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ISSUE 06 NOV | DEC 2017

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THEMISSIONFLYMAG.COM

STEPHAN GIAN DOMBAJ, CANE POON, LOWVELD YELLOWS, KAMCHATKA, JOE BLADOS, BEERS, BEATS AND MORE...


experience counts for everything Capt. Joel Dickey, a no-nonsense veteran guide and one of the most knowledgable and experienced anglers on the water. He calls Georgia home but can normally be found in Big Pine Key Florida chasing tarpon, bonefish and permit. Hardcore professionals like Joel are testing our products to the limit every day and push us in our pursuit to build truly great rods. Their knowledge, expertise, and understanding are passed to our craftsmen, who strive for perfection and uncompromising performance in every rod we make. To us, Joel and his fellow professionals are our unsung heroes. We salute you.


Introducing the new T&T Avantt and Exocett Series. remarkably light. extraordinarily strong.

est

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T H E R O D YO U W I L L E V E N T UA L LY OW N

www.thomasandthomas.com HANDMADE IN AMERICA


BILL PLEASE! THE NEW THOMAS & THOMAS SEXTANT BAMBOO RODS AS USED BY KEITH ROSE-INNES WHILE TARGETING WHITE MARLIN OFF MOROCCO. Full story on page 74 - Photo: Murray Collins

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W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M ISSUE 6 NOV | DEC 2017

CONTENTS Cover Image: April Vokey on the Parana River in Northern Argentina, giving new meaning to a braided loop. Photo: Stephan Gian Dombaj

14 UNDERCURRENT: THE LOAN With Brendan Becker and Nic Isabelle 16 HIGH 5s With Taba “West” Phiri 20 ENTER SANDMAN By Conrad Botes 26 THE PORN STAR With Fly Fishing Nation’s Stephan Gian Dombaj 40 TWO BOYS AND THE OTHER YELLOW By James Topham 48 KAMCHATKA 61 Hours from Joburg by Dean Oelschig 60 GEAR OF THE YEAR Old, new, borrowed and blue as chosen by The Mission’s community of contributors. 84 CANE POON Badass bamboo rods in the salt

REGULAR FEATURES 06 Ed’s Letter 08 Masthead 10 Wish List Fish 12 Beers & Beats 74 Salad Bar

The Motivational Carrot 78 Payday 80 Shortcasts 82 Fluff: The Crease Fly 90 The Lifer 92

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T U D O R CA R A D O C - DAV I ES

FLY FISHING IS DEAD? LONG LIVE FLY FISHING trout season is only viable for a few months now before the heavy heat of the new year kicks in. Elsewhere indigenous species like Clanwilliam yellows and sawfin are under threat from alien species.

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appy birthday to us! The Mission celebrates its oneyear birthday with this issue and for that we owe our selfless contributors and you, our readers, a debt of gratitude. The contributors, from the Feathers & Fluoro team and Flybru to doccie filmmakers like Scholars & Gentlemen and lone rangers like Ryan Janssens, Warren van Rensburg, Platon Trakoshis, Jannie Visser, Oliver Kruger or MC Coetzer, answered when we came up with ideas and they delivered, time and time again. As for our readers – like us, we knew you wanted something different, something fresh, something free in more ways than one. Without the inspiration, community and support we get from you, we’d be dead in the water. Beers in the post. On the subject of things being ‘dead in the water’, there is a mild buzz going around that fly fishing is sick or ailing. It’s a refrain I’ve heard before, elsewhere. A year ago, while on honeymoon in Italy, I booked a guide for a day on the upper reaches of the famed Tiber river. While we cast CDC belly button lint at grayling and brown trout, the guide, Moreno Borriero, a skilled bamboo rod builder, lamented the lack of participation in Italy’s fly fishing scene. It sounded like lawn bowls. The clubs were getting smaller he said. Not enough young people were interested. It was too costly to get into the sport. To me, such a scenario was inconceivable, because despite word of its demise, back home in South Africa, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, there are threats to what we do. There always have been and always will be. In South Africa, an obvious one is that some people want to get rid of trout by classifying it as an alien species. FOSAF* (Federation of South African Flyfishers) does a sterling, largely thankless job of fighting for us on that front. Elsewhere, climate change is impacting on our rivers and dams, our seasons and catch rates. The Cape

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But is fly fishing dying? Hell no. On the contrary, it’s growing new limbs. Earlier this year one of our contributors, Caleb Bjergfelt, went to De Mond (on the coast near Bredasdorp) and at one time counted 18 fly anglers on the water of this tiny estuary. A couple of years ago there might have been one ‘weirdo’ fly angler at best. A few weeks ago a report came back that there were more fly anglers than spin anglers at the Breede River. The Cape streams, despite the drought and the occasional pollution problem from fish farms, are still as busy as ever. The Berg, shopping trolleys and all, is now a preferred destination for trophy carp. Then there’s the Liesbeek, a tributary of the Black River in Cape Town, home to big fussy carp and the odd cable-tied Triad member with a crossbow bolt through his head. I often see fly fishermen there. That’s just in my backyard. Across the provinces and cities of Southern Africa, from the pristine wilderness to run down industria and back again - fly fishing is strong, club membership is on up (the Cape Piscatorial Society has doubled its membership over the last two years) and the Facebook groups, forums and Instagram feeds are more than alive. To put it bluntly, fly fishing is not dying in South Africa, Africa in general or the world at large. It’s just not always in the obvious traditional places. As more and more people wake up to what’s out there beyond the usual species, the possibilities of what you can catch (and the potential missions) expand exponentially. Greedy gurnard? Golf course carp? Giant catfish? Clanwilliam yellows in lost valleys? Lowveld yellows in big game country? Purple or blue labeo? Geelbek at night? Kob and blacktail, grunter and yellowtail? Vundu? Wolf fish? Wolf barbs? Goliath tigers? Santer? Goldfish? Redfin minnows? And hopefully soon, my holy grail – the baardman? Why not? If fly fishing could speak, it would probably quote Mark Twain. “Reports of my death are grossly exaggerated.” *Like trout? If you live in South Africa and want to support the guys who make it possible for you to continue to fly fish for trout, consider a R300 subscription to FOSAF (fosaf.org.za). For less than the price of a case of beers (ok, maybe a six-pack if drinking wanky craft), you will be doing your bit to protect a fishery you care about. The trout thank you.

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DIY permit or die in Oman. Photo: The Perminator Ray Montoya.

EDITOR Tudor Caradoc-Davies ART DIRECTOR Brendan Body CONTACT THE MISSION The Mission Fly Fishing Mag (PTY) Ltd 20 Malleson Rd, Mowbray, 7700, Cape Town, South Africa Info@themissionflymag.com www.themissionflymag.com

EDITOR AT LARGE Conrad Botes COPY EDITORS Ingrid Sinclair Gillian Caradoc-Davies SALES brendan@themissionflymag.com tudor@themissionflymag.com

THE MISSION IS PUBLISHED 6 TIMES A YEAR. THE MISSION WILL WELCOME CONTENT AND PHOTOS. WE WILL REVIEW THE CONTRIBUTION AND ASSESS WHETHER OR NOT IT CAN BE USED AS PRINT OR ONLINE CONTENT. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS MAGAZINE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF THE MAGAZINE OR ITS OWNERS. THE MISSION IS THE COPYRIGHT OF THE MISSION FLY MAG (PTY) LTD. ANY DUPLICATION OF THIS MAGAZINE, FOR MEDIA OR SALE ACTIVITY, WILL RESULT IN LEGAL ACTION AND A STYWE PK.

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CONTRIBUTORS #06 Bruce Williamson, Ray Montoya, Brendan Becker, Nic Isabelle, Eva Faerch, Taba “West” Phiri, Dean Oelschig, Joe Blados, Danie Pienaar PHOTOGRAPHY #06 Matt Jones, Matt Gorlei, Stephan Gian Dombaj, James Topham, Craig Pappin, Abel Vabond, Dean Oelschig, Noah Thompson, Mark Butcher, Mark Murray – Tourette Fishing, Carl McNeil, Scott Haraldson, Joe Blados, Richard White

@THEMISSIONFLYMAG


WISH LIST FISH

THE WOLF FISH I F Y O U G O I N T O T H E J U N G L E T O D AY, Y O U ’ R E I N F O R A B I G S U R P R I S E – O N E T H AT C O M E S W I T H T E E T H , A P A D D L E F O R A TA I L A N D A B A D AT T I T U D E . T H I S S U R P R I S E A L S O L I K E S P O P P E R S ( N O T T H E PA R T Y D R U G , T H O U G H W E W O U L D N ’ T P U T I T PA S T T H E M ) .

What: The wolf fish – scientific name Hoplias aimara, trairao in Portuguese, aymara in Spanish and “Jrrrrfok! What is that?” in Saffer – is a prehistoric-like predator of the rivers and tributaries of the Amazon Basin. Looking like the lovechild of an ill-tempered coelacanth and an armoured moray eel, this toothy ambush artist can reach up to 40 pounds. Be still my beating heart. Where: You will find the wolf fish, being wolfish, across the Amazon Basin. Aggressive predators, they are found in runs, flats, pools, the mouths of jungle creeks and in pocket water – essentially anywhere they can eviscerate smaller fish and critters. How: Tackle up with a 7 to 9-weight rod, both sinking and floating lines, poppers, pole dancers, divers and minnow-style streamers. Who: Your best bet for catching these aggressive fish is the crystalclear waters of the Iriri River in the far reaches of the Kayapo territory in Brazil. It is remote Amazon jungle, but there’s no need to rough it when you can stay at Kendjam Lodge (www.kendjamlodge.com) a premium lodge and guiding service. Contact rodrigo@uangling.com for all the info you need. Little blue ridinghood Meredith McCord teaches the big bad wolf fish a lesson. Photo: Matt Jones / Kendjam Lodge.

“LOOKING LIKE THE LOVECHILD OF AN ILL-TEMPERED COELACANTH AND AN ARMOURED MORAY EEL, THIS TOOTHY AMBUSH ARTIST CAN REACH UP TO 40 POUNDS.” 10

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Distributed by Xplorer Fly fishing - www.xplorerflyfishing.co.za Email: jandi@netactive.co.za or call 031-564-7368 for your closest dealer.


FODDER

BEERS & BEATS THE BEER – 4 FISHING IPAs - With Bruce Williamson We’ve all heard of beer and food pairings, you know … IPA and curry, or stout and roast beef. But which beers go well with fishing? For years I’ve been dragging kegs, beer taps and CO2 bottles on fishing trips and it seems that you can do a pretty good job of setting the mood for that pre-/during-/ post-fishing beer based on the setting and what type of fish you are targeting. We dragged a keg of Devil’s Peak IPA to Kosi Bay for our annual GT expedition a few years back – refreshing, big, bold and hoppy, it’s perfect after 1 000 casts with a 12-weight in 40-degree heat. In fact, there was pretty much a race to the campsite keg tap after each session. Hoppy IPAs go really well with summer fishing.

Here are some of my favourite IPAs that may enhance your day on the water and match the type of fishing you’re doing: Anvil Ale Mjölnir IPA and rainbow trout – Brewed in Dullstroom, it’s a fantastically dry and citrusy IPA with a perfectly balanced malty backbone. This beer goes down really well after a frustratingly technical evening rise on one of the local Dullies dams. Frontier Beer Co Karma Citra and brown trout – Tropical, resinous and citrus aromas, really well dry-hopped. This one will be accompanying me on my next small stream in that wild frontier, Lesotho. Drifter Brewing Company Scallywag IPA and spotted grunter – Subtle floral and tropical notes. This is a great reward after creeping around on the flats stalking grunter. Agar’s Tomahawk IPA and smallmouth yellowfish – A big, bitter, juicy IPA, high in alcohol and big in flavour. Perfect after a long, hot day of Vaal River shuffling for smallmouth yellows.

THE BEATS

THE MISSION PLAYLIST VOL.4 THE “SEARCHIN’ FOR THAT HOLY WATER” MIX BY RAY MONTOYA

LCD SOUND SYSTEM FREAKOUT / STARRY EYES

SYSTEM OF A DOWN CHOP SUEY!

SLAYER SOUTH OF HEAVEN

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BECK UP ALL NIGHT

BAUHAUS SHE’S IN PARTIES

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VOLDBEAT SAD MAN’S TONGUE

TIM DARCY TALL GLASS OF WATER


UNDERCURRENT

THE LOAN O N T H E 2 3 R D O F M AY 2 0 1 4 , O N T H E S A R Y U R I V E R , U T TA R A K H A N D , I N D I A , TWO BEST FRIENDS, BRENDAN BECKER AND NIC ISABELLE, WERE FISHING FOR MAHSEER. SOMEONE BORROWED A ROD. SOMEONE CAUGHT A W O R L D R E C O R D F I S H . W E A S K E D B O T H O F T H E M T O R E C O U N T T H AT D AY. Nic Isabelle: Having fished the not so hot PJ’s pool for the morning and having landed a couple of lively but small fish, my guide and I decided to head down to where Brendan had been fishing to have a chat and a riverside breakfast. Things heat up very quickly in this part of the world so by 9am you start to look for an excuse to escape the heat and to relax in any form of shade. It had been a really slow morning, the slowest of the trip thus far. I told Brendan that I had given up for the morning and was keen to start moving back to camp, to which Brendan replied, “Give me a couple more minutes and we can get on our way.” Brendan Becker: Nic was done for at least the morning session, my guide had given up and was chilling under the tree smoking my cigarettes. But for me, it was all lined up. It was going to happen, I was the last man standing, still casting by faith alone, wanting and willing a big mahseer to inhale my fly. I’d pick up the line, shoot it out to the far bank, make one upstream mend – I had caught most of my fish on one mend – give a long strip, get the line tight, feel the fly vibrate through the swing, anticipate, anticipate, anticipate. It was going to go tight… NI: To pass the time while my friend flogged the water I thought it would be a good idea to take some action photographs of him in his element. ‘What a great cast!’ I thought while playing witness through the viewfinder of my camera as he continued to blast casts across the river. BB: Nic started snapping some pics

of my repetitive madness, throwing long cast after long cast moving down then up the pool. NI: Having admired Brendan’s fishing equipment the whole trip I couldn’t help but ask if I could have a flick with his setup. At that stage, I’d never owned nor used a top of the range rod. The setup was the stuff of wet dreams – a 9-weight G. Loomis GLX Crosscurrent paired with a Wade Albula Reel. BB: “Hey bro, can I try cast that rod? I’ve never cast a G.Loomis before.” These words changed everything, the day, the trip, each of us on that river right then. It might not seem like much, but this was the coming of age in our fly fishing journey together. We had come from scratching together all of our Randelas for two years to get some semi decent tackle together for this trip. Flycastaway had been kind enough to lend me the rod for the trip. I did not hesitate, this was also the first G.Loomis I’d ever cast. I handed it over to Nic and took a step back. NI: Brendan relinquished his rod. I stepped up and made a pretty darn average cast. BB: He looked down the blank, felt the cork between his hands and proceeded to whip out the head of the fly line in the general direction of the opposite bank. NI: I give my crappy cast a chance however and decided to fish it through before attempting another. BB: Not such a great way to christen your first G.Loomis experience. I chirp him, “Come on, there is a full line lying next to you for a reason!” Artwork: Eva Faerch

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and with a tinge of hurt pride he ripped the running line back to recast. NI One upstream mend, two short strips and bang! BB It took one strip, the line tightened up like a new string on a guitar. He was vaaaaaaaaaaaaas! NI Something had picked up the fly and was rushing upstream. BB The fish went straight upstream, not fast but damn powerfully. Before we knew it this thing was backingdeep upstream on an almost full glacial river. Not realising the seriousness of this fish, I remember snapping off some pics. Nic gave the lens a thumbs up and a floppy grin. NI Our guides ventured out of the shade and joined us with comments like “Big fish! Only big fish swim upstream - maybe 30lbs!” Fantastic, but now I was a bit conflicted by the situation. ‘Do I give the rod back to Brendan? I mean it is his turn on the very sought after Junction Beat and this is his rod and he hasn’t caught anything here all morning.’ This was a big fish, hooked on a crap cast. How lucky can a person get? Torn, I offered the rod to him (all the while hoping that he would turn me down). He declined, thank god. BB Fishing is make or break, a very emotionally polarised hobby. Some days, you’re the king of the world, others you’re an emotional two boxes of cigarettes a day train wreck. There is hardly a middle ground big enough to straddle. There are many people out there who can narrate this philosophical aspect and recount how it draws us, “creatures of habit”, back to the water; how it


is our solace that is found on this emotional rollercoaster; or how we are only but small moving parts in the greater mechanism of the environments we fish in. I don’t have time for that. I like reality, but reality like fishing has two sides, and sometimes you find yourself on the kak side of reality. NI The fish started making its way downstream, the guides still muttering things about it being a very large fish, but I was not too stressed at this stage of the fight as I hadn’t seen it and, to be honest, I couldn’t really fathom what was on the end of the line. The fish finally tired out after attempting to wrap me on the unseen structures below the water’s surface. It rolled in the large back eddy and it is at this point that we all realised the size of the fish that I was about to catch. I got a little excitable, barking out orders like “QUICKLY! Quickly get hold of that fish!” and “Careful! I’ve only got 16lb tippet!!” BB: “It’s a world record mahseer,” was the hushed verdict from the head guide. Shit just got serious. The fish was close now, Nic was sweating, it kept on boiling close to us and from the size of the boils we could see it was massive. The time came, Bobby (head guide at The Himalayan Outback) landed the fish and it was truly gargantuan, the biggest fish I’ve ever seen in fresh water. That’s when the first pang went through my heart, “It’s not mine”. Nic was stunned, everybody was stunned. I don’t think I’ve ever

taken that many pictures of one fish in my entire life. NI: Well, when Bobby had the fish secured, I was euphoric, basically a floating ball of happiness and disbelief. Words were zinging around like “new world record” and “biggest mahseer ever caught on fly”. I’d compare it to going SARS to pay a fine only to walk out of their offices a couple of hundred thousand rand richer. What an amazing experience!

