Fish The Fly | South African Fly Fishing

…In Stillwater, Rivers, Streams, Estuaries & Oceans

Fish The Fly started in 2013 because of the passion the founder, Gareth Roocroft, had for the sport of fly fishing in South Africa. Fish The Fly was the break-away website from the original, Fish The Sea, which covers all sorts of freshwater and saltwater angling facets and techniques. Fish The Fly is more of a specialist website that focuses strictly on the wonderful sport of fly fishing.

False Casts

Flies Tied

Fish Selfies

Over the last few years of my angling life, I have come to the realization that Fly Fishing is my favourite angling discipline, and inspired me to create an information website just for fly fishing and fly fishermen. There are many fly fishermen in South Africa who would fish the fly, over any other angling technique. Fly Fishing, regardless of what you are catching, or if you are catching at all, is just one of those pastimes that you enjoy, by just being out there, in nature, surrounded by nothing else except some form of water, a fly rod and the vast abundance of nothing around you. I want Fish The Fly to serve as a guide, help line or even an inspiration for any Fly Fishermen that call South Africa home. I am no expert or professional Fly Fisherman, but I do love the sport tremendously, and have a passion for fly fishing that will rival anyone and I believe I can share a few things that will help you catch more fish on fly, whether they are Trout or Garrick. My aim is to help you, the Fly Fisherman, learn more about this beautiful sport. Fish The Fly has many fly fishing articles, stories, videos, tutorials, images and stacks of information laid out in an easy to find and appropriate manner. South Africa has some of the finest Fly Fishing in the World, of that I am sure. From the highlands of the Drakensberg, with the seemingly 1000’s of rivers, to the Barkly-East Area, Western Cape, Dullstroom, Vaal River, Orange River, Lake Jozini, Lydenburg, Dargle, Sabie and many more amazing freshwater systems to the salt waters of the Transkei Estuaries, the offshore action around Cape Town and Richards Bay, to the many beautiful Western and Eastern Cape estuaries and river mouths… Fish The Fly could fill a book with the destinations where one could fly fish, but I am sure you will find something useful to you as a fly fisherman on Fish The Fly… Let me warn you, we are not the most conventional fly fishermen at Fish The Fly, and we are always trying different techniques and methods and in general just think out the box. You can meet the Fish The Fly team here… You will see Fish The Fly offers a variety of information on all sorts of fly fishing topics… From fly tackle terminology and choosing the right fly tackle, to leader and tippet information, fly information, the fish species you can catch on fly in South Africa, both saltwater and freshwater, the locations in South Africa where fly fishing is at it’s best, lots of information on Trout fly fishing, stories, knots, history and so much more. There will also be weekly articles in the form of a fly fishing blog section, that will cover reports, latest news and trends in the fly fishing industry, rants and raves, stories about fly fishing and much, much more. Fly Fishing, is such a diverse sport, and one can literally target any fish species they want to on fly, which is just one of the many reasons why we LOVE Fly Fishing. Fly fishers will also know, size does not generally matter when it comes to presenting the perfect imitation to a feeding fish. I have had many fly fishing inspirations in my lifetime, but there are 3 people that stand out, two of you do not know me personally, only through emails and blogs, but you have inspired me to be the best Fly Fisherman I can be and to enjoy everything about this amazing sport. If you have never tried Fly Fishing out, give it a go, once you land that first fish, you will be hooked, and that’s not a play on words.

Tony Roocroft

My Father, Tony Roocroft, who taught me everything I know about Fly Fishing and life in general. I caught my first freshwater fish on fly with him, my first saltwater fish on fly with him, and my first wild Trout with him, Dad I cannot thank you enough for bringing me into this amazing sport.

Tom Sutcliffe

You are a legend and a huge inspiration to me. The way you approach fly fishing and how much you love the sport is an inspiration. If I could be half as good as a fly fisherman you are, I would be honoured. Read our article on Dr. Sutcliffe here.

Gareth George

Your conservation efforts, your passion and your words regarding Fly Fishing have always moved me and I would like to end this page off by quoting something you once said in a TV episode of Wildfly…

“If you can’t catch a fish, the next best thing is to watch a fish being caught, but it’s definitely a second choice”.

