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Rhuan Human
Hometown: Vereeniging, Gauteng
Company: WildFly
Area Fishing: South Africa
Discipline: Freshwater Fly
Species Targeted: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Smallmouth Yellowfish, Largemouth Yellowfish, Natal Scaly, Tigerfish, Bass, Carp

Rhuan grew up in a fishing family and being raised on the banks of the Vaal River he spent many hours targeting anything that swims. He started out as a lure angler fishing with his father in local bass circuits and money trails. He caught his first Yellowfish on fly in the Vaal River and has been hooked on fly fishing ever since. Nowadays Rhuan spends his time in the KZN midlands fishing the pristine trout waters in the area and every now and then he visits his home waters of the mighty Vaal River.

The Problem with Largemouth...

The Problem with Largemouth...

It's that time of year again…  6 a.m in the morning and you're carrying a 20 kilo 12-volt deep cycle battery in below zero temps to a cramped little inflatable boat, so you can drift down a vast river system that visually seems to have little to no life in it, hoping to catch a particular species of fish that appear to exist only in WhatsApp messages and facebook posts.

At around 10 a.m you are already 800 casts in, eight cups of coffee down and not so much as a bump. I mean okes were slaying the smallies in the summer season, the river is looking good, surely the bigger cousin must be around? Then you remember a cold front passing through just the other day… Largies don't dig that sh@t, the barometer was all over the place, must be why nothing's happening right now.

Lunch time you drop your 5kg dumbbell on a drop-off where you've had some success in the past, last season you had three takes and one on for almost 5 seconds, this is definitely the spot. You smash a quick ham and cheese while figuring out your approach. Black Muishond with a slow steady strip on an intermediate line, that should do the trick. You give the area a thorough working but alas the only action was a barble coming up for air right next to the boat, for a moment you thought about slapping your fly on the surface to see if the whiskered salmon would have a go but remembered that you're here on a mission.

Late afternoon you are well over a thousand casts and in the final innings with nothing on the board. You spot a solid piece of timber jammed up against the bank with good depth below it and a steady flow pushing through. Ring ring, Largie residence hello… You think to yourself, I'm gonna bomb this Muishond right into that Largies eyeball, there is no way he can refuse it this time. Half way through the cast your mind starts wandering, will there be dinner when I get home or should I stop in Parys for a mince vetkoek? Hey, solid cast! You quickly check your feet to make sure there is no line under it, just in case a beast wants to tango. In a split second a meter of line shoots right out of your hand and straight upstream. You start grabbing at thin air and eventually manage to gather the line but by that time the show is over. Whack, twenty grand's worth of Shilton and Sage lay flat on the deck of your ark.

Your head in your hands only intensifies the sadness as there is a distinct lack of the smell of fish. On your way back to the car you quickly check facebook to see if you missed out on anything while you were out on the water? You spot a post from your mate, his smile as big as the battery you are now lugging back up the hill as he's gripping a 15lber taken earlier that day on an olive MSP… 

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Grunter on Fly - Fighting The Spotted Flats Ninja

Grunter on Fly - Fighting The Spotted Flats Ninja

The terms "Holy Grail" and "Fish of a thousand casts" have been flung around excessively in the world of fly fishing lately. So much so that it's almost hard to take them seriously…

When a group of accomplished anglers who are well respected spend an inordinate amount of time and effort to catch one species and they label said species as the "holy grail", rest assured that the label is authentic 

There is a specific group of fly fishers, who thrive on targeting "hard to get" fish. They will spend a 12-hour day on the water and come back smiling because on that day the fish reacted a little different to their fly, excited regardless of the fact that the end result was a blank. For them, it is as much about the hunt as it is about the prize. It's safe to say that the Spotted Gunter has firmly cemented its place as a bucket list species and "holy grail" target in the South African fly fishing fraternity and a few hardcore anglers have pioneered techniques to successfully target this elusive quarry on fly.

The Breede River, Western Cape.

