance of conservation for our future generations. As a guide and making my living off the water, I am always on the front line and if the fishing is not going well, you need to have some answers. From a guide’s perspective, I always try and chat to my clients about most of the things I have seen and experienced with regards to treating your fishery with respect and the importance of conservation. It is a fine line between having a serious yet informative conversation and not being a preacher of doom and gloom. I find the best way to have a progressive and impactful discussion is to focus more on ‘what we can do’ to have a positive effect on our fisheries.
You currently guide for Texas redfish. What’s cool and intriguing about that particular fishery? It has been absolutely amazing to guide at some of the most amazing locations in the world. Unfortunately, it is very hard to have a “normal life” guiding at these places. I have been very fortunate to have a supportive wife and she has even worked at some of these places with me. But at some point you will have to make a decision. I am not saying it is impossible to do this forever, but it will be a pretty hard lifestyle to maintain, especially if you want to have your own family, wife and kids one day. I have always wanted my own skiff and my own outfitting business. When my wife and I moved to the US, I was able to chase this pursuit and extend my guiding career. It took me a couple of years, but I fell in love with the Texas Coast. Believe me, there is a lot more to this fishery than meets the eye. I also love the challenge of a new fishery and continuing the learning process. It is a big fishery to learn and very hard to navigate. Unfortunately, I can not elaborate too much, because of access and pressure on some of these fisheries on the coast, but I can assure you I am here for a reason. Redfish are amazing and just such an honest fish. Look, they can be tricky, but for the most part they just need to see the fly. Such a good fish for a client to hone their skills. Then there is also another bad ass fish that frequents these waters; the Jack. I am currently working on a film to showcase these amazing and underrated fish.
So many people are obsessed about Giant Trevally. They are amazing fish, but definitely a long way to travel for US folks to get a chance to fish for them. Jacks are family of the Giant Trevally, you can catch them on the US coast line and they are just as awesome as a Giant Trevally. Granted they don’t get as big, but they do everything a GT does, but people still overlook them and call them trash fish. I think as humans we can easily overlook something that is easily attainable and forget how privileged we are with everything we have. During your travels across the globe, what has most concerned you environmentally? Look, I am by no means a scientist, but it does seem to me that global warming is a reality. It just seems like the season, water temperature, and weather is changing a little every year. I have seen unseasonal high water temperatures, winds, and even air temperature changes in some of the locations I guided at. This will always be a controversial subject, but we have to just educate ourselves and be aware. The other big concern is trash. You will not believe the amount of trash that gets washed up in the Seychelles. I even picked up a cast net the other day that someone just threw in the mangroves, was not able to get it out and left it there. We can do better as humans. Try and minimize your rubbish/waste and just clean up after yourself. You can also go a bit further and pick up any trash you see. Unfortunately, there will always be people that will not want to do better, but we can do everything we can from a personal capacity.
Finally, for those who eager to carve out a niche for themselves in the fly fishing industry: What’s your best advice? This first and most important thing is to truly love fly fishing and have a true passion to build a career in the industry. Forget about social media!!! That should be a secondary bonus addition. So many people now try to build a career in fly fishing through social media. I have had conversations with several of my good friends and some of the best people in the industry. All of them work their ass off and are currently well-respected in the industry, they all say the same. Work first, earn respect and then have fun (social media) later. Also remember the people that have paved the way for those getting into the sport. I have so many mentors that have helped me. Be humble and always willing to learn. Once you think you know it all, you are back to square one. The truth about the fishing industry is that it is a forever hustle and you have to work at it 24/7. Having additional skills like photography is a huge bonus. Guiding is becoming more and more popular so the lodges are looking for a bit of experience. The best thing that helped me was by working in a fly fishing shop. You learn a lot and get to know the right people. Even if you have to be an intern at a fly fishing Shop over the weekends. It would be good to work on a resume or
CV. Even if it does not show a ton of experience, just point out your passion and your personal fishing experience. Never stop working at it! For example, if you want to guide in the Seychelles, you will also need a Captain’s license and STCW. Most people always get despondent when they hear this. I had to do my coast guard license to be able to guide out here in the USA. So, I had to take a week out, but was working on 10 other things while I did it. For some reason there is also this rumor being spread that the fly fishing industry is not open to newcomers. The majority - or pretty much everyone I know - are always willing to help. Sometimes people are busy and it might take some time, but we are always willing to help someone in the right direction. I have also tried to help countless people that did not end up following my help and advice. Feel free to reach out to me. You can send me your resume and I am happy to have a look and send out to some of the lodges I know. The most important part is to just stay hungry and do whatever you need to make it happen. That is what I did. It is amazing the information you can get via the Internet now, so just keep educating yourself and try to get out on the water as much as possible. I learned things the hard way, but always just stayed passionate and asked questions, learning along the way.
