Thursday, May 5, 2016

Duncan's Heron

A while ago Duncan Moth commissioned me to build him a Heron.
Don't know why I haven't posted these here yet.
The matte/stealth finish on this one really came out great.

Quick Specs :

Blank: Orvis Superfine Touch 7'6" 1wt 4 piece.
Thread: Blue Steel or something like that
Grip : Palmgrip with Anodized Black Hardware
Guides: Fuji BMNAG and Lite Wire Snakes in Black.

The Lakensvlei Special

This is a rod that I finished a while ago. I really like this build as I always wanted to do a "heavier" ultra light rod. The brief was simple, make a 10ft budget rod with an all cork reelseat and grip that will be just as good as some of the high end rods.

Now for rods in a smaller weight an all cork seat and grip is not a problem, but on a heavier rods your options really becomes limited. I decided to do a Ritz grip with a dual purpose cork seat. I did an oval seat because I don't like the mortised look you get on some rods. The dual purpose seat enables you to balance your reel perfectly by either having it in up locking or down locking configuration.

MHX 10ft 5wt

Blank: MHX 1054 in Slate Grey
Thread: Black and Metallic Green
Grip: Ritz Grip
Dual Purpose Reelseat : Cork with Anodized Black Aluminium Sliding band and hoods.
Guides : Fuji BMNAG Strippers and Black Snakes and Tip Top

I am not a big fan of 10ft rods, but this one was special. It casts out a full fly line with no effort at all.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Pink Flamingo

I have always admired some of the pink rods that have surfaced on the net and wondered what I would do should I get the chance to do a pink rod.

Well last year I received a TXL-F in the mail and the brief was simple......Make it Pink.

Quick Specs:

Blank: TXL-F 2710-4B painted pink with a hint of pearl
Thread: Soft Pink/Violet Nylon to blend in with blank
Guides: TiCh Holographic Stripper and TiCh snakes and Tip Top
Grip: Palmgrip with Light Gunsmoke Anodized sliding band and hood
Tube: Same pink as rod with Cherry Blossom Wrap in Silver and Light Gunsmoke Engraved endcaps of my own design.

I treated the rod and tube with a matte clear as per my Heron spec, just to take the flash down a bit and turn it into a satin finish. This eliminated those fingerprints you always see on a gloss surface on a rod tube.

A few snaps of the rod tube....

Monday, August 17, 2015

Heaviest Heron to Date

I don't know why, but perhaps I am technologically impaired as I have posted this before, but it was just lost in space.

Well this was a request from Michael Cooper in the United Kingdom.
We discussed a couple of details via numerous e-mails and I was really surprised that Mike wanted a Heron in 4wt 8ft. This is in fact the Heaviest Heron to date as I usually build these as Ultralights.

I send this rod via a courier company because we had some serious strikes in the Postal Services and the funny thing is they delivered it to Michael's door without knocking or anything and when he opened the door he saw the parcel lying there like an abandoned child. I just laughed and told him that if it was over here that rod would have grown legs and walked off somewhere.

Quick Specs:

Blank: Orvis Superfine Touch Blank 8' 4wt 4 piece
Thread: Forged Steel
Guides: BMNAG Stripper and lite wire snakes in black.
Grip: Palmgrip with anodized black hardware.
Rod Tube : Heron Grey with Signature Series Endcaps in Black with engraved detail.

I haven't weighed this rod. I refer to it as the Heaviest Heron to date based on its line rating, but I am pretty sure that this can still go through as an Ultralight.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Drakensberg and the Tenkara Part 1

The last couple of months have been chaos upon chaos with regards to work.
It was the one deadline after the other and I am certainly not complaining but it does take it's toll if you don't get a bit of a break. December saw us working right through to finish deadlines.

Well in between orders and things working out and things not going as planned I decided to book two venues in the Drakensberg. I have never been in the Berg this late in the season, but I hoped that rather late than never would count in my favor. Well lets just say I almost didn't go, but I just pushed hard and managed to sneak away on Friday the 24th of April.

Needless to say I only left Pretoria after about 14:00 and I knew that I would not make the last stretch in daylight, so I phoned the staff at Kamberg Reserve and pleaded with them to not lock me out after 18:00. I actually wanted something more central, but couldn't get something within my budget so I opted for Kamberg. I got in probably around 20:30 or thereabout. The road from Rosetta to Kamberg is not really worth being called a road as I have driven on gravel roads thats better than this road, but we made it in one piece.

