Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Away for a week!

I'll be away from here for about a week due to me having to move into a new cottage and will need to set up an internet connection at my new abode. Thanks David for uploading my daily posts on here for the last 5 weeks mate. See you all back in Finland soon!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Durban Bay harbour flats

Durban harbour has been my home away from home over the last 3 months. Only ten minutes drive from my fathers front door step I've generally fished this place an hour before low tide right up until I've had to wade back to shore as the tide comes in.

I've caught a number of species here from small Kingfish (Trevally), Springer, Flatheads, Sole, Pufferfish & even Squid but I've also had numerous frustrating blank sessions as well. This I can most definitely attribute to fishing with much larger flies than I should have. I've mainly targeted Springer here and although they dont have any sharp teeth,they do have very sharp gill covers and time after time I would get hit by one only to have them swim off with my fly in their mouths. Even after upping the anti to a 40lb leader I still lost lost more than I landed.

I cant tell you how nice its been wading up to my waist in warm tropical water, a far cry from the cold conditions I'm used to around the island. I've managed 44 days of fishing around the country since I arrived, and that has to better than any day stuck behind a desk. I'm super brown, I feel healthier than I have in many a year, Copious quantities of sunshine has made me a happy man again, even with all the blanks I've slogged through. I'm certainly going to miss this place, but am itching to to get back to the island for the new season of pike on the fly with my clients and friends.

Parting shot!!!! A smaller sandfish (Dusky Flathead) caught the other day with a tiny mylar baitfish.

Monday, 27 February 2012

More sailfish flies!

Another tandem sailfish fly around 13" inches long. Tied similar to the other two except I spun Pink/Brown deer hair a fair way along the front the hook up to the hook eye.Then pulled it all back and Bugbonded around an inch of the head. I used a couple of those synthetic grizzly microbarb saddles for lateral lines and extra movement as well as a decent clump of that pink flash.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Charlies - Total control stripping tray review!

Regardless of whether I’m on my boat, wading, fishing from river banks or from elevated rocks you won’t find me without a stripping tray strapped around my waist. I’m really surprised that more fly fisherman don’t use them especially when they complain that there lines barely last a couple of seasons……if that. I still have several fly lines that were bought over 5 yrs ago that have been fished hard, that are still in perfect condition which I put down to the religious use of a stripping tray. There is nothing worse than having your line catch around, reed buds, grass blades, butterfly clasps, boot clips hindering your cast, purely because you think you look like a knob with a plastic basket hanging by your side. All these jams between objects contribute to your fly lines degradation quicker than you think.

Anyway Easyfly sent me out the “Charlie’s - Total control stripping tray” to try out this summer and although I prefer a more solid/rigid basket, I’ve been very impressed with this compact, light weight, multi purpose, space saving model.

It stores in its own pouch which I’ve found rather handy for doubling up as another compartment for holding spare leaders, and a few extra flies.

This you can have either hanging inside and open while fishing, or my preferred method of flipping it over and having it on the outside pressed between the outer wall and my body.

Although probably not needed, one can also use this stripping tray as a makeshift net as well as a weighing bag. Just take the handle on the outer side of the basket with the waist strap and it can be hung from a set of weight scales.

If you’re fishing from the shore, lake/river bank, off elevated rocks or from a boat, then having the stripping tray in this position is at its most practical. Take the waist strap and clip it to your shorts/trousers/belt then take the other strap around your leg and clip together and tighten. Having the basket at this level offers a more natural downward stripping motion thus allowing you to regulate the lengths and speed of your retrieve far better than a higher waist mounted basket that I’ve become accustomed to using, and as its has such a wide opening one doesn’t need to worry whether the line is not going in. Line comes out of it with each back cast with ease, which in turn allows you to cast further and more accurately.

If you decide to wade up to your knees then unclip the strap around your leg and wrap it around your waist & clip back up again. However if you decide to wade around waist deep one can then wrap the strap around your chest. Personally this is just too uncomfortable a position for me. The only real down side to this stripping tray which a cheap plastic washing basket offers, is that once you become too submerged, water flows freely through it and turns your fly line over hindering your next cast.

Due to the amount of wading I do, I use the “My Ghillie” for holding my rod when having to change leaders or a fly, but if you don’t have one of these handy bits of equipment all you need to do is place your rod into the bottom of the basket and fold the outer side inwards so it presses up against your hip. This holds the rod firmly in place while you do all the necessary adjustments.