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Early Bird

Early Bird

Summer time isn’t what you would call peak trout season. When the local Stillwaters start to break through the 20°C mark the speckled inhabitants start to feel stressed. As we know Trout are a cold water species and prefer well oxygenated water. Warmer water has less oxygen and with little to no current or flow bringing in fresh water and oxygen, the situation is not ideal for trout. Their natural instinct is to move to deeper cooler water and conserve their energy during the heat of the day and only feed when the temperatures are down.

Now I much prefer to pack away my Stillwater boxes during the peak summer months and rather focus on river fishing and other summer fish species, in South Africa we are very fortunate that we can fly fish all year round. However, one of my favorite times to get back on to stillwaters is late summer/autumn during March/April. The mid day temps can still get quite high during this time of year but if you can wake up early and get out just before sun rise you could have some amazing early morning sight fishing for trout. Often the bigger fish move around the shallows at first light, the water would have cooled with the low night temperatures and there is an abundance of food in the form of amphibians, terrestrials and other hatching aquatic insects. With calm conditions you can spot feeding fish, look for subtle rises and bow wakes as the large trout move around in knee deep water.

Early morning Trout on a big foam hopper

My favorite method of targeting these early morning feeding fish is right on the surface with foam frogs or big dry flies and as the sun gets up I start stripping streamers sub surface. The takes and smashes are incredible and the fish are definitely in an aggressive feeding mode as they try to put on some weight for the winter spawning season. You can miss a lot of takes fishing these methods but it’s usually because of over eagerness and striking too early but as soon as you work out the cobwebs and time your hook set better you could be in for some incredible early morning action.

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Feed 'em Meat

Feed 'em Meat

Streamer fishing is by no means a new introduction to the fly fishing world, basic streamer patterns and baitfish imitations have been around for centuries but in recent years streamer fishing has evolved immensely and now enjoys a new found popularity amongst fly anglers around the world.

A quick browse on the internet will soon reveal the underground world of streamer fishing, those who are addicted operate under hashtags such as #streamerjunkie, #articulationnation, #streameraffiliated and with fly names like “The Sex Dungeon”, “Late Night with Wanda” and “Drunk and Disorderly” it’s quite obvious that this particular group of individuals has a rebellious streak, which quite frankly is what streamer fishing is all about and maybe why I am so drawn to it.

Now before we get into the “streamer discussion” and my personal take on the topic, its important that you understand the golden rule of streamer fishing… Regardless of species that you are targeting, when fishing streamers or baitfish patterns, you are appealing to the predator brain of the fish and it is that predator and hunters instinct, hard wired into the fish, that will cause it to react to a weak easy target/meal (dying/injured baitfish) or attack a foreign invader (protect its territory). It’s this golden rule that inspires the modern day take on streamer fishing and the fly designs that have emerged with it. This blog is not about traditional dry fly fishing, small streams and delicate presentations, it features 7 weight rods, 6 inch streamers and images that could upset sensitive readers, purists should stop reading this, right about now…

(photo by @Galloupsslideinn)

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The 5 friends you take on a fly fishing trip.

The 5 friends you take on a fly fishing trip.

It's the one calendar entry that keeps any fly addict awake at night with excitement, a fly fishing epic that will potentially go down as the greatest adventure of your life! It starts with months of planning, hours on google maps and researching the internet, and culminates in a drunken weekend, with a bit of fishing thrown in the mix and a lifetime of memories to take home.

The difference between a good fishing trip and a legendary adventure teeters on the "wolfpack" you choose to run with. We all have our selected group of fishing mates but the ones who make a fishing expedition truly epic are cast in a certain mold.

The Researcher

Without him, there probably won't be a trip, he's the guy who spends more time on google earth than Kim Kardashian does on Snapchat. He starts tracking weather patterns 2 months ahead, and on the day of departure will hand out a travel kit that includes, a full trip itinerary with a time schedule, hand drawn detailed maps of the water that will be fished, a blank catch logbook and number 2 pencil.

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Big Brown Trout – Think outside the box.  

Big Brown Trout – Think outside the box.  