Below: My fly fishing inspiration, my father (Tony Roocroft), starting off on a beat of the Bell River, a Rhodes stream… Tony Roocroft

Latest Articles From The Fish The Fly Team

Fish The Fly 2017 Update

Fish The Fly – Fly Fishing Updates From 2017 Fish the Fly has been offline for a while. The life of a professional worker, fly fisherman, and the lack of time to update a website is a bit tough, however, we have been updating the Fish The Fly Facebook page. But no excuses here! This year has been an amazing fly fishing year! Where Have We Been? The Fish The Fly team has had some amazing saltwater and freshwater success. We have basically been traveling the Country. Our fly fishing adventures have taken us to Gauteng (Where we are based), the Free State, Mpumalanga, Drakensberg and KwaZulu Natal. I will discuss our stories below. It has been a fascinating year! Gauteng We have been to various parts of the Vaal River in the Gauteng province. We have fly fished quite a few venues with great results! It is quite tough to find consistent waters in the province, but fortunately enough we have Emhlangeni Trout & Archery. We have had a lot of fun here this year. It is not easy fishing, but it has been rewarding. We have 2 more videos in the pipeline from Emhlangeni coming up soon, keep an eye out on our fly fishing videos page. Beautiful Vaal Yellow Bass Caught On Fly Emhlangeni Rainbow Jay With A 4kg Free State/North West Let’s start off by just about Bloemhof Dam. The guys have been there a lot in the last 9 months or so. They mainly hunt Barbel and Carp at Bloemhof. Some amazing fish have been caught, mainly Grass Carp, Common Carp and Barbel were... read more

39 Must Catch Fish On Fly In The World | Fly Fishing Infographic

Fly Fishing Around The World, 39 Fish Species You Need To Catch On Fly! Alphonse Island/Alphonse Fishing Co, have made an amazing infographic, probably one of the best I have ever seen, the lists the 39 fish species you need to catch on fly! The infographic below shows all the 39 species of fish that can be caught world wide and these fish are all treasures and possibly once a life time catches… Here is a word from Alphonse Island: I am happy to announce that we were able to sum up all our results from the previous Research project into one big Infographic. We have called it the ‘39 Legendary Fish to Catch on a fly’. This project would not have been possible without you and other Fly Fishers from all over. Please have a look at our Infographic below: This is truly amazing work! Well done to the guys who have spent so much time and effort in putting this together! Gareth Roocroft Founder, Fish The Fly In case you like to read why and what we did exactly, please have a look on our Website, where we explain the whole project in detail. https://goo.gl/FNR18P Follow Us On Social Media... Fish The Fly knows how everyone loves updates, photo's and videos, so keep updated with all the latest fly fishing news from South Africa below! Instagram Follow facebook Follow Google+ Follow Twitter Follow Youtube... read more

Polystickle Fly

Polystickle Fly – Best Fly Fishing Flies The Polystickle Fly was made up by the legendary British Fly Fisherman, Richard Walker, famous for a variety of different innovative flies. The Polystickle is regarded as a classic wet fly, and is essentially a streamer. It can be used to catch a variety of freshwater fish species as well as saltwater fish species. The Polystickle can catch fish like Threespot Barbs, and Yellowfish, to Trout and Garrick, there are very few limitations when it comes to this fly. T Type Of Fly? Streamer Wet Fly Attractor  When To Use? Spring Summer  Where To Use? Surf Estuaries Dams Rivers  Colour Variations? Pink Brown White   The Polystickle is ideally fished with floating line, and should be retrieved just below the surface with a jerky and erratic action for the best results. It can be tied in many sizes and variations. The smaller Polystickles are great for targeting species you would not normally catch, and can also tempt bigger freshwater and saltwater fish into eating this fly. It also imitates a variety of swimming organisms, it all depends on how the fish see it! Species That Can Be Caught On This Fly? Garrick Shad Moonies Blacktail Blennies Springer Kingfish Wrasse Wave Garrick Pufferfish Bass Trout Yellowfish Blue Kurper Vlei Kurper Nile Kurper Redbreast Kurper Cape Kurper Canary Kurper Dwarf Kurper Threespot Barb Redfins Bluegill Papermouth Southern Barred Minnow The Best Flies To Use See... read more

