2019 is well and truly upon us. I have been so heartened by the vibrant discussions that take place on the various flyfishing groups on the dreaded Facebook. Trout Talk and Yellow Talk for example, provide safe platforms for a range of posts from flyfishers on almost every aspect of our craft, including some hard topical debates. The only material not tolerated, are attempts to advertise commercial products. Apart from that, the discussions while sometimes heartfelt and heated are seldom judgemental or personal. Treat yourself to a sample of some of the variety of topics that are being posted. I'm pretty sure you'll go back for more.

My plans of gently easing into the new year were rudely swept aside as various pressing matters interrupted my intended pottering amble. Like many of us, the willingness to help means we often find ourselves several steps behind. The "to do list" doesn't appear to get any shorter. This seems to be par for the course for all of us in this electronic cyber age. We all want things done instantly. On the positive side, my first task of tidying my office meant I did manage to clear out several sacksful of old files. The feel good factor of clearing the clutter and in doing so sustainably means recycling has its own reward. Unfortunately it appears that these days the State is not making it any easier for us to do so. This is somewhat disturbing when recycling can contribute so much including much needed job creation.

Talking about jobs and economic activity I am pleasantly surprised at how much can and has been done by flyfishers who are giving back to our communities and the earth. Here I think about the places we generally visit to ply our craft. So many rural communities can benefit from a little involvement and help with organisation, planning and support. Good examples of this are the NFFC's BRU and Bushman's river projects and SAFFA KZN's Tendele project. These get a mention in the Southern African Fly Fishing Magazine, a 30-year-old title that was started by FOSAF and which is now distributed digitally "free to market" on the ISSUU media platform. The January/February edition is now available. Visit them at I assure you that you will not be disappointed. Better still, if you have a product to publicise, show the publishing team your support by advertising in the magazine.


Notice is hereby given that the 32nd Annual General Meeting of The Federation of Southern African Flyfishers will be held at the Dullstroom Inn, Dullstroom at 17h30 on Friday 26th April 2019

As far as our Court Application against the Minister of Environmental Affairs is concerned we have finally received an opposing affidavit and are in the process of preparing our responses. Once again I'd like to thank our team of volunteer legal eagles. When we have filed our responses, the case will then be set down for hearing. But exactly when this will happen, will depend on the availability of court dates which at this stage is something akin to the rarest of fly tying materials.

The Minister has finally published the SANBI Report on the 2014 National Strategy for Dealing with Biological Invasions in South Africa. It is clear the report leaves much to be desired and fails to take account of the legislative context and framework it is intended to report on. This inability of some scientists to let legal niceties get in the way of their prejudices, sadly no longer surprises me. However it is clear from the report that the entire scheme is overambitious and failing in both implementation and compliance.

DEA's failure to properly comply with its own laws and to consult the public on this and many other matters is the main reason why we have a failed biodiversity regime. FOSAF once again calls for the development and adoption of a much needed White Paper to guide biodiversity protection, management and utilisation in South Africa.

The on-going crisis of managing the health and safety of our rivers in the Vaal basin continues to be source of grave concern. That the SANDF had to be called in to provide support to try and fix the crisis speaks volumes about the management failure at every sphere of government. Each responsible department and organ of state has passed the buck and it is the people and the ecosystems that bear the brunt of these failures. Our thanks go out to all the people and organisations monitoring this situation and working to find solutions. FOSAF is very much part of this effort. Please continue to help us help you in this regard.

As mentioned, the New Year is now in full swing. This means FOSAF subscriptions are due for renewal. Thank you to those members who have already done so. May I remind you all about the Club Membership offer which is half the individual subscription of R300 per year. This discount is only available to people who are flyfishing club members. Please contact your club, the FOSAF Secretariat or myself if you have any questions. Our Supporter's membership classes offer you the chance to show even greater support. See

A strong and supportive membership means that we can get a great deal more done on your behalf.