BB: Of course I was happy for him, and that’s genuine, but it was a part of the wasteland of emotions I had just ended up in. It’s like those movie scenes when the main character’s mind cracks, taking him into a vision and he walks among the ashes, a dead tree somewhere in the background. I think I only realised the poignancy of these scenes after this experience.

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The reality? I found myself watching my fishing partner and best mate slam a world record golden mahseer on the rod that had been in my hand all day in the pool I had been fishing the entire day. It’s a weird feeling to describe. It took a few minutes to truly sink in. I was angry, sad, disappointed, hurt, happy, ecstatic and every other emotion there is. They say hindsight is the greatest teacher, and looking back now, I know I could only feel the negatives for a little while. I couldn’t stay in that dark place. I had to get up and be happy for my friend, my pride meant nothing there, this was his moment, and this was his reality, not mine. NI So, I’m that guy that borrows his fishing buddy’s rod for one cast and catches a world record fish. Moral of the story, if you’re going to let your friends test your gear, let them do it on the lawn, not in a crazy place like the Saryu River. That or be a super good dude like Brendan Becker and be chilled with whatever happens. BB If there is a lesson that’s been learnt, almost entirely subliminally, it’s that sometimes you are just not supposed to catch that fish. I maintain that most of the life lessons I’ve learnt have come from the water, whether overt or subtle and this day was the greatest lesson of the kak side of reality. It definitely changed me as a person, changed the way I look at things and helped me realise that, sometimes, the only thing you have to “get over” is yourself. My pool. My rod. Nic’s world record.

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GUIDES

HIGH 5S A R A P I D - F I R E C AT C H U P W I T H T H E O R A N G E R I V E R O G , TA B A “ W E S T ” P H I R I O F K A L A H A R I O U T V E N T U R E S , W H O M Y O U ’ L L U S U A L LY F I N D G U I D I N G C L I E N T S I N T O MASSIVE FISH IN THE PRISTINE KALAHARI LARGEMOUTH Y E L L O W F I S H C O N S E R VA N C Y I N T H E N O R T H E R N C A P E . Photos: Matt Gorlei

5 best things about guiding on the Orange River? 1) The river is pristine and untouched. 2) Pure wilderness, wild and untamed. 3) Being able to sleep under the stars and not get eaten. [Ed: Always a bonus.] 4) Fun and exciting rapids. 5) Insane fishing. 5 of the most difficult guiding experiences so far? 1) Showing clients a top-class spot that always works, they try it and don’t catch anything. You then go and have one cast in the spot and catch fish exactly where they fished for two hours. The guide’s curse... 2) Environmental difficulties, like strong headwinds and thunderstorms. 3) Trying to explain to clients that they don’t need so much stuff, and getting them to pack less. 4) Vehicle breakdowns in the middle of the desert in the middle of nowhere, trying to keep spirits high and make sure people still make their flights home. 5) Equipment and boat failure on a trip. Sometimes you have to make a plan to fix stuff with nothing, like on the last Largie trip: we broke the transom mount and had to do plastic welding by heating the wire

in the campfire and then remoulding the plastic housings and bypassing broken trolling motor switches so that our clients still had a working motor. 5 fishing items you don’t leave home without before making a mission? 1) Water 2) Sunblock 3) Fly box 4) Snacks 5) Boat 5 bands to listen to while on a road trip? 1) Lucky Dube 2) Black Coffee 3) Claude Kelly 4) DJ Fresh 5) NaakMusiQ 5 common mistakes that most clients make? 1) They don’t listen to their guides. 2) They bring too much shit with them. 3) They buy the most expensive stuff but it doesn’t catch them more fish. 4) They have a big party on the first night and then suffer for two days with a hangover. 5) They bring more beer than water.

5 indispensable flies for freshwater? 1) Olive Nosediver 2) Black Magic 3) Brown Caddis 4) Green Copperjohn 5) Woolly Bugger 5 shower thoughts that have occurred to you while fly fishing? 1) What else lives in the river besides the stuff that we know, like the river snake that all the locals talk about. Is it really here or not? 2) What would happen to my fly rod and what would I do if I hooked a Cape clawless otter? 3) What would happen if I was taking a boskak*, and turned around to see a leopard staring at me? 4) What would happen if I woke up in the morning at camp and one of the clients was not breathing? 5) What would life be like if I lived on an island on the river here for the rest of my life? 5 favourite fly fishing destinations across SA? 1) Lower Orange River for yellows 2) Pongola River for tigers 3) Lesotho Highlands for trout 4) Transkei estuaries 5) Kosi Bay

“BEST THING ABOUT GUIDING ON THE ORANGE RIVER? BEING ABLE TO SLEEP UNDER THE STARS AND NOT GET EATEN.” 16

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A moment too late, it dawned on West that he had just dunked his rusk in a leftover brandy and coke from the night before.

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5 bucket list fly fishing destinations? 1) Gabon 2) British Columbia 3) Nepal 4) Chile 5) India 5 fish on your species hit list? 1) Tarpon 2) Tigerfish 3) Trout 4) GTs 5) Roosterfish 5 things you would take up if you weren’t always fly fishing? 1) Whitewater rafting guide 2) Game ranger 3) Chef 4) Taxi owner 5) Underwater fireman 5 flies that to look at make no sense but that catch fish all the time? 1) Sculpin Head Zonker

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2) Anything with bright orange hotspots 3) Green Caddis with copper wrapping 4) Velcro crab patterns 5) Chernobyl Ant 5 things about fly fishing that you may never understand? 1) Why doesn’t everybody fly fish? 2) Why people buy the most expensive gear but it doesn’t help them catch more fish. It makes no sense! 3) Doing a thousand casts without catching any fish, and then doing it all over again. 4) Why fish always rise at the same time. One fish rises and then they all rise. 5) Why you always hook the trees or reeds when a fish is swimming right in front of you. 5 things you are loving right now? 1) Heineken 2) First Ascent quick-drying top 3) Long Walk to Freedom book

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4) African Veins paddling book 5) Venturing out into the wilderness and camping without a tent. 5 flies to pack (in the smuggler kit under your driver’s seat) to cover most species? 1) Woolly Bugger 2) Olive Nosediver 3) Black Magic 4) Crazy Charlie 5) GRHE nymph 5 people you would like to guide or fish with? 1) Garth Wellman 2) John Travis 3) Craig Eksteen 4) Keith Clover 5) Alex Mcleod Your last five casts were to…. Golden largemouth yellowfish Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat… * Afrikaans for pooping al fresco.


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SPECIES

ENTER SANDMAN GRUNTER ON THE SAND

TA R G E T I N G S P O T T E D G R U N T E R W I T H A D E E R H A I R P R A W N , C A N L E AV E Y O U F E E L I N G B O T H G U I LT Y A N D UNFULFILLED. FOR CONRAD BOTES, THE SOLUTION LIES IN A RETURN TO HIS ROOTS AS A SAND-BASED J A M F LY G R U N T E R H U N T E R . Photos: Conrad Botes

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ike permit, spotted grunter are considered by many salty sight fishing fanatics to be a fish of a thousand cast. For the longest time this fish was considered one of the most difficult species to catch on fly. “Was.” Back in the day the only way to get one on fly was to spend seasons on the water, making very accurate and quick casts to tailing fish on the mud or sand flats. Not many people even bothered to fly fish for them, simply because they were such finicky eaters and basically too difficult to catch. Even fewer fly anglers regularly caught them. Hell, some dudes spent seasons chasing them and never actually pinned one. In those days, if you could count on one hand the number of grunter caught on fly, you had to be a decent fly-fisherman. Then one bright and breezy spring day on my home waters, fishing with friends, Stephen and Mike, all that changed. Like a Harley-Davidson backfiring, the rather dubious looking deer hair prawn arrived on our local saltwater scene with a loud bang. I had heard about the effectiveness of this fly, but my friends and I ignored it. We continued to fish for grunter the “proper” way, by sight casting to tailing and cruising fish with JAM flies. We were not going to stoop so low as to engage in heathen tactics. We even gave it the nickname ‘Turdburger’ as a sign of our disapproval, a name that unfortunately stuck. I watched smugly as Stephen tied one on to his leader in the first session of the weekend. The smirk soon disappeared from my face as he caught his first ever grunter on that fly. A hog of a fish close to 70cm. He had two ‘turds’ on him, and we were three anglers. Mike quickly abandoned his delusions of grandeur and asked Stephen if he could borrow the other turd. I watched in utter disbelief as the two of them made pigs of themselves catching several grunter every session over the course of the next two days. By the end of the weekend I was a changed man. As difficult as it was to accept it, the truth stared me in the face. Spotted grunter, those cautious and clever, cunning and wily ghosts who would spook and haul ass like a bat out of hell at a badly presented jam fly on the sand flats had changed. They had performed a 360 about face and turned into reckless competitive eaters that would slurp a dodgy looking Turdburger off the surface with the enthusiasm of a Jack Russel on speed.

I went home and tied three boxes full of turd flies, an entire sewer system’s worth. The rest is history. Everyone catches grunter on fly nowadays. You can buy the deer hair prawns in most shops if you don’t tie your own. “I’ll have ten Pappa Roaches and five Turdburgers please,” I overheard a customer say in a Jo’burg fly shop the other day. There’s really nothing to it. Find tailing fish, punch out some blind casts and catch grunter. I have taken people fly fishing for grunter who have never tried before, and they have walked away with three fish on their first outing. No blanking. Minimal sweat, tears and frustration. It felt wrong, unfair. Earlier this season I had a revelation of sorts. For lack of a better analogy, it would appear that, for me, turd mania has suddenly dried up. I think it happened on my fourth early season outing on my home waters. I was itching to pin a grunter. We’ve been doing a lot of fishing, but not a lot of catching. In fact, I was still on a mombakkie* for the season. On previous trips we’d all seen the grunter on the mudflats, but they were either cold and retarded or stuck with their snouts in the mud blowing prawns. They showed zero interest in floating turd flies. This trip appeared to be no different. The fish were there, tailing even, yet none of us could buy a fish. I was at my wits end. ENTER SANDMAN. A bunch of us were sitting on the stoep after the daybreak session, drinking coffee and horsing around. One member of our party was not present. We could see MC Coetzer in the distance as he waded the vast sand flat in front of the house. I couldn’t understand how he could go for the sand if even the grunter on the mud weren’t being co-operative. My thinking was to get into the swing of things with easy grunter on the mud, and then go for the higher-grade stuff on the sand. “Is he even casting?” I asked as we watched him. Suddenly we saw him lift the rod and go tight. He cleared the line and got the fish on the reel. As he was fighting the grunter, there was a mad scramble for rods as guys jumped into waders. MC landed his fish without ceremony and released it without taking a picture. Sporting a victorious smile, he told me that it was in fact the second fish of the morning. While the rest of the guys tried to equal

“AT THE RISK OF SOUNDING LIKE A LIFE COACH; LIKE DATING, PUBLIC SPEAKING AND ANY OTHER ENDEAVOUR THAT INDUCES NERVES IN PEOPLE, THE KEY TO TARGETING GRUNTER ON FLY IS CONFIDENCE.” 22

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his feat, I took some time to watch MC. It was a patience game, and I could see that each of his casts was executed with determination. He’d spot a fish, watch it for a while, determine where it was going and how it was behaving. Then he’d make a cast he knew would not spook the grunter and let the fish swim on to the JAM fly. His body language changed, so I knew the fish had to be following. Keeping tension on the line was crucial. And then, the line hand shot back setting the hook, as he lifted the rod into the fish. Fish number three. Thank you very much. After that weekend, during which MC managed three more grunter on the second day, I realised that, with the rise of the Turdburger, something had disappeared from grunter fishing for me. Look, I’ll be the first one to tie on a deer hair prawn if I know I’m going to be catching. But the sight fishing component that used to distinguish this facet of saltwater fly-fishing from the rest had faded away. I realised that I actually missed sight fishing for grunter over sand a great deal. The distant memory of my good friend, Jannie Visser, and me catching difficult grunter in the brief window when high tide allows the fish access to a certain flat, became a renewed goal. I have realised that it’s not about numbers but approach and that I much prefer catching three grunter on the sand on a JAM fly, than 30 grunter over mud on a deer hair prawn. With so many advances making things easier and more effective, I have made it my goal to spend more time practising this type of fly-fishing. If you’re someone who enjoys a challenge, do yourself a favour this season and spend a couple of days chasing these difficult but incredibly rewarding fish on a sand flat. I was lucky enough to learn from the best. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned from MC Coetzer and Jannie Visser:

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• Grunter on the sand is about patience. Don’t be in a hurry to get your fly in front of a fish. Take your time and make your cast count. Throwing a Hail Mary bomb in the general direction of a fish will get you nowhere and will, most probably, spook the fish and all of its mates. • Don’t run around on the flat looking for and spooking fish. Wait for fish to come to you. • Make sure you can determine in which direction the fish is moving and where it’s head is before presenting your fly. There’s no use presenting your fly to the grunter’s arse. • Take your time to determine your drift. Figure out how the current will be carrying your fly and leader and only present to fish that you can drift your fly to in a natural way. If your fly comes in swinging like a wrecking ball, that grunter will spook and haul arse off the flat. • Don’t throw your fly slap bang on a cruising grunter’s head. That’s a guaranteed spooked fish. It’s a different story if it’s tailing and flapping and flailing about. In this scenario you can drop it on its head. • Keep contact with your fly. A grunter can suck and spit a fly quicker than you can say snotkol.** At the risk of sounding like a life coach; like dating, public speaking and any other endeavour that induces nerves in people, the key to targeting grunter on fly is confidence. That or naïve optimism. You’ve got to believe that you are going to catch that grunter. You’ve got to imagine it eating the fly even before you’ve presented it. And, even if you blank again and again and again, each time you go home smarter and a little bit better equipped to get that grunter next time. The way you really want it. Sight-fished. On sand. With a JAM fly. * Face mask. If you catch nothing you wear a face mask in shame so no one can recognize you. ** Snot stain.

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THE FINAL FRONTIER DISCOVER GABON AND CONGO WITH WEST AFRICAN SPECIALIST ARNO MATTHEE OF THE GUIDE’S COMPANY There are few places on the planet that can still be classified as truly wild, but the vast expanses of estuarine systems, inland rivers and coastal edges found both in Gabon and Congo definitely qualify. And with the wild, remote nature of these places, come big fish. With The Guide’s Company you can fish for 200lb tarpon off our 6,2m long flats skiffs with trolling motors, while elephants eyeball you in the shallows. But it’s not just about tarpon. With a whole host of unique species from Caranx Hippos (Jack Crevalle) and Caranx Senegalllus (Senagelese Jack) to Giant African Threadfin, Cubera Snapper, Jaw Croaker, Ladyfish, mammoth Guinean Barracuda and many other species, a fly fishing trip to this part of the world is, quite literally, the adventure of a lifetime. For more information, rates and bookings, visit www.theguidescompany.co.za or email arnomatthee@gmail.com


PROFILE

STEPHAN GIAN DOMBAJ T H E P O R N S TA R

F R O M C AV E A R T O F W O O L LY M A M M O T H S T O H E R O S H O T S O F T R O P H Y F I S H , W E F E E D O F F V I S U A L S T O R Y - T E L L I N G . W I T H O U T I N S TA G R A M A N D T H E R O C K S TA R P O S E S , T H E T R O P H Y F I S H A N D T H E M I C H A E L M A N N M O N TA G E S T H AT S E L L D E S T I N AT I O N S , G E A R A N D D R E A M S , T O D AY ’ S F LY F I S H I N G W O R L D W O U L D B E A M U C H Q U I E T E R P L A C E . D I C TAT E D T O B Y G E O G R A P H Y A N D H I S T O R Y, E V E R Y O N E W O U L D K E E P I N T H E I R L A N E … B U T N O T F LY F I S H I N G N AT I O N ’ S G L O B E - H O P P I N G S T E P H A N G I A N D O M B A J . W H E N I T C O M E S T O L A N E S , T H I N K O F H I M A S A TA L E N T E D P R I C A S S O , B O O Z E D , I N A R A L LY C A R , A R M E D W I T H A L O U D H A I L E R . T H E M I S S I O N M E T H I M .

