What Goes Around Flies Around

It never ceases to amaze me how seriously trout take our sport.


You would think having been released back into the waters a few times that they would be a little more obliging about snacking on a fly……..the concept of catch and release is clearly lost on the average rainbow


The old adage about the fish you see being the hardest fish to catch held true for a couple of fly fishers in the 3rd leg of the Corporate Trophy Challenge as finally the trout started chasing tail in the shallows.

210 was the final tally, amongst only 44 anglers, being the last 11 of the total of 45 teams that enjoyed South Africa’s premier fly fishing festival. Quite remarkably, a better average of 5 fish per rod, than in the first two legs. It was the easiest leg to qualify for the final by virtue of numbers, and interestingly 75% of entrants were fishing for the very first time on the Wildfly waters.


In fact over the entire 3 legs it was refreshing to see that although the same companies returned, more than 50% of the individuals were experiencing their inaugural challenge. Which made for some fascinating eavesdropping at Notties pub.


Flies are the hot topic and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the waters saw more flies than a decaying carcass on the Serengeti. The debate around what was working got very animated as the lads quenched their thirst and for what it is worth here are a few of the common conclusions.


The first two sessions of any trout fishing competition generally produce the most fish. All being equal on the weather and angler front, the catch returns should diminish as the rod pressure intensifies…there’s no real argument about the fish becoming fly shy in the last session.


From my observations, the initial strategy amongst most is to rip and strip on a sinking line with a range of streamer patterns, the many variations of the infallible Wooly bugger weighing in. (A lot can be said for the name of a fly making it popular and if more people are fishing a bugger, then odds dictate that it will catch more fish). Session 1 on virgin water is pretty similar to day 1 of a Test on a dead flat pitch, in so far as it produces results, which pretty much any pattern can and does.


Of course the gentle art of float tubing is par for the course and being able to cover more water, if you don’t have a V-Boat you’re severely handicapping yourself.

After lunch, the rumours have flown around, snippets of conversations repeated, and there’s a whole new approach.


Two flies are better than one can hardly be denied, not that you expect to catch two fish at once…although this does happen…….but in trailing a smaller nymph behind your attractor pattern you cover more bases. Again like any good pitch on day two, the waters hold up as anglers continue to plough through their fly box looking for that magic combination.

Historically, the first day tends to account for 150 or so fish, so you can appreciate that a lot of patterns have worked and it takes a lot for a fly fisher to change a fly that catches fish. It would be safe to say that at this stage, 80% of the anglers haven’t considered a floating line, let alone rig.


With lengthier conversations over dinner, followed by a wee dram it becomes apparent that if you want to catch any fish in the latter sessions, you had better have your floating line ready with some smaller much more imitative patterns.


The fact is that at this time of year, you will see fish moving in 12 inches of water and not just early morning and late evening. The inlet, spillway and bays of any decent dam will be full of marauding fish.

And you can’t charge upon these skittish trout in your V-Boat. A gentle presentation of any nymph in the size 16 category will get a result, providing that you’ve kept your distance. A favorite method is to have a small attractor pattern just above your nymph to garnish a little more interest.


But it all boils down to patience, spotting your trout before you cast and merely keeping control of your line with an occasional twitch…….the least amount of casting the better.

It’s not that you wont use your intermediate line in the last day of fishing, but when you consider that a floating line with a weighted rig will get down to 4 meters if required, then you realize that your floating line is just more versatile.


In short by this stage the flustered trout have seen pretty much every wet pattern that the average fly shop holds, so don’t be scared to also put out a small dry.


As that definition of insanity so clearly points out, you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.


That said by the end of any festive gathering, fly fishers will still continue to debate the merit of each fly while others throw out a red herring or two, guarding their secret recipe closely.


At the risk of breaking any sacred oaths uttered under the influence, here’s the Top Flies that worked over the festival.



  1. A new minnow, Zonker style, tied on a jig hook with bead chain eyes, duly named the Wildfly Minnow, size 10
  2. A White Minky or Marabou, size 8-12
  3. White death, size 12
  4. Synthetic Hackle Streamer, size 6 in white / pink
  5. A Pink Booby, size 8
  6. A Sick puppy, size 6
  7. Olive Zonker, size 6
  8. A Papa Roach, size 10
  9. Green Red Eyed Damsel, size 10 with a size 16 PTN on point.
  10. An Orange Aide, size 12 with a size 16 flash back nymph on point
  11. Green / Black crystal bugger, with or without a GRHE, size 16 on point
  12. CDC caddis / DDD and White Wulff – size 16


The 5 teams who will be competing for top honors are-:


1st Place – Team Ham Sandwhich

2nd Place – Notties Fin Addicts

3rd Place – Formscaff

4th Place – Team Columbia

5th Place – The White wooly Buggers


17 teams will be battling it out for the grand title from the 26th to the 29th July 2012


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