Euro-nymphing – What do the experts do?

While I have been fly-fishing for a number of years, I was only introduced to Euro-nymphing a couple of years ago. It very quickly became an obsession, and I have subsequently spent countless hours on the water trying to perfect the technique. More importantly however, after getting involved in competitive fly-fishing, I have tried to learn as much as I can from some very good fisherman. Some of whom have competed at an international level in fly-fishing. The very best of them normally being the most willing to share their knowledge. This blog is my observations on what sets the expert Euro-nymphing fisherman apart from the average fisherman. So, what do they do differently? Here are my 5 key observations:

  1. They move…A LOT

Each Euro-nymph drift only covers a small, concentrated section of a stream at a time. Compare this for instance to the stripping of a streamer, which could cover the breadth of a stream. Therefore, to get the same coverage of the stream by your fly, you need to either amend your cast, or keep on moving around the stream. Expert Euro-nymphers know this, whether consciously or unconsciously. You will note that they seldom stick to the same spot, unless they are actively catching fish in that spot. They tend to move around a lot, and usually cover a large part of the stream in search of fish. 

  1. They observe

We have all done this before. In our excitement to be out fishing, we arrive at a fishing spot, begin setting up, and even go as far as to fully rig up with the flies/nymphs that we think the fish would like to eat on that specific day. All without even going to have a look at the stream. And, to top it all, we immediately start doing drifts at the first location that they are able to enter the stream. We do this based on our pre-conceived ideas, without observing the prevailing conditions. By observing an expert Euro-nympher, you will note that they do not simply get stuck-in. They will be slow and methodical in their observation of the conditions. They will take their time in assessing the conditions. They will observe and consider the impact on their fishing, of factors such as, water temperature, water flow, water colour, stream structure, weather conditions, depth of the stream, etc. Importantly, a large part of their observation is to find fish, whether by means of direct sighting of fish or by means of calculated and intuitive reasoning. Only after observing and considering these variables, will they decide what their best course of action should be.

  1. They focus on technique, less so on fly selection

The Euro-nymphing technique is deserving of a book in its own right. The intricacies thereof not possible to convey fully within the confines of a blog post. Saying that, you will note that an expert Euro-nympher is less concerned with the flies/nymphs that they have selected, than with the choice and application of the Euro-nymphing technique. Sure, fly choice is important, however an inspection of an expert’s fly box, and a discussion with them, will have you believe that they prefer sticking to flies/nymphs that they know to work, and that they ensure that they have a sufficient number of those flies/nymphs in their box to allow them to confidently fish those particular flies/nymphs. Significantly more of their time on the water is spent trying to perfect the specific technique that would enable to them to catch more fish at any given time.

  1. They actively try and find the depth that fish reside at

Ever been in the situation where your expert Euro-nymphing buddy right next to you has been pulling out fish after fish, while you hardly get a bump? Well, I certainly have, and on many occasions at that. It is pretty frustrating, but on questioning that expert Euro-nymphing buddy on why he is catching, and I am not, his answer most often alludes to the depth that he is fishing his nymphs at. This response intuitively makes sense. Fish are after all trying to conserve energy whilst feeding. They therefore prefer their meal to come by them as closely as possible. Fish also vary the depth that they swim at, for a variety of reasons. Couple the fact that they prefer to not move excessively whilst feeding, and that they vary the depths that they reside at, it makes sense then that one needs to try and fish at different depths in order to find the fish. Expert Euro-nymphers do exactly that, and what looks like a nymph pattern-change often is more a change in the weight of the nymph. Combined with the change in weight of the nymph, a person can also obviously vary the depth of the line in the water, thereby varying the depth that the nymph drifts at.

  1. They try to be as stealthy as possible

Lastly, there is a very fine line between how quickly a person should move in searching for fish, and the amount of noise/disturbance this movement should cause. Most, if not all fish, are predated on. They are therefore inherently cautious of anything entering their environment. Over millions of years, fish have evolved a keen sense of self preservation, which is specifically aided by good eyesight, and the ability to detect the faintest of vibrations through their lateral lines. Observing an expert Euro-nympher, you will seldom see them moving rapidly and noisily through a potential fishing area. Likewise, they will seldom fish a spot that has just recently been fished by someone else. Only the very laziest of fish might remain in an area that has been disturbed by a human presence. Expert Euro-nymphers know this, and you will note that they approach a potential fishing area, very slowly, very cautiously, and as stealthily as possible.

Well, I hope this blog post has been useful on some level. Whilst many of the observations are anecdotal, I do believe they hold some merit. Fortunately, there is only one way to test these observations. So, what are you waiting for, go ahead, try them out on the water.

Written By Sholto Piek, Gauteng North Fly Fishing Association

Keen to start Fly Fishing? But not sure how.

Keen to start Fly Fishing? But not sure how.

As with most sports, beginners often face challenges when starting out and fly fishing is no different. These challenges can mostly be handled with a little guidance and a simple answer to a question to get them started.

As a Provincial fly fishing body one of our main responsibilities is to promote the growth of our sport. Growth comes in many different forms, but we believe the most important one is the development of the individual. Education is and always will be the key factor. We are fortunate to have many very experienced anglers that represent the province, who openly share their knowledge and skills with the future talent. Our goal is to provide an environment that promotes the growth of individuals, regardless of what their skill level may be.

The purpose of this article is to provide beginners who are keen to start fly fishing with a simple and effective approach to help get them going. This is the first in a series of articles that is aimed at starting the right way.

