Waters & words

Archive for March, 2013

Gill bodied nymph revisited

I recently wrote about a new technique for created in a nymph body with breathing gills along the sides.


In more recent weeks, I have been working up a few more variants and exploring the concept further.Fly tiers will know that such experimentation is a frustrating thing in many respects. You end up with several disasters before you get anything worthwhile. Materials are not as fine as you thought they would be, or not quite subtle enough, or too slippery to bond against, and so it goes; and you end up with little film canisters of tangled cast offs, of zero value to the fisherman in you.

We have a long awaited fishing trip coming up shortly, and instead of stocking up my boxes, I am “wasting” hooks and tying materials experimenting.

But when you get it right, it is all worth it.

I don’t know that I have the gilled body nymph right yet, but I have succeeded in incorporating more translucence, and sparkle into the pattern.

gill nymph 1 -7



Also known as “Fowlers Magic Dragon”, “Puff the Magic Dragon”, or just “the Puff”, but most likely not known at all.

I suppose I have done  very little to spread the news about this fly, but that was borne out of a desire not to be pretentious about the thing, rather than any motivation to keep the pattern to myself.

This fly is a catcher of fish in stillwaters in South Africa. And a catcher of some large fish too.


Trout breeding photo essay: Step one, egg collecting



Fly boxes

Once you own a collection of boxes, as one inevitably does after a few decades of fly-fishing, it becomes quite difficult to justify buying a new one. I drool over boxes in shops regularly. I turn them over in my hands. I stand there in the shop, thinking  that if I bought this one, I would use it for my Caddis & Midges, or my general purpose river nymphs, or some such thing. Then I put them back, and move on. Because you see, at home I have whole collection of perfectly good ones.



Flowers in the veld


Us fly-fishermen are a fairly obsessive bunch. Obsessing about fish mostly, and everything to do with catching them. I certainly do.

But as my good friend Roy has noticed, of late I have started to take note on the wonderful flowers we encounter when we go fishing. Here is a selection of what you can expect to see in the highlands of  KwaZulu Natal if you take the time to notice. One day perhaps I will develop the skills required to identify them all properly, and maybe I will commit  their names to memory.For now I just looked them up as best I could using the handbook that Roy gave me last year:

IMG_3099  IMG_3149

the Scarlet River lily (Hesperantha coccinea)

IMG_3112  IMG_3139

Watsonias in the upper Mooi River Valley


The Haberdashery Caddis

I strolled into a haberdashery yesterday while my son had his hair cut. The woman behind the counter viewed me with suspicion over the top of her bifocals. I was an uncommon sight for her I suppose.

She seemed happy enough when I bought a few things however. One of those things was a small reel of glistening green material, with no name on it. While she was ringing it up I converted it into a Caddis pupa in my minds eye. After dinner I converted it into a Caddis pupa in my vice.

caddis exp 1-1-5


Little river fish

Here in South Africa, and certainly in my own home waters of  KwaZulu Natal, our river fish are not expected to grow very big.

small brown     jnl 1-2-10