They have been the focal point of many novels, poems and more recently popular fly fishing films. Between the long hikes through charming scenery and slow-motion casting, rises the unmistakable golden head sprinkled with spots of black and brown, and often shades of red, to gently remove insects from the surface of the water before it slowly glides down back to the bottom of the river.

If such a competition existed, brown trout would be voted sexiest fish alive… well at least if it was up to me. They are the Jennifer Aniston of the aquatic world, but besides their obvious beauty it is their wit, their “playing hard to get” and the ability to frustrate anglers that have fly fishers falling at the proverbial feet of the species Salmo Trutta.

Bushman Brown taken on a 16 CDC Caddis

For a while now brown trout have been an obsession for me, more accurately big trophy browns. They are as elusive as they come, even more so in our local South African waters. I’ve been fortunate enough to hook a few decent browns from my home waters over the past couple of years and the hunt still continues for that elusive double figure. One thing I have learned in my quest for a trophy brown trout is that you have to be willing to move outside your comfort zone and think outside the box to better your chances at these elusive trophies.

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5 Reasons To Enter The TOPS Corporate Challenge

5 Reasons To Enter The TOPS Corporate Challenge

Competition angling is not for everyone, in fact some of the best anglers I have met have never fished a competition in their lives. Some see fishing as an escape. An break from their daily routine, and from the responsibilities that go with adult life. They want to be outside with a rod in hand maybe a refreshment in the other and spend some quality time with mates targeting their favorite species of fish.

The TOPS Corporate Challenge is celebrating its 15th year in 2016., driving anglers have flock to the small village of Nottingham Road in pursuit of the silvery bounty that proliferate in these waters.

It’s about so much more than the fishing though... It’s the time you get to spend with like minded individuals after sessions on the water. It’s about meeting new friends and talking fly fishing over a cold one at the legendary Notties Pub. The TOPS Corporate Challenge is not your average fly fishing competition and if you are going to enter a fly fishing event this is why you should enter this one.

#1 Everyone walks away with something. Besides the awesome goodie bag you receive when you arrive on the first day of the event, each angler receives a prize at prize giving time. Fishing holidays to exotic destinations, fly fishing tackle, clothing and hampers from our sponsors are only some of the prizes up for grabs, and they aren’t all awarded on fishing capability…

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The New "7wt" On the Block

The world of fly fishing rods is a strange and dark place… We have all been there, looking for the perfect rod that would ultimately make us better fly anglers and help us catch more fish. We often hear guys talk about the “best” rod on the market and every year there is a new kid on the block challenging for that top spot. The truth is there is no one “best” rod but there is the “best” rod for you.

For the last year and a half I spent a lot of time looking for a 7wt rod that would be my go to weapon on the Vaal River for targeting Largemouth Yellowfish. I cast several brands and models who all did the job but I just did not feel that they were the right fit. I was looking for consistency above all, a rod that would perform just as well at 25 meters as it does at 10 meters.  A rod that would give me the same distance and accuracy even after a long day on the water making hundreds of casts with my arms tired and mind fatigued. I was given a demo rod to try out that did just that, and the first day on the water I knew I found the rod I was looking for.

The Xplorer T50 is no stranger to the South African market, in fact it took top honors in a recent shootout done locally by the complete fly fishing magazine. The 7wt model I was given to trial, although unbranded, had T50 written all over it. It had the same quality and build I have come to expect from this top of the range Xplorer outfit. The lightweight fast action rod carried the biggest and heaviest streamers in my box with ease and I was amazed at how much control I had over my casting, even when changing flies and casting distance. The rod also featured the renowned butt strength that made the 9wt version a hit amongst Tigerfish anglers, and pulling 10lb beasts away from heavy structure was an easy task for the T50 7wt.