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NORTHBOUND 2021 By OPST: PURE SKAGIT
Todd Scharf, a lifelong spey fishing guide, relocates his business and family to the northern frontier of British Columbia to chase one of the most sought after fish - the Steelhead. At an early age, Todd was obsessed with Steelhead and could not veer away from the inevitable fact that hunting for them would be his lifelong career. He decided to move to Terrace to chase the biggest and baddest salmonid species to open up a new door of adventure for his clients that he considers family. 10 years later, he has settled into his new environment and understands the water he fishes better than anyone. The sacrifice he made to move up north has paid off as he is constantly finding new opportunities in the unknown waters of the remote northern frontier of British Columbia. Todd now questions himself on if the reason for moving north wasn’t a pull from the fish but perhaps an escape from the craziness of the urban world.
SOME THINGS NEVER CLOSE.
Photo: Álvaro G. Santillán @focusontheflymedia
Now booking the summer 2022 season on Norway’s Gaula river!
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Your Ultimate Fishing Experience Begins at the Vise
Regal Vise, Where Tradition Meets Innovation Hand crafted in Massachusetts, USA Regal Vise, 100 Prentiss Street, Orange, MA, 01364, (978) 544-6571
Location // Henry’s Fork, Island Park, Idaho
Fly Fishing for Triggerfish
By: BRIAN CHAKANYUKA Photos by: BRIAN CHAKANYUKA and ALPHONSE FISHING CO.
Few fish are as aggressive as triggerfish. Yet, few fish are as finicky and nervous as triggerfish. They can be painfully difficult to catch, and once hooked they tend to either crush your fly hook and spit it out, cut off the leader, or get stuck inside coral bommies. There are 40 different triggerfish species in the world, and three main species of triggerfish in the Indo-Pacific Ocean – which are targeted with fly rods: the yellowmargin triggerfish, the moustache triggerfish and the Picasso triggerfish; all equal in beauty and challenge! The yellowmargin triggerfish (Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus) comprises of an array of colours. It has a tan body with dark spots, orange margins in the fins and a pale orange snout and cheeks. They can grow up to 60cm in length and feed on a variety of live coral, algae, sea squirts, crabs, molluscs and other fish. The moustache triggerfish (Balistoides viridescens) is the most commonly caught triggerfish. It’s appropriately named as it boasts a very prominent dark line above its top lip, resembling a moustache. The rest of
the body is mostly yellow with orange fins edged with black lines. Found in lagoons and reefs, these Triggerfish can grow up to 75cm in length and feed on a variety of algae, live coral, sea urchins, molluscs and crabs. The Moustache is the largest and most aggressive of the Triggerfish and due to their strong teeth and being ciguatoxic, they can inflict some very serious injuries. The Picasso triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus) might be the smallest out of the three but definitely tips the scale in the looks department with its striking yellow lined lips, electric blue forehead and black and white markings along the body. The Picasso Triggerfish is also known as the White-banded Triggerfish, Lagoon Triggerfish, Reef Triggerfish, Blackbar Triggerfish, Hawaiian Triggerfish, Huma Huma Triggerfish or Humu Picasso Triggerfish.