Latest Trout Articles From The Fish The Fly Team

How To Catch Spawning Trout

How To Catch Spawning Trout During Winter In South Africa Spawning Trout in Winter on South Africa’s stillwaters… There’s something magical about approaching the stillwater on a cold Winter morning armed with a fly rod and reel, with the mist coming slowly off the water and the sun peering out over the Highveld hills. The Winter period is my favourite time to target Rainbow Trout in the still waters of Mpumalanga. From my perspective, this is one of the most challenging times to target Rainbows, due to them being in full spawn and hard to tempt with a neatly presented dry fly or a dropping nymph. For this precise reason I change my fly fishing tactics during the colder months, during the spawn, I use my sinking line setup and use a more unconventional method. Due to the lack of feeding the Trout participate in during the spawning season, the best way to catch them is by provocation. This entails using a large, flashy and buggy wet fly and stripping it as fast as you can until one of the Trout attack it. A lot of the time the hens will be the first fish to “hit” the fly, but the prize for me in spawning season, is catching a large cock fish. This is because the male Rainbows will not eat while they are breeding. The Fish – Trout Stillwater Trout are fish that have been stocked in dams, weirs or manmade lakes. These fish cannot breed in stillwater systems as they need a flowing river or stream for breeding to take place. Because of this, many fly fisherman,... read more

How To Handle Trout

How To Handle Trout …& Safely Release Trout In South Africa So They Survive! People often ask questions about how to handle trout correctly, so they can release them with the goal in mind of their survival. Trout are well know for not doing very well after a fight on fly tackle. The larger Trout in South Africa are especially difficult to release… A lot of anglers who practice the art of Fly Fishing prefer to release their prized Trout, especially the larger species. However not many anglers know how to release these Trout properly, although they have an idea. This page will show you and tell you exactly how to handle and safely revive and release South African Trout. First of all it is important to fight the fish properly on fly tackle, read more here. Once the fight is over then the difficult part starts.   Landing The Trout When you are getting ready to land a Trout it is important to have a net if you are planning on releasing the fish. Guide the trout into the open net while it is in the water, rather than scooping it up or trying to net it, this minimises any damage to the fish and also minimises the chance of the leader snapping or the Trout shaking the fly. Handling The Trout Once the Trout is in the net, wet your hands thoroughly and try not to touch the fish. I, however, like to get a photo of the fish so I wet my hands and hold it gently underneath, supporting its wait but not squeezing it to hard,... read more

Fly Fishing Stillwaters

    Fly Fishing Small To Medium Sized Stillwaters For Trout Fly Fishing stillwaters for Trout is one of my favourite things to do, apart from small stream fly fishing for wild Rainbows. To be successful and catch lots of Trout in small to medium sized stillwaters, the fly angler needs to be quite proactive. Firstly, you need the right fly tackle. I often see fly anglers using very heavy rods and weighted line on small to medium sized stillwaters. This is really not necessary, and a rod between a 4 and 6 weight would be perfect for this application. If you start going heavier, you loose a lot of the fun of fighting Trout.   The weight of rod you would choose is dependent on the distance you are looking to cast and the amount of wind there general is on the body of water you are fly fishing. My ideal set up for fly fishing stillwaters would be a 9 foot 5 weight rod. I like the 9-foot because it gives me more distance in the cast, thus allowing me to make fewer false casts to empty out my reel. The deeper parts of the stillwater are best fished with fast sinking line. The fish are often deep down in the reed beds, so you need to get down to the fish. When fishing these areas I like to use weighted flies such as Woolly Buggers, Fritz’s and Damsels (Tied with a bead head or copper wire). These mimic what the fish are feeding on along the bottom. One fly is sufficient for this application, but one... read more