“Look for Stephan from Fly Fishing Nation. You can’t miss him. Tall, dorky, Eighties pornstar-looking German.” Dre (Andre van Wyk of Feathers and Fluoro) perhaps overestimated my ability to identify different generations of German porn stars, but he was right, you can’t miss Stephan Dombaj. I was at iCast in Florida, USA,earlier this year trying to dredge up some “global” advertising spend for the mag and Dre, concerned about my ability to make friends and influence people was trying to hook me up with someone to talk to about fishing and to drink with. Which, in a nutshell, is what iCast is. I found Stephan. He stood out. How does one stick out in a crowd of tribal, uniform-wearing fly fishing people (the uniform being raccoon sunglasses, tans, peak caps and bush/boat casual attire that says, “I’m

just as comfortable poling a skiff as I am ordering the rib-eye with Café de Paris butter”)? You dress your six foot five inch frame like an Eighties porn star. In the crowd of fly fishing store owners, buyers, retailers, industry players, guides and ‘celebs’, Dombaj stood out because instead of looking like he was about to spend a week on the water, he looked more likely to spend a week on a rotating water bed with company. Could he have been a pornstar? No idea, but he definitely could have been a gunslinger of a different sort. Dombaj should have been born in another century, in another country, with a different accent, a different kind of shooter, but with the same moustache and quick eyes. On account of his lanky build, I imagine he’d have a name like Minnesota Slim, Slick Stevie or Deputy Dombaj. He’d have gone there (Where? Anywhere!)

By Tudor Caradoc-Davies Photos: Stephan Gian Dombaj archive

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and returned to show and tell the tale. When challenged and called a liar, even back then, in the Old West, he’d have the grainy black and white photos of salmon and permit to back it up. But he wasn’t born a gunslinger in the Old West. Dombaj is a 29-year-old German fly fishing photographer of Croatian descent living and operating in this time and place. He’s the driving force behind the social media behemoth Fly Fishing Nation. From guiding full time, he transitioned into photography and now, shooting for major international brands, Dombaj produces impeccable #fishporn that your average weekend warrior would spend a lifetime trying to capture. I’m sure you’ve seen his pics. His shooting style is Annie Leibovitz in the boardroom, but Terry Richardson in his heart of hearts. Bouncing between Cologne


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(FFN HQ) and London (where there’s a lot of business), Dombaj spoke to The Mission about photography, the similarities between surfing and fly fishing, the problems with #fishporn and what many brands just do not get.

have matured a little, I know I never want to end up like a lot of these old guys. It’s all about supporting the next generation. Otherwise fly fishing is going to die out. I think offering young guys the chance to try fly fishing is important.

On fly shops Bigger companies are taking over and smaller fly shops worldwide (who do it for the love of it), are disappearing, so this place (Fly Fishing Nation’s HQ in Cologne, Germany) is much more than a temple of enthusiasm. You can order everything online these days, prices are all the same, but what they get here is the overly hot coffee, company and advice because whatever they need we’ve got it. Especially in Europe, we know our backyard. And if there’s stuff we don’t know we have the network to ask the right people. It’s the transfer of knowledge that’s important. Fly shops are still a great solution.

On hero shots My background is guiding so you grow up with hero shots because they’re the only things that a prospective client is expecting to take away from a place. Naturally, we got really good at it. All the guys from FFN were professionally involved in the industry as guides, camp managers or scouts. Hero shots get the job done. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cool thing and I like to get a hero shot of a proper fish that I would like to remember, but that is the service you provide as a guide for your clients. They catch a nice fish; you take a shot; everything is perfect; they release the fish; they go back home and they have that memory in print or digital form. It took six or seven years in Argentina working as a guide to understand that everything that surrounds the hero shot is actually adding to the whole experience. It’s the way these guys cook their BBQ, it’s the way they share the mate, it’s the way the gauchos drive the sheep across the property. It’s the way your rod guides are frozen in the morning. It’s not all about the fish. The one dimensional approach of hero shots skew the bigger picture. There should be more story-telling pictures around the hero shots because hero shots are just a tiny fragment of the whole.

On inter-generational hostility and generosity In Germany when I wanted to get into fly fishing age 13, it was really tough for me to get access. The old guys, the established fly fishermen, would not take on a little boy who wanted to learn how to cast a fly rod. I had to learn casting by reading books and just watching the first videos on social media. In the beginning those people hated us, the young guys, kicking up some mud. Later these old guys would hang out with us, but we had to prove ourselves. Thinking about it now, it was a great thing that we ran into a wall. We didn’t know how the industry worked from the inside out so we made a lot of mistakes. We burnt some bridges, that’s for sure, but what we were, most of all, was progressive and different. Sometimes a little bit too aggressive and maybe a bit too young and stupid but I guess that’s part of it. Now that we

On our obsession with size and numbers For some people it’s all about numbers and all about size. Part of the problem is that we talk about fish in weights and lengths and that makes it incredibly competitive. But numbers don’t really capture the experience

“THE ONE DIMENSIONAL APPROACH OF HERO SHOTS SKEW THE BIGGER PICTURE. HERO SHOTS ARE JUST A TINY FRAGMENT OF THE WHOLE.” 30

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Rickard Sjรถberg. Photo: Stephan Gian Dombaj W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M

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or the struggle. So for most people this turns into a measurable grid. “Today I got a 97cm”, and that’s it. It doesn’t tell you the story. How did you get there? Did you have to figure something out? As a guide I did this too. You want to create those numbers, get the biggest fish of the week. As my private self, I couldn’t care less. On who you think you are I’m half Croatian, half German so I’m that “I’m going to steal your tire guy,” but on the same page I’m also that “I’m going to keep count of how many of your tires I’ve stolen over the years,” guy. So two souls live within and in one way or another I’m a contradiction. The single most striking thing I learnt from travelling is the answer to the question, “What do you actually do?” If you go out in Germany and ask a random person on the street that question, they will tell you what they do for a living. People are defined by their jobs here, same thing in the UK and many other countries. They don’t tell you what they actually do. I met people in Argentina, South Africa and Australia who, when asked, would say, “I like to surf, I like to fish, oh and I work in a bank” or something. The first thing they did was tell me what they were really about. It’s a completely different mindset. I really liked the idea. South Africans are like that, part of this greater party where the job is an aside. What they really like to do is what they will tell you first because it’s a deliberate decision. You can’t decide whether you want to be a surfer or a fly fisher, it’s something that you love and you just do it. The other thing is just a necessity. The way that is communicated makes such a difference to me. A lot of European and industrialised nations can learn from that.

On storytelling I really enjoy background photography. If you look at skateboarding and surf photography, you see the money shot in surfing is something crazy like a big-ass tube, maybe even a split shot or something like that. Then there’s everything around it like waxing your board, getting ready in the morning, paddling out, waiting for a set. If you put me on a surfboard I would kill myself in a minute, but what I like about surfing is the whole community thing around it. It’s the same thing in fishing. Good photographers can tell a story and they can tell a story that is absolutely not based on fish because it’s a lifestyle thing. You have fish photographers and that’s the only thing that they do. As soon as they add another little thing, another background, they add another angle to fly fishing. On his heroes There are a lot of photographers that I like, many of them have nothing to do with fishing. Tim Pask and Yngve Ask from Scan Out were the photographers who really brought me into the underwater shots and split shots in 2006. They were among the first to do proper digital art with split shots and the reason I bought an underwater housing. Then there was a German, Daniel Goz, the guy behind Tapam, and he started doing the same thing and I thought it was awesome. Because I was guiding and getting around with Solid Adventures, I could take all these split shots with every single game species all over the planet. Technically, a proper split shot, especially when it’s not a really focused shot, is a difficult thing to do because you lose a lot of light underwater and everything needs to align perfectly. You want that perfect frame with that fish right

there in the perfect position and you want the guy in the background to act naturally. It takes a lot of time. On natural light and homemade movies I understand why National Geographic photographers sometimes spend half a year on location for that single shot. It’s all about natural light. Something that is unaltered. Everything is really, really artificial these days. You see the trend everywhere. This is a strange analogy, but just like in porn you just get over that silicone American porn at some stage and you start watching homemade porn because it’s more authentic - it’s the same with photography and that’s what the industry is lacking. Not every day is a bright day with perfect light, bright smiles and big fish. The reality of fishing, most of the time, is the very opposite and I think that big parts of the industry, especially magazines, forget to tell the story. Salmon is a good example. Everybody expects us to go to Norway or Russia and capture blue skies, big smiles and big silver fish but the reality is often shitty. It’s rainy and terrible and cold and you’re without a fish and you’re still going. Every single cup of coffee feels like a sip from the Holy Grail. Ultimately, when you catch that fish it’s just pure redemption and relief. As soon as it unfolds in a natural way and you get that golden light like in Argentina, you capture these dramatic shadows and that’s fabulous. It’s the same thing in salt water, when the sky opens up and there is this ray of light. Everything comes together, it’s a natural thing. I’d like to see more of that. On formulas and failure If you read fishing magazines, the stories are like this: “Ja, after a

“THE STRUGGLE IN BETWEEN MAKES IT WORTH PURSUING SOMETHING. IT’S HUMAN AND ABSOLUTELY MORE OBTAINABLE. I WOULDN’T GO FISHING WITH SOMEONE WHO CATCHES ALL THE TIME.” W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M

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couple of casts I hooked the fish of my lifetime but then lost it, struggled all week but on the very last day, very last cast, I managed to redeem myself with a fish.” This is the template for fishing stories in most magazines worldwide and it’s just fucking boring. If the story, whether it is image based or just in text form, gives me more than just being happy for another dude holding a fish, it’s already a winner. I couldn’t care less if Mr X caught a ginormous fish. I mean good for him, really. But if the author or the artist behind him tells the story in a way where I feel like okay, I understand this, I get the vibes, the struggle, the whole thing and then the actual hero shot is just a small part of it, it just rounds the story up. If you are always out there and you always catch big fish, where’s the fun? The struggle in between makes it worth pursuing something. It’s human and absolutely more obtainable. I wouldn’t go fishing with someone who catches all the time. It would be terrifying.

On the importance of the journey Most of the destination guys don’t see anything but the lodge or the boat. That’s their only experience of being in another country. I don’t believe in that. I’ve fished Cuba very frequently over the last seven, eight years and you need a couple of days in Havana to get back into the pace of life. Eat that, go drinking there, just take a bunch of friends and travel all the way down to the fishing destination and there you go. It’s not super serious. There were times when I really pushed it, every single minute of the day. I’ll still be that guy, but if the fishing is not exceptional, just like fishing often is, we can still enjoy our time there. That memory lasts longer. A lot of people don’t get that. If I only had two weeks of fishing every year and I brought the frustration of my job and all that pressure into fishing I would hate it. I wouldn’t do it. Most of these crazy places, it’s all about high achievers and their jobs, but deep within they are kids and they just want to fish.

“PART OF THE PROBLEM IS THAT WE TALK ABOUT FISH IN WEIGHTS AND LENGTHS AND THAT MAKES IT INCREDIBLY COMPETITIVE. BUT NUMBERS DON’T REALLY CAPTURE THE EXPERIENCE OR THE STRUGGLE.” 38

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Two mustaches met on the flats. There was only one winner. W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M

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LOWVELD YELLOWS

TWO BOYS AND THE OTHER YELLOW F O R J A M E S T O P H A M A N D H I S B U D D Y C R A I G PA P P I N , C AT C H I N G B U S H V E L D S M A L L S C A L E Y E L L O W S WA S A L I F E L O N G Q U E S T. By James Topham Photos: Abel Vabond, Craig Pappin, James Topham

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I

f you were rafting down the Sabie River in the Lowveld circa 1997, you would have seen two naked boys diving in and out of the white waters of a rapid the tour guides called “Devil’s Knuckles”. That was my mate Craig and I, and we were probably doing one of several things: 1: Shooting the rapid and seeing how long the current would keep us underwater. Rafters – in their helmets and life jackets – were sissies, and the enemy. 2: Snorkelling with improvised spear guns to try catch one of the nearly impossible but monstrous smallscale yellowfish. 3: Perching in an overhanging fork in a Matumi tree, attempting t take a well-aimed poo onto your inflatable raft. 4: Blowing up tree stumps with quarry-grade explosives we bought from a shifty-eyed, crazy store owner. We’d have to ask, “Do you have the Maharaja?” and he’d reach behind the counter and produce the contraband. We’re a little more grown up now and so I will dwell a little more on point #2, but if you catch us having a beer we’ll happily elaborate on the others. We spent many hundreds of hours in that river. There wouldn’t even be a discussion about weekend plans. We swam it when it was cold, we shot the rapids when it was in flood, we even went down and snorkelled the weekend after the farmer’s dog was taken by a croc. I can’t remember how we justified that one. Stupid dog? Small croc? Either way it didn’t deter us from spending every waking hour in the water. And all that time the big yellows swam around us, for the most part un-harassed. Craig and I were using spear guns as a last resort, and you’ll be happy to know that they weren’t made well enough to snag any of the fast yellows that darted past our masks. We did get a redeyed labeo though. I remember looking at the lifeless limp

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fish and not knowing what to do with it. Craig and I have never killed another native fish. We knew very little about yellows. All we knew was that they were damn hard to catch. We’d tried worms, crickets, spinners, mielies, dough, bread and even small tree frogs once – but putting them on the hook put us off that very quickly. The only person we knew who was good at catching them was an old Shangaan farm labourer who wandered the river with a mielie meal bag, a net strung

I NOW HAD VAST FLY FISHING EXPERIENCE, MY AVID FISHING BUDDY, THE SABIE VALLEY AND A BUSH PUB FIVE MINUTES FROM THE FARM GATE. THE BUSHVELD SMALLSCALE YELLOWFISH, AFTER YEARS OF LIVING IN PEACE, WERE IN DEEP SHIT. around a circular hoop of 8-gauge fencing wire, a long reed and a Lucky Star tin of worms. We didn’t know his real name, so we called him Richie Tin Fish and we’d watch him throw his wire hoop in the river and haul out yellows until his mielie meal sack was a quarter full. It’s a fond memory, but I’m glad that the days of netting those fish are over. And so with Richie Tin Fish netting the river we knew that the yellows were uncatchable. The game was up. We turned our focus to the farmers’ daughters. Craig, being a few months older, was far more successful. At about the time Craig and I were comparing pubes and talking with wobbly

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voices we got fly rods for our birthdays. We fished for trout (because fly rods were for trout, you know, that’s why they called them trout rods). We tried once or twice in the Sabie but the yellows don’t like a Mrs Simpson fished downstream. Sometime during the big floods we went to different boarding schools and although we saw each other over the school holidays and continued fishing together, trout and bass and farmers’ daughters had taken over and the yellows were left alone. Then parties and getting drunk were more important. And then there was Matric. And then the wide world and big cities and varsity and marijuana and paying rent and waitering and paying off student loans and even the farm girls got replaced by city girls who demanded far more attention and yet more money and more waitering and delivering pizzas and less time on the farm and then real jobs and no time on the farm. And all the while the yellows swam in the fast water and deep pools of the Sabie. Richie Tin Fish retired to his house in Bushbuckridge and harassed the yellows in the Ntishi River while his wife swept the dirt yard and tended to their lone mango tree. I became a guide and fished all over the country and in exotic, remote places all over the world. I even fished for yellows in other rivers and lakes. When I was back home, Craig and I would fish together in the Cape where we had been based after school. But we still talked about the yellows in the Sabie and I still thought they were impossible. I knew that people were catching them in other rivers. The Crocodile, the Incomati, the Blyde, the Elands – but not in the Sabie. Sabie River yellows were far far too clever. I knew of Horst Filter and I knew it should be possible, but I had snorkelled with my friend in the river and I had seen them sucking on


Re-enacting Lion King moments is a thing in the Lowveld. Craig Pappin demonstrates the technique. W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M

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the rocks and I just had this feeling that our fish were a million light years away from any other yellow. And then the universe brought me back home, and it made sure my mate was there with me. Craig’s dad needed his horticulturalist son to come home and start a macadamia tree nursery. And I was now guiding 10 months a year, fished myself single again and had no need to live in the city, so I moved back to the farm. I now had vast fly fishing experience, my avid fishing buddy, the Sabie valley and a bush pub five minutes from the farm gate. The Bushveld smalls-

cale yellowfish, after years of living in peace, were in deep shit. I think interest in working out the Sabie River yellowfish was re-sparked at the bush pub. Craig’s nursery manager, Abel, had been having success catching the fish on tiny crank baits. He showed us some photos of his fish. They were very very large. We drank another beer, talked about fishing, drank another, decided the Sabie was worth revisiting, and then drank several more. So much for it being a school night. We began fishing our usual spots, the ones we’d fished in as kids. The

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heads of deep pools below fast rapids on nice open stretches of water. Our fly selection was standard Vaal River fair, small nymphs and indicators. The river was low and crystal clear, and we caught fish. But they were the small aggressive smallscales we were already used to, and far from the fat fleshy brutes we knew lurked in the river.

were there. Craig cast into the pool for another hour – the time it took me to pluck up the courage to let him know he’d spooked the pool 75 casts ago.