This species only grows up to 25cm in length and they predominantly feed on molluscs, small shrimp and crustaceans. The Picasso Triggerfish is the official Hawaiian state fish where it is known as Humuhumunukunuku apua’a or humu humu for short. The search for triggerfish All three species of triggerfish can be found on the shallow reefs and flats. The yellowmargin triggerfish prefers sandy-bottomed areas close to patches of turtle grass and coral. It is also common to find a yellowmargin close to a large coral “bommie” situated on a white sandy flat. Both the moustache and picasso triggerfish inhabit more reef-like bottoms filled with corals and seaweed. And, oftentimes, they can be seen tailing at low tide – looking for small prey items such as shrimp, crabs, and other crustaceans. Making the catch As previously mentioned, triggerfish are notoriously skittish, partly due to the fact that they feed in such shallow water. All of this makes approaching them quite difficult and extremely frustrating at times. There are three rules to catching a Triggerfish:
1 - A stealthy, quiet approach is needed once a fish has been spotted. You know your own casting capabilities, so if you know you can reach, stop - and make the cast. Getting unnecessarily close will most likely spook off the fish. 2 – You need to make your first cast count. Presenting too close will frighten the fish. Presenting too far away will result in the fish not seeing the fly and, even worse, it will probably spook off when lifting the line off the water to make a re-cast. An accurate, aggressive cast is required. 3 – A bucket load of luck! Following rules one and two on its own unfortunately doesn’t guarantee you a trigger. They can be incredibly tricky at times, hence the nickname ‘Tricky Triggers’! Hooking the fish is only half the battle though. They have serious teeth that can cut through most leaders with ease, and they are dirty fighters as they burrow themselves into the nearest coral hole, again resulting in cut leaders.
They will fight you every step of the way to the net, darting this way and that and bolting for the coral time and again, but once you claim victory, you would have added a serious notch to your fly fishing belt. Make your triggerfish dreams come true. Turn your fly into a fish’s ultimate temptation. The Seychelles, with its 115 islands and deserted atolls, ideal weather and warm Indian Ocean waters, is renowned for being home to some of the world’s richest fishing grounds. You don’t even have to venture too far to break fishing records! For fly fishing adventures in the Seychelles, please check the following link. www.alphonsefishingco.com Other triggerfish destinations include Sudan, Djibouti, Socotra, the Maldives, and Mauritius.
Fly patterns for triggerfish: Flies from www.flyzinc.com 1. Alphlexo Crab This is a very realistic crab-looking pattern. It also has a relatively solid and rigid profile/structure to further fascinate the triggerfish once it has been pounced on. A general rule of thumb is to use olive or tan colours when fishing darker bottoms, and white or lighter colours when fishing over sandy bottoms. 2. Spawning Shrimp This fly has been around for ages for a reason - it works! It can be tied in various colours and weights. A Spawning Shrimp tied with lightweight bead chain eyes is ideal for super shallow tailing triggers. This also makes for a more delicate presentation when targeting these skittish fish. 3. Kraken Crab This diverse fly doesn’t really imitate a specific creature, but rather an array of different crustaceans that are found on and around turtle grass, coral patches and white sand. The most common colors would be olive, dark brown, tan and white. The general rule of thumb is to fish a dark fly over a dark bottom and a lighter colours over lighter bottoms.
