I had the good fortune to spend part of the weekend on the KZN South Coast for a brief respite from the chilly Pietermaritzburg weather.  What a pleasure to walk along the beach in shorts and a t shirt despite the blustery south-easter.  Watching the mass of anglers slaughtering the shad I was puzzled by the sheer madness of it all.  The anglers, from across the demographic mix that makes up this country, were all in a kind of frenzy, determined to catch as many fish as possible, most quite oblivious to the size of the fish or the lack of ethics and common sense of what they were doing.  I engaged a few people in conversation.  Most anglers openly admitted the lack of sustainability of what they were doing but saw no point in desisting, in view of the fact that everyone else was doing it!  Sadly we have a long way to go as humans.

I have seen few salt water flyanglers of late despite the good fishing being had by all disciplines.  That led me to wondering about this branch of our sport which appears to have diminished over the last few years.  Let's hear from those of you who still double haul the surf and estuaries in their battles with the coastal breezes as FOSAF would love to highlight developments in this facet of our sport.

In the last Tippet I invited you to visit our FOSAF website.  This has been revitalised recently and in addition, we now have a Facebook page to increase your virtual angling enjoyment and participation.  Please take the time to visit both and to join.  We can't do it alone and value all the support we can get.

On the project front, the Northvaal Chapter recently launched a project to work with other stakeholders including the MPTA, in protecting the Steenkampsberg which is a major catchment for the Mpumalanga Trout Triangle.  FOSAF's aims to ensure that the environments we enjoy and utilise, and that sustain our flyfishing remain functioning and accessible ecosystems for anglers and others people to utilise.

Just a reminder that the Favoured Flies series of books is still available for purchase (at a special price for members) and that we are working on a new "match-the-hatch" fly identification Collection which will be available to members by the end of the year.

We are in the deep of winter which is a good time to reflect on the approaching spring and with it the new season.  As the days lengthen and the sun's warmth returns spare a moment to consider the fate of our environment and how you all can make a difference.  Whether it be participating in some programme to clean up rivers or blow the whistle on polluters or simply lending support to some of the many excellent projects out there.  Whatever you decide, I urge you not sit back complacently and wait while other do all the hard work of protecting our fisheries.  Join us and help us achieve this for our future generations.

General rod, reel and line maintenance for salt water fly fishers by Fred Steynberg

Even though most terminal tackle is made from high quality materials such as carbon, aluminium, stainless steel and titanium, the sport of fly fishing is often practised in a corrosive and hostile environment. Factors such as UV exposure, extreme temperatures, humidity, salt spray and residue, sand, coral and dirt can damage tackle to the extent that it becomes unusable. Even when fighting fish, tackle is often pushed to their extremes.

I have some maintenance tips which I have used throughout all my salt water fly fishing years which definitely minimize the frustration of potential tackle decay.

Fly rods

After each salt water expedition it is necessary to wash the rod with soap and fresh water.  I use a sponge and make sure that the salt residue is freed from the reel seat, cork, line guides, ferules and the entire length of the rod.  A small brush will help reach into groves and small areas.

After washing the rod, dry it with a dry cloth.  Make sure that you move the reel seat nut to ensure that water has not been trapped in the grooves.  Also check that the receiving ferules of each rod section is free from dirt and sand.  Once this is done it is important to stand the rod pieces straight up with the receiving side of the ferules facing down so that any water in the ferules can drain and the cork can dry.  This may take a couple of hours.  The cork must be completely dry before attempting to store the rod. Cork grips stored in a damp or wet state may become soft and will decay.

When the rod is dry it is a good idea to ‘grease' the ferule tips with bees wax.  The wax will ensure that rod sections do not stick together more than what they should and in the process of parting them the rod is damaged.  Waxing secures ferules/rod sections, minimizing the possibility of sections shifting or loosening while casting.

Ensure that the rod cover cloth is dry before the rod is stored.  If possible try not to store the rod in the rod tube as this will often trap moisture and the pressure on the rod pieces, on one another, in the tube could cause damage.

To check if there is wear on the line guides one can simply pull a stocking (or a wad of cotton) through the guides and if it hooks then the eye/line guide needs to be replaced. Usually it is the tip-top (last line guide) that develops wear.

Reels, Lines and Backing

Quality and non quality salt fly reels are valued elements of the terminal tackle that will ensure fishing success if properly cared for.  Reels should be rinsed or hosed down with fresh water at the end of every fly fishing day and properly cleaned after each excursion or trip.

To ensure that the reel is salt and sand free I wash it with soapy water (Sunlight liquid) using an old tooth brush or similar small hard brush to reach spots that a sponge or cloth cannot.  Remove the spool before the washing process.  Do not leave the spool with line and backing in the water as this will soak the backing and then the entire length will have to be removed so that it can dry. Refrain from leaving the reel in the water for long periods as this will allow water to draw into sealed areas and bearings.

After the wash, dry the reel with a dry cloth and stand both reel and spool in an up right position to allow excess water to drain.  I usually leave it on a secure spot for a couple of hours so that any moisture can drain or dry. If the reel has a cork drag system it is important to ensure that the cork is dry before applying Needsfoot oil on the entire surface of the cork.  The oil should be applied only so that the cork has a moist appearance.  Too much oil will cause drag slip and too little will eventually cause the cork to dry causing the cork to become brittle or causing the drag system to be less effective.