And then we revisited an old pool below a bridge that we hadn’t fished for many years. As we drove over the bridge we looked down into the deep pool, and just on the edge of the sandbank at its tail we saw what

However, something had changed. Suddenly the Sabie River smallscale felt achievable. I had seen them cruising the shallows like a Sterkfontein smallmouth. I had seen their gills flaring as they inhaled something tiny. Sure they were spooky, but what big fish in crystal clear water isn’t? I began preparing my tackle. I cleaned my fly line, I tested my knots. I tied #18 tungsten nymphs. Rambo montages

looked like a school of specimen carp – but there are no carp in the lower Sabie River. They cruised slowly over the shallows, dropping into a deep hole. There they seemed to forage for a few seconds, and then rise up onto the sandbank again. We watched them feed in this pattern for quite some time, unphased by our shadows cast from the bridge. Craig walked down to the pool and cast to the fish while I remained on the bridge to spot for him. His cast landed amongst the fish and I saw several of them shudder and scatter from the hole. They had spooked but continued their routine, giving Craig’s nymphs a wide birth. They knew we

ran through my mind – but I couldn’t find a red bandanna to tie around my head. The next morning, I had to wait for the sun to get high enough to spot the fish and by 10 o’clock I couldn’t contain myself any longer. It was a Monday and Craig was at work, but his nursery is directly opposite the farm access to the bridge pool, so I knew he’d be there if I needed him. In fact, I knew I could convince him to take an extended lunch break and fish with me, but this is a onerod pool, and he’d had his chance. It would be quite nice to focus on my own fishing after months of guiding. At least, these were my justifications for not having my friend with me.

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By the time I’d arrived at the bridge pool I knew I was going to catch a fish. It was a fisherman’s epiphany – it wasn’t a case of “I’m going to go down to the river to try my luck,” it was quite simply “I’m going to hook a fish now, I just hope I don’t cock this up.” And so that became my focus – ruining the opportunity. I carefully got into position, stripped just enough line off the reel to reach the drop of the sandbank into the hole, and tested the length with a cast to the side. Then the moment came. I picked up the line, back cast under the bridge, and dropped the nymphs ever so gently without a false cast into the depression that lay downstream of me.

The nymphs sank, touched the sand on the bottom of the hole and, impossibly slowly, began to drag back towards me with the eddy’s current. A fish dropped off the shallows shelf and into the hole where my nymphs lay, but instead of cruising past it stopped dead. I kept my eyes on the fish and ignored my small indicator, and sure enough I saw its gills flare for a microsecond, and I struck. The proverbial excretia hit the fan. The strike didn’t move the fish for a split moment. The rod took the full shock of the strike in one big bend. The fish just sat there. Solid. Unmoving. And then it went. I have been

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I BEGAN PREPARING MY TACKLE. I CLEANED MY FLY LINE, I TESTED MY KNOTS. I TIED #18 TUNGSTEN NYMPHS. RAMBO MONTAGES RAN THROUGH MY MIND.

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lucky enough to catch some of the world’s premier bonefish, and the yellow fought precisely the same. In one straight run downriver it damn near emptied my Shilton CR3 before rolling around in the shallows at the head of the next rapids. I reeled hard as it came back towards me and straight into the mother of all evils – a dead tree’s root ball. I still had backing out, and the fish had no doubt entangled himself deep in the most godforsaken gnarl of twigs and sticks imaginable. My line was tight, but I dropped my fighting arm to my side, pointing the rod tip to the motherless tree roots. I felt I had lost it already, but I couldn’t bear yanking the line and snapping it off. I could call Craig, but then he’d swim over and if he didn’t get eaten by a croc would surely come back empty handed, and it would be unfair to put that burden on him. So I just stood there, mourning my loss.

And then I felt a head shake, and the fish – possibly by some divine intervention – swam out of the root ball. Clear out, without a hitch. And the fight was back on. I yelled with joy, there were so many emotions in such a short space of time. Just as I was imagining holding the fish up for a photo it ran toward the tree-lined bank, and yet again became entangled in unseen structure. This was beginning to get stressful. I fished my phone out my chest pack and called Craig. He answered after half a ring, as if he knew. All I had time to say was “I need your help at the bridge” before the fish came out of the structure and I had to put the phone down. It seemed like I had just managed to put the phone down and Craig’s bakkie was roaring over the bridge above me. My friend netted the fish for me. I had bought a big carp net for my boat

and it was large enough to incite fits of laughter from fishing friends who thought it was over-ambitious, but the smallscale filled it and both Craig and I gasped at the size of the fish. Its dorsal fin stood erect like a dhow’s sail and covered the palm of my hand. Its head was the size of two fists, its pectorals wide and fleshy. When I lifted it for a photograph it was awkward in its length and girth, and heavy enough so I had to rest my elbows on my knees while I cradled it for a brief photo. When released, it kicked strongly and sunk into the depths of the pool. My friend and I laughed and slapped each other’s backs and swore like we had learned when we were 12 and swearing was new to us. We remembered how it had started and now the circle was closed. We stood as two happy boys that had caught a big yellow – not the Vaal yellow, not the Cape yellow, but the other yellow, our yellow.

“WE REMEMBERED HOW IT HAD STARTED AND NOW THE CIRCLE WAS CLOSED. WE STOOD AS TWO HAPPY BOYS THAT HAD CAUGHT A BIG YELLOW – NOT THE VAAL YELLOW, NOT THE CAPE YELLOW, BUT THE OTHER YELLOW, OUR YELLOW.” 46

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James Topham catches a bus, a lowveld smallscale yellowish bus. W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M

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61 HOURS FROM JO’BURG BY DEAN OELSCHIG

R U S S I A N R A I N B O W T R O U T T H AT B E H AV E LIKE TIGER FISH, MOZZIES THE SIZE OF B U T T E R F L I E S A N D V O D K A F O R B R E A K FA S T I N A R G U A B LY T H E W I L D E S T P L A C E O N E A R T H . Photos: Dean Oelschig, Noah Thompson, Mark Butcher

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Kamchatka Peninsula is a 270,000km2 section of Eastern Russia that juts out into the Pacific. It’s not too far from Alaska, on the top right hand corner if you look at a world map. The surrounding ocean is king crab territory of Deadliest Catch fame. The peninsula is known as the most uninhabitable place in Russia. For seven months of the year, water is ice and land is 12 feet of snow. Only hibernating bears can survive, of which there is the largest concentration on the planet. And well, if there are lots of bears, there must be lots of fish.

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ome places we want to visit will change us forever. We know this and we group them together in our minds, build them up and label them as bucket list items. I had many. One of them was a fly fishing trip to the Zhupanova River in Kamchatka, Russia. I’ve grappled with how to tell this story, mostly because I never quite believed all the things I had read. Farfetched. Hype. Hyperboles dreamt up to sell an experience that doesn’t live up to expectation. Well, let me get this out of the way. Whatever you have read or heard about the Zhupanova, in real life it is significantly better. Everything is wilder, purer, stronger, more beautiful than any photograph, article or fly fishing film fest portrays. The only way you will ever truly know, is to go there. I suggest you add it to your bucket list. I am writing down some words to try do it a touch of justice. Trying to give you the truth. Maybe, just maybe, this pushes you over the edge enough to become one of the 54 people a year who get to float down the Zhupanova and experience it. If so, you’ll thank me later.

Geography. In 2016, Andy “Kevin Costner” from Texas, Mark “Butcher” from Zimbabwe and Jerome and I from Johannesburg, began the long prep. Not knowing anyone who had been there, planning wasn’t entirely easy. We had watched all the films (Eastern Rises is the best) but we still got the weather wrong, packed far too many unused flies and made some almost costly tackle mistakes. But on the 4th of August 2017, none of this mattered anymore, we were heading to Russia. Only the culmination of a year of planning and what we believed lay ahead pulled us through the travel. The itinerary is brutal. Leave Friday. Stops in Johannesburg, Dubai, Moscow. Two days in Moscow. What happens in Moscow? A nine hour domestic flight to Petropavlovsk. NINE HOURS. DOMESTIC. The longest domestic flight in the world without crossing a border. Depart Monday afternoon. Land at 11am, Tuesday. Ten time zones later. Zero sleep. We don’t care. Kamchatka. Finally.

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From Petropavlovsk, a small, sorrylooking fishing village, we have to take a helicopter trip into the mountains. Our ride is an old Russian Mi-8 helicopter. For an hour, we’re treated to a visual feast of volcanoes, untouched terrain scattered with cow hides of melting snow and bears and rivers. One hundred thousand rivers in an area just bigger than the Eastern Cape. And, probably, only one per cent of them have ever been fished. This is no ordinary countryside. This is National Geographic meets James Cameron. It looks CGI. We’re operating on no sleep, adrenalin and high octane beers (9%) with angry bear labels. The anxiety and realization of what we’re experiencing is only beginning to set in. Ever seen four grown men froth at the mouth? I have. I was one of them. Every so often, teasing like a pro, the helicopter passes over the meandering Zhupanova below, offering sightings of fish to send us into overdrive. We only realise later that these are zombies; rotting salmon, barely swimming upstream for their instinctual bad judgement of sex and death. The giant chopper grumbles down at the first of our six camps. Wooden huts, Russian bear dogs, guides and six days of feed including warm beer, vodka and whisky. No ice. The fridge is a large drum filled with cool river water.


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Author Dean Oelschig with a smashing Kundhza or Siberian White-Spotted Char

It doesn’t take long to warm to room temperature which we had expected would be 16 degrees. It is 28. Mozzies the size of butterflies. And in another twist, we have three missing fly rods that mysteriously didn’t make it on to the helicopter. Four of us and 12 rods are down to just nine. And three of them are 5-weights; knives to a nuclear war. We prep the 7-weights; floating line with a mouse pattern and sink tip with the heaviest streamer known to man, a dolly llama which, as rightly pointed out by our guide Noah, is more throwing a football than casting a fly. A rodent and dolly llama - fly selection

is crucial on the Zhupanova as long as it’s one of these two. If I return there, it’s with 40 dolly llamas, ten mice and a roll of 20lb leader. You might as well be fishing with cotton thread if you use 3x, 2x or, even 1x leader. As we gear up, Noah cuts the thin four feet off our 0x tapered leaders. You know, to make it stronger. Luckily these fish are not leader shy as you need all the power you can get. The sheer number of fish in the river is staggering. It holds Chum, Pink and King Salmon of which we catch very few but see in the thousands. They’re only around to spawn and die and have given up any ideas of feeding.

Brown bears, visible around almost every corner, are more successful with the salmon. This time of year is an allyou-can-eat buffet for grizzlies. Dolly Varden is the staple catch. To a point that, after two days, we find ourselves feeling guilty trying to shake them free from our fly or giving plenty of slack in the hope that another Dolly finds early freedom. They barely do. The Dolly is dumb AF and catching them is maddeningly easy. Just one of the inevitable techniques is the Dolly dangle; while you drink your morning vodka shot and let your rod lean against the side of the raft with your fly dangling in the

“WE’RE OPERATING ON NO SLEEP, ADRENALIN AND HIGH OCTANE BEERS WITH ANGRY BEAR LABELS.” 54

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water you’ll notice line disappearing. As I said, not the smartest fish. Often the biggest challenge of hooking a big trout is avoiding Dollies. Don’t get me wrong, a 25-inch Dolly cockfish, as contradictory as that sounds, is a wonderful fish and something to write home about from almost anywhere in the world. Not on the Zhupanova. A rare but exceptional fish on this river is the Super Kundzha or Siberian White-Spotted Char. In quite specific sections of the river I become so obsessed about catching a Kundzha that I momentarily forget trout exist. Towards the end of July, these sea run monsters – up to 40 inches and 20lb plus – start moving up the river system. And when you hook one, you know. They fight with deep, crude head-shakes and possess the power of a rugby front-rower. Not fast, just strong as hell. The 7-weight fly rod is putty. You hang on and pray. On the second morning, Jerome foul hooked an average-sized, 31-inch Kundzha and chased him for 45-minutes and three kilometers of river in what became known as the ‘Battle of the Zhupanova’. Truth is, after five days, we had had more than 50 Battles of the Zhupanova. And most of them came from huge, fit rainbow trout. It takes just two hours on the Zhupanova to unlearn everything you thought you knew about a rainbow trout. This lot are ferocious, carnivorous and hangry. Trapped under the surface of a frozen river for seven months, feeding time is limited and they do not let anything move past them unattended. Their holding positions become easier to read as the days go on and you’ll find them in front of and behind giant boulders that protrude out of the water, tight against the bank next to logs and root balls, in rapid water behind drop-offs or in the seam of a current. Almost exclusively, structure. And they do not sip the fly. They do not roll over the fly. They do not just eat the fly. These fish attack a fly with an ingrained will to cause grievous

bodily harm, T-boning it in rage. They remind me more of fly fishing for tiger fish on the Zambezi than any rainbow I’ve ever encountered. They’re brutal in mass, velocity and force often resulting in agonizing losses of 30-inch fish after watching, holding your breath, as they jump two or three-times, full body out of the water and then off. Much like a tiger, if you give these fish an inch, they’ll take a mile of line

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and you’ll never get it back. Your only hope is to break their spirit through sheer determination in a violent abuse of fly tackle. It’s no wonder we broke three of our seven-weight rods, never bothered to take the fives out the bag and cut our leaders down to four feet and 20lb of pull. Oh, we also shredded three sinking lines by day four. Late in the game, tiger fishing lessons pouring back into memory, the need became apparent to fight the fish with rod tip in the water to try

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to pin it down below the surface and avoid the emotional agony of another one that got away. Plenty more did. With all the hard-to-believe truths about this place, the hardest to fathom is the average trout size. It is more common to hook a 26-inch fish here than anything under 20. I can’t tell you why that is. It just is. The norm is 25 to 30 plus. That’s 64 to 76 centimeters. And I would guess we caught 15-20 each in that range. With a late 9am start each day, fishing wears you down to as much as the body can physically handle by 6pm. Throwing dolly llama footballs a thousand casts a day leaves

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your hands swollen and grip weak. The adventure doesn’t end there. Camp managers do not see a human for six nights a week. Our arrival enthuses the gentlemen somewhat. English is non-existent and communication is through sign language and whisky. Our Russian guides, Dima and Sasha who, thankfully, speak some English, warm to the crew after three evenings around the fire and begin sharing stories of Russian wilderness which even I can’t believe are true. Over five and a half days and 47 miles of floating, occasionally

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getting out to wade a certain stretch, we bore witness to how this phenomenal river’s mood swings. It begins calm and gentle, easing you into your journey around shallow bends, inlets and slow pools. The earlier days present ideal conditions to skate a mouse from slower water under a tree into the faster current. From the bright green weed below, a wake emerges behind the foam mouse and my heart begins to pound as I watch a rainbow beast attack the mouse, and miss. A quick pick up and lay down over the same spot and he’s back. This time, taking the up-turned hook. As he realizes, he throws himself high in the air only to somehow,


SOMEHOW, remain intact with my fly line. Five mad minutes later I find myself bellowing like an idiot at the sight of a big bow in the net. By day two we begin to experience the grumpiness of the river. Dropoffs, rapids and angry growls makes for exhilarating fishing. Faster water hands the advantage even further over to the trout. As another monster steams off downriver I know I need to turn the fish quickly or say my goodbyes. It jumps. Twice. A third time. I just can’t seem to gain ground against the combination of fish-power and current but luckily Noah walks a few meters down to hand some advantage back. With

a net the size of a small island, he makes no mistake. I bellow, again. And so, the river keeps changing and the fishing, incredibly, keeps getting better. Dollies thin out offering more big rainbow chances. And the scenery doesn’t stop. Every turn presents something new and unique. From white water to big wide shallow stretches to rapids, steps, cliff faces and tiny, footdeep inlets all presented against alternating backdrops of forests, bear-lined shores, waterfalls, snowcapped mountains or smoking volcanoes. In a flash, our time in this special place has lapsed and our first

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mechanical sound in six days, the sickening drone of our helicopter ride back, is heard in the distance. And with it, we begin the 61-hour journey back to Johannesburg. A long ride with ourselves and our thoughts, reflecting on probably the wildest, most untouched place left on earth; a natural fishery breeding frenetic, monster rainbows that know nothing but to kill and eat anything that moves. The Zhupanova River has changed me, no doubt. I now know how special it is and nothing else will ever compete. I had many items on my bucket list. But for now, just one. And that’s to return to Kamchatka.