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Deer Hair Sedge hog The original Sedge Hog pattern came from the tying bench of Orkney angler, Sandy Nicholson, and was designed as a semi-buoyant wet fly for stillwater trout. In this adaptation, I have excluded the seal’s fur body and the front hackle, as per the original, and use only deer hair to represent the larger members of the caddis family, not only on my home brown trout waters, here in Norway, but it has also proven to be a deadly attractor pattern when fished as a surface lure, when night fishing for sea trout. By BARRY ORD CLARKE
The large wing and tightly packed and trimmed deer hair body render this pattern almost un-sinkable, but when tying this style of deer hair wing, attention should be given to attaching each bunch correctly. Preparing each bunch of deer hair, before you tie them in. Start by cutting a bunch that is a little larger than the one you need, this will reduce significantly when cleaned. Hold the bunch in one hand by the tips, using a comb remove all the under fur and the shorter hairs. This is very important when spinning deer hair, as the underfur will act as an anchor and restrict the spinning process. The shorter hairs will create a somewhat, un-even wing when stacking in a hair stacker, so if you want optimal results, you must be very precise in removing as much as possible of both. If necessary stack the hair after the first cleaning and repeat, with each bunch. The rear, or first bunch for the tail, needs not to be stacked, and should be tied in as a flared spinning bunch, so the tips are evenly distributed around the rear of the hook shank. The next two or three bunches, depending on
what size hook you are using, have to be tied in a little differently. These should be stacked on top of the previous bunch, keeping the tips on top of the hook shank, but still spinning the butt ends of the hair, on the underside of the hook shank. This is done by firstly spinning your bobbin, anti-clockwise, to give the tying thread a flat profile. This will reduce the possibility of cutting the deer hair when pressure is applied through the bobbin. Then, make two loose wraps of tying thread around the hair bunch before tightening by pulling downwards on your bobbin. This will flare the hair 90 degrees from the hook shank. Before you release pressure on the bobbin after tightening, make a few, zigzag wraps forward through the butt ends and finish with five or six tight turns of thread in front of the bunch to lock it off, ready for the next bunch. This will stop the wing from slipping, around the hook shank. If you wish to obtain optimal buoyancy with this pattern its also important that you use deer hair from a
good dense winter coat, this is normally marketed as all round spinning hair.
Techniques involved: Stacking deer hair / Trimming and burning deer hair / Mixing deer hair
View from below. It makes a huge difference when fished, if the body is formed as a keel on a boat. This will make the fly fish high in the surface and gurgle when pulled. Material List// Hook: Mustad R30 # 8-14 Tying thread: Dyneema or GSP Body: Natural Deer hair - winter coat Wing: Natural Deer hair - winter coat
Secure your dry fly hook in the vice, as shown, with the hook shank horizontal. Run a fine foundation of tying thread along the hook shank.
If you intend to tie a few of these I find it more efficient to cut 1 cm strips of deer hair hide. A 1 cm X 10 cm strip is enough hair for three size 8 and 10 flies.
Step 3 Once you have cut your strip, grasp a large bunch of hair at the bottom of the strip.
Keeping hold of the bunch, cut it away from the hide.
Tie in this first bunch at the rear of the hook as shown and described earlier.
Carefully trim away the flared butt ends in front of the wing, on top of the hook shank.
Step 7 Now cut a second bunch of hair and tie this in as the first but a little longer. Keep hold of the hair tips only, on top of the hook shank, so they don’t spin around the hook, when flared.
Step 8 Trim off the butt ends, as in step 6.
Step 9 The remaining bunch should be cleaned and stacked in a hair stacker, before tying in.
Tie this in keeping hold of the hair tips only, on top of the hook shank, so they don’t spin around the hook, when flared. Right behind the hook eye.
Whip-finish and remove your tying thread.
Turn your vice, or fly, if you don’t have a true rotary vice, up-side down and with one straight cut, trim away the the deer hair, on the underside of the hook.
Now carefully cut away any remaining butt ends of hair on the side of the fly as shown. This is best done with serrated scissors.
You can now form the muddler style head by trimming around the hook eye.
Using a dubbing brush or an old tooth brush, give the whole fly a good brushing to free any hairs that may be trapped or tied down. This will make for a much better finish when clipped.
