Waters & words

Archive for August, 2013

First rains


Oh September rain

You drench my folded vale.

Your cold and cheerless mist

Like linen, soft and pale.

But you seduce. You persist.

And your verdant prize

Is my Holy Grail.


Gone be fawn and dust.

Out with brown and drought!

It is your sparkling stream for which I lust.

And water for my Trout.

Come grace us with your driving squalls,

And saturate us in your dew.

Oh how I have prayed for you!




August here in the KZN midlands is not a pretty time of year. At the end of a long winter, the entire province is tinder dry, and starting to heat up. We often experience “Berg winds” (For foreigners, that is winds blowing out of the North West over the Drakensberg, and not unlike the Santa Anna’s in California).


Feathers: buying decent marabou

The other evening, I was tying up a few flies for still-water, and I was getting to the end of a pack of marabou. When I remarked to the family that I was running out of feathers, I got some funny looks. That’s because as I said that there were wisps drifting about me in the air, there was some getting in my nose, and there were black feathers all over the place. But they were the wrong feathers you see.

Those who use marabou, will know what what I am talking about, feathers with thin, sharp ends. No fluff at the ends.

Poor Marabou

In desperation I looked in a packet that I thought contained grey marabou. As it turned out, it only looked grey because the old plastic packet (with a “Fly-fisherman” price tag of R4-50 on it!), had whitened. Inside, it contained the most glorious black marabou, as I remember marabou from 20 years ago:

Good Marabou

Now that is a proper feather.

Look for feathers like this when buying marabou. Some packets have a lot more of this in them than others.

More cranes

Normally when you crest the hill and find a flock of cranes in front of you, they take to the air before you can grab your camera.

This day I was lucky:

Cranes (1 of 7)


A few lines on a cloudy winter morning

A cloudy winter dawn

The first light of day brings honking geese

Hinting at what lies beyond the drawn curtains,

and out across the drab patchwork landscape:

Low slung cloud, and dampened dust,

Odours of dead wet kikuyu grass,

and a wafting hint of silage, hanging in the still morning air.

And farmyard sounds that carry in the silence

Pervading morning memories of childhood on the farm.

Nostalgia nestled in the moment,

Like my sleepy being in this warm bed.





Knotted legs

In a previous posting I showed a fly pattern that uses knotted pheasant tail legs, and I promised a posting to help readers tie these.

Tying knots in short pieces of feather fibre is difficult, so don’t beat yourself up if you end up with bits of knotless feather on the floor, and a foul temper. That would be entirely normal, and part of the process. In fact, if I haven’t tied these in a while, I forget all my own learning and do the same for a good 20 minutes before the synapses fire, and I remember this method:

Choose your fibres.

knotted legs (1 of 16)