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Photo Mark Murray- Tourette Fishing Tourette Fishing guide Stu Harley tying tigerfish snacks on the banks of the Ruhudji river, Tanzania. 60

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GEAR OF THE YEAR

… THE BEST NEW STUFF, PLUS OLD FAITHFULS, A FEW TRICKS AND A SELECTION OF DREAM DESTINATIONS FROM PEOPLE WHO FISH A LOT T H I S I S O U R O N E -Y E A R B I RT H DAY I S S U E . B U T, W E ’ R E A L S O C E L E B R AT I N G A M A R R I A G E O F S O R T S . T H E FA C T T H AT Y O U T H E R E A D E R H AV E TA K E N U S , T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G , O N B OA R D , T O H AV E A N D T O H O L D , I N PRINT AND ONLINE, IN THICKNESS AND IN S T E A LT H , O N B L A N K D AY S A N D S A L A D D AY S , T I L L G LO BA L WA R M I N G D O U S PA RT.

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ith this in mind (and because we wanted a layered editorial construct for our gear of the year feature), we chose to focus on the old wedding adage, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” Why? Well, that saying is meant to bestow good fortune on the endeavour, but for us, it also brings into sharp focus what matters when it comes to gear. New gear, as much as we love it, does not always supersede quality old gear. They both have their place. Borrowed? Half of what we know - ideas, techniques,

Gordon van der Spuy - Fly Fishing & Fly Tying Expo A 1-weight custom Orvis Superfine Touch, named “Heeron” because rod builder Koos Ekhardt who built it, thought that was how you pronounced the word Heron. He’d been talking my ears off all the way from Pretoria to Durban while travelling to the Ufudu Outdoor Fair in Durban a few years ago, telling me about the ultimate small stream rod that he was going to build. He kept talking about “The Heeron.” After a few hours I said,” What the hell is a Heeron, Koos?’. “Jy weet

mos, een van daai voels wat visse eet!” (You know, one of those birds that eat fish). The name stuck and I eventually became the first owner of a “Heeron.” Koos combined his spray painting skills (he used to build drag cars) and fine rod making skills to build this truly unique little stick.

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tips, flies and more - we learned from others whose judgement we trust and whose flies we wanted to steal. And blue? Well, that’s where we dream of waters we have not yet fished; places where we get to test our gear. Gimmicky? Sure. Interesting? No doubt. When we threw these categories out to The Mission’s cast of contributors, connections and cronies – we gave them one condition, not to punt brands they directly represent. They delivered. Enjoy.

Andre van Wyk Feathers & Fluoro Original Simms Light Goretex jacket:   I’ve had mine about five or six years now, and it’s been on pretty much every single trip I’ve taken, be it a half day mission locally,

fished 23 countries, and caught over 50 species, including the first Tongalevan (Penrhyn Atoll) bonefish, the first Arabian bonefish, and the first Arabian permit. LINK to Ray’s mix

John Travis – Travel to Fish Not antique, but when I purchased my first “proper” Angler’s Image linewinder more than 17 years ago, I had no idea that it would become one of the most used items in my kit.

or a ten day jaunt on to a deserted island off the coast of Southern Oman. From there on St.Brandons (where it was worn all day, every day in +25 knot winds and rain) to Lesotho and beyond. It lives in my car, crumpled up like an old used tissue, stuffed into one of the drawers in the back so it’s always on hand. Light and waterproof, it breathes and makes me look like I know what I’m doing… sort of.

Ray Montoya – The Perminator My 1995 Everglades purchased the year the Tibor series was released. This legend has been factory serviced six times,

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Keith Rose-Innes – Alphonse Island Simms Guide Series Waders – In 2000 the Simms Guide waders were part of the

Ponoi River, Russian guide uniform. They’ve seen four years guiding on the Ponoi and thirteen years fishing the wildest most hostile environments around the world, clocking up over 8 200 hours on rivers with not a single leak. Seventeen years of use means I have finally grown into them. There is no substitute for reliable waders, besides it’s only fun getting your balls wet in the morning when fishing the tropics.


Jazz Kuschke Feathers & Fluoro I have a 12-year-old, “what if” smuggler 5-weight that lives under the seat in my bakkie. It’s a budget 4-piece gifted to me as a ’test/review’ unit for a magazine feature way back. I thought it would be better balanced and easier on the eye if it had a fighting butt – like them sexy salt sticks – so I crafted a wonky home-styled version out of champagnecork. Other 5s have come and gone but that auburn number with the rusty guides and MCC fighting butt has accounted for too

many fish – bream in the Kunene, cats and small tigers in the Rio Elefantes in Mozambique, yellows in the Richtersveld, bass, trout.. even my first-ever carp on

fly – to ever relinquish its pride of place under the bakkie seat.

Camille Egdorf – Yellowdog Fly Fishing Adventures When I was 12 years old and just starting to learn about hunting, my dad bought and gave me my

first shot gun. A 28 gauge Ruger over/under. When waterfowl season opened up, we went out and I miraculously shot a limit of mallards on my first ever duck hunt. To this day, I still have that little gun and often take it out pheasant and duck hunting. Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to pass it along to one of my kids.

Jannie Visser – Western Cape DIY Guy TFO Ticr X 9 Weight. My favorite rod for most of my fishing. Kob, leeries and elf - reefs, surf and lagoons. Yellowtail offshore. All round travel rod with wide application. Probably the rod that has caught the most fish in the salt for me.

My 6-weight G.Loomis Streamdance HLS is quite simply the most exquisite rod I’ve ever cast in any weight. Channeling my inner “Frank the Tank”, it’s majestic.

Herman Botes – Gauteng DIY Guy The original Patagonia Packvest . I’m on my second one. The first one is on honorary display in the

Frontier Flyfishing shop. It worked very hard for 10+ years and is still usable.

Ewan Naude Feathers & Fluoro I have two things that I couldn’t contemplate a flyfishing life without. I have an ancient G.Loomis cap that is a fish catching machine and it’s my goto when I need a win.

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MC Coetzer - Proteas Fly Fishing Captain The best small stream rod EVER made was the Sage LL 8’9 3-weight. It was discontinued in about

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1995 and since then it has become one of the alltime classic. Only guys who don’t own one have another favourite rod for small streams. If you find one, buy it! I did so twice.

Platon Trakoshis – Lucky Fish Productions Predator Reels - I love the design, the way they work

and the way they look. The sealed drag is brilliant. You can drop it in the sand, pop off the spool, rinse it off and it works. I have the full range but luckily, I came across 2 unused 2/3/4 which I am saving for my sons. And they’re South African!

Tony Kietzman - Guide My Renzetti Traveller vice, circa 1990. The jaws are still fine and it works for virtually any size hook.

Keith Clover – Tourette Fishing Lionel Song. Although age is relative, and he is young in body and mind, Lionel has been around the block a few times and

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has a Phd in getting out of tricky situations, be it a car hijacking, broken boat motor on a remote river, irate border officials, or hungry elephants raiding your camp. As an added benefit he has been known to offer some sound

of species, she’s seen my very first grunter, garrick, kob, queenfish, largemouth yellow and pacu, to name a few. I popped my saltwater cherry with this stick, and after nine years of use, she still throws a full line, with one hell of a loop. A simple glance at the tube brings waves of memories, and I guess that’s what happens when you share so much with a stick like this.

comes in so handy in various situations, repairing engines, hook sharpener, sharp cutting blade, cutting wire, crimp barbs...The list is long.

advice on life, love, and cunnilingus. As with any old and trusted gear, Lionel is the guy you want at your side when things get dodgy. Nick van Rensburg - Guide My Airflo Bluetooth XT 8/9-weight has to take the cake as the single piece of “old faithful” gear that I currently own. The old girl is pretty fucked up, having seen some seriously funky waters, and the majority of my first saltwater species, as well as a couple of gnarly freshwater creatures. It’s

currently losing its layers of coatings, purely because of the time it’s spent on the water. The cork grip should probably be replaced, but that’s where the mojo is stored. In terms

Christiaan Pretorius Guide, Abaco Lodge, The Fly Shop My Leatherman Wave. I honestly feel empty on the water if I don’t have it. The multi tool function

Tudor Caradoc-Davies – The Mission Editor My MFC hip flask. It’s taken a bit of a beating, but goes on every trip. When at home, I treat whisky with respect, enjoying different styles and approaches from single malt to blends, bourbon, rye etc. This hip flask however I treat like the office coffee pot. It gets constant top ups from whatever is available to hand, which makes it a constantly changing singular blend. If that makes me a heathen, so be it, but when it’s cold and the fishing is slow, this brings cheer to the cockles of the heart.

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Matt Gorlei - Guide I’ll always have trusty cable ties in my fishing bag, they’re the most useful thing and you’ll

be surprised what you end up using them for. Best example I can think of offhand is using cable ties to attach my reel to my rod. One day the reel seat literally became nonexistent and the cable ties worked pretty well for the day’s fishing.


Jako Lucas – Yellowdog Fly Fishing I’m superstitious. When I am out fishing and have a bad day, I always blame the hat and it has to go into the naughty corner. Every now and then I will introduce a new one to the line-up, but I have some tatty hats

I have been fishing/guiding with for years. I probably have around 500 hats, but only use about five of them.

Conrad Botes Editor at large Echo Rods. Although I have several top end sticks, (including Hardy, Scott and Sage) in my saltwater quiver, I only use my tried and tested Echo saltwater

sword to fight off the mielie monsters! Broken off three feet from the butt, Dad replaced the handle and it became my first fly rod. Later, after terrorising the

start. It literally witnessed my first casts. Stephan Dombaj had it before me and passed it on. Every part on it had been replaced at least once. Smashed in a car door, fell on it, tungsten to the blank, stepped on it ... you name it, the rod has seen it all. This one will probably stay in the family forever. Nostalgic piece!

James Christmas - Guide My old Kilwell Genesis reel that I have used on my 2-weight rod for the last 20 years. Cheap, made in New Zealand, disc drag – still going strong.

rods when fishing my home waters of the Western Cape. These are my go-to workhorse gear, the perfect marriage of affordability and quality. Fred Davis Feathers & Fluoro My Cape Stream rod. A Hobbit-sized glass fibre wand. It was one of the old man’s rods - a beautifully slow actioned glass fibre Fenwick that I broke, probably thinking it was a

Jonathan Boulton – Mavungana Flyfishing Adventure Hardwear back pack and vest combo, bought in the early 90’s, sun bleached, moth eaten and smelly. On exploratory trips or personal missions I know exactly what I can carry and what the pockets’ configurations are. My staff piss themselves with their new-fangled packs and slings that look like they were developed for the Special Forces. Whatever… there are no points for style!

Drakensberg trout on my own, it was retired to the rafters for a longer, newer model. It was left forgotten and gathering dust until my varsity days, when I discovered a particular love for sneaking up the tiny, overgrown streams of the Cape mountains. Mario Geldenhuys was good enough to create a magical 5 piece, 5’5” rod that not only keeps a central spot in my stream gear but also holds some serious history!

Dean Riphagen – Frontier Fly Fishing My book collection. I have a pretty substantial collection of books (about 400 odd) which I started collecting back in 1979. My flyfishing books have ultimately defined me and shaped me as a fly fisherman. I refer to my books all the time and re-read many of them every year. Tackle, like rods and reels, has come and gone in my life but my books will never be sold.

Paulo Hoffmann Fly Fishing Nation Generation I Loop Yellow Line #3. This rod has been in my hands from the very

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Meredith McCord – Tailwaters Fly FishingTravel In Dec 2012 when I landed my first IGFA world record on fly, my proud dad had a rod made for me that year for Christmas. It was a Sage One 8-weight rod done up in Red, White and Blue with my name and the details of the catch engraved on the butt section.  No matter where I travel whether fresh or salt, that 8-weight is always with me and brings back memories of my dad and fishing partner, whom I lost two years ago to cancer.

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John Travis – Travel to Fish The Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible duffel is the real deal. Totally waterproof, with a zip. Great! Gordon van der Spuy Fly Fishing & Fly Tying Expo Maybe not new but new to me. Ed Herbst gave me a dental pick a while back. One of the nicest tying tools I’ve ever owned. It has changed my life! Herman Botes – Gauteng DIY Guy SAGE MOD 9ft 3-weight. If you are into small streams/dry fly & technical fishing, this is your stick.  Rob Scott – Tourette Fishing Anything from Patagonia, presently and more specifically, my Patagonia Stormfront Waterproof Pack. I am not a gear junkie, but on many of my more gnarly adventures my Patagonia Stormfront has gone ten rounds of hardship and has never

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given up. Plus, I really believe in what that company is striving to do. Which other company will fix your old stuff, in order to stop you from buying new stuff? They realise that the planet is drunk on consumption and that it is not sustainable.  Side note 1: read Yvon Chouinard’s book – Let My People Go Surfing. Side note 2: any company that diversifies from clothing and outdoor gear into beer production has got my support. Keith Rose-Innes – Alphonse Island Thomas and Thomas Sextant Split Cane 12-weight fly rod. There is something about fishing a bamboo rod that makes the day way more exciting. It’s definitely not a rod to blind cast and you are forced to take your time with the cast… you actually have no option as a split cane is slow, but once you hook a fish it’s as powerful, more direct and definitely more fun.

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MC Coetzer – Proteas Fly Fishing Captain The Simms Waypoint Sling Pack has revolutionised my flats fishing in the Western Cape. This piece of gear is big enough to carry everything you need for a day’s fishing and you don’t even notice it’s there while you’re fishing. It’s probably like everything else made by Simms, simply the best out there. Tudor Caradoc-Davies - Editor Jimmy Eagleton’s new Retro Fly Studio tool caddy makes fly tying a lot easier for me. I’m not a naturally neat person and I can never find what I am looking for. With this, I can. Jannie Visser – Western Cape DIY Guy Xplorer stripping basket. Very comfortable fit and sturdy. I can have it around my waist the whole day without problems. Omnispool flyline


“MY BOET HAS A CAT CALLED MARCEL WHO GETS SHEARED ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR AND I’M THE LUCKY RECIPIENT OF THE MATERIAL. THE HAIR MAKES GREAT DUBBING FOR GRHES AND I SOMETIMES USE IT TO MAKE BRUSHES FOR STREAMERS.”

storage. Very neat to store lines or travel with. Also changes lines on the reel in a flash if you need to. James Christmas - Guide Maui Jim sunglasses. The HT lenses Peahi STG. I struggle with some brands which give me a headache after a while. These are super light, super comfortable and the visual acuity is as good as it gets. Jonathan Boulton – Mavungana Flyfishing The Patagonia Sun Mask. Being a combination of tight and old school, I have always been happy with my aged, thread bare buffs for the salt and tropics. However, with no wind in a secluded lagoon in the Amazon and not a breath of wind they become so claustrophobic and they mist up my sunglasses, making polaroids for spotting as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle. The Patagonia sun mask is long with more

neck protection, sculpted so it hangs well leaving no skin exposed and made with such a ridiculously light breathable fabric, they must have got that tech from the archives at Roswell! Andre van Wyk - Feathers & Fluoro Aquatech Axis Go iPhone Housing: I love taking pictures almost as much as I love catching fish… and I am a sucker for new ways to make things easier or get shots I’ve never been able to before. The new Axis Go housing, with the Wide Angle Bubble dome port turns your iPhone into a bulletproof split screen capturing pieces of magic and wonder.. Ewan Naude - Feathers & Fluoro While this isn’t new in the context of the world, it’s new to me: Persian cat hair. My boet has a cat called Marcel who gets sheared once or twice a year and I’m the lucky recipient of the material. The hair makes great

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dubbing for GRHEs and I sometimes use it to make brushes for streamers. I recently tied one called the “Persian Pulsator”, not to be confused with a dancer of the same name at one of Cape Town’s finest establishments. Platon Trakoshis Lucky Fish Productions I think salt water jig hooks are revolutionary, maybe not that new as in the past year, but they have opened up a new direction for fly tying which is a difficult thing to be “new” in today. Richard Wale – Big Catch Fly Varvivas shock leader material! I love it It has awesome strength to diameter ratio, knots well and fishes like a dream. It has the finesse to fool permit and power to pull bloody hard on triggers, GTs and anything you wanna put the heat on. I hooked a bus bluefin trevally on 20lb while fishing for milk fish

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and boxed it as hard as I had to, to keep it out of the bricks - it held up! It’s a tow rope disguised as a strand of mosquito hair! Matt Gorlei - Guide Commando Heads by OPST, short Skagit style heads modified and designed to spey cast on the micro end of the spectrum, to use with light, single handed rods and switch rods to swing flies in smaller streams and rivers. Fishing spey style as light as a 3-weight…that’s changing the game for me, nothing I like more than swinging flies. Keith Clover – Tourette Fishing The Fuji XT2 mirrorless camera. These have revolutionized what can be done on location without having to cart around a 20kg pelican case with bulky DLSR and a range of massive lenses.