Lastly, If moving from one fishing spot to another along the beach, a lake or rivers shoreline, then all you need to do is push the sides together and press the opposite strips of Velcro together. This is particularly handy when moving around a boat or through long reeds or shrubbery. Overall, if it wasn’t for the water that engulfs it when wading waist deep constantly flipping your line over I’d give “Charlies total control stripping tray” a 10 out of 10.

If your interested in getting one of these stripping trays retailing at €59,00, then drop by Easyfly's shop to order one

Thursday, 23 February 2012

More sailfish flies!

Another one from the sailfish collection. All the feathers that I tied on to the Gamakatsu sl 12 6/0 big game saltwater hooks have all been splayed outwards. I also used a lot more pink flash on this fly than I normaly do.

Its not visible so well in these images but I Bugbonded quite far up the head over the eyes to give extra strength to the front o the fly. Total length 15" inches.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Tight arse tying materials!

I hate paying top dollar for shit when I know I can get it for peanuts.All it takes is a bit of time, and a will to find,out of the way material suppliers and you can save yourselves untold amounts of money.I tracked down a billfish lure manufacturer in Durban the other day and bagged myself these two meter long belts of Pink and white chinese cock hackles for R200 which at the current exchange rate is approx €20, which in my eyes is a massive saving.

The same goes for these three flash materials as well. I bagged 2 meter lengths of chartreuse, Pink & Pearl white for a total of R30 around €3,00 for the lot.........result!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Sailfish flies!

This is the first of four tandem rigs tied specifically for the boys at WILDFLIES for their Kenya sailfish trip at the end of the month. The trailing tail is a combination of pink & white chinese cock hackles splayed outwards,pink and white bucktail and a decent clump of pink flash.

With the main body I used the same materials except I layed the cock hackles facing inwards and added two clumps of the white ostrich hurl which I'd plucked from my fathers feather duster a few weeks back.

Total length 13" inches long tied onto a 6/0 Gamakatsu sl12 big game saltwater hook.

Monday, 20 February 2012

The J-Bobbin review

If you’ve been a regular visitor to these shores for some yrs now you’ll know how highly I rate Jay Smits – J-vice and all the accessories that come with it. Well for the last 8 months I’ve been using his J-Bobbin extensively for tying all my flies, and again he’s come up trumps with an incredibly clever piece of fly tying equipment.

One of the downfalls with all other regular bobbins when running thread along a hook shank due to the 90 deg positioning of the thread arm, one has to elevate and extend your arm outwards, which by all accounts can become rather tiring especially if your tying a large batch of flies over an extended period of time

The J-bobbins thread arm is positioned at 45 degrees to the bobbin allowing ones arm to be held lower & closer to your side which in turn provides a more relaxed tying posture when either wrapping thread along the hook shank or when tying materials on. Having the thread arm running perpendicular to the hook shank also allows for you to create closer, tighter, neater wraps as well.

To load a new thread bobbing onto the J-bobbin, one only needs to slacken the screw on the bobbin arm wide enough for the bobbin to slide onto the small grommets on either side. Then tighten up the screw to your desired thread tension. It looks bulky but to be honest it fits snugly in your hand and the added weight actually helps keep the thread directly over your last wrap when hanging loose.

Now I use industrial plastic coated thread for all my flies which come on slightly wider bobbins than the normal fly tying ones (They’re half the price and I get 80m per bobbin….so why not!) So after sending Jay the specs while in Finland, he managed to rustle me up an extended bobbin arm which I picked up a couple of days after I arrived. Not bad service if you ask me.

Another fantastic feature that comes with the J-bobbin is an ingenious piece of looped blue nylon.

Insert the blue looped nylon into the thread arm & simply pass your thread through the loop

And pull the standing end of nylon up the arm.

Regardless of whether you’re a professional tier like myself or someone who’s able to steal a couple of hours in an evening at his man cave, I can’t recommend this bobbin enough. Again Jay has come up with the goods with providing the fly tying world with probably one of the best bobbins out there to date.

Lastly each bobbin is individually numbered like his vises. I have J-bobbins 28 & 98 and it retails for $30 or €23. To order yourself one or two click this link

Saturday, 18 February 2012

With fly rod after pike!