When we facilitate clinics, one of the most common sets of questions that we always get asked revolves around what equipment to purchase. It can be quite overwhelming where to start and sometimes the perception that surrounds the sport of it being elitist and very expensive can often put people off before they even get going.

Over time as you develop, you will understand what is meant by the term ‘premium equipment’, but to get started let’s use an analogy and compare the purchase of buying fly fishing equipment to buying a car. A vehicle is designed to get you from one place to another. Some people choose a top of the range SUV, whilst others may prefer a vehicle that is fuel efficient. There are many factors that people take into consideration when making a purchase, but in simple terms, you buy a vehicle for a specific purpose that matches your needs and budget. Fly fishing is no different and once you understand that you choose your equipment with a specific purpose in mind and then match it as closely to your budget as possible, the decision making process becomes much easier. It can be expensive but this should not put you off as a beginner as there are reasonably priced alternatives available to get you up and running and with good guidance you will find it easy to make the right choices.

Whether you are interested in joining the competitive scene or just keen to fly fish socially, you need to ask yourself a few questions to get going. The answers to these questions will help you to determine what sort of equipment you should be looking at purchasing. The first element is to determine what type of species you would like to target and then identify the type of environment where you will be spending most of your time fly fishing. For example, if you live at the coast and will be spending most of your time fishing in the surf for large species, it would be inappropriate for you to purchase a lightweight freshwater outfit. This sounds rather ridiculous, but on more than one occasion we have seen people arrive at a trout dam with equipment that is designed for saltwater use.

For the purpose of getting started and as an inland provincial body, we are going to focus predominantly on freshwater fly fishing and break it down into two key areas, ‘still-waters’ and ‘rivers’. In future articles we will unpack the more technical aspects of equipment needed for each environment, but for now let’s just look at the basics.


Choosing the correct fly rod:

A fly rod’s primary function is to energise the fly line during the cast and inevitably propel a ‘weight less’ fly to the target. Secondly it is designed to absorb the pressure on the line when you are ‘fighting’ a fish.

All fly rods are classified into different weights and are rated by the American Tackle Manufacturers Association or AFTMA. When purchasing a fly rod it is essential to understand the weight rating scale and to try to match it as closely as you can with the environment and context you are going to be fishing in. Fly rods are made and rated on a scale of 0 to 15, with a 0 weight being ultra light and a 15 weight built for handling larger deep sea fish species like sailfish, wahoo and marlin.

To help simplify this for you we are going to look at a few different scenarios. If you fancy small stream fishing, you should be using a lighter rod. A 2 to 3 weight fly rod would be ideal for this. For larger rivers and still-waters you should use anything from a 4 to 7 weight and if you are keen on targeting some of the larger species like barbel or tiger fish an 8 to 9 weight is a necessity. If you think about it logically factors like the size of fly you are fishing, the size of the fish you want to catch and different environmental factors all play a role in this decision.

So, depending on your needs you may have a few different rods in your collection to refine your approach in a specific environment. However, to start off it is possible to purchase one fly rod that can cover most scenarios. In this instance, we recommend a 5 weight as a perfect “all rounder”. You will be able to target both trout and yellow fish in most environments with this rod.

You are probably thinking, “Great, I have all the information that I require now, but where do I find the AFTMA number?”  It is quite simple, if you look above the handle, you will see a number printed or painted onto the rod. An example could be the number 9054. This number indicates the length of the rod, it’s weight and how many pieces it can be broken down into for travel and storage. The example above would indicate that the rod is 9’0 foot in length, it is a 5 weight and is made up of 4 pieces. Different manufactures may make slight variations to how they display these numbers, and if you are not 100 percent sure about it, don’t hesitate to ask the store owner for guidance.

In addition to the factors mentioned above, the length of the fly rod, its taper and its action also play an important role when choosing a fly rod. Technology is changing rapidly and so are techniques and this can cause it to become a little complicated. However, this is where we can help you and once again, if you go back to the earlier principle of choosing the correct rod for the environment and type of fish you are targeting, you are already more than halfway there!

Choosing the correct fly reel:

It is quite surprising that in most freshwater situations the fly reel’s function is of less importance than it is in conventional fishing situations like when you are spinning for bass or tiger fish. If you are purchasing your first outfit the reel is a part of your equipment where you can save costs if you know what to look for. When fishing in the freshwater environment the reel is in most cases only used to store the fly line. However, the one key factor that you should look out for is the quality of the drag system within the reel. The drag system is important as it provides tension on the spool and prevents it from spinning freely. A good drag system is defined by two elements. Firstly, it needs to have the ability to be set accurately to make minor tension adjustments and secondly it needs to turn smoothly under this tension. This is critically important as a smooth drag that is set correctly will help you to protect a light weight tippet. We will discuss technique in future articles about when you should ideally use the reel or your line hand to retrieve the line, but for now keep an eye out for a reel with a decent drag system.

Like the fly rod, the fly reel also comes in different sizes and weights to match the outfit. In most cases your goal is to try to match the fly reel to the rod. For example, a 5/6 weight reel should be matched with a 5 or a 6 weight fly rod. This inevitably helps you to balance the fly rod, which in itself also provides a number of benefits. However, the most important one at this stage is the comfort and feel provided by a balanced outfit.