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Jimmy Eagleton – DIY guy My JetBoil stove. Compact and easy to light up in the wind. Back up if my lighter gets wet. The coffee gives you a “lekker” boost, day or night. It always gets a smile from every fishing buddy that takes a cuppa and it seems to get them going and focused, no matter how slow or rough the conditions are. It’s standard procedure to start a session with a coffee after the rod is assembled and ready. Jako Lucas Yellowdog Fly Fishing Adventures I think a trend that is coming back in a big way is bamboo. With all the new advances in Carbon and Glass rods, everyone has put bamboo to the side. Even I did not give it enough attention. But in the last two years it has really sparked my interest. I was so surprised how much fun it was fishing

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with a bamboo rod and how good the recovery rate is on them, not to mention how strong they are! Watch this space, some cool stuff coming soon… never forget your roots. Fred Davis - Feathers & Fluoro The Nautilus X reel. Light, smooth, sexy. Meredith McCord Tailwaters Fly Fishing Travel The  Yeti Flip 12. The perfect box/ bag.  When this hit the market last year, I knew instantly it would be my new best traveling companion. It serves me in so many ways: a padded camera bag, an icebox for my pickles and beverages and the perfect waterproof sized boat bag for all my numerous fly boxes. Conrad Botes – Editor at large I’m very amped about both the new


range of saltwater reels from Hardy and I specifically love their Fortuna reels. I simply have not used any other reel that can match the drag on this machine.

vision? Thankfully not anymore. Anybody, who needs to rely on their eyes while fishing and needs correction knows what I am talking about.

Dean Riphagen – Frontier Fly Fishing I would say without question that Sage’s X and SALT rod series really have blown me away. I’m not inclined to buying new tackle simply because it’s apparently the latest and greatest on the market, but both these rod series made me put my hand in my pocket.

Jim Klug – Yellowdog Fly Fishing Adventures Super excited about the new Hatch Fanatic Gen 2 Reel. I have been fishing this for about a year now (prototypes) and I love how Hatch has tweaked the design and the performance. Big-time changes to the drag system, including a better seal, which obviously matters when you submerge your reel. New look, lighter and much more durable.

Paulo Hoffmann, Fly Fishing Nation Costa RX polarised prescription glasses. Literally an eye opener. Fished without correction for way too long and even contacts were not doing the trick. Dry eyes vs. blurry

Christiaan Pretorius Guide, Abaco Lodge, The Fly Shop Not quite sure how long this has been on the market but my Knekt

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Go Pro Dome has changed the game of underwater photography for me. Instead of buying an underwater housing for my DSLR this is the ultimate cheat. It’s small, light weight, durable and pretty damn easy to use but it gives you some really badass images in high enough quality. Camille Egdorf Yellowdog Fly Fishing Adventures The YETI Panga bag. When I heard the claim, “It’s submersible and waterproof”, I was immediately skeptical. That’s a bold statement and, to my knowledge, there hadn’t been anything of the kind made. However, when my boyfriend decided it was a good stepping stone from the beach to my dad’s airplane float, I was surprised to see everything was completely dry inside.

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BORROWED James Christmas - Gui de The Pitzen kn ot. I learnt it fro m an old Jo’burg photographer that I guided on the Bushmans Rive r. It’s the strongest fresh water knot I kn ow and it doesn’t fail w here others ha ve.

Keith Clover – Tourette Fishing Rob Scott’s ability to sleep any time, any place, when needed. Traveling to the remote locations we work, often entails long hours traveling via air, road and rail. The ability to lie down and catch a 15min catnap on the run, is a great skill. One I have yet to master.

Andre van Wyk - Feathers & Fluoro The best chafe remedy out there is Island Tribe sunscreen. The thick Vaseline-like one. I don’t go anywhere without that shit, for sun protection first of course… but when the Cub Rub Fire kicks in on day two or three of your saltwater sloshing, a dollop of Island Tribe on the nether bits will save you pain and cowboy strutting. Jannie Visser – Western Cape DIY guy Pattex 100% glue. I was introduced to this by Henkie Altena. Tough, flexible and clear, it is great to cover poppers and to stick on eyes.

Christiaan Pret orius - Guide, Abaco Lodge, The Fl One of the bigg y Shop est game chan gers I’ve picked up was when I was still compe ting for my coun We heard abou t try. When competin boiling leaders...yes you hear d right. g you often ha ve to fish supe down to 9X. Bo r thin tippet iling th leader for a min e butt section of a Monofila ment ute gives it a to n of stretch. Th stretch absorb e s any shock mor e than a normal leader, which es sentially allows you to land bigger fish on thinner tippet.

Nick van Rensburg - Guide Chase Nicholson, who was a guide on St. Brandons, showed us that hair ties are perfect, cost-effective rod holders. A simple wrap and twist secures the rod to your bag. R5 at your local Chinese store, or you could be brave, and enter the labyrinth of a hair salon in Stellenbosch on a Tuesday.

Jazz Kuschke Feathers & Fluoro MC Coetzer’s rattles for flies that he makes out of pieces of broken fly-rod. Their sound is way better than those shop-bought, bass glass efforts. You have complete control over size and; the broken rod plays a bit of a Lazarus game. Shake shake, new life for a snapped piece of TFO BVK 7.

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Tudor Caradoc-Davies – The Mission Editor I borrowed the T&T Lotic fibreglass rod at iCast and had a go with it on the casting ponds. It’s an incredible rod with the flex and feel of fibreglass, but more backbone to it like graphite. I want a 3-weight or 4-weight for the Western Cape streams.


John Travis – Travel to Fish When I snagged my fly solidly from an anchored boat on the Uruguay river, I was puzzled when the guide took out a half liquid filled, plastic coke bottle. Tied to the neck of the bottle was a piece of fishing line with a snap swivel at the end of it. He clipped it on to the fly line and tossed this into the current. Give it slack, he told me. The bottle drifted down stream, past the snagged fly and he then told me to tension it up. Out came the fly. The fly hooked the snap and I reeled the whole contraption back.

Camille Egdo rf – Yello Fishing Adven wdog Fly I always used to have difficu tures lines were on lty in remembe w ring what hat reels. I w method that as recently in has marker to iden completely cured that ailm troduced to a ent. Use perm tify each line. M anent five and shor t dashes for in ake a long dash for increm ents of crements of on you’d have tw e. So for a 12 o long dashes wt line and two sh Not sure why I never though ort ones. Make sense? t of that mys elf!

Fred Davis Feathers & Fluoro Swinging. My dad has fused the purist’s dry fly idea of “upstream stalk”, with the salmon fisher’s method of swinging a sinking line through the head and belly and pool. After fishing the tail and surveying the pool, stay low, stay hidden and sneak around to the top and work your way down. It’s bloody effective!

Herman Botes – Gauteng DIY Guy After recently spending a few days’ hopper fishing on the Riet River I was pushed to find THE hopper pattern. We tend to lose ourselves in creating these over the top exotic hopper patterns, but when it comes to the fishing you need a pattern that is: 1. Not all foam & high floating, because in clear, flat water fish will pull up their noses at that one. 2. Able to float a nymph dropper or two. 3. Subtle when it needs to be. 4. Will splat when you need it to. 5. Highly visible without putting off fish. 6. Can pass for some arb terrestrial in a pinch. Enter the MINI CHUBBY CHERNOBYL – and what’s more it’s piss easy to tie!

Conrad Botes, The Mission Editor at large Green curry fish cakes. Over the years I have borrowed bits and pieces from family and friends and ended up with the perfect fishcakes. There’s no set recipe, but the ingredients include the following: one fresh spotted grunter, John West green curry paste, red onion, fresh ginger, coconut milk and a dash of soy. Dusted in almond flour and pan fried.

Rob Scott – To urette Fishing A stack of 5 Eu ro no tes hidden in m camera case. O y n our explorat ory stuff, which there is some pl en ty rad stuff happ speak, we gene ening as we rally travel and explore with ze and tested logi ro tried stics. This can lead to overnigh strange and re t stays in mote places. I have a fear of in said strange being places and not being able to bu stuck This stack of 5 y beer. euro notes is m y insurance po against this ev licy er happening to me.

Tony Kietzman - Guide An idea from Ed Herbst: put rubber tails on my version of the Klinkhamer, it becomes the “Edhamer”

Meredith McCord – Tailwaters Fly Fishing Travel On Alphonse Island, my guide and friend, Alec Gerbec, lent me his infamous 10/0 black popper called The Reaper. His fly landed me the largest GT in my life when a tsunami wave for geets, sharks and rays came down the edge of the lagoon. This fish hit that borrowed fly so hard that it knocked the foam right off the hook.

Matt Gorlei - Guide While fishing the Frying Pan river in Colorado in 2010, I happened to find a shiny pair of Orvis forceps half-buried in that red coloured gravel. I still remember how the sun reflected off them and caught my eye. I still have them, which is surprising as I have never attached them to myself with a lanyard or any type of cord. They are always just crimped on to my shirt or fly vest. I can recall at least five occasions where I thought I had lost them but somehow I always manage to find them. 71


BLUE

WHERE TO NOW MY CHINAS?

01 Andre van Wyk – Feathers & Fluoro

Of all the places I’ve been, Bassas da India still remains the most mystical and magnetic, wild, raw, brutal, beautiful, sharky as hell and massive. It’s unlikely I will ever get back there due to the current political dispute between the French and Madagascar. There have been horror stories over the last couple years of boats being confiscated, turned around, accosted by the roving Frenchies stationed on nearby Europa Island.

06 Tudor Caradoc-Davies –

The Mission Editor Tigerfish on the Mnyera and Ruhudji Rivers in Tanzania. I used to live in Dar es Salaam and two months after I left the country my housemate, a hunter who had the concession in this area of the Selous, “discovered” the tiger fishing there. The timing was cruel, I missed out and have sworn to go there one day.

Northern Somalia is not on anyone’s holiday radar. In fact it’s an area that one would preferably avoid. At any costs. Especially if you’re the crew of a commercial vessel. But do yourself a favour. Find the town of Caluula on Google Maps - a known pirate hotspot and stronghold - and spend some time zooming in on the mangrove system to the north and the sizeable estuaries to the east. My travel insurance covers kidnapping for up to $5million - wonder if they’ll cover me for a fishing trip?

van der Spuy – Fly Fishing & Fly Tying Expo It has to be New Zealand, that place just flippin’ haunts me. I have an opportunity to go next year with a pal who has fished it the last 12 years and knows it like the back of his hand. It would be like having a full time guide for a month. 03 Herman

04 Jannie Visser – DIY grunter guru

New Zealand, not for trout but for yellowtail (kingies) on the flats. Imagine the chase of a yellowtail in shallow water! 05 John Travis – World traveler

A four-day float trip down the Orange river targeting largemouth yellows should be on everyone’s wish list.

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Fishing Adventures Australia is probably on the top of my bucket list, especially when it comes to the saltwater side of things. Very low pressured, well managed fisheries, with loads of different species sounds like my bag. Who cares about their rugby and cricket? Let’s go fish out there. 09 Fred Davis – Feathers & Fluoro

02 Gordon

Botes – Gauteng DIY Guy The Bokong river in Lesotho. Two of my favourite freshwater quarries, smallmouth yellowfish and brown trout, in one beautiful stream. Dry fly, sight fishing. Lekker technical with a good dose of physicality thrown in. Top of my bucket list.

08 Jako Lucas – Guide Yellowdog Fly

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Tony Kietzman - Guide African water in Ethiopia.

11 Dean Riphagen –

07 Jim Klug – Yellowdog Fly

Fishing Adventures While I’ve been lucky enough to fish a lot of places, for some reason the list of destinations that I still want to visit never seems to get shorter! I would say that in the near future my priority list includes Papua New Guinea, more trips to Mongolia, and also Poivre in the Seychelles for permit.

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Frontier Fly Fishing I’ve been fortunate to travel to most of the places where I’ve wanted to fly fish. But if I could wave a magic wand I’d want to fish for Atlantic salmon on the Alta River in Norway. 12 James Christmas - Guide

After seeing Jeff Currier raise that fish on Waypoints, I want to do India for masheer. A really exquisite largemouth yellow on steroids that may or may not eat a dry, sounds like a great adventure.


“IF I COULD CHOOSE A DESTINATION ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD IT’LL ALWAYS BE INFANTA (ON THE BREEDE RIVER IN THE WESTERN CAPE OF SOUTH AFRICA) WITH MY FRIENDS FISHING FOR GRUNTER AND KOB”. - MC Coetzer

01 Nick van Rensburg - Guide

The Rooster fish in Mexico. These fish have been on my mind ever since I first started exploring the salt, watching films like Running down the Man and In Search of Grande. One day I’ll be cruising the beaches of Baja on an ATV, unloading a pile of super PG-rated language at those denizens. 02 Paulo Hoffmann -

05 Jazz Kuschke - Feathers & Fluoro

Angola haunts me. I went there in 2007 on assignment for Getaway magazine - a full hardcore overland mission, all the way from the Kunene river to the Congo and back. Some scenes remain permanently ingrained in my mind and from time-totime I go through my archive images and dream. ’What if’…from the Kunene Mouth, up

Fly Fishing Nation My trusted home-waters in Western Germany. As long as I can come back from any destination in the world and still be able to find joy and peace in fishing my homewaters, I know that everything is alright and the fire is still burning. And we do have some damn good homewaters.w. Keith RoseInnes Alphonse Island The Alta river in Norway, home to the biggest Atlantic salmon in the world. If you are a spey caster and you love Atlantic salmon it would definitely be a lifetime dream. The Alta is syndicated and you can only get a spot if invited to share a rod with one of the syndicate members. If you crack the nod you can expect to pay upwards of $35,000 for a week’s fishing. On top of that it’s not unheard of to fish a week without catching a fish.

07 Platon Trakoshis –

Lucky Fish Productions I’m thinking about Red fish in the USA a lot. 08 MC Coetzer – Proteas

Fly Fishing captain If I could choose a destination anywhere in the world it’ll always be Infanta (on the Breede River in the Western Cape of South Africa) with my friends fishing for grunter and kob. Maybe throw in the odd trip to Bassas da India or Seychelles for good measure, but one thing I know for sure is that there is more red wine at Infanta and that kind of stuff matters! 09 Christiaan

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Ewan Naude – Feathers & Fluoro 04 Bolivia dorado looks like an incredible quarry to target in a pristine environment. I’ve never been to the Amazon and I would love to experience the fishing and the jungle.

and visiting it feels like stepping out of a time machine into a truly pristine fishery. This is my ultimate destination. I’ll go back every year as long as I can.

p a s t Flamingo to Lobito and the Kwanza River. I’d dig to get up there before it gets too commercialised (if it isn’t been already). 06 Conrad Botes - The Mission

Editor at large “Imagine what this place must have been like a hundred years ago”, is something I have heard many times on these outings. Recently I have had the privilege of fishing such a place. Gabon is truly Africa’s Eden

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Pretorius – Guide, Abaco Lodge, The Fly Shop The one thing that pops into mind straight away is this quest for blue marlin on fly. There is not a situation where the word blue has more meaning than being out in the deep blue chasing BIG blue marlin. I had my first taste of this in Guatemala last year when I landed my first 300lb blue marlin on fly. This style of fly fishing is not for everyone, but for me it’s one hell of a rush. 10 Keith Clover – Tourette Fishing

I want to go back to Patagonia, with my wife and daughter, and a fully kitted camper van. Four weeks minimum, with no set plan, except to start where we have un-finished business on the Rio Rivadavia in Los Alerces National Park. Then see where the wind blows us.

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L AT ES T R E L E A S ES

THE SALAD BAR XPLORER - 3 NEW REELS

KYPE – As in the giant hooked jaw of a moose brown. CNC machined from aircraft grade aluminium, these matt silver reels with a hard anodized finish and a rear-adjusting one-way bearing disc drag system come in 2/3, 4/5, 5/7 and 9/10 weights. From R1650.

