Waters & words

Archive for May, 2014

The Roach wears undies

At a recent gathering of the Natal Fly Dressers Society (NFDS), Jan Korrubel demonstrated the tying of the well known “Papa Roach“, that excellent Dragonfly nymph pattern that is making it into halls of fame.

Papa Roach by Herman Botes

Herman Botes’ Papa Roach: Photo ex Tom Sutcliffe…see link above

Jan has a pragmatic approach that I enjoy. He chatted about the fact that he couldn’t bring himself to leave the hook shank bare under the Zonker strip, “because it just looked wrong”. I Know Herman Botes intended the hookshank to be the flat base of the fly’s shape, but a bit of dubbing finishes it off nicely. We briefly discussed whether Trout could count legs and settled on four. Jan showed us the faceted beads he uses for eyes, and then he went on to tie a “Banana Roach” in pale tan colour.

That particular colour didn’t do anything for me, but Jan’s introduction of his fruity version, and his comment about not leaving the hook shank bare, got me thinking on the way back home.

I have always been one for subtle things showing through. Like a single strand of Krystal flash, that flashes only occasionally in the sunlight. Or a small tag on a nymph. I quite like the “hotspots” that people are adding to everything nowadays, although I think that too often they are too large or prominent. I am one for a single wrap of bright colour. People have often suggested that a red band which appears around the gills of a bait fish imitation suggests blood, and therefore injury, and therefore a weak target. The red or green body was always important on a Walkers Killer, and yet you never really saw that. But like a drably dressed lady, who has racy red underwear beneath the tweeds, the body of the fly was somehow significant, if only to those who knew it was there. On that rare occasion when the lady reached up to fetch a jar, or a current shifted the walker’s feathers, the racy red bits worked their magic, and the prey was like a moth to the candle!

I can work with theories like that. They are neat and logical, and can never really be disproven. Most of fly-fishing is built on that stuff!

So with Jan’s ideas in my head, I added some racy red underwear to the Roach.



What do you think?

Journeys through the journal (7)

Plain “unsuccessful” days are the ones that don’t make for good magazine stories. They are however part of the tapestry of an outdoor life. The tiny inconsequential events on those days, are some of the the building blocks of a life of fly-fishing.

It was the 28th May 2005.
The plan was to fish an exclusive private water that Guy had access to in the Mooi River valley. I was excited at the prospect. It was not often that I got a chance to fish this water, and previous invitations to fish it had always turned into those red letter days, with big strong Rainbows coming freely to the fly. Well, in my nostalgic reminiscing they did. It probably wasn’t THAT easy, but we certainly did get good fish there.

When we arrived, beyond all odds, it was filthy dirty. It was May. My diary doesn’t record what rain we had had, but by May it should have tapered off in a normal year. 2005 wasn’t normal. I only know that from the evidence of how the rest of the day turned out.

Guy and I never did dirty water. Mud and Trout don’t go together. We were always fussy about that. I still am. So muddy water always means a change of venue. No question!

After venue no 1, we decided to book an NFFC water: Prairie it was to be, and we set off. That was a drive of some twenty kilometres from where we were on the South side of the valley. If memory serves we went up the valley to Riverside, crossed over there, and came back down on the Northern side.
When we got to Prairie the light was such that we couldn’t decide what the water looked like. We inflated tubes and launched. Thirty yards off the edge, Guy and I looked at each other and shook heads. The colour was not good at all.
Time to re-think.
What if we went up into the hills where there is less cultivation? That sounded like a good idea. So we phoned Highmoor. They weren’t prepared to do a half day ticket. There was only half of the day left, and it was quite a way to drive. We ditched that plan on financial grounds.
Then Guy suggested that we just go over the ridge to Bracken Waters. I though that if the one water was dirty, that one would be too, but we were running out of options, and at least it was close by.
We phoned and changed the booking, and we were on our way.

Just behind the Kamberg store, the ground looked really marshy. The recent rain hadn’t helped. We carried on a short distance, and the vehicle started to spin in the deep muddy tracks. Guy managed to steer it into a set of shallower ones, and we forged ahead, sliding and slithering, until the vehicle slipped across into some really deep ones, and we were done for. Thoroughly stuck!


Fortunately I knew the owner of the store at the time, and after numerous attempts to get out, using available stones, and floor mats, we swallowed our pride and went looking for his help. I can’t quite remember why, but for some practical reason he pulled us out in a forward direction. This meant that we would have to turn around, and go back through the same muddy patch again. After studying the water, and finding it as muddy as I had feared, we ventured back. I drove. I gunned it, reckoning that momentum would be our only ally. It was spectacular, and successful.
We stopped after the bad patch, and poured a mug of coffee from a flask, sitting there in the cab wondering what next.

After much deliberation we settled on Granchester. Off we went, a further 10 km or so down the road. Granchester was in wonderful nick. Clean as a whistle.
We tackled up, and fished for the next hour and a half. That was all we got in before dark fell. There were midges hatching, but no head and tail rises, just a few deep swirls. We failed to crack the code. Guy got a small stock fish. I got nothing.



All I can say is that it still beat a day in an office. That’s fly-fishing!

Tying a tiny Parachute Adams

This is a fun clip I made a few months back.