Most of the newer fly reel models are designed with large arbors. The term arbor refers to the diameter of the spool which holds the fly line. The benefit of this is that the newer models can retrieve the line faster than the older models can when fighting fish if you use the reel during the fight. Another factor is that the fly line is less likely to have ‘memory’ or coils in it if it is wound around a larger diameter. Memory is a common occurrence in fly lines that are wound around reels with small and occasionally mid arbors and it can affect your casting.

One of the ways to combat this is to add backing to the reel. This is done before attaching the fly line to it. Backing has three purposes, with the first being to build up the diameter of the arbor of the fly reel, secondly to help balance the fly rod and finally to provide some form of security when a large fish takes a lot of line when it runs. For freshwater fishing when targeting trout and yellow fish you will need to have about 50 meters of backing on the reel, whilst for tiger fish and saltwater species you may need to have as much as 250 meters of backing.

Choosing the correct fly line:

The fly line is one of the most advanced types of fishing line that you can get. We recommended that where you could potentially save money on a fly reel, you should be prepared to invest a little more into buying a quality fly line. The fly line is designed to load the fly rod, which will assist you to cast a fly that is relatively light, often “weightless” far enough away from you so that you can catch a fish.

When fly fishing we don’t use any official weights or sinkers to assist our cast. This is probably the most significant difference between fly fishing and conventional fishing equipment and it shows in the way that we can catch a fish by presenting a fly close to it without it being scared or swimming off.

There are plenty of different types of fly line designs available, but there are three major ones to look out for. The two types that we recommend are the Double Taper and the Weight Forward. Both of these fly lines have been designed to taper from thin to thick and back to thin in a way that places the “weight” or substance of the fly line tactically to perform specific functions and help load the rod. They are slightly different though based on their taper design. A weight forward line has more of the weight placed towards the ‘head’ or fly end of the fly line, whereas a double taper line has its weight spread evenly across the main body of the fly line. Weight forward lines load the rod more easily than double tapered lines do and therefore assist the angler to turn over heavier flies and cast further. This is ideal in some situations but could also be a hindrance in others like when you are targeting ‘spooky’ fish. In this case a double taper line would be more suitable as it presents the fly and line more delicately and therefore is suited to situations where subtle presentation is key.

The third fly line is called a level line. We wouldn’t recommend purchasing one of these fly lines at this stage as it has no taper. The line is the same thickness from start to finish. These fly lines do have specific applications, but at this stage it is not necessary to explore them. So, in summary with regards to taper, it is recommended that when starting out, you should purchase a weight forward fly line instead of a double tapered version. This will make casting easier and as you develop you can add different fly lines to your collection to perform different functions.

In addition to the fly line’s taper, we usually recommend that new fly fishermen purchase a floating line as their first line. The reason for this is quite simple. A floating line is less dense than an intermediate or sinking line. This means that the line is a little thicker and tends to load the rod a little more easily. The second factor revolves around the colour of the fly line as most fly line manufacturers make floating lines in bright colours that are easy to see. Colours like orange, yellow, and peach are quite common and will assist you to see the fly line when you are casting. In addition to making casting a little easier, the final reason is that a floating line is very diverse, and you can fish it in almost every setting. By changing the length of your leader and the type of fly, you can cover the different parts of the water column effectively.

Like the fly rod, it is important for you to be able to identify which line you are looking at when you pick up a box in the store. If a box says WF5S it indicates that line in the box is a weight forward, 5 weight, sinking fly line. If it says DT3F it indicates that the line is a double taper, 3 weight, floating line. Weight forward and double tapered fly lines are priced in the range of R500.00 to R2000.00 for the line. If you see a fly line that is selling for less than this be careful, this may be false economy and it is probably a level line. Remember our theory for freshwater fishing is to spend a little more on your line and the fly rod and save a little on your reel.

The leader and tippet:

With all the information we have just touched on when looking at fly lines, you may be thinking that if fly line is thicker than normal fishing line and it is bright in colour, how do I manage to convince a fish to bite the fly tied onto the end of the fly line? The simple answer is, you can’t.

To make this possible, we use a leader which we attach to the end of the fly line. The leader is very similar to normal conventional fishing line. Leader design is a little technical and can be very tactical. It is possible to adjust certain elements of it to improve your presentation. However, at this stage, there is no need to go into that now. In most still water scenarios, it is recommended that your leader should be about 9 feet in length and tapers from thick to thin. This taper helps to transfer energy from the fly line, down the leader towards the fly to help you when casting. This applies to fishing with floating and sinking lines in still waters and when fishing dry flies in river scenarios too. However, when nymphing in rivers a tapered leader can be counterproductive and fishing a leader without a taper can really improve success.

From a practical perspective it can be difficult as a new fly fisherman to present a long leader effectively and we sometimes recommend that you shorten the leader slightly to achieve a better presentation of the fly. Trim off a bit of the line from the thicker ‘butt’ end of the leader before tying it back onto the fly line. With a bit of practice, your casting will improve and then you can increase the length of your leader.

During a day’s fishing you are likely to make a number of fly changes. Each time you change your fly the thin end of the leader becomes shorter until it starts to get to the point where the taper becomes too thick. When this happens, you need to add a length of tippet to the thin end of the leader.

Leader and tippet material are graded on a scale of 0X to 8X. 0X has the thickest diameter and a high breaking strain, whilst 8X has a thin diameter and can break quite easily. Be careful though as some manufactures mislead the angler by marking their spools of tippet with an incorrect X rating. Use the X rating as a guideline but rather compare the thickness of the diameter of the tippet with its strength rating. This will provide a more accurate reflection.