For all you guys that visit this blog regularily, you might not know about the group "With fly rod after pike" on facebook which is totally dedicated to fly fishing for pike. Its been running for a while now and already has 212 members all sharing techniques, flies and experiences. The only criteria is that all flies featured must be able to be cast with a fly rod. Uploaded posts pertaining to flies tied for spinning rods (Spin tubes, large spin jigging flies) will be deleted. Many of the newcombers that have joined have been quoted as saying its one of the best fly fishing groups on Facebook. Click either of the logos or the link to join up now!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Airflo's Reels

Just before I left last year, Easyfly sent me two new Airflo Airtec reels to to use and try out while I was over here the first was the 6/5 - 6.20oz to be used with the Hardy proaxis sintrix rod - & the 10/12 - 7.40oz to be used with the 10" 10# Airflo Nano bluetooth . Both arrived set up for a left handed person but were easily changed over to a right handed winding system in 3 easy moves

Now although I got these for free I'm never one to hold back on my thoughts about a product if I dont like them, and I have to say I have conflicting views about these two reels. The 10/12 - 7.20 0z larger arboured reel is just way to heavy to be casting all day for my liking. I know this as I spend new years down the south coast fishing from rock groins most days and come early evening my wrist was tender as hell. This was casting smaller baitfish patters so I cant imagine what its going to be like casting some of my big meaty pike flies when I get home.
Another aspect which I've found difficult to come to grips with this reel, is its incessant need to slowly wind the line back onto itself.Whether this is because I changed the mechanism around to suite my right handed style I don't know, but it doesn't happen with the smaller 6/5 - 6.20oz reel. I've stripped it down a couple of times to check whether it wasn't seated properly but it has been each time. Rather annoying when you've stripped off the right length of line from the reel to get over a sandback only to have it slowly reel back onto the spool all the time. The last thing I've wanted to do is to constantly remember to peel line off for the next cast. Overall though it is a sturdy strong reel capable of holding a large amount of backing a line on it.

Now the 6/5 - 6.20oz is another story and is perfectly balanced with my 9" 6# Hardy Proaxis syntrix rod they sent out for me. I wouldn't be so certain though for 7"/6"/5" (6#) combination though, as again I would definitely think it would be way to heavy for them. It also does'nt automatically reel line back onto the spool either. The black paintwork on both these rods ends up being scuffed and scratched rather easy and believe you me I've been very careful when placing them down. Small things you might say, but overall, yes I'm happy I have them and very grateful to Easyfly for sending them out to me as I'ts always nice getting stuff for free to test and try. but to be honest, there are many other reels on the market out their that are in and around the same price bracket that I would go for than these Airflo airtec reels.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Fly swaps!

Last year while attending the Swedish fly fair I was fortunate to meet master fly tier Ole Kristian Skaar and since then we've hit up quite a friendship. So it was only obvious that I would eventually ask him for a fly swap and I have to say this set of classic spey flies he sent me are the nuts! All are used on the famous Norwegian Gaula salmon river by Ole and are practical works of art. If your a collector like myself or fly fish for salmon, then visit his website "Flies of Norway"
To order yourself a set of his flies. Thanks for these Ole they are absolutely stunning mate!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Cliff hangers in the Underberg!

Was fortunate to spend a weekend up in the Underberg recently at a friends farm fishing a stretch of river that hadn't seen a fly in over five yrs and was apparently full of Rainbow & Brown trout!

The cottages we were staying at called "Cliff hangers" are probably one of the most picturesque places I've been fortunate to have fished at.

Wading underneath the cottages was a daily occurance for me infact I spent practically every bit of daylight either casting from the banks or half submerged in the water.

Result!.......I Fished extensively with either a Klinkhammer or a RAB (Red arsed bastard) and managed five Rainbow & two brown trout the whole weekend. Am sure I probably would have had more fish to hand had I been more experienced but was over the moon with my overall tally. This is a small Brown I bagged that came from under a overhang to suck my Klinkhammer off the surface.

My first Underberg mountain rainbow trout caught with a dry fly. Not a monster by any stretch of the immagination but an absolute pearler none the less! To be honest I wasn't expecting too pick up this size as they don't get much bigger than this one due to lack of food that high up. Anyway a fish is a fish,Is a fish in my eyes!

Great backdrop.....Innit!

You'll agree its a fantastic stretch of unfished river to have all to yourself. Click images for larger view or if you want to see more pics from the weekend then click the link to visit my facebook page "Cliff hangers"