Saturday morning I got up and my Father-in-law was really not feeling well, so I decided to rather fish the Mooi instead of going to Injusuthi as I have planned. Well heaven help me as this place really doesn't like me at all. I just don't know why, but this place always makes me doubt my angling skills. In 2012 I hooked up with a Brown deep in the Mountains only to be broken off, well this time round I fished from the gate to the weir. This did not help either as the water was really thin and super clear. If you spotted a fish it has already spotted you. I tried fishing the pocket water, etc. hiding behind rocks, grass, etc. without any luck.

In this pic there are two fish round about the middle of the pic. I took this pic just to show how clear the water is and kept in the shade and when I made my cast the fish just moved off.

I got off the water early and just couldn't believe my bad luck with this place. I kept on saying to myself, you should have gone to Injusuthi.

Sunday morning we decided to go and get some supplies in Mooi River and when we returned at around 13:00 I decided that I should get ready and head on out to Giants Castle. I have a huge soft spot for this place and it has always treated me well. Well it was definitely worth the drive.

I decided on fishing the Tenkara and used an EHC as Dry and it wasn't long before I hooked into this little bugger...

Usually I don't really take pics of the surrounds but this time I decided to take some snaps for the memory bank...

Those that frequent this water will know that this is the section from the gate of the reserve to the first confluence I think it's close to Crystal Pools or something like that.

The dry worked on a couple of fish but I wasn't convinced so I switched to a Nymph leader complete with In-line Strike Indicator and this option yielded some really good fish in quick succession. I fished a Zak Variant with a Chartreuse bead as my point fly. They just couldn't resist this little fly. This technique was absolutely sublime in the deeper runs and I believe that Korrie Broos made a fortune last week with all the luck as I thanked him over and over on the water for his help in perfecting a nymphing leader for the Tenkara. That little Curly-Q works a charm. I fished a Czech leader with two flies only.

Hooked into this lovely little Bow....

And later this handsome little Brown...

Look closely and you will see my dropper fly in the left of the picture.

At some stage I changed back to the Dry. In little than 2 hours I managed 2 on Dry and 6 fish came to the Nymph. I am now really confident in saying that water dependent one could easily switch between a dry leader to a nymph leader and up your catch rate tremendously. I am all for the dry on Berg Streams but in this session the nymph proved invaluable.

Monday morning I got up before sunrise and headed out onto the Mooi again.
This time I started fishing above the weir past the Old Hatchery/ Research Centre.

The water was darn cold and my leaking wader made me regret not having worn my quick dry pants.

I fished for about and hour and half without any luck. Saw one fish and that was it.

It was really cold on the water so I decided to get off and go and pack up for Lotheni.

At the Old Hatchery I bumped into a guy that told me that his mate managed 4 fish over a weeks time but about 3-4km into the Mountains. Reckons the fish are very shy but they do take  the dry high up. One fish one cast per pool scenario. I agreed somehow, but still reckons this place despises me as I am yet to crack the code. Look I saw loads of fish on the section from the gate to about the bend at the stillwaters, but they were extremely skittish. I made numerous casts in pools only to have fish dart in all directions.

We packed up and left Kamberg around 9am and headed for Notties.
Here we had a fantastic breakfast and then we hit the road out to Lotheni.

Luckily we were on holiday because this dirt road needs time, you just can't get onto this road and think you will travel this 40km of gravel the same time or slightly more than what you would do on a tar road.....You need to bring plenty of time as this road will take 1,5 - 2,5 hours easily out of your day. I was a bit worried about the condition of the river as they had plenty of rain in early April and the river was running high.

When we got there the river certainly looked lower than what I have fished it in the past. But I was hopeful. We unpacked our stuff in Mountain View Hut and settled in nicely. Later this afternoon I decided that I would go down the Lotheni all the way past the Confluence of the Lotheni/Elandshoek and go down to the Hang Bridge. Well I made it down about 500 meters from the Bridge and started fishing an EHC on the Tenkara. Spooked a few fish here and there and quickly figured out where they were hanging around and this give me 15 fish in a very short time. Oh, I was pleasantly surprised as this venue can be as tough as nails and anything from 4-21 fish over a weekend is considered a good weekend and here I was on 15 in no time at all.

Now those that know Lotheni will know that in a weekend you will hook into plenty of small fish and catch the odd decent fish every now and then. Well this time round 95% of the fish were between 20-40cm and the rest 10-20cm.

I fished back up to the confluence and decided to head up the Lotheni all the way to the Mountain View Hut and I was pleasantly surprised to see the size of the fish that came out of this section. This section has never produced any fish for me in recent years. That night I sat at the Braai and just couldn't believe the amount of good fishing I just experienced.

Tuesday morning I was up real early, but only went fishing around 11am.

This time I decided to fish all the way up from Cool Pools and this was seriously a brilliant session.
I think I came off the water with 25 fish if I remember correctly.