A tip that we recommend when choosing the right size leader is to divide the size of the fly that you are going to be fishing with by 4. This will give an approximate idea to what thickness you should choose. In simple terms if I am going to fish a size 12 fly, I would divide the size of the hook by 4 and choose a 3X leader and tippet setup. This principle is not cast in stone and should be used only as a guideline.

Finally, you will notice that you get two types of tippet. Fluorocarbon and monofilament. Both have pro’s and cons in different fishing scenarios and come with different price tags. To start off, all you need is a descent spool of monofilament tippet. It is a little more cost effective than fluorocarbon and at this stage will do the job perfectly.



So, in summary, it really can be quite overwhelming when choosing your first set of equipment. I hope that this article has simplified your thought process and given you a little more insight into the basic factors that you need to consider. If you are still a little uncertain, don’t hesitate to chat with us and we will gladly help you to make the best choice for your current situation.

South Africa has so many amazing places to fish, and by starting the right way you will enjoy your time on the water even more. At the end of the day, just being out in nature is what really counts. Enjoy every second of it! Tight lines.

Written by Chris Tough, Gauteng North Fly Fishing Association


GN Trials 3 – Pilgrems Rest – 3 River Sessions

The 3rd annual GN Senior Men’s Trials was held in Pilgrims Rest on the weekend of the 18th – 20th of May.  You could feel the excitement building up the week before as there was a lot of banter on the Whatsapp groups while the new guys quickly realised that you should take all of it in with a spoon of sugar.

Friday night was cold and rainy, most guys arrived after dark due to work commitments. This saw many chaps driving in the mist for the last 50 km of the journey. The early birds started the fires to warm up as the night was cold and rainy through the thick mist that covered Pilgrims Rest.

Everyone finally arrived just after 9 O’clock the evening, after settling in and unpacking the bags and kit, the guys were summoned for a meeting and draw for the next day. The draw was quick and effective…

Group Draw

Group A

Luke Coetzer
Frederik Kruger
Micheal Afonso
Dries de Bruin

Group B

Divan Steyn
Jannie Jacobs
Marius Grobler
Vian Ferreira

Group C

Bradley Cottle
Michiel van Rooy
Aubrey Ferreira
Conrad Jacobs

Group Sector Draw

Session  Sector 1  Sector 2  Sector 3
1 A B C
2 C A B
3 B C A

Session 1

Beat   Sector 1  Sector 2  Sector 3
 1  Dries De Bruin  Vian Ferreira  Conrad Jacobs
 2  Frederik Kruger  Divan Steyn  Michiel van Rooy
 3  Luke Coetzer  Marius Grobler  Aubrey Ferreira
 4  Micheal Afonso Jannie Jacobs  Bradley Cottle

Session 2

Beat   Sector 1  Sector 2  Sector 3
 1  Conrad Jacobs  Dries de Bruin  Vian Ferreira
 2  Bradley Cottle  Micheal Afonso  Jannie Jacobs
 3  Aubrey Ferreira  Luke Coetzer  Marius Grobler
 4  Michiel van Rooy Frederik Kruger  Divan Steyn

Session 3

Beat   Sector 1  Sector 2  Sector 3
 1  Divan Steyn  Michiel van Rooy  Micheal Afonso
 2  Marius Grobler  Conrad Jacobs  Luke Coetzer
 3  Jannie Jacobs  Bradley Cottle  Frederik Kruger
 4  Vian Ferreira Aubrey Ferreira  Dries de Bruin


Saturday morning was an early start as we decided to a quick 45-minute presentation on euro nymphing and Dry fly fishing to benefit the new guys that recently joined the group.  The Dry fly fishing was presented by Vian Ferreira and he took us through the basics of casting and where and how to place your dry fly as well as present the dry fly with the least amount of drag to the fish. Divan Steyn presented the euro nymphing techniques. Everyone benefitted from this in some way as they picked up 1% changes that they have forgotten or never knew.

The groups all moved to their sectors as the rain started drizzling down. The water clarity was really good although the river holds a lot of silt at the bottom. which made wading difficult. For the most part, the river is accessible from breaks in the foliage. Some beats were particularly difficult to fish with lots of overhanging trees and high banks. The number of fish caught was really low only a total of 26 fish came to the net over the 3 sessions. We must add that there was a low pressure over the area that only started clearing up after the last session was done.

The biggest fish for the trials was caught by Jannie Jacobs measured 345mm. Divan Steyn caught the smallest fish at 150mm.

2 -4 fish was the number to beat in every session to win the sector some argue this should have been closer to 10 fish but there was just not a lot of fish in the sectors.

The fishing was very technical with no sun throughout the sessions meaning dry fly was not considered as a method. All opted to fish single or double nymph depending on the water conditions. This was fished by making bow and arrow casts as well as directly upstream and up and across due to the narrow river and trees it made casting difficult. Some underhand casts were required to get in under trees and foliage hanging over the river banks.

All and all it was a great experience for all, each and every person managed to hook into a fish but not all managed the art of landing these fish. Small fish are always able to wiggle their way off the hook at some point during the struggle.