VARIVAS – SALTWATER LEADERS AND TIPPETS GTs, barracuda, you name it. With the highly rated Varivas leaders out of Japan, getting to grips with big, toothy critters of the deep or sneaky flats denizens is not going to leave you a bundle of nerves. As Richard Wale of Big Catch fly says, “It has the finesse to fool permit and power to pull bloody hard on triggers, GTs and anything you want to put the heat on.” From mono to fluoro R150-R650 www.bigcatch.co.za

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XTR – XTR as in “EXTRA EXTRA FEEL ALL ABOUT IT?” How does CNC machined Bar Stock aluminium sound with a matt black, hard anodized finish (less flash on the water = more fish in the net). What if the XTR also had a sealed protective cover over the drag system that micro adjusts from the back of the reel? Sold? We are. Weighing in from 120gms to 193gms in 4/5, 5/7 and 9/10 weights, these good looking reels start from R2100.

EVO – As in Evocative. If you are interested in pairing your small stream stick with a seriously sexy reel (and cannot afford an Ari T’Hart original), Xplorer’s design-savvy EVO Fly Reels are calling your name. Available in two different drag systems. The clicker drag system C- series reels start at 89 grams and come in two models C-100 for 0-3wt rods and the C-200 for 3-4wt rods. The EVO D-series with its stacked carbon, disc system is designed for 5/6wt rods. From R1950. www.xplorerflyfishing.co.za

CORTLAND – COMPACT INTERMEDIATE The perfect kob and leerie line in a 9-weight? The 200 - 350 grain Cortland Compact Intermediate is definitely a contender. With its shooting head, intermediate front section and floating running line (all designed for cold water situations), it’s ideal for fishing off ledges and using poppers. R1399. www.bigcatch.co.za

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I N F O @ T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M

SIMMS – WAYPOINTS SLINGPACK SMALL As loved by Proteas Fly Fishing Captain MC Coetzer (see page 56), the Simms Waypoint Slingpack could be the game-changer you’re looking for. With a comfortable shoulder strap and side secure straps, it’s comfortable enough to wear all day and looking for things should no longer be an issue considering the main compartment carries 10 litres (that’s space, not red wine). A fold-down work bench, as well as tippet, floatant and shaker holders, magnetic tool ports, compression straps and a sunglasses pocket complete the lineup of features. Yes, your lunch fits in there too. www.frontierflyfishing.co.za

SAGE – SPECTRUM LT FLY REELS Light or powerful? Lean or mean? Chicken or beef? What if we told you, you did not have to choose? From the folks over at Bainbridge Island comes the Spectrum LT reel range, bringing together high-performance and an ultra-light frame. The One Revolution Drag Knob (coincidentally our art director’s pet name for a certain body part) offers quick and precise drag settings and provides the kind of power and smoothness you’d expect from a large traditional drag system, only without the bulk or weight (thank the fully machined aerospace aluminium for that). So now you can chat up that rampaging smallmouth bass on a 5-weight or sweet talk that kob on a 9-weight with all the reel smoothness a piscatorial pickup artist could want. Available from 3/4 to 9/10 weights. www.frontierflyfishing.co.za

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L AT ES T R E L E A S ES

THE SALAD BAR HODGMAN – H4 CHEST WADERS It’s easy to think of waders as simply waterproof, insulated aquatic pyjamas, but they are about as hightech as garments get. The Hodgman H4 chest waders typify that. From the 4-layer breathable fabric construction, to a 3-layer shell fabric in the upper wader, a large capacity upper mesh storage pocket, microfleece-lined pockets and anatomically correct left and right booties, these waders are not only cutting edge, but they are also aggressively priced. R3495 www.flyfishing.co.za

HODGMAN – H5 H-LOCK INTERCHANGEABLE WADING BOOTS Our editor is living (injured) proof of how the wrong tread can land you in trouble. From slippery river rocks to grass, veld, dry rocks, shale and mud, sometimes felt or rubber soles alone will not do the job. Hodgman’s H5 Interchangeable Wading boots give you the option to change up according to the terrain. The dual-lock system keeps the sole in place while you focus on fishing. Designed to drain water with each step, these boots are also saltwater ready so if you are into both saltwater and freshwater, you’ve a one style fits all solution. www.flyfishing.co.za PATAGONIA – STORMFRONT GREAT DIVIDER BOAT BAG Boatacious bra. The Patagonia Stormfront Great Divider is a nonsubmersible bag, but for all intents and purposes it’s designed to get wet. From the ingenious over-sized storm flap, designed to protect your stuff from water as you open the bag to the flippable lid, welded seams, tough 800-denier nylon and water-repellent finish – this beast is designed to keep your gear dry, organised and protected. The straps, side-enforced D-rings, modular compartments, foam dividers and sneaky side pockets add to the overall package. If you are planning on a day on the water in a boat, then this is the bag to be looking at. www.flyfishing.co.za

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I N F O @ T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M

PATAGONIA – TROPIC COMFORT HOODY Sun protection, odor-controlled fabric (a must after tropical schwitzing), FairTrade ethical sewing, a hoodie that fits over a cap so you can pretend to be a flats Smurf – what will Patagonia think of next? Throw in thumb holes to protect the back of your hands from the sun and you have the ultimate fishing top. www.bigcatch.co.za

HARDY – SDSL REEL From the anvil of Thor that brought us the tarpon-tackling, brutish abilities of the Fortuna reel, comes the SDSL, Hardy’s all day every day saltwater reel. Machined from barstock 6061 and sporting a fully sealed carbon fibre disc drag system and a colour coded 340 degree drag regulator, the SDSL is designed to tickle the holy triangle of saltwater requirements and be A) strong, B) light, and C) maintenance free. Throw in its competitive pricing and the 9-weight may just become your workhorse for the African salt scene. R6595. www.flyfishing.co.za

TMC – ADJUSTABLE DOUBLE-ARM BOBBIN Tiemco are known for their fly tying tools and somewhere deep in their offices, a designer spent an inordinate amount of time looking at the office fridge and more specifically, the fridge magnets. With a failed portable pizza slice pocket behind him, the win came in the form of this innovative bobbin holder which controls thread tension with the magic of magnetic force. No fiddly bending of the arms required. Just let the poles of the magnetic field (and stream) do their thing. www.frontierflyfishing.co.za

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FOR THINKERS – AFTER NATURE: A POLITICS FOR THE ANTHROPOCENE The Anthropocene – the age of humans – is what we are currently living in and nature no longer exists apart from humans. From geological strata that indicate our emissions to the extinction of species and inadvertent engineering of the planet though climate change – we are shaping this world scientifically, but we don’t have the politics to match it. Jedediah Purdy’s book dives deep into the politics needed to save the planet from ourselves. www.amazon.com

FOR DREAMERS – TOP SALTWATER FLIES Drew Chicone, the guy behind SaltyFlyTying. com brings you this three-volume, $250 collector’s edition for those wanting to take their fly tying to the next level. Each volume covers a different saltwater species – bonefish, tarpon and permit. www.wildriverpress.com

FOR SCREAMERS – SMALLMOUTH: MODERN FLY FISHING METHODS, TACTICS AND TECHNIQUES The Prince of Darkness – you want to catch him? Then educate yourself. This book by Dave Karczynski and Tim Landwehr gets guides both new and old to weigh in on what really works for smallmouth bass. Expect hard-earned pearls of wisdom from the likes of Lefty Kreh, Larry Dahlberg, Mike Schultz and Chuck Kraft. www.amazon.com

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THE MOTIVATIONAL CARROT

T H E AV E R AG E A M E R I CA N S P E N D 3 7, 9 3 5 H O U R S D R I V I N G A CA R . W E I M A G I N E S O U T H A F R I C A N S A R E N O T T H AT FA R O F F T H AT S TAT. N O W, W E S E L D O M N E E D M O T I VAT I O N T O F I S H , B U T S O M E T I M ES L I F E GETS BUSY AND WE NEGLECT TO MAKE THE TIME, OR, WHEN AN O P P O R T U N I T Y S U D D E N LY C O M E S U P, W E D O N ’ T H AV E O U R S T U F F AT H A N D . E N T E R “ T H E M O T I VAT I O N A L C A R R O T.” S W I F T E P I C ’ S R E N O W N E D 4 7 6 PA C K L I G H T FA S T G L A S S R O D I N A 5 - P I E C E S M U G G L E R C O N F I G U R AT I O N P I M P E D E X C L U S I V E LY F O R T H E M I S S I O N , T H I S S N E A K Y L I T T L E S E T U P I S P E R F E C T F O R S TA S H I N G U N D E R T H E S E AT O F Y O U R C A R F O R S P O N TA N E O U S M I S S I O N S . • A weekend getaway that reveals a trout stream that wasn’t on the website? You have gear. • Morning meeting that will see you swing past a bass dam on the way home? You’re sorted. Whatever the scenario, with this versatile 4/5-weight fiberglass rod at hand, fishing is always possible.

WIN THIS ONE-OF-A-KIND ROD! • Follow and/or like @themissionflymag and @swiftflyfishing on Instagram and Facebook. • Keep an eye out for The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine’s posts about “The Motivational Carrot” giveaway on Facebook and Instagram. • Comment on one of the posts, or both, by describing where “The Motivational Carrot” is most likely to see action and who would be there with you. One entry per person per platform. • Send us your greatest hits album later. Competition terms and conditions By entering this competition, you consent to having your name and/or image reproduced online on The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine and Swift Fly Fishing’s websites, as well as their social media profiles. 2) All content shared with The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine as entry into the competition may be used on The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine and Swift Fly Fishing’s websites, and their associated digital platforms. 3) Entries close at 8pm (GMT+2) on Sunday 31 December 2017. 4) Winners will be notified via Facebook message no later than Monday 8 January 2018 at 5pm (GMT+2). 5) Representatives of The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine and Swift Fly Fishing will draw one winner by random selection from all entries. 6) The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. 7) The winner will receive one 4/5-weight The Mission X Swift Fly Fishing “The Motivational Carrot” rod and case. 8) Prizes are non-transferable. 9) Entry into the competition and acceptance of any prize shall constitute consent on the winner’s part to allow the use of the winner’s name, image, voice and/or likeness by The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine and Swift Fly Fishing for editorial, advertising, promotional, marketing and/or other purposes without further compensation except where prohibited by law. 10) This competition is not open to The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine and Swift Fly Fishing staff and their families.

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Exclu sive sto G.Lo ckists of omis The g fly ro d u G.Lo ide’s cho s. ic omis is Ar e, Matt n hee’s o go to bran d the s for alt.

LOCAL AND BUCKETLIST, FRESH AND SALT, GEAR AND GUIDING – BIG CATCH FLY HAS IT ALL WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? GEAR, DESTINATIONS, ADVICE OR INSIDER TIPS? BIG CATCH FLY HAS IT ALL. From the best international destinations like Alphonse Island to local saltwater fly fishing for yellowtail off the Cape coast, kob, leervis and grunter in the estuaries and guided freshwater fly fishing for trout on the Cape streams, the pro team

ODYSSEY FLY FISHING

at Big Catch Fly (including ex Protea fly fishermen) will help you tick that bucket list fish. Need to gear up? Whether it’s a local DIY trip or getting kitted for an overseas adventure, speak to us to get the best gear in the business. Can’t get to the shop? Visit our online store www.bigcatch.co.za instead and enjoy national delivery on your online purchases.

Stockists of: Patagonia bags, Cortland Lines, Costa sunglasses, Flyzinc flies, Varivas leader material and a whole lot more.

www.bigcatch.co.za / Contact Richard Wale on 084 070 6728


M U S T H AV ES

PAYDAY

Photos: Scott Haraldson

S A L S A -T H E B L A C K B O R O W FAT B I K E

F

or Mike “Kid” Riemer, the marketing manager at Salsa Cycles, bikes are a predictable passion, but so is fly fishing the lakes and rivers of Minnesota. Bringing the two together was the next step and pimping the brand’s fabled Blackborow fat bike build was the way to do it. Mike’s goal was simple: his bike needed to be able to take him and all his fly fishing stuff wherever

he wanted to go, something he sums up in a one line mantra – “Bring what you need to do what you love to do.” With a giant rear rack capable of holding two full-sized rear panniers as well as extra storage behind the seat tube, the Blackborow is designed to do just that. And while Mike’s Blackborow is a one-of-akind with custom bags by Cedaero

(painted in brown and brook trout racing stripes by Montana-based artist Mimi Matsuda), rod holders, a cutting board, fitted Yeti Ramblers and an Ernest Shackleton quote on the downtube (Perce Blackborow, who lends his name to the bike was a stowaway, on Shackleton’s transAntarctic expedition) – there’s nothing stopping you from customising your own Blackborow. Nothing except money, of course. A US$2 799 stock build includes a 1×12 SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, mechanical disc brakes, and Sun Ringle Mulefut 27.5 x 80mm rims with Maxxis Minion FBF/FBR 27.5 x 3.8 tubeless tires. Frame sets are US$1 799 including the rack. salsacycles.com/bikes/blackborow

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WHEN YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED THE BEST GEAR “GOING IN WASN’T TOO BAD. F*CK! GETTING IT OUT WAS A DIFFERENT STORY.” AT JUST LIKE PAPA WE ONLY STOCK THE BEST TOOLS TO HELP AND THE KNOW-HOW ON HOW TO USE THE TOOLS BEST. (CASTING LESSONS MAY HELP TOO) +27 21 28 6 4 374

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SHORTCASTS G O O D S T U F F, C O C K TA I L S , F L I P PA L L O T, F I L M S & M O R E

CHECK OUT … Chalk, the new film from Leo and Chris, the guys at Chalkstream Fly. Featuring a whole cast of chalk stream fly fishing characters, from South African Chris Clemes of London-based Chris Clemes Fly Rods to guides like Marina Gibson, riverkeepers and more, this fresh take on British chalk stream fly fishing drops at the end of November. www.chalkstreamfly.co.uk (Q&A on the blog) VISIT … Hell’s Bay Boatworks’ Vimeo channel and check out their series Flip’s Tip (lolnudgenudgewinkwink) with the legendary Flip Pallot where Flip, kicking back on a pimping boat, socks and Crocs front and centre, while channeling his inner Big Lebowski, offers up pearls like these: “If you’re sitting in your living room watching television and a perfect stranger strolled through your living room, into the kitchen, got some pretzels and a beer, you’d probably be aware of that. Fish are the same way. They have an area of awareness like your living room… Don’t be arrogant and think that you can present a lure within the fish’s area of awareness.” vimeo.com/hellsbayboatworks

DRINK

WATCH … Dogs of War, where men are men and tigerfish are nervous. The new film by director Johan “Vossie” Vorster of Happy Handgrenade follows three Tourette Fishing guides – Lionel Song (the veteran), and Stu Harley and Johan du Preez (the rising stars) – as they go after tigerfish (Hydrocynus = water dog) during the natural phenomenon of the catfish run in the Okavango Delta. We’ve seen a sneak peek and can confirm, it’s the berries. vimeo.com/happyhandgrenade DO NOT WATCH … Episode 4 (Tonight We Improvise) of Season 1 of Ozark where FBI agent Roy Petty goes fly fishing with local redneck Russ Langmore. Ozark is a great show, but despite the fact that their line producer apparently also produced A River Runs Through It, watching these two “cast” is enough to make you want to gouge out your eyes with a rusty brush fly. Where the hell was the fly fishing consultant?

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… Death in the Gulf Stream, Ernest Hemingway’s favourite cocktail for shitty times (e.g., the political and environmental climate of 2017). As featured in Charles Baker’s 1946 compendium, The Gentleman’s Companion, An Exotic Cookery and Drinking Book, Hemingway came up with this drink that he recommended as a pickerupper suitable from 11am onwards. “Take a tall thin water tumbler and fill it with finely cracked ice. Lace this broken debris with 4 good purple splashes of Angostura, add the juice and crushed peel of 1 green lime, and fill glass almost full with Holland gin [Ed: aka Genever] … No sugar, no fancying. It’s strong, it’s bitter – but so is English ale strong and bitter, in many cases. We don’t add sugar to ale, and we don’t need sugar in a “Death in the Gulf Stream” – or at least not more than 1 tsp. Its tartness and its bitterness are its chief charm.”