Always ensure that cork drag reels are stored with the drag on its lowest setting.  Storing the reel otherwise will cause too much constant pressure on the cork, affecting its durability.  Oil the rest of the reel and bearings with correct grease or oil as specified by the manufactures.

When the reel is dry it can be assembled but then it is time for the fly line and backing to be checked and cleaned.

If you see no value in a fly line and can afford to replace it after every other trip then obviously it is not necessary to do any maintenance on it.  I remove the line, especially floating line, from the reel by stripping it into a bucket or basket.  The line is then first pulled through a wet soapy sponge a couple of times to get rid of the salt. After this a soft dry cloth should be used to dry the line.  After it is dry the line can be treated with Linespeed if it is a floating line.  This product will ensure that the line stays afloat and also protect the coating.  Linespeed should only be applied to clean floating lines (read the Linespeed instructions).  A useful tip that might increase the durability of your fly line is to often check your line guides for wear as discussed in the paragraph on fly rod maintenance.  Once the line is off the reel the backing will be visible and it is of primary importance to establish whether the backing is 1; dry and 2; still in a manageable state.

If the backing is not dry then the reel spool should be left with the backing exposed to the sun for a couple of hours to dry (stripping the backing in 50m lengths on the lawn in the sun and left to dry, might be necessary.)

Wet and damp backing can rot when stored (especially the older braid type backing). Believe me not many situations come as a bigger surprise when a trophy fish is hooked and eventually ends up speeding away into the distance with a full fly line trailing behind.

While checking the backing one can also establish whether the upper (first layer) backing loops have cut into the deeper layers and if the backing is still evenly spaced. Often anglers have large fish taking them into the backing to find that the backing hooks in the process of running off the reel.  This can cause line and fish loss.

Remove the backing layers by walking it out on the lawn and wind it back on.

A useful tip is to detect backing-bulge. This is when the backing starts bulging out of the holes/gabs of the reel spool.  This can mean that there is too much pressure on the upper layers of the backing or the lower layers or that the backing was spooled on too loosely. Again the best is to remove all the backing and to wind it back on again.

 Tackle needs to be cleaned and checked on a constant basis so that decay which can set in from salt, moisture and all the harsh elements is minimized.  Most importantly however, tackle maintenance will ensure tackle malfunction during costly fishing trips is avoided. Often anglers get home from a fishing expedition and just never force themselves to spend an hour or so cleaning and caring for the most essential ally of the next trip.


The winner of the June/July  2011 members draw is Vaughan van der Merwe of Northriding in Johannesburg whose prize is a self-catering weekend at Riverside Trout Cottages in the Kamberg.  The winner of the August/September draw is Errol Smith of Dullstroom whose prize is flyfishing equipment from Gani's Angling World i        .


Bob Crass was borne and raised in the Little Mooi River valley and from an early age had a passion for fishing, rivers, and all things in them.  From this beginning he made a life-long commitment to studying freshwater ecology. His important and lasting contributions to our knowledge of aquatic micro-fauna, fishes and the environment are recognized through his many scientific papers and books. Amongst these was the discovery and description of a number of previously unknown mayflies from the Mooi River system.  He had a long and distinguished career as the freshwater fisheries biologist and subsequently Principal Scientific Officer of the then Natal Parks Board where he also instigated the fishing liaison committees which were a valued link between the angling public and the nature conservation agency.    He had a particular gift not only in his ability for scientific writing, but also in his publication of a number of popular magazine articles and books on trout fishing, the best known of which is probably his much-loved "Trout in South Africa", published in 1986.  Through these, and through his outgoing nature, he became widely known and respected in both the lay and scientific worlds.

Always the professional, he readily embraced new ideas and concepts as they came along.  Perhaps one of his many outstanding achievements, was his ability as a scientist and nature conservationist, to recognise that in the modern economy, a balanced view is essential, with due recognition given equally to the need for protection of the natural environment, while at the same time, acknowledging the needs of people to provide for food and many other requirements (such as sport angling) in the developed landscapes. 

His contributions to trout angling are legendary and represent a lasting legacy to the sport.  He was instrumental in the establishment of the Natal Fly Fishers Club, was a dedicated committee member for many years, an enthusiastic member of the Underberg Himeville Trout Fishing Club, as well as serving as Secretary and Manager of this club for over a decade.


Discounts are available to FOSAF members from the following Affiliate Resorts:

Southern Drakensburg/KZN: Giants Cup Wilderness Reserve, Lake Naverone, Riverlea, Wild Dog Estate, Sani Valley Flyfishing and Game Lodge and Wildfly.

Gauteng and Mpumulanga: Kloofzicht, Elgro Lodge, Stonecutters Lodge, Vaal Streams, Witkop Feather and Hound Estate and Treeferns Trout Lodge.

Discounts are available to FOSAF members from the following Affiliates: Angling Africa, and Frontier Flyfishing, and from the following Member Clubs: Underberg/Himeville, Belfast, Clarens, Dullstroom and Waterval Boven.

Contact details and information are available from Liz 011 467 5992 and on the FOSAF website.


Finsbury Estate, Anford Country House, Highland Run, Katrinasrust, Komati Gorge Lodge, Lunsklip Fisheries, Millstream, Oxbow Country Estate, Stealth Rod and Reel, Transvaal Fly Fishers Club, Tudor Estates, Verlorenkloof, Whiskey Creek,  Mavungana and Nooitegedacht Trout Reserve.

Details are on the FOSAF website -


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