Using a lighter set at a low flame, carefully singe, not burn, away the trimmed ends of the deer hair.
Once done, you can use the edge of your scissors to scrape away the soot.
The finished sedge hog variant with a sculpted body and head.
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New Zealand’s Jurassic Lake It’s not really a lake, nor is it a river, despite having a subtle west to east flow. Despite the identity crisis, this small body of water is commonly classified as one of the hottest pieces of fly fishing real-estate on the planet!
By ANDREW HARDING
No, we’re not talking about the huge mouse eating browns of New Zealand’s South Island, but a tiny, manmade water-storage dam located in the shadow of the majestic volcanic peaks of New Zealand’s central North Island. It’s beautifully barren, epically isolated, and the trout? Magnificent in condition and size. It’s Otamangakau. Pronounced (O-ta-man-ga-cow) or simply “Ota” to us kiwi’s, New Zealand’s answer to Jurassic Lake, albeit a fraction of the size with an average depth of only one meter! It’s a sensational fishery for those lucky enough to live here, however the lake receives relatively low angling pressure in the broader scheme of things. Ota’s makeup of 50/50 browns and rainbows makes for some exciting fishing, stalk the edges in the morning for the numerous, big, tailing browns, or hit the channels in the afternoon for some ridiculously proportioned rainbows. Tailing browns For myself, it’s the tailing browns that are the major drawcard. Through the warmer months of October through
to March, these browns with an average weight of around 6-7lbs take to the lake’s shallow silty margins in substantial numbers, their huge paddles waiving like excited kids in mere inches of water as they grub around in the mud for bloodworms and anything else that catches their eye. But don’t be lulled into thinking these browns are easy to catch, they aren’t…You’ll need your A game… coupled with 20ft plus leaders and a stealthy approach, even then expect refusals 90% of the time. When you do eventually hook one of these fish, the tradeoff is you would have had to use a light tippet to induce the take - now have fun with said tippet when that brown makes a run headfirst into the nearest weedbed… the struggle is real… obviously, a long-handled net is an advantage! Cracking the code It took me a good 10 years to crack this lake, and I still know many who’ve not caught a fish in it! The potential for a trophy fish, over the magical 10lb mark is high, especially when fish are in peak condition around January.
Most anglers like to fish the lake from a form of watercraft, drifting nymphs under huge indicators… not really fly fishing at all in my eyes,… Me? I love going shore-based! The lake edge fishing is sensational and a hell of a lot more fun than staring at an indicator bobbing round for hours on end, in the hope that a cruising rainbow will snaffle one of your nymphs.
“Huge paddles waiving like excited kids in mere inches of water” The one caveat is the mud will try and suck you down to a watery grave. The wading is very difficult if you’re not able bodied, and somewhat fit. Twice the mud here has nearly claimed my life, so it’s something not to be taken lightly.
A memorable fish My most memorable fish from ‘Ota’ was a rainbow funnily enough, despite the browns being the larger of the species in general, my Norwegian friend and well known trout-bum, Andre Hesslewroth and I were firing Damsel nymphs on a January afternoon at the numerous cruising browns along the shallow weed margins. A swirl here and a cast there, we were certainly nailing a few beautiful browns between 5 and 7lbs each - it was a great morning.
“The potential for a trophy fish, over the magical 10lb mark is high” The gentle current dislodging damsels off the weed edges into the jaws of marauding trout. A distant fin cutting a swath through the mirror calm surface on the weed edge caught my eye so wading just a little further… I fired a cast a meter or so ahead of the fish, strip… ON!