I wish you all a productive and peaceful 2019. It will be an interesting year given the elections and global developments. I wish you the chance to make some time to cast a line.

The winner of the Member's Draw is Frank Cole of Honeydew whose prize is flyfishing equipment from Frontier Flyfishing in Bryanston
The Plaza Pupa - Gordon van der Spuy

South African fly fisherman in general have never really been hatch junkies. There seems to be a very general approach regarding the way we approach hatches. Our hatches, from a trout perspective have generally always been seen as being insignificant when compared to the big rivers in the USA for example. From a trout fishing perspective this is fairly accurate. Sure, we have hatches, but they aren't really predictable or regular and can be rather sparse and inconsistent.

In the early 90s local flyfisherman started turning their attention to the Vaal river to target our local yellowfish species. Theo van Niekerk, along with a few friends had publicised their experiences with these local fish in the mid 80's in publications like the Stywe Lyne. The Complete Flyfisherman also spread the word in the early 90s. As more people started fishing for them the news spread about these powerful , beautiful, rather user friendly fly eating fish we had right on our door step. One didn't need to travel long distances to enjoy decent fishing anymore. You could travel half an hour outside of Johannesburg and be enjoying some world class fishing. Mind you, back then there was some really decent fishing for largescale and smallscale yellowfish in the surrounding areas of Johannesburg . The Jukskei river near Bryanston and Lanseria held some massive yellows. There are still small pockets of yellows close to JHB and PTA but its nothing like things were in the early days of flyfishing for yellows. I remember catching largescale yellows in Pretoria in the Aapies river near the sewerage treatment plant near Capital park, a few kms from the City centre. We'd cycle there on bicycles and fish for these hard pulling yellows. It was utter bliss considering they were a few minutes from home. Most people who were fishing back then were your average weekend warriors .There were however a few die hard yellowfish devotees who became yellowfish disciples in a sense. These guys fished regularly and fished hard, not uncommonly fishing up to 3 to 4 times a week during a normal working week. They'd typically work till 3 in the afternoon and then drive to the river to catch the evening rise fishing well into dark. Guys like Angelo Kommis, Mark Yelland, Garth Wellman, Keith Wallington and Herman Botes were some of the rivers regular visitors .The hatches on the Vaal were large and intense, bionic hatcheds one could call them. Particularly the caddis hatches which were spectacular. Caddis hatched regularly with massive smoke like caddis clouds emanating from the bluegum tree tops. Mind you , the hatches are still rather good. The Vaal die hards took the time figuring these hatches out. They weren't just drifting heavy lead laden creations under poodle sized strike indicators as was the norm back then. They were actively fishing those hatches , putting in the hours and cracking them .

Through their experiences these guys started developing and fishing flies which suited these hatches. They became really good at doing it too. I recall Herman Botes fishing in the late 90's. I was still a school boy at the time. I sat on the banks of the river and watched him catch 18 fish in the space of about an hour. He was fishing a rather insignificant looking run catching a fish almost every cast. He wasn't doing anything elaborate either. His casts were short and purposeful. It looked easy. When I later asked him what he'd been using he showed me a rather scruffy hares ear nymph. He'd been fishing it in the surface film. I'd never even thought of fishing a nymph in the film!

Years later I got formally introduced to Herman via the Transvaal Fly Tyers guild. I don't think he remembered the teenager who had asked him about what he was fishing all those years back. At that stage Herman had tied a rather unconventional Dragon Fly nymph pattern called the Papa Roach which was proving to be extremely effective. He had won a competition in the Complete Fly Fisherman with the pattern. The fly became a household name amongst local fly fisherman almost overnight. Most people knew him for this fly but the funny thing is at that stage Herman wasn't even fishing still waters that regularly. He was spending more time on the Vaal getting off on Caddis hatches. I visited his house in Melville one night after that where he showed me a very interesting looking caddis pupa pattern. What intrigued me about the fly was how unconventional it was. Half the materials in the fly had come from the oriental Plaza in Fordsburg, hence the name, the Plaza Pupa.