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WANDS

CANE POON THOMAS AND THOMAS SEXTANT SPLIT CANE 12# FLY ROD

WHEN SOMEONE SAYS SPLIT CANE OR BAMBOO, THE IMMEDIATE THOUGHT IS THAT OF A DELICATE DRY-FLY WAND ON A QUIET COUNTRY STREAM. THE CLASSICAL MUSIC OF BIRDSONG WARBLING IN THE BACKGROUND. FOX HUNTING. CRUMPETS FOR TEA. BUT, WITH THEIR NEW SEXTANT SPLIT CANE FLY RODS IN HEFTY SIZES DESIGNED FOR HEFTY FISH, THOMAS AND THOMAS ARE REVISITING FLY FISHING HERITAGE AND PUSHING THE LIMITS OF WHAT IS POSSIBLE WITH A CANE ROD. WE SPOKE TO T&T ROD BUILDER TROY JACQUES AND HIS INTREPID GUINEA PIG KEITH ROSE-INNES ABOUT WHAT THEY’VE BEEN UP TO.

would need as far as the rod goes, because he’s been fishing the T&T graphite rods all along. To make a bamboo rod that would do what the graphite can do I would have to look at the graphite rod cast.”

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uides look at you funny. They think, ‘Oh my god, what are you doing?’ Then they see you cast with it and think, ‘Actually…’” That’s Keith Rose-Innes, of Alphonse Island in the Seychelles, describing the incredulous, sideways looks he initially receives, followed by curious attention, when he uses cane fly rods. Successfully. On tarpon, white marlin and sailfish. Say what?

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Troy Jacques

These are not your grampaw’s old cane rods, stuck down the side of the fireplace and used to swat the cat. Nor are they fine dry-fly rods more suited to delicate presentation on a small stream. These are bad-ass, modern, bamboo/splitcane rods, straight out of the Thomas & Thomas workshops in Greenfield, Massachusetts, crafted by the hand of master rod builder Troy Jacques. They were created for big fish. Jacques says, “I developed the 12-weight for Keith. We thought he’d be able to get a GT. I knew what he

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Because bamboo is slow, Jacques knew that he was going to have to compensate on the taper of the rod in order for the angler to A) cast really well, B) be able to subdue a fish like a tarpon or a GT and C) bring it to the boat with no problem. During two years of testing, Jacques fished a 9-weight bamboo rod on the East Coast of the USA for striped bass. He lent that rod to other people to test on bonefish and small tarpon to get a better understanding of how well the taper worked, how it cast and how it handled. That rod was the blueprint for the Persuader series. “I like to fish for trout, but I also like fishing streamers so I use sink tips a lot,” says Jacques. “But with sink tips you need the backbone of a graphite rod to do it well and with occasional high water in early season, it’s hard to take out a supple action bamboo rod to use with sink tips. It just wouldn’t work so I made a bamboo rod in a 6-weight format to handle 200 grain sink tips for nymphs and saltwater. The rod handled great so now I could fish my bamboo rod versus a graphite


Getting cained: six of the best for this naughty florida tarpon. Photo: Alec Gerbec W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M

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Keith Rose-Innes off Morocco testing the Sextant on billfish. Photo: Murray Collins W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M

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“I’M HOPING THAT WE CAN GO BACK TO THE JOE BROOKS ERA, GO BACK TO OUR HERITAGE, AND GO FISH FOR TARPON, REDFISH, BONEFISH, PERMIT WITH BAMBOO.”

Photo: Keith Rose-Innes

rod to the same effect. Then after building the 9-weight, the 12-weight and the 6-weight, I said, I might as well build the whole series and fill in all the blanks. They all came out beautifully.” Based on Alphonse Island most of the year, Rose-Innes is used to fighting big fish. Still, he was a little hesitant. After all, it’s grass not graphite. He says, “Troy gave me the rod at Apalachicola this year where Nev (Neville Orsmond the owner of Thomas

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& Thomas) wanted me to test it on tarpon. Once you cast it, you realise it’s quite a bit slower so you just slow down a bit and let the rod work. With a cane rod, you’d expect that with the fight you’d have to hold back. But the way the rod’s built, it’s powerful and you can pull as hard as you like as long as you keep your angles right. Nev said to me, ‘Don’t be scared. Pull! This thing is going to turn a fish’ and that’s what I did with a 120lb tarpon. It jumped around the boat, I never got on to the backing, and I got it on the side of the boat in just over five minutes. There’s

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definitely more feel in the fight, it’s more forgiving, it flexes more. Whereas a carbon rod will stick to the taper and the build, a cane rod will flex a lot more.” Jacques says, “It took a lot of work to get these rods done but that’s the kick for me. To have bamboo rods available for warm water and saltwater fisheries, because not everybody lives in the hallowed grounds of the Catskills for trout fishing. A lot of people live on warm water and salt water and do not really get into freshwater streams. By


building the bamboo rods, I’m hoping that we can go back to the Joe Brooks era, go back to our heritage, and go fish for tarpon, redfish, bonefish, permit with bamboo.” Rose-Innes says, “This isn’t a new thing, it’s a throwback. Back in the day that’s all guys fished. But it’s a unique experience. If you’ve caught a lot of fish on the graphite rod and you have this experience, you’ll remember it. Going and getting a rod like these splitcanes, rewinding a little bit and enjoying an experience similar to the old days but

with more beef, is kind of a cool thing. If I’m off traveling now I’m going to carry my graphite rods, but I’m going to have the exact same line weights in a cane rod. There’s nothing more fun than that.” For Jacques, it’s both heritage and new ground. “You evolve. When you get into fly fishing with a cane rod, it’s like going from a gun to a bow, a long-bow. There’s another aspect to it. It makes a productive fishery even more fun. It’s never mundane. A really good fisherman who wants another

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edge, can pick up a new challenge. A bamboo rod is a great challenge. It makes one fish seem like ten on a graphite rod.” With a 120lb Apalachicola tarpon ticked and a white marlin caught off the coast of Morocco, Keith and his Sextant are on a persuasive mission and since speaking to The Mission he hasn’t touched a graphite rod. Next up? Our money is on the largest flats GTs in the world at Astove. Now there’s a challenge.

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FLUFF

THE CREASE FLY I F S T R I P E D B A S S A T E B A R S N A C K S , T H E C R E A S E F LY W O U L D B E T H E PEANUTS. LONG ISL AND-BASED STRIPER LEGEND, JOE BL ADOS, W E I G H S I N O N H O W H I S FA B L E D P A T T E R N C A M E A B O U T .

I

started out in a family of commercial fishermen. I still live in the house that I grew up in here in the North Fork of Long Island. We used to fish for striped bass, weakfish, bluefish and albacore from Mattituck to Orient Point. But I wanted to get out of that. I was always attracted to water, and I used to do a lot of spin rodding. But that was not the challenge. The challenge was in the fly rod, so I got into fly fishing. I sold my Harley and bought a Maverick flats skiff. I used to make all sorts of lures for spin fishing, so it was only a natural progression that I started tying my own flies. Back in the day I used to hollow out round popper body cylinders with a dremel tool and squeeze them together to form a tall and skinny profile to match the bait, like peanut bunker. They have a very narrow, but high, profile. I put the hook towards the bottom so it would act like a keel and it rode really well. But my wife was not happy about the house being covered in foam dust, so she said, “You’ve got to do it in a different way”. I discovered that I could get the same body shape and no foam dust if I used sheet foam. This is how the pattern evolved. One thing led to another and we found the transfer foils and started producing kits to sell to shops. My wife gave the fly its name, the crease fly. It leaves a crease in the water and there’s the crease when you make the body. I said to my wife, “I need to give this thing a name.” Let me tell you something – you’ve always got to give your wife credit if you don’t want to be in the dog house! It’s not hard to tie, but you need to get a few things right. For starters, make sure you cover the hook shank with a lot of thread because it is the foundation for the glue and foam that comes next. When you cut the body, fold the foam sheet as this allows you to cut both sides at the same time. Keep the front of the fly straight because if it slopes up or slants down it has a tendency to spin. Try to position the hook as low on the body as possible. It will act like a keel and hold the fly in an upright position. That said, even if the fly lies on its side it will catch fish. I prefer to use longer shanked hooks like the Mustad 34011, 34039SS and 90233S. With flies over four inches in body length, the fly may lie on its side when at rest but it stands up when you retrieve. Longer flies require wire instead of long shanked hooks. I can fish flies with bodies over 8 inches long and still cast without too much effort What sold me on this fly over conventional top-water patterns like poppers and sliders was its realistic action and look in the water. It’s a real versatile fly because you can fish it

with a sinking or a floating line. It doesn’t make too much of a commotion. Sometimes when you fish shallow water and use a fly that is too loud it will freak the fish out. Most guys that fish the Northeast coast in spring will tell you that top-water flies are not really that effective. The water is normally very cold and the fish are not aggressive enough to chase down fast moving surface flies. Despite this, my best fishing in spring is on top-water, using crease flies. I love fishing the entrances to creeks and you can basically let the tide do most of the work. In scenarios like this I will fish the crease fly slowly and just give it the occasional twitch. The striped bass will eat that fly like there’s no tomorrow. Every salty fly rodder will differ on their favourite gear or flies, but one thing they will all agree on is that nothing beats a surface strike. A bunch of factors from luck to skill and sheer determination can make you stand out on the beach. When all else fails, crease flies have given me the edge.

Photo: Joe Blados 90

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For your nearest dealer contact Frontier Distribution on info@frontierflyfishing.co.za


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THE LIFER

THE SCIENTIST W H E N H E ’ S N O T D O D G I N G B L A C K M A M B A S O R C AT C H I N G C R O C O D I L E S I N H I S D AY J O B , D A N I E P I E N A A R , H E A D O F S C I E N T I F I C S E R V I C E S F O R S A N PA R K S , G E T S T O TA R G E T T I G E R F I S H I N W I L D R I V E R S T H AT A R E O F F L I M I T S T O T H E R E S T O F THE WORLD.

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y first real fish was a strepie or caranteen caught in a gully in Tsitsikamma National Park.

My homewaters are the rivers of the Kruger National Park. In primary school my friends and I used to sneak out of the Skukuza staff village and fish with handlines for tilapia, yellowfish and barbel in the Sabie River. Of course, we had to hide so that our parents or the patrolling rangers did not see us. The “guardian angels” must have been working overtime as none of us ever got hurt by wild animals, even though we would also on occasion take a dip in areas we considered safe from crocodiles. The worst that happened to me on these jaunts was that I contracted bilharzia. I have been a Lowveld boy most of my life. My father (the late Dr Tol Pienaar) worked in the Kruger Park and we grew up in Skukuza. I went to boarding school in Nelspruit for five years, then four years studying in Pretoria (B.Sc with Botany and Zoology and an Honours degree in Wildlife Management), two years in Hoedspruit in the Air Force and then back to Skukuza for post-graduate studies in 1988. I have been here ever since and what an absolute privilege that has been. The sad bit is that, at age 65, one has to leave the Kruger National Park and that time is approaching far quicker than I would like. The best part of my job is dealing with dedicated, competent, interesting and vibrant people that are committed to learning in order to improve conservation in our country.

The worst part of my job is the horror of rhino poaching. Having studied rhino and spent many months following them on foot, they are one of my favourite animals. The absolute absurdity and pointlessness of the rhino poaching pandemic is hard to comprehend. The massive amounts of money that most of the role players (not just the poachers and illegal traders) are making from the rhino crisis unfortunately makes it almost impossible to investigate new or innovative solutions.

I’ve changed my mind about many things over the years. Change is the one constant. If you stop changing your mind you have probably stopped learning or are just plain thick-headed. I have become more tolerant over the years, prepared to consider other ideas and philosophies. At times this has led to significant insights. For instance, we now understand that humans used to play an important role as ecosystem drivers in the Kruger Park and by not simulating that historic role we have created a less resilient system.

Many people confuse conservation with preservation. Conservation is not something a few rangers in green or khaki uniform do by fencing a piece of land off and keeping people out. Conservation should be everybody’s duty, although the more affluent you are the more opportunity you should have to lessen your impact on the environment. Conservation and improvement of the whole socioecological system is far better than just trying to protect bits of it or to focus too much on individual species.

The best life advice I have ever been given is to pursue happiness and to try to leave this earth a little better than you found it. Life is too short to waste on negativity, be it a job you hate, pessimistic friends or acrimonious relationships.

The role of the each and every member of the public is crucial. As a nation we should start seeing ourselves as part of, and utterly dependent on, the natural system and thinking hard about how we live, work, play and do business. I think one has to make mistakes when growing up in order to develop as a person. Do not beat yourself up over mistakes – learn from them and move forward. Also seek out diverse and interesting people to learn from and do not be too serious – make room for some humour in your life.

The best fishing advice I have ever been given is to slow down, cast less, observe, think more and just to enjoy being out along the waters. For tigerfish do not make more than 5 casts at a spot. The big fish will usually take on the 1st or 2nd cast. I am most proud of the small role I helped play in improving the research and knowledge base we need to manage our national parks. This also meant finding the right young people and enabling them, when it is our time to step aside, to continue on this conservation journey. On a personal note, I am proud of how my family turned out, in spite of me. My wife, daughter and son had to deal with my prolonged absences. Holidays were always spent at places

Photos: Richard White W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M

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new fibreglass rods. These slower action fly rods have a certain appeal that is hard to describe, but they help me to slow my casting stroke down and the rod almost seems to get a life of its own.

where one could throw a line at some fish. I am also proud to have had my son walk the length of the Kruger Park with me and some colleagues when he was still in school. We carried all our food and water, walked through the bush and, at night, we slept where we stopped. On many days we covered 35 km in 45 °C heat, but we all finished more or less intact. This route will be turned into a tourist wilderness trail in the near future. The best trick I’ve ever seen was by a research colleague from NASA who showed us how to catch crocodiles by snagging them using a rod, reel and 500lb braid. It’s exciting when the crocodile is longer than the aluminum boat we use. The biggest one we have caught and marked so far was a magnificent animal of 5,1 meters in length. I have had a number of close shaves over the years. The closest one was when I was bitten on the leg by a big black mamba while tracking rhino alone in the veld. I was quite sure I was done for, but I put a tourniquet on the leg and made it out of the bush and, with the help of a ranger friend, got to the hospital two hours later. The doctors did not want to believe that it was a mamba that had bitten me and refused to administer the anti-venom. I was placed on a ventilator and was completely paralysed by the venom. After three days most of the venom had worked out of my system and the ventilator was removed. That probably makes me one of the few people that have survived the full bite of a black mamba without receiving anti-venom. It is, however, not an experience that I would recommend.

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It’s a special privilege to be able to fly fish in the Kruger Park. It is not just the scenery, the unforgiving environment, the heat, the animals or the abundance and diversity of fish species that make it special. I think the element of danger or adventure adds significantly to the experience. You continuously have to be aware, to focus and to concentrate, especially if you are escorting others doing research, monitoring or filming along the rivers. A large calibre revolver carried in a chest holster is practical and leaves both hands free for other important tasks. When you lie in your tent at night listening to the night sounds of the bush you realise that all that day you were present in the moment and your mind was not occupied with the mundane distractions that form part of “normal life”. Each of the five perennial rivers that cross the Kruger Park has a special character, charm and appeal. It is unfortunate that the fishable sections of these rivers are so limited that one cannot make fishing a commercial activity open to the public without impacting negatively on exactly that which makes these areas special. Fishing has always been my preferred way to engage with nature and to visit special places. I enjoy the simplicity of fly fishing (it is a bit like hand line fishing) and the mechanics of a good cast. Recently I was given a Tenkara rod (really only a fancy version of a bamboo dip-stok we used as kids) by a close friend and that has opened another level of simplicity. Tigerfish on a Tenkara rod is a lot of fun. In the future I will also dabble with bamboo rods and the

W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M

The older I get the more I have realised that a certain level of fitness is necessary if I want to keep fishing the places I always have. Slack-lining has helped me with core strength and maintaining the balance you need when, for example, you have to drag a friend up the steep sides of the Letaba gorge. Nowadays I get almost more enjoyment from helping friends catch a fish they have not caught before or showing them some of the remarkable places in Kruger. Is seems as if enjoyment multiplies exponentially when you share those singular moments with a close friend or two. If I could change one thing in fly fishing it would be to encourage fly fishing exclusive people to embrace all forms of fishing. One certainly can learn from all other fishing disciplines and that can only make you a better and more rounded fly fisherman. It will also bring you more enjoyment (as well as more toys) and more fishing opportunities when the weather, terrain or fish species make a fly rod unsuitable. Musselcracker off the rocks when the sea is white and the wind is howling is one such example as are GTs that are holding 80 meters out on a patch of reef and need to be presented with a 4-ounce plug. One should also never feel “inferior” because you do not have the latest or most expensive tackle. Good tackle certainly are a pleasure to use, but I have Deane fly rods that cost me all of R250 that I still enjoy and use regularly. The last fish I caught was a 7-pound tigerfish hooked in the Letaba gorge in the Kruger National Park in pitch darkness on a self-tied popper fly. It is a special feeling when you are casting into the darkness, listening to hippo snorts and seeing the red eyes of crocodiles floating past when you switch on your headlamp.


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The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine Issue #6  
The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine Issue #6