The final results of the trials are as follows:

Final Results

 Rank  Name  Placing Points  Bonus Points
 1  Bradley Cottle  6  2674
 2  Conrad Jacobs  6 1480
 3  Vian Ferreira 7 1900
 4  Divan Steyn 7 1470
 5  Jannie Jacobs 8 1310
 6  Marius Grobler 8 1010
 7  Frederik Kruger 9 2330
 8  Dries de Bruin 9 570
 9  Micheal Afonso 9 564
 10  Michiel van Rooy 9 510
 12  Aubrey Ferreira  12 0
 12  Luke Coetzer 12 0


GN Still Water Trials 2 – Schoonspruit

Easter weekend saw us heading into our second trials of the year, we chose Schoonspruit as the venue for this trials. Schoonspruit offers great accommodation for 14 people in a house with 90% of the rooms facing the dam. Incredible interior with a bathroom for every room. It is nestled on the edge of the escarpment with 7 natural fountains and a spectacular waterfall on the property. They have a good stocking policy introducing new fish every few months.

We decided to hold the trials on Saturday and Sunday as Friday was a public holiday and allowed everyone to arrive on their own time at the venue. Marcel suggested that his wife Carin would assist with cooking lunch every day as she wanted something to do while the rest of us was on the water fishing. Friday afternoon she prepared a delicious Chicken Noodle soup. During the evening spirits were high at the braai with a lot of banter and conversations going on. We used this time to go through the rules for the new guys that joined as well as the draws for the 3 sessions ahead to see who would be fishing with which partners. By pure coincidence, we also had Daniel Factor staying in the boathouse as he wanted to fish the dam for the weekend. Having one person short we asked him to join in and fish as a ghost angler for the trials.

Friday afternoon was spent tying flies, sorting out leaders and for the adventurous a trip to the waterfall on the farm.

Saturday morning everyone was up and prepping for the day ahead, each day brought its own challenges. Saturday morning was overcast with little fish-action around the dam. As everyone was already aware of who they were partnered with for the first session we had a draw for the boats. The session started around 8 am and gave us a good indication of how the rest of the weekend would go. The guys started getting into fish early on in the session but this did not last long, with 5 boats on the water the fish realised what was up and soon got shut mouth, you had to work hard to get fish in the boat. The session ended with a total of 21 fish being caught.

During the break between the sessions, Carin prepared Rotis, curry potatoes and mince for lunch, you could see the delight on every angler’s face as the food was ready by the time we got back to the house, we got properly treated with some amazing food.

With the weather being up and down during the day we started getting rain an hour before the second session started. The colder weather changed tactics around as we started seeing more rises on the surface and fish higher in the water column due to the colder conditions of the water above. The second session started around 2h30 pm following the draws for who gets which boat. This session was tougher than the first with varying weather conditions and cooler temperatures than in the morning, fish were moving around and the boats were scattered around the dam. We ended the session well with good results and fish on the boats. This session saw 11 fish come out, this was down a few fish from the morning’s session.

Glad to get out of the wet and cold weather everyone headed back to the house to a hot shower and warm fires throughout the house. As usual, the braai fires were started and conversations around the day’s catches were shared with the guys. Flies were tied fill the boxes and new patterns added to try and fool the fish into biting more regularly.  Everyone was in bed early as the day’s activities took its toll on the energy levels.

Sunday morning started out wet and windy with rain from the early hours of the day,  the moral was low due to the rain with guys struggling to get out of bed and into the wet conditions waiting for the last session of the trials. we decided to move the last session out by 30 minutes in hope for the rain to stop. This didn’t happen and ended in a wet and Misty morning session. At one point the fog was so thick you could barely see the end of your line after each cast. You could just make out the voices and direction of each boat during the tick fog unaware of how other competitors were doing during the session, halfway through a flying ant hatch saw incredible action on the surface with each boat having close to 40 fish rising around them, tactics changed considerably with almost every angler going to floating line to get there share of the rising fish to the boat. This was the most exciting part of the trials except for the Easter egg hunt later in the day. Oh boy and do not forget the lunch that would await us on our return to the house. During the course of the session, the fog kept rolling in and out as the session progressed. The rain kept drizzling down from time to time and ensured a very wet day on the water. Total fish caught during this session was 18.

As I mentioned before Carin (by now being called a master chef and being forced to attend every other trial from here on out) prepared an Easter Sunday lunch to remember, dished up a leg of lamb with a traditional mielietart and white bean salad paired with a Pavlova dessert.  The guys got stuck in properly, We would again like to thank Carin for the amazing food she prepared and to you Marcel for arranging this.

So back to that Easter egg hunt, as it was Easter Weekend Marcel arranged easter eggs and we had a little easter egg hunt to finish the weekend off, the rules were simple 10 guys 9 easter egg with a mystery punishment for the guy without an easter egg.   The original idea was to take the foofy slide into the dam but due to weather conditions being less ideal the vote went against that.. see the video below:

The results of the trials came down to this:

1st Dries de Bruin
2nd Marius Grobler
3rd Ronald Smith
4th Conrad Jacobs
5th Marcel Destombes
6th Freddy Kruger
7th Ronnie Smith
8th Jannie Jacobs
9th Luan van Kraayenburg


British Favourite – The Buzzer

History of the Buzzer

Buzzers (Chironomidae) was first seen in fly fishing during the 1920’s. The first pattern recorded was the Blagdon Buzzer by a Dr. Bell. It was initially tied to fish the Blagdon Reservoir. The fly consisted of the same type of materials used for the Modern day buzzer. Tied on a small hook with a black wool body and silver ribbing, a tuft of white wool behind the eye of the hook.

In 1960’s the buzzer was revived with plenty interest in this pattern again as trout fishing reservoirs popped up all over England. This era saw a lot of advancement on the buzzer pattern which became much more imitative as various books published new patterns of this fly.