Caddis Pupa have always been a bit of a piscatorial enigma. This is probably the stage of the insects life cycle that is least known about and the stage of the caddis hatch where most anglers come undone. Herman had spent years working on the pattern and had finally come up with something that he felt was worthwhile as it was consistently effective. The fly looked very different to most of the caddis pupa patterns at that time. For starters it wasn't tied on a curved hook like most other patterns.

Herman tells me a scud hook is not necessary for caddis pupa, as the pupa's are not curved. It's the rear teardrop shape of the abdomen that creates this impression. Tying on a straight shank hook creates a better profiled pattern with good hooking capabilities as the hook gape is totally open or free. "It is also easier to work with the materials and get proportions right on a straight shank nymph / jig hook", Herman says. The second thing that I noticed about the fly was that it had a short piece of flexi floss on either side of the thorax. Herman used flexi floss for wing buds. "I saw these buds on Charlie Cravens catastrophic caddis", Herman says, "I thought they looked cool and were also much quicker to tie in. Charlie reckons they add movement. I don't think so. But it does create some contrast and adds to the profile of the pupa. I let the organza & cdc add movement", Herman says. "The wing bud thing is cool but not essential. I think the stark contrast of the dark folded wing buds is more a trigger. Just having that bit of dark material extending back is all that is needed- the material is not that important. Having said that, Mike Mercers z-lon caddis depends a lot on the wing buds". The thing about this pattern is that it has all the elements of the natural without actually trying to be a carbon copy of the real thing. Those kind of Caddis pupa imitation rarely produce consistently anyway, guys spend hours getting them looking like the real thing with quill wing buds and the like. They catch the odd fish but they never seem to really slaughter the fish! The fly is impressionistic. Herman basically took every trigger present on a pupa and crammed them into this fly. He did this in such a suggestive and fresh way focussing on contrast giving the fly a very bright abdomen and a dull coloured thorax. This he believes is a useful trigger on any caddis pupa pattern. "I browse the net continually to check patterns out", Herman says, " The number one thing out of the most successful pupa patterns is a VERY BRIGHT ABDOMEN" By combining an ice dub underbody with urethane beading chord Herman achieves a great translucent effect. "The Beading chord actually replicates a glass bead! So in effect you have tied a glass bead abdomen and tiny too. Plus you can shape the profile of the abdomen through tension on the chord. Urethane beading chord is the star in this creation. The stuff replicates the translucence of glass. It absolutely does not slip under thread like clear micro tubing/v rib and can be extensively stretched. It also comes in different colours and has UV reflective qualities under UV light!" "The second thing any pupa imitation needs is movement in the thorax construction", Herman says. Add a few wedding organza fibres and cdc in the mix and you literally have a fly which "breathes" in the drift. The bead used on the fly ranges from tungsten to glass depending on how deep the pattern needs to be fished. Herman also prospects with the fly. I guess ones standard tungsten bead comes into its own in these situations. The fly is not a two minutes tie perse but it's track record as a highly effective pattern makes the extra effort constructing it more than worthwhile.


Discounts are available to FOSAF members from the following Selected Gold Class Supporters:

Castleburn, Driehoek Syndicate, Finsbury Estate, Flyz Inc, Frontier Flyfishing, Giants Cup Wilderness Reserve, Highland Lodge, Highland Run, Jandi Trading, Hobbies of Antiquity, Kloofzicht, Komati Gorge Lodge, Lake Naverone, Lunsklip Fisheries, Mavungana, Millstream, Nooitgedacht, Oxbow Country Estate, Queenstown FlyFishing Club, Sani Valley Flyfishing and Game Lodge, Stonecutters Lodge, The Fly Casting Coach, Transvaal Fly Fishers Club, Verlorenkloof, Whiskey Creek and Willow Realty (Pty) Ltd

Details are on the FOSAF website -



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