This fish was quite interesting as I hooked its mate above to the left of the pool and this one to the right.
I made a terrible cast almost right to the side and then this fish just came out of nowhere and followed the fly downstream and hit it so hard that it jumped clean out of the water. I was shaking like a Border Collie trying to pass a Soup bone..... I had some serious Viskoors.

Below this section the river splits in two and here I had some really good fun with fish rising to the dry frequently.

Think I landed something like 10 fish in less than 50 meter.

To be continued....

Drakensberg and the Tenkara Part 2

Wednesday I decided to fish all the way from the Gate to maybe Cool Pools or somewhere thereabout.

Well this idiot went from the gate all the way to Mountain Hut. Would guess thats probably about 10-12km. Well that night I was wasted as I barely made it back to Mountain Hut. Was it worth it?
Hell yeah!!! I was a bit rushed though but I did manage 19 fish. Would probably have been more had it not been for the fact that I fished most of the water behind other people. Told my Father-in-law that I was done, caught enough fish......Ek was stukkend!!!!

This spot is just too pretty not to show....

Wednesay night at the Braai I had a Vaal Ribbok run past me so close that I could touch it and not long after it rushed past I heard this funny tsweep-tsweep sound. I thought to myself what on earth could make such a noise? Is it a bird? I switched on my headlamp and was amazed to find that it was in fact a small Vaal Ribbok calling out to his mother. It hid itself between the tall grass when I got close. This was pretty amazing and I slept good that night.

Thursday morning I slept in a bit and when we got up I asked whether or not my Father-in-law was game for a hike up to the Waterfall close to Yellow Wood Caves? He agreed and we set off close to Simes Cottage for the 3.5km hike. I was in shorts and takkies, but I had a fly rod in my hands as I thought it would be pretty cool to fish below the waterfall.

Halfway in seeing this water.....

My prostate started burning up my bum to get onto this water.

I couldn't see a spot to get in so we just sat around the falls and took some snaps

Snap of the view above the falls....

We started walking back and my father-in-law could probably see that I had a burning coal up my behind and he suggested I go down and fish this stretch.

I walked down and looked everywhere for a spot to get down and finally managed a spot.

Oh, my soul I was in heaven. This section is any dry fly fisherman's dream.
It had a mix of all the good stuff. Rocks, Boulders and things that made Boulders look like pebbles.
I hopped over rocks in my takkies and searched for my fish. I really worked hard in this section as the fish can see you miles off and it's most definitely a one fish one cast per pool setup. This water was so clear that it looked like the fish were floating in mid air.

I fished up all the way back to the waterfall and managed 3 fish and I was feeling extremely proud of myself in my soaking wet takkies and bruised shins. Look this boulder climbing thing is not everyone's cup of tea but I certainly enjoyed it. And it sure as hell was worth the effort. At the waterfall I made a cast out to the left and let the fly drift back down and as soon as it hit the part where the sun shines over the cliffs onto the water I saw this massive shadow swirl below the fly and take it. For some odd reason I could not set the hook. I was stunned, I could not believe the size of that fish. I swear that fish must have been 45-50cm......come to think of it it might have been bigger as it dwarfed this beauty I hooked to the right of the pool.....

I was disappointed that I could not raise that huge fish again and decided to leave. I climbed out of the Kloof and walked back to my Father-in-law that was now starting to worry as he could not spot me anywhere. We walked back and I just couldn't stop talking about that fish. I have seen huge fish before at Lotheni but this one topped it and I will certainly be back to go and wrestle with that beast.

At the Hut we sat and talked about this and that and later that afternoon I walked down to a small trib that enters the Lotheni from the left just below the confluence of the Lotheni and Elandshoek. This little stream is in some places less than 1 meter wide and my first cast saw me hook into this handsome fellow....

All and all I manged 63 fish at Lotheni and for me it was an absolute blast. I am humbled as I have certainly been blessed with some favor from above on this stay. I have always had a soft spot for Lotheni and this time round I completely fell in love with the place all over again. I have fished lots of runs, beats, pools, glides but there is still so much water to fish at this place. The Bodhla in the Cove comes to mind and so does the Elandshoek in the Kloof to the right. I never went up to Jacobs Ladder nor did I get out to Vergelegen but that never bothered me as this was just one of those trips where everything worked out the way it was supposed to.

My Father-in-law reckons that he has seen some beautiful places here and elsewhere in Africa and he has, but he reckons Lotheni is the prettiest place on earth and nowhere has he felt closer to his Maker than here. This place has some magic to it sometimes it reveals it's secrets and other times it keeps it close to its heart, but if you are patient she will show you her true spirit.

I fished other dries too, but the EHC was king of the hill.

I have my feet on the ground but my head is still in the clouds and cold breeze of the Lotheni Mountains.

What a trip.....What a trip?