The big question is: How do you fish buzzers?  This is a very effective way of catching fish and a very underestimated approach. The buzzer imitates emerging forms of the Midge fly. They tend to imitate the Midge Emerger. Bloodworms are blood red and found at the bottom of lakes, this will slowly wiggle it’s way to the surface, changing colour, often to black but it could be brown, olive or other colours. On the way upwards, the buzzer pupa throws out breathers and often moves up and down, not directly upwards to the surface. Once at the surface film it needs to break through, you will often see them hang in a “J” shape under the surface film, once it is able to break through it emerges into a midge in 30 seconds.

Colours of Trout Buzzers

You get various midges in still-waters, black midges, large and small green midges, Orange-Silver Midge, Small Brown Midge and Large Red Midge, they all have different hatches and matching the colouring of the adult can help! You can find a hatch chart here. Always start with black and vary the colours from there depending on the time of year and the occurring hatches.

Buzzer Fly Patterns

  • Assasin Emergers
  • Beadhead Buzzers
  • Blowdorm Flies
  • CDC Emergers
  • Suspender Patterns
  • Epoxy Buzzers
  • FlashBack BBB
  • Okey Dokey Flies
  • Shipmans
  • Suspenders
  • Tungsten Depth Charge Buzzers (Heavily weighted with Tungsten beads)

Buzzer Fishing Tactics

Have a look at the hatch guide below:

Trout Buzers Hatch Guide

The question around size could be answered by saying as big or small as you would like to fish them, generally, there is no specific size that works better than the other as buzzers(pupae) could vary a lot in size. natural emerging buzzers can often be around a size 14 to as small as 22. We would often start with small flies around size 16 , on the point fly you start with a tungsten head or size 8 fly when fishing from a boat to allow the flies to get down in the water. It is always important to try and see where the fish are feeding, in summer you will often find them feeding in the top 45 cm of water. We have seen them feed in the top 7.5 cm at times and fisherman not catching a single fish as they are fishing below the fish. You should always try and have your flies in the feeding / emerging zones in the water.

Buzzers spend an extremely long time emerging, they will often bounce up and down on certain levels of the water waiting for the right time to emerge when the conditions are just right to hatch. You would want to fish a team of 2 – 3 buzzers on a dropper leader setup, with the heaviest buzzer on point. This is done below a floating line. Do not strip buzzers as you would do with wooly buggers or other streamers. the action on this would be to let them drift naturally with the waves on the water. You would generally want to suspend them below a bung (Competition legal Buoyancy fly), Stimulator or similar heavy floater which would count as 1 fly therefore in a competition scenario you would fish the Bung and 2 buzzers below that.  After casting them out allow the team to drop below the feeding zone. Lift the rod tip slowly to a 60-degree angle in 3 – 5 seconds then lower the rod tip rapidly down to the water while taking up the slack created, wait for the team to drop down again. This lift and drop imitate the natural movement of the naturals we are trying to imitate.

When fishing buzzers the best technique to use; is keep it slow! The biggest mistake most anglers make is to strip the buzzers as that is the style we are all used to fishing. You would normally want the line to drift or float with the wind, current and waves on the dam.

Important rules:

  1. Do NOT strip trout buzzers
  2. Static or slow Drift
  3. Vary the Depth of your flies, Trout feed at different levels during the day on different times
  4.  Look for porpoising trout, if they are slowly taking buzzers below the surface swap to CDC emergers or Sanys Assassins
  5. Use a bung, Stimulator or foam arsed Blob to suspend flies
  6. Be prepared to use small buzzers, 18 and 18’s best match natural trout buzzers

You can find more information on how to tie buzzers as well as fish them on this link:

Gauteng North Social Fly Fishing Day Success

Continuous learning is one of the keys to success in life, and we all know, fishing is life. This is what the GNFFA Social Fishing day was all about – fly fishermen and women of all skill levels enjoyed a day of learning.

We all arrived at Elgro River Lodge at 9 am on Saturday. After a round of coffee, we started the info session, presented by Gary Glen-Young our guest specialist.

Followed by the basic leader setups and techniques generally used on the Vaal. A decent 4/5 weight, 10ft rod is ideal for Yellowfish. The rod needs to be paired with a reel and line combo that ensures you have a balanced rod at the cork of the rod. The balance could be slightly positive, meaning that it should rather be a little REEL heavy than TIP heavy. An unbalanced rod puts strain on your forearm and wrist area, not ideal for a long day of fishing. The best-suited line for a social angler would be a floating line, however, if you intend to fish competitively you should be looking at a dedicated nymphing line.

The leader setup discussed should be as follow:

  • Butt Section: 0.25mm Double X High Abrasion (Red / Yellow Translucent line) 10ft (Competition Legal Leader) or longer (Non-competition legal as leader would exceed double the rods length).
  • Clear Gap: 0.25mm Double X High Abrasion in a 1 1/2ft section tied to the butt section with a blood knot.
  • Indicator Section: Rio Indicator 2 tone line in 1x / 2x, make use of a section that has 2 chartreuse sections  with a  pink section in the middle (Take a black Copic/Sharpie marker and colour 1 inch on each side of the pink into the pink from the chartreuse to break the colour in the line). This break in colour provides more movement to the indicator and is detected easier by the eye. Connect the indicator to the Clear gap line with a blood knot and leave around 5mm of the tag from the indicator on the knot.
  • At the end of indicator, line use a Quick Penny knot to secure a tippet ring or micro swivel in #18 to attach your tippet to.
  • The tippet consists of 6 ft of 4x /5x line 3ft to the first dropper (cut a section off the 6ft section & tie on to the unbroken tippet), then 2ft to the bottom fly.
  • The heavy fly is generally on the bottom but can be the top fly if you are fishing up/across in wide shallow water. In pocket water, it is better to only use 3ft tippet down to a single fly.