The fish in Ota really do pour-on the gas when something lands near them to intercept it. From the initial run, THROUGH the weed-bed and out the other side into the channel, she jumped, (well I think it was a she. To this day I’m still not sure! It’s not as if that kype was a defining feature). Andre turned to me with a sly grin and muttered… it’s big… With only a few turns of backing remaining, I was inching forward, I still don’t know how I managed to coax her through the weed… As she touched her belly on the shore all hell broke loose, a swift net shot by Andre and I’d won…. a stunning fish, not huuuuge, but a 5kg lump of stunningly conditioned and proportioned rainbow, and still my biggest rainbow to date. It was such a great experience, made even better by being able to share the moment with Andre. A remote alpine basin Ota’s downfall despite it’s high elevation, and sitting in a remote alpine basin is the one thing you wouldn’t
expect… a lack of wind! It really is very sheltered. The mirror like surface on most days sees fish on midges, taunting and teasing anglers in a cruel fashion. When it’s calm, it’s tough! The lake fishes best in foul weather, the worse the weather? The better the fishing, you know?… the usual story with lake fishing. Whilst Ota is predominantly what I call a “strip, strip, bang” fishery, this method of using floating lines and small damsel imitations or Woolly Buggers is only effective with some surface ripple, when it does calmoff it’s time to target fish with a dry / dropper on the weed edges. With a dropper no more than around 10cm, this is an excellent method for picking off fussy cruising browns and a hell of a lot of fun! As with any dry / dropper fly fishing, you’ll encounter that odd fish who’ll prefer to snaffle your dry and ignore the unweighted nymph dangling below. They aren’t overly fussy on patterns, just size.
Dry Time Come January through March, it’s dry time! Whatever huge rubber legged concoction you have in your fly box is never big enough! The abundant, but short-lived cicada hatch spurring the trout to feed with reckless abandon.
“I’d gone through every manner of cicada imitation and rubber-legged behemoth I had” Unfortunately, this is a blind method, the fish moving so fast, it’s near impossible to spot them or intercept their path, but they will take a huge dry drifted blindly around the cooler inlet water, where the upper reaches of the Whanganui River enter the lake by way of a man-made canal. A fresh cicada pattern, please! A few years ago on Ota we encountered what can only be described as an epic cicada hatch. These bumbling fat “cheese-burgers” were being blown into the lake in their thousands by the strong, warm, northerly breeze. It was ON!!
Browns and bows averaging 6lb + were coming in thick and fast. One of those times in your angling lifetime, you simply pinch yourself and ask ‘can it get any better than this”? After a bust-off in the weeds, I reached for a fresh cicada pattern, only to find that WAS my last one! I’d gone through every manner of cicada imitation and rubber-legged behemoth I had!!!! Arrrggghhhhh!!! With huge trout breaking the surface in every direction, and in desperation I tied on an olive #10 Woolly bugger, snipped off the tail and scissored through the soft hackle… loaded it up with a good dose of floating… and we were back in business. It didn’t matter what I used, the fish were grabbing this improvised dry-wolly-worm-cicada just fine! I guess a lesson gleaned from that day is there is always a way to improvise with existing patterns given a quick nip-tuck!
Dormant and waiting Ota is quiet now, there is no overseas pressure thanks to “that” flu, much like the rest of New Zealand. She’s lying dormant and waiting, the fish are getting more numerous and larger year on year, it’s a fascinating aspect to see despite the Department of Conservation hinting they are about to put measures in place to stem angling pressure when the lake surface temperature reaches 20 degrees Celsius, closing to all fishing at short notice. Whilst mortality comes as a given on any highly pressured body of water, the lake is so healthy it can sustain it – in my humble opinion, and even somewhat benefit from it. It’s a densely populated and extremely healthy system and can certainly cope with such factors. As I’m writing this; a message has come through to my mobile from a friend “about time we hit Ota again?”… my arm is made of rubber you know… loading up the camper van and heading to my “happy place”… We’re so very lucky to live in New Zealand with angling destinations such as Ota on our doorstep.
