Upstream Flyfishing

July 2011:

The Control Freak

Funny how a single event can trigger a whole chain of memories. A friend of ours dropped in at the shop the other day in preparation for an Orange River yellowfishing trip, and he had a photograph of a control fly tied on a circle hook. That photograph took me back to my two-year obsession with the Vaal and its yellows, and my own experiments with circle hooks. A nostalgic impulse made me sit down and tie a few Control Freaks – a weighted control fly that had its birth in that time. I’ll share the pattern with you and wish you many a good fish on it!

Hook: Circle or Scud

Thread to match overall colour

Weight: Hot Tungsten Bead and Lead Wire

Abdomen: Hares Ear Blend

Thorax: SLF or Gleamy Dub

Shellback: Scud Body or Thin Skin over Lateral Scale

Rib: 10lb Monofilamant

Hello? Can you hear me?

We apologize to all of you who tried to call us in the last couple of days. No, we’ve not been out fishing. The silence on our side was due to theft of copper cables which put the entire area back in the dark ages. The police have had little success in tracking down the culprits, so we decided to do some of our own investigating. We strongly suspect the root cause of the problem to be the effectiveness of the Brassie as a stillwater Chironomid pattern during the colder months. If you happen to be on Lakies and you see a dodgy character throwing Brassies – let him know we’re onto him!

Massive Deal on Z-Axis Rod / 4200 Reel Combo!


Once in a while a deal comes along that you just can’t walk away from. This is one of those deals!

Great Performance, plus the legendary Sage Guarantee. A great buy regardless of the free reel!

With Sage having announced the launch of “The One” range of rods, the Z-Axis range has suddenly become “old.” If you know the Z-Axis, you’ll know it’s one of the sweetest fast-action rods ever built, but fact is it now has to vacate its space on the shelf.

Too good to be true? Believe it!

Therefore, while stocks last, we’re GIVING you a Sage 4230 or 4250 reel to go with your purchase of a Z-Axis. That’s a R2500 freebie! First come, first served only for as long as our in-store stocks last – don’t delay!


Barbless hooks – what’s the point?


Dohiku Barbless - be kind to the fish!

I get asked this a lot. Fact is, I can think of very few reasons for fishing a barbed hook, at least as far as our local no-kill streams are concerned. A lot of the reasoning is purely theoretical and I don’t want to turn this into a debate. But there’s one occurrence that I see often enough for me to consider barbed hooks obsolete: the so-called “deep-hooked” fish. The gills, owing to their physiological function, carry a lot of blood under a fair amount of pressure within thinly protected vessels. Where the vessels join up are large blood sinuses, and ripping a hole in these can be fatal. Logically the puncture hole caused by a barbless hook clogs easier than the tear caused by removal of a barbed hook – this alone is ample reason to go barbless or at least de-barb.

The Ketchum Release tool is probably the best safe hook remover on the market today

Ever wonder, by the way, how a hook ends up in there? Many think that the fish was in the process of swallowing the fly when the hook was set, but most gill-hooked fish were actually in the process of expelling the fly through the gill slits. Small non-food items like flies are seldom “spat out” by trout – they simply flare the gill plates and allow the current to flush the item out. In the case of a fish actually attempting to swallow a fly (it does happen) it’s more often hooked in the oesophagus. All good reasons to (a) fish barbless, (b) pay attention and (c) carry a decent hook removal tool!

The End of the Line

Scientific Anglers offers quality tippet material in both copolymer and fluorocarbon

Ever give any thought to the role that your choice of tippet material plays in how your flies perform? I just finished a book by English National angler Jeremy Lucas, and I was intrigued by his choice of different materials (and brands) for different applications. It is well known that true fluorocarbon is denser than nylon and sinks faster, making it a good choice for subsurface presentations. There’s more to it, though. I haven’t personally given much thought to the fact that copolymer has a shinier surface than nylon monofil. With this in mind, could monofil be a better choice for dry flies under specific conditions than copolymer? There’s also stiffness to consider. Limp material translates to nicer drifts, but can lead to spinning and twisting when used with larger flies. Whatever you choose, stick to brands that offer good knot strength. A broken tippet is never a good thing; and that’s the end of the line.

Maxima - Probably the most well known of the monofilament brands in SA

Blending your own

A bit of flash , a few leggy fibers and there you have it - the perfect thorax!

Flyfishermen are tinkerers; fly tyers even more so. Fortunately all the rules of fly tying can be summed up in a single sentence: There are no rules! Mixing dubbings is a case in point. There are hundreds of colours on the market, but we can’t help mixing and blending different ones until we get the exact effect we’re after.

For serious blending, a coffee grinder works great. Just remember to clean out the hairs before breakfast time!

In addition to colour, think about texture and how the end product will react to getting wet. Some materials darken significantly when wet.

As a very general rule, natural materials tend to soak up more water than synthetics – an important consideration when tying Klinkhamer abdomens. Don’t be afraid to add in CDC, Antron or even the fluff from the filter of your tumble dryer – the possibilities are endless!

New from Sage

When the Z-Axis was introduced in 2006, it was considered to be the most successful new product launch ever by Sage. Now there’s talk of a new rod to replace the Z-Axis towards the end of this year – the Sage One. Lightness continues to be the driving force behind rod technology, and the One is said to be at the cutting edge. Also, the way the carbon fibers are compressed and aligned make for a very true tracking blank, which enhances accuracy. Personally, I really like the shape of the grip and the understated cosmetics. Does this make the Z-Axis obsolete? Well, just as there are people out there who argue that the XP is still the best rod for them, I believe the Z-Axis is so good that it’ll continue to have a following. Certainly it’s hard to imagine a better 3wt 9-footer than the Z-Axis – guess we’ll have to wait and see! The Sage One is expected to be released in South Africa by end September 2011.

Weighty Matters

Can anyone remember what an unbeaded GRHE looks like?

When adding weight to a fly, several options are available. Metal wire is relatively cheap and has been in use for a long time. More recently, beads made of brass, tungsten, lead and even glass have found a place in fly tying. Tunsten scud bodies and moulded lead on the hook shank add weight as well as an underbody for scud-type flies. Lead from the tops of older wine bottles not only provide weight, but also an excuse to have a drink while tying. The most important thing, though, is to pause and consider the intended outcome of adding weight, and to think about how best to achieve that outcome. Correct weighting can induce action in a fly; incorrect weighting can kill it. Similarly, proper weighting helps to present a fly at the correct fishing level while overweighting just messes up your casting. Overweighting is a more common mistake than underweighting, and although super-heavy flies do have a place in fishing their niche is quite limited. Remember: When it comes to weight, a little goes a long way!

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