After this, we gathered around for a few practical lessons on casting the setups and fighting fish. Fighting the fish was covered in detail, with many helpful tips being shared. The important lessons here is to use sideward pressure when fighting the fish (Fish are comfortable in water, trying to pull them up out the water would make them uncomfortable. Hence why the try get away from that movement by moving in the opposite direction.), try to keep the fish upstream of you, using the current to help net the fish, never allowing a fish to swim between your legs and remembering to  leave a loop of line at the reel when netting a fish (some of these tips are rod saving tips – a gap in concentration may result in a broken rod tip and a trip cut short).

After the theory and technical aspects were over, lunch was served. Gary also managed to squeeze in some time to show the group a few patterns to tie for Yellowfish. These included a Green Rock worm and PTN.

The GNFFA team and Gary also used this time to set up leaders for the attending members, sharing knowledge about the knots required to attach the various pieces of line together as well as best suited knots for attaching flies and tippet rings. After this, we got into the water at the top section of Elgro! It wasn’t long before everyone started getting in on the action, we had some nice fish come out with almost everyone catching fish. Maureen Brits managed a new personal best this weekend, with no one in sight to capture the moment.  Gary and the GNFFA team were on the water to share tips and show the correct casting and fish fighting techniques.


We ended the day off on a high note with LOTS of fish talk around the braai on Saturday night. It was an eventful day and we are sure everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event and took home enough information to improve their fishing.

The event was a great success and Gauteng North will be planning a still water Social fishing day soon. We look forward to seeing you all there!

Click here for Full Image Gallery:

The Blob Fly

What is a Blob Fly

The blob fly is a short and colour full fly made from Fritz wrapped around a wide gape hook.

The Blob fly is an attractor pattern designed to grab the attention of passing trout.

Who invented the Blob fly

The blob fly was invented by Coventry-based fly fisherman Paul Mclinden. He is an English International fly angler.

His original blob was tied using orange fritz on a size 10 competition rules hook. Mclinden’s blob had an orange post wing, but that fell off during the tournament and the wingless blob out-fished his boat partner’s fly, hence the modern blob was born.

The modern blobs have changed somewhat with the addition of tinsel, a bead or a hot head of Glo Brite floss. Butt all blobs consist of a Fritz body, with little or no tail and usually no wing.

How do you fish a blob fly?

Although a blob fly can be fished on its own it is better used as an attractor pattern. Combine this with two / three duller more natural flies such as buzzers, nymphs or Diawl Backs and you have a winning combination.

“The blob works brilliantly as an attractor on the top dropper, but is just as good when used on the point as a pulling lure”

Fishing the blob on the top dropper is often more common use, where it attracts the attention of trout following it attentively and takes the more natural fly on the turn as the second and third fly passes it.

Another method of fishing it is on point with a team of buzzers, it’s slow descent helps keep the buzzers falling through the water slowly, and often is taken itself, as well as attracting close by trout to the buzzers.

How do you retrieve a blob?

Blobs are very versatile flies and therefore have more than one usable retrieve associated with it. When fishing with buzzers the blob is fished static, you are able to use the slow figure of eight retrieve, pill it back in quick sharp jerks, roly poly retrieve at speed and the most important part ALWAYS hang a blob, trout seem to follow the intriguing pattern and tend to smash them on the hang or drop back during the hang.

The retrieve would vary from person to person but the most successful to date is the figure of eight retrieve.

Some anglers swear by the static method as is with the hang on those last few seconds before your next cast.

How do you tie a blob?

This is one of the easiest flies to tie. Even beginner tiers should produce top quality blobs off their vice. To start get good quality fritz, the gel core type is preferred. Some colourful thread and / or marabou for a tail (Optional).

FNF Jelly Fritz is very good, not only is it much easier to tie than regular fritz, it’s also translucent and gives a great effect when wet.

A Variation to the blob is the F.A.B 

Booby Flies – The History

You might have heard about it but not sure what it is or how to use it?

The Booby fly is so effective due to its bobbing action as the foam lifts it up in the water column and the wriggle effects of the marabou as it gets pulled through the water often proves irresistible to trout.


The first booby flies are from English magazines published in the late 1950’s. They were called “Booby Nymphs” back then.

The fly was initially designed to imitate nymphs surfacing where the foam was used as an alternative for the bubbles used by these nymphs as they emerged from the weeds and lake bed. This bubble of air held the insect in the surface film while it changed into a flying insect. They were originally used on floating lines.

As with any fly improvements and triggers where added hence why we know the booby to have marabou tails and fished mostly on sinking lines to exaggerate the motions of the fly. This gave more life to the fly which in its turn increased catch rates on them.

Booby flies became bigger to imitate fish fry, therefore being fished on sinking lines. The fly became so effective that it was banned from some lakes and some bans still apply today.

The Booby Today

Today’s booby flies have advanced from the previous versions with a lot of detail going into triggers and movement as well as more rounded foam eyes. These foam eyes are also made from closed cell foam to offer more buoyancy than the initial flies.

