Waters & words

Archive for July, 2013

Measure once, Cut Twice

Back in 1996 I was cornered by a horde of tackle dealers, who politely informed me that the rod I was using at the time was………  Well it was……………..

I needed a new one.

And the ones they put in my hands that day beside a dam near Somerset East were sublime. So on my return home to KZN I visited one of them, and he very generously gave me three fly-rods to try.

I tested them on a prime still-water, and settled very quickly on this one:

Thomas and Thomas (7 of 7)

Thomas and Thomas (1 of 1)


Tying a cripple: a step by step

This represents a half hatched nymph. A crippled and hopeless morsel for the Trout to take at will. The idea is to hang the fly in the surface film, with the tail end of the nymph shuck still attached and hanging in the water. The front end of the fly represents the half hatched winged insect, it’s looped body stuck in the top of the shuck, and its legs trailing beneath its thorax and partially opened wings.

Cripple (23 of 23)

The materials you will need:

Cripple materials



Tying the woolly bugger



Woolly Bugger (1 of 28)



In his excellent book, “Frogcall”, Greg French uses this as a name for the chapter on stripping Trout.

Here is a photo essay, a “visual trifle”, of the process, as undertaken by my friends and I each winter:






My friend Roy sent this to me the other day:

“I grew up with parents who kept everything & used them time & time again! A mother, God love her, who washed aluminium foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen before they had a name for it. A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.
Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away.
I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, and dish-towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep.
It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there’d always be more.
But then my mother died, and on that clear summer’s night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn’t any more.
Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away…never to return.. So… While we have it….. it’s best we love it…. And care for it… And fix it when it’s broken……… And heal it when it’s sick.
This is true. For marriage……. And old cars….. And children with bad report cards….. And dogs with bad hips…. And aging parents…… And grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.
Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with. “

……………………………………………..(The piece goes on to more important aspects like the role of God. I have not repeated the whole message here)


Golden threads

A little photographic trick:  Look for opportunities where the fly-caster has a dark background behind him, or at least a patch of dark, across which his fly line will pass when he casts. You might have to ask him to step forward out of the shadows just a little in order to get the sunlight to catch his arcing line. Then take pictures on continuous shooting , in order to get the line at the perfect spot. These opportunities will present themselves more in the early morning or late afternoon, and more so in steep river canyons, where shaded vertical walls are common.

In this first image, I had to wait for PD to fish the run properly (he was hidden in the shade), and then I asked him to step forward  just a step or so to get the line into the sunlight. We were on the Riflespruit, and it was the first pool of the day.


The picture is special because my father, an artist (oils), painted the scene, and PD now has it hanging in his house.