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Breaking The Surface

Breaking The Surface

“Rainbow trout are predators with a varied diet, and will eat nearly anything they can grab. Their image as selective eaters is only a legend.” (Albury Fisheries)

5 years ago trout was a foreign concept to me as a “Vaal” angler. What I knew of the species I got from fancy restaurant menus and watching Brad Pitt in that o’ so poetic fly fishing film… I spent most of my time targeting largemouth bass and on occasion a trip to Mozambique to hunt down the predators of the salt. Upon my introduction to Stillwater fly fishing in the KZN midlands, a size 6 Wooly Bugger was a delicate presentation as far I was concerned. The transition from a 4 inch bait fish to a size 18 midge pattern was difficult, to say the least.

My first big rainbow on a foam frog pattern

Along with my trout fishing baptism went all the usual books and writings by the fly masters of yesteryear. In their paragraphs and pages I was often reminded of passages from the bible, so out fear of breaking the “ten commandments” I stuck to traditional patterns for trout, never once thinking of using flip flop foam or hair of deer to create patterns that imitated rodents or amphibians... That is until one day a good friend of mine Juan, a fly fishing extraordinaire, drew from his fly box a carefully crafted foam frog, tied it on to the end of a short leader and cast it along the edge of a steep bank. As soon as he started to rhythmically retrieve the kicking toad back to shore, my jaw dropped to the floor as the water parted and the head of a monstrous rainbow trout erupted in the wake of the fly. The hook set narrowly missed the crooked kype and as the fly landed on the grassy shore we both looked at each other with amazement.

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The River Kingdom

The River Kingdom

 "The angler forgets most of the fish he catches, but he does not forget the streams and lakes in which they are caught." - Charles K. Fox

My journey in fly fishing has been short compared to some… but rather than seeing my young age and limited experience as a curse I find it a blessing. I remember as a kid how excited I got when we went on family holidays or day trips to new places I haven’t seen before. The excitement was hard to contain and between my brother and I, my parents grew irritated with a thousand questions and harmonies of “are we there yet” every 5 minutes.

It’s easy for me to admit that I haven’t seen it all and that every time I visit new waters my anticipation and excitement is childlike, just ask anyone who has travelled in a car with me to a fishing destination, they will attest to the ooh’s, aah’s and occasional swearing in my native tongue when spotting a river or stream… or any body of water for that matter.

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My most recent adventure was to the kingdom of Lesotho, one of the highest kingdoms on earth, although I have visited Lesotho before this was my first with rod and reel and true to form it was difficult to contain my inner child. We were to spend 4 nights at Orion Hotel on the banks of Mohale Dam with the plan to fish the dam as well as spend a day on the Senqunyane River. Our main target species was the indigenous population of smallmouth yellowfish. The prospect of targeting these fish in gin clear water was a mouthwatering one and even more so for a self-proclaimed yellowfish addict like myself.

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On a Scale from 1 to 10

On a Scale from 1 to 10

The Natal Yellowfish or “Scaly” as it is often referred to, is endemic to the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal and one of the more common fish species that inhabit the rivers of KZN. They can be found in different habitats ranging from the Drakensberg mountain streams down to the coastal lowlands.

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Although the “Scaly” has become quite a popular angling species, on fly they do not enjoy the same status as their larger inland cousins the Smallmouth Yellowfish. KZN is spoiled for choice when it comes to fly friendly water, with a healthy population of trout in rivers and stillwaters, saltwater species all along the coast and its estuaries and even Tigerfish from the northern parts of the region, Scalies tend to be down the list of species to target on fly.

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Its Dry But They Drink It.

Its Dry But They Drink It.

Anton Hartman with a beaut Smallmouth caught on Dry Fly

 

The Vaal River is probably one the most popular fly fishing destinations in South Africa. Every summer season thousands of eager fly anglers gather on the banks of the Vaal, armed and ready to take on the mighty indigenous Yellowfish.

As the Vaal temperatures start to increase around the changing season the Smallmouth Yellowfish become active and will move into shallower, flowing water to feed and of course spawn the next generation of feisty “yellows”. Anglers target these hungry feeders, who show similar feeding habits to that of river trout, using upstream nymphing and Czech nymphing tactics, often landing a good number of fish in a small stretch of water.

Aerial Shot Of The Vaal Barrage

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