We see a lot of variations on the fly in the competitive scene as the original has been transformed to have more movement and better attraction capabilities. Materials such as chenille, flash, and Fritz are seen on the modern day Booby Flies.

Basic Fishing Method

Lines from Fast intermediate to a Type 7 line is being used, the method is very basic to fish this fly. Give ample time for the line to sink and use 10 -20 cm tugs to retrieve the line. Pausing between each tug to ensure the fly floats up in the water column, In essence, you can cover a wider part of the water effectively with this fly.

If you fish the fly for the first time make sure you understand the dynamics of the fly by throwing it out into the water you can see it in. Wait for the line to sink and tug a few times.

Only by watching the movement of the fly as you tug and release will you learn how to work the fly.

In still-water, you have to provide the movement to the fly to make it become “active”. In summer on still days, especially if there fish activities on the surface, fish the booby on a slow intermediate line making use of 20 cm tugs. This will sink the fly and make it “emerge” back into the surface film. This is a deadly tactic late afternoons when the hatches come.

How to tie a Booby Fly

The booby fly can be tied on hooks ranging from 14 all the way to an 8. The important thing to remember is to get the proportions right when the fly is wet.

Always tie the eyes on first 

It allows you to judge the body length and width of the fly much easier. This also allows the eyes to sit well on the hook shank. Use a small drop of super glue to keep the eyes in place.

The eyes are normally made out of closed cell foam cylinders of your choice in colour and size, The most effective way of getting a beautiful eye is to use a Dremel tool to round the eyes of, Originally scissors was used to cut the eyes round.

Now take a good clump of marabou and this is one case in fly tying when more is better than less, and tie onto the shank of the hook. The marabou should be at least a hook length and a half off the bend of the hook.

Tie in a bit of flash in the tail.

Form the body with chenille/dubbing whichever you prefer. You can also add some hackle if you like for improved movement.

These booby flies are tied in natural as well as attracting colours.

THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE when tying Booby Flies is to ALWAYS tie on BARBLESS hooks as fish tend to swallow the hooks deep into the throat.

Gauteng North Social Fly Fishing Day

We would like to invite each and everyone to join us for a fun-filled fishing day on the water. Team members will assist with questions and on the water demos as well as bankside demos if requested on various techniques of fly fishing. Bring your own kit and wading boots, Cost is R100 for fishing paid to the Elgro River Lodge.

The cost of fishing with the GNFFA team members is FREE of charge. We will also be supplying hot dogs for lunch on Saturday. There will be braai facilities available if you would like something else.

We have managed to secure the services of Gary Glen Young for the 17th March at Elgro River Lodge. This is at no additional cost to anybody attending as we would like to thank you for your support throughout the year. Gary will be available for a chat around anything Fly fishing related be it still-water tactics, Euro Nymphing, Dry fly work, leaders, upcoming nationals knowledge or any other questions.

Some of you might not know Gary that well but he is one of the most technical people in fly fishing and also one of the most decorated anglers in South Africa attending the World Fly Fishing Championships several times, coached the Protea Youth Team and is a current Protea Selector.

If you would like to sleep over at the venue please book your own accommodation. You can find the booking details below.

RSVP: On or Before Friday 9 March  2018
If you would like to join Gauteng North fly fishing at Elgro Rivier lodge please notify us by email at

Saturday –  17 March 2018 from 9h00 – Late
Sunday – 18 March 2018 from 8h00 – 13h00

Elgro River Lodge (Potchefstroom)
Tel: (018) 297 5411 (ask for Elgro River Lodge Bookings)
GPS Coordinates: S 26 ° 55 ‘ 29.086 ”, E 27 ° 10 ‘ 49.634 ”

SAFFA Youth Nationals 2018 – Hosted by Boland

We are glad to announce that the dates have been finalised for this year’s youth Nationals hosted by Boland.

We confirm the dates of the 2018 SAFFA Youth Nationals to be from 3rd to 7th October 2018. The provisional program is as follows:

Wednesday 3rd October 2018

12:00 – Arrival of Teams at Hosting Venue Du Kloof Lodge 16:00 – Registration
17:00 – Captains Meeting
19:00 Opening Dinner

Thursday 4th October 2018

06:00 to 06:30 – Breakfast
06:30 – Meet in front of Lodge and move out to sectors 08:30 – 11:30 – Fishing Session 1
11:30 – 14:30 – Lunch Packs and change to next sector. 14:30 – 17:30 Fishing Session 2
19:00 – Dinner at Lodge

Friday 5th October 2018

06:00 to 06:30 – Breakfast
06:30 – Meet in front of Lodge and move out to sectors 08:30 – 11:30 – Fishing Session 3
11:30 – 14:30 – Lunch Packs and change to next sector. 14:30 – 17:30 Fishing Session 4
19:00 – Dinner at Lodge

Saturday 6th October 2018

06:00 to 06:30 – Breakfast
06:30 – Meet in front of Lodge and move out to sectors 08:30 – 11:30 – Fishing Session 5
11:30 – Lunch Packs and Return to Lodge
14:30 – 15:30 – Fly Tying Championships at Lodge 16:00 – 17:00 – Casting Championships at Lodge
19:00 – Closing Ceremony and Prize Giving.

Sunday 7th October 2018

07:00 – Breakfast (Teams depart at Leisure)

Please find confirmation letter : Boland Letter – 1st Notice Youth Nationals 2018