Latest Yellowfish Articles From The Fish The Fly Team

Yellowfish Season

Yellowfish Season In South Africa Fly Fishing For Yellows In South African Waters When we talk about Yellowfish Season in South Africa we, as fly fishers, are normally talking about the Smallmouth Yellowfish (Labeobarbus aeneus) in particular, especially when speaking about river fly fishing. In truth all Yellowfish species in South Africa do have a “season”, if we can call it that. The Yellowfish season is the time of year where the water heats up, and the fish species start moving into shallower water and rapids in order to feed on the vast diversity of underwater and hatching insects. They move into these more shallow, warm waters not only to feed, but also in preparation for spawning, which normally takes place after the first heavy rains or sparsely, between October and February. The spawning season is a long and drawn out affair, and depends heavily on the amount of food available, good rains, and a good flow of water of shallow gravel bottoms in-between rocks. When Yellowfish spawn, please try and avoid those areas. Many fishing venues in South Africa will warn you about the areas where spawning occurs. It is best to stay clear of these spawning spots, and it is bad to fish for Yellows during the spawn. Yellowfish Season starts in Spring, when the water starts warming up. I like to refer to Spring as the 1st of September, but generally after the first extended hot spell, the Yellowfish Season commences. The Yellowfish hold in the deeper pools during the colder Winter months and as soon as the water temperature (In most Rivers, anyway), hits 13... read more

Yellowfish Spawning

Yellowfish Spawning: When Do Yellowfish Spawn? Spawning Information On South Africa’s Yellowfish An Introduction To Breeding Yellowfish Yellowfish Spawning: Yellowfish spawn, generally, after the first heavy rains of the Yellowfish season. The Yellowfish start moving into shallow water at the start of Spring/Summer when the water reaches 16 degrees celsius. They move into these more shallow, warm waters not only to feed, but also in preparation for spawning, which normally takes place after the first heavy rains or sparsely, between October and February. The spawning season is a long and drawn out affair, and depends heavily on the amount of food available, good rains, and a good flow of water of shallow gravel bottoms in-between rocks. When Yellowfish spawn, please try and avoid those areas. Many fishing venues in South Africa will warn you about the areas where spawning occurs. It is best to stay clear of these spawning spots, and it is bad to fish for Yellows during the spawn. The Yellowfish Spawning Process The Yellowfish species of South Africa will start spawning when the conditions mentioned above are perfect, and when the water temperature reaches 19 degrees celsius. The Yellowfish move in loose shoals of around 25 – 40 fish when they spawn, and can often be seen “finning” in numbers in the shallow spawning grounds.The ideal conditions mean that spawning can take place, and future generations of the beautiful Yellowfish can start their journey to adult hood. This journey takes 4-7 years or so, by which stage the Yellowfish becomes sexually mature and is able to breed. The fish are usually around 30cm at this stage.... read more

Top 10 Yellowfish Flies

Top 10 Flies For Yellowfish Season What Flies To Use For Yellowfish During Spring & Summer? There are so many flies for Yellowfish, and it can be a daunting task for any fly fisherman when setting out on an early season trip to one of the many freshwater venues that hold these beautiful species of fish. One of my favourite times of year is definitely Spring. The Trout spawning season comes to an end, and the weather warms up. When the days get longer and hotter, the water gets warmer and warmer. This makes me really excited and anxious, and I start planning trips in my head, almost on an hourly basis. You could say I am slightly obsessed with Yellowfishing. The Yellowfish start moving into the rapids and shallows once the water reaches about 13 degrees. When the water gets above 16 degrees the fishing is on, and when it hits 19 degrees you have the perfect water temperature to target Yellowfish. The list below was made by Fish The Fly, and is just our opinion. It has been a proved list for all of us here at Fish The Fly; whether we are fishing stillwaters, streams, or rivers. There might be a few “favourite” flies missing from this list, but these 10 flies (In order of best to even better) will catch you Yellows during the early Yellowfish season. The Top 10 Yellowfish Flies Copper John The Copper John is used successfully in South Africa targeting Yellowfish, in fast flowing rivers. It is used as the control fly, and the weight the Copper John, as well as... read more