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Martin Luther King Jr.’s Fishing Friendship Mighty Waterstells the story of a mighty bond between the civil rights icon and Bimini guide Ansil Saunders
By: JOHN FRAZIER
In the skiff, on a creek that winds through the vast mangroves that rim the bonefish flats of Bimini, Martin Luther King Jr. would savor the quiet. With the motor off and the shadows of birds coursing over the water, “he would just put his hand under his chin,” recalls fishing guide and boatbuilder Ansil Saunders, in an interview with the filmmaker Shannon Vandivier, “and you could see he was writing something in his head.” There were several somethings, actually, penned across half a decade in that unassuming flats skiff. In the boat, King worked on his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. Four years later, he was back in Bimini, and back in Saunders’ skiff, where he wrote part of his famed “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech just a few days before his assassination in Memphis. At the height of his very public civil rights crusade, King traveled to the Bimini flats not so much for the thrill of casting to bonefish and tarpon, but for their privacy and serenity. And for one of the most fascinating
fishing friendships ever known. Now, a film detailing the relationship between King and Saunders is making its online debut to help celebrate Black History Month. Mighty Waters, sponsored by Simms Fishing, Costa Del Mar, and the American Museum of Fly Fishing, opened on the 2021 Fly Fishing Film Tour and traveled to various film festivals—among them Mountainfilm and Washington’s Wasatch Mountain Film Festival, where it won the event’s Social Awareness Award. But its premiere to the broader public will commence on Tuesday, February 1. Its soulful retelling of how King inspired Saunders—and vice-versa—is riveting. Saunders, now 89, is one of the Caribbean’s most accomplished watermen. He’s built nearly three dozen handcrafted wooden flats skiffs and has guided clients from Richard Nixon to Joe Namath. In 1971 he led a client to a sixteen-pound bonefish that still stands as the International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record.
He met King through an introduction by King’s friend Adam Clayton Powell, a pastor, congressman, and civil rights activist in Harlem who visited Bimini frequently. By the time Powell introduced the two, Saunders was already known for his activism on the island. When he was twenty-one years old, Saunders sat down for lunch at the famed Bimini Big Game Club, where Black people weren’t allowed to dine. He wasn’t served, and he returned in protest for forty more days, between the hours of noon and one, leaving hungry, he says, to guide for the rest of the afternoon. One day the club hosted officials from Nassau, and Saunders rallied friends with a promise of a free dinner if they would join him in his sitdown. On that day they were served—and Black people have been welcomed at the Bimini Big Game Club ever since. The Austin, Texas–based Vandivier has long used his work as a lens for advocacy and education. In 2017 he helped start Fish for Change, a student volunteer program that pairs young anglers with conservation projects across the Caribbean and in Colorado. He founded his film production company, Cold Collaborative, in 2015, and actively seeks out stories that will help drive positive change.
To film Mighty Waters, Vandivier’s five-person team (and their fifteen hundred pounds of video equipment) spent six days on Bimini in December of 2020, just a month after the Bahamas opened its borders. The calm they found there was inspiring. “There were no tourists booze-cruising in their golf carts,” Vandivier says. “We were the only outsiders there, and we are grateful for the intimate experience that I think gave us the ability to engage more deeply with that community.” The film deftly weaves together the separate, and then conjoined, stories of two men working in vastly different regions but with a single purpose—equality—in mind. “I had the privilege of fishing with Ansil one time,” says
Simms Fishing’s John Frazier. “And what I’ve never forgotten is how his life story personifies the profound connections so many anglers feel to the places and the people they visit. Fishing connects many of us to far deeper purposes than just feeling a tug on the line. Ansil’s life, and this film, express that in a way that will resonate with people whether they fish or not.” Mighty Waters can now be streamed through the American Museum of Fly Fishing, which is raising money to purchase Ansil Saunders’ boat and other memorabilia and to provide funding for a screening of the film for Saunders’ Bimini community. You can also watch it here:
FLY TYER SPOTLIGHT
Barry Ord Clarke Age: 60 Home country: Norway Website: https://thefeatherbender.com Instagram profile: www.instagram.com/barryordclarke/