Latest Saltwater Articles From The Fish The Fly Team

39 Must Catch Fish On Fly In The World | Fly Fishing Infographic

Fly Fishing Around The World, 39 Fish Species You Need To Catch On Fly! Alphonse Island/Alphonse Fishing Co, have made an amazing infographic, probably one of the best I have ever seen, the lists the 39 fish species you need to catch on fly! The infographic below shows all the 39 species of fish that can be caught world wide and these fish are all treasures and possibly once a life time catches… Here is a word from Alphonse Island: I am happy to announce that we were able to sum up all our results from the previous Research project into one big Infographic. We have called it the ‘39 Legendary Fish to Catch on a fly’. This project would not have been possible without you and other Fly Fishers from all over. Please have a look at our Infographic below: This is truly amazing work! Well done to the guys who have spent so much time and effort in putting this together! Gareth Roocroft Founder, Fish The Fly In case you like to read why and what we did exactly, please have a look on our Website, where we explain the whole project in detail. https://goo.gl/FNR18P Follow Us On Social Media... Fish The Fly knows how everyone loves updates, photo's and videos, so keep updated with all the latest fly fishing news from South Africa below! Instagram Follow facebook Follow Google+ Follow Twitter Follow Youtube... read more

Saltwater Fly Fishing 101

    Saltwater Fly Fishing In South Africa Where, What, How, Why… Saltwater Fly fishing 101 Saltwater Fly Fishing is a challenging form of angling, and definitely tests a fly fisherman’s patience and skills to the maximum. Fly Fishing is often imagined with a stream, accompanied by schools of colourful trout feeding in shallow water; but very rarely imagined with an angler on some prawn banks, casting a fly at Grunter frolicking in the mud. This article will talk about the latter of the two scenarios, and why it is so rewarding.     When anglers talk about saltwater fishing in South Africa, very few conversations will be about fly fishing, rather spinning, rock and surf, dropshot and offshore. Once an angler lands that first fish on fly, he will be hooked! Fly Fishing in estuaries or in the surf is often overlooked as angler’s prefer to fish areas with other artlure or bait methods. I think this is as a result of the unwillingness of the angler to ‘waste his time throwing an artificial fly back and forth’. This can be a huge misconception, because if you get the fly right, the tide right, the time right where you are lucky enough to find a shoal of fish, you can be in for the time of your life. Targeting Saltwater Fish Species – South African Saltwater Fly Fishing The beauty for me when saltwater fly fishing, is that you can literally catch every species of fish South African surf and estuaries boast, from 2cm Glassies to 90cm Garrick. All depending on what size fly you use, what area... read more

Best Offshore Flies

Best Offshore Flies To Use In South Africa What Are The Best Flies To Use When Fly Fishing Offshore In South Africa? What are the best offshore flies to use in South Africa? Offshore fly fishing is very challenging, but extremely rewarding. This facet of fly fishing is tough. There are no two ways about it. You are using heavy rods, fast line stripping techniques, and when you hook a fish it is often back breaking work. It is all for that ultimate satisfaction of catching that offshore species on fly. The saltwater fish species that you would generally target on fly offshore, are fish like: Tuna, Bonito, Jobfish, Rockcod, Kingfish, Barracuda, Billfish, Bottom Fish, other Pelagics, and the list goes on. The Giant Trevally and Sailfish are arguably the two most sought after species on fly when going offshore fly fishing. Fish The Fly has identified the 5 best offshore flies you can use in the various saltwater fly fishing habitats along the South African coast line. There are so many flies out there, and it is very tough to narrow it down to the 5 flies we have listed below. If you use these flies offshore in South Africa, you will catch fish. Just remember, perseverance is a key to success when saltwater fly fishing. The Top 5 Best Offshore Flies To Use In South Africa Surf Candy The Surf Candy fly is an excellent saltwater fly pattern, which acts as a streamer or lure-type fly. The Surf Candy is a small baitfish imitation, that mimics general fish species… Read more. Lefty’s Deceiver The Deceiver fly, or... read more

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