How did you get into fly tying? While working in London in the early 80s as an advertising photographer, I met a Scottish fly tyer and taxidermist who asked if I could photograph some of his flies and fish, for a brochure. Having a fine art education in classic arts and crafts, I was totally enchanted by his fully dressed salmon flies. So I asked if he would teach me to tie them, in exchange for me doing the photography. I learned to tie fully dressed classic salmon flies before I started fly fishing…The rest is history. What is it about fly tying that you like so much? Through fly tying, the fly fisherman has the opportunity to relate much better to their quarry and gain a greater understanding of their lifestyle and behavior. You can open previously locked doors, and enter a whole new world of your sport, customising existing patterns, to your own specific requirements, and even designing
your own. Once the basic techniques are mastered, the only restriction remaining for your fly tying creativity, are the limits of your own imagination. What kind of flies do you most enjoy to tie and why? I tie everything, from the smallest dry flies, to humungous predator and saltwater patterns, and find pleasure and beauty in tying them all and mastering the techniques required. What are the most important/determining factors when you design a new fly pattern? That it’s quick to tie, not difficult to source materials used, less is more and last but not least… that it catches fish. How do you split your time between fly tying and fly fishing? I work full time as a fly tying photographer and author, so I tie flies, photograph them and write about them 40 hours a week, so if I have time to fish, I do…
What’s your favourite fish species to catch and why? Sea trout. Perhaps the thing I find most beguiling about sea trout fishing is its sheer unpredictability. One shouldn’t forget that these are brown trout with the lifestyle and habits of the salmon - our two most celebrated game fish rolled into one - combining the best of both species, and all of the capriciousness of both. Which home waters do you most frequently fish? My wife and I, have a cottage on a small Island in the Oslo Fjord, where I have fished for sea trout, all year round, for over 30 years. What’s your all-time favourite fly and why? The one that catches fish on the day. Are there any specific fly tyers that have influenced and inspired you over the years? Every single one, from all the greats to the new beginners. I am still learning from them all. I am for ever inspired and humbled by their creativity, ingenuity, and skills.
You’ve recently won Fly Tyer Magazine’s “Fly Tyer of the Year” Award. What does the recognition mean to you? Being recognized with such a great honor, for something that you are so passionate about means the world to me! Not only, that it was the readers of the largest fly tying magazine in the world, who voted me “Fly Tyer of the Year” but that this is a United States based magazine, where there are more, great and talented fly tyers than anywhere else in the world! What more can I say… You’ve released several books about fly tying. Do you have any new projects coming up? Digital media has become the forefront for fly tying in recent years. But fortunately, there is still a healthy market for the printed word when it comes to fly tying. I am working on a new book project ‘ The Ultimate Guide To Tying and Techniques with Deer Hair’. This will be a monolith of a book, that covers every single type of deer hair in the world.
Each hair photographed to scale and in great detail. This will allow the tyer to study each hairs natural length, colour, texture, natural history… and all the other key factors of each hair type. Along with 50 deer hair step by step patterns that will cover the most relevant techniques for each material. What are you ambitions and future aspirations as a fly tyer Making fly tying easier to learn than ever before… Although most fly tyers have learned fly tying from books, it has always been a problem that in between each step-by-step image there is something happening/missing, that the fly tyer doesn’t see! This can not only make things difficult to follow, but in many cases, can also result in failure. In my two most recent books ‘Fly Tying for Beginner’s’ & ‘The Feather Benders Fly Tying Techniques’ I have successfully managed to combine both printed and digital mediums. Through supplementing, the traditional step by step images, with a QR code for every pattern and technique in the book. This enables the reader to scan the QR code with their mobile or tablet device and watch me tie every pattern online, before they commence to follow the step by steps in the book. Hence, I reveal all the tricks and techniques in 4G video. Learning fly tying has never been easier…
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