South African Fly Fishing Tackle
Rods, Reels, Lines & More
Do you want to know how to select the right fly fishing tackle for the right application? Fish The Fly is here to help. Fly Fishing, essentially, requires very little tackle, but because we love the sport of angling, we tend to build up huge amounts of tackle, some which will never be used. But that’s just part of it! This article will describe everything you need to look for when selecting fly fishing tackle for South African waters, what you will need for different fly fishing facets and how to look after your fly fishing tackle and make it last.
Fly fishing is simply amazing and the joy that you are rewarded with is priceless.
Fly Fishing Rods: Selecting The Right Fly Rod
A fly rod, regardless of the brand name, needs to be selected very carefully and should meet your requirements and specifications. You should feel comfortable casting the rod, holding it and you should have confidence in it. Remember just because the rod is an Orvis or a Sage doesn’t mean it will be the perfect rod for you. The fly rod’s casting ability should be assessed personally and see if it suits your style of casting, as each rod is different and the action each rod has will vary.
Fly Rod Weights
On all fly rods there will be a weight rating above the butt section of the rod, or on the butt itself. This rating basically determines the size of fish the rod can handle, the casting ability and distance the rod can cast and will determine the line weights you can cast, heavier line and heavier fly rods will generally cast further and will do well in windy situations, but it can be very tiring. Below is a group of ratings and what sort of application they can be used for when fly fishing in South Africa…
0-2 Weight Fly Rod – Generally used for catching trout in small streams, also used for catching smaller species such as Cape Kurper, Vlei Kurper, Catlet’s, Minnows and other similar freshwater fish.
7-8 Weight Fly Rod – A perfect rod for Tigerfish, Barbel, Carp, Barracuda, Garrick, Springer, Kob, Bonefish and other species in that category.
9-11 Weight Fly Rod – A good weight rod for Kingfish, Yellowtail, Couta, Bonito and Dorado and similar offshore species.
12-15 Weight Fly Rod – A very heavy rod for offshore saltwater fish like Tuna, Marlin and other pelagics including Sailfish.
Tip Flex Vs. Mid Flex
When talking about fly rods, you get 2 different “builds”. A tip flex is generally a stiffer rod with a heavier action. The tip flex is suited for anglers who like a stiffer fly rod, and who want to be able to have more control when casting into strong winds, or casting heavy lines. A mid flex is a rod that has a medium action and is not as accurate in terms of casting, but is often more “comfortable” and can generally be casted a lot more than the heavier tip-flex. It is not as durable casting into heavy winds, and is often a better choice using a mid flex for lighter weight rods.
In summary we can say when you fish freshwater in South Africa, you should use a 0 to an 8 weight fly rod and when you fish saltwater, a 9 weight fly rod and heavier. Although there are exceptions, and it comes down to what you are more comfortable with. For example, I enjoy targeting Garrick on a 5 weight. You will get to the stage where you know what setup you want to use for what application. Also don’t forget you can bend the rules a bit here. If you have a 5 weight setup, you can try changing the line to a 4 weight, or you can go up to 6 or 7 weight line, it often works out that the smaller or larger line works better for you on a different setup.
Fly Fishing Lines
There are many brands of fly fishing line, but there are 3 main types, they include: Floating, Intermediate and Sinking. There are variations of these 3 fly lines (Such as extra fast sinking), but there purposes all remain the same. As mentioned, one can experiment with the fly line weights with the rod paired, but generally you would use a 5 weight line with a 5 weight rod.
Tapered Fly Lines
Of these 3 kinds of fly lines, there is something called a fly line taper, which is similar to a tapered leader but is a bit more complex. Basically fly line taper refers to the differences in the diameters of the line It is basically an adjustment in the actual fly line. You get 4 main types of tapered fly lines, which are discussed below:
Level Line Taper
This line has the same diameter from start to finish, there is no extra weight or any other specifics, it is essentially, ‘normal’ fly line.
Double Line Taper
The Double Line Taper is line that can be used from either end, changed once every year or so. The first few feet and the last few feet have a thicker diameter to the rest of the fly line, which is in the middle. It is essentially a reversible fly line.
Weight Forward Line Taper
This fly line is the same except for the first 10 feet or so. The first 10 feet is weighted a bit more which allows for further casting and easier casting into strong wind.
Shooting Line Taper
This line is a type of weight forward taper, except that the diameter of the line is slightly thinner, and the first 20 or so feet is heavily weighted, more so than then weight forward taper.
Purchase The Right Fly Line
It is important to buy name brand, more expensive fly lines when you select a fly line. The internal lubricants and components make the line perform better, last longer and cast further, and generally line created in the right way costs more to manufacture, therefore makes it more costly to purchase. It is also important to take into consideration what species you wish to target with the fly line, where you will be fishing, and matching the line correctly to your fly setup (Rod and reel).
Fly Fishing Reels
Fly reels are least important when talking about your main fly tackle. Cheap fly reels do not last very long and have a poor composition and weight to them. If you have a bit of extra money, buy a more expensive reel, it will last longer and perform better. Your fly reel should also match your line weight, not your rod weight. Most fly reels are generally similar in terms of specifications such as drag and gear ratio (There are other kinds of fly reels with higher and automatic gear ratios). Choose your fly reel carefully, and you will be happy and fishing for a long time.
Fly Fishing Accessories
After you have sourced your main fly tackle, there are many other items to consider. Some of the accessory items are listed below:
- A landing net with soft material
- Bite indicators
- Braided Loops (To join leader to fly line easier)
- Buff (To wear to protect your face and neck from sunburn or cold)
- Fishing boots (Wading shoes, with felt on the bottom of the shoe)
- Floatant for flies and line
- Fly Jacket (Very useful)
- Fly tying kit (A hobby on it’s own)
- Forceps to remove ‘swallowed’ flies
- Leader and tippet
- Line basket (For fast retrieving large amounts of line, mostly for saltwater fly fishing)
- Polarized sunglasses (Believe me these are essential)
- Reel bags
- Rod tubes
- Split shots to get your fly down to the bottom of deep water quicker
- Thermometer (To measure water temperature)
- Waders (For cold water)
- Wading Stick (For walking in fast flowing water)
And that’s about that, your guide to fly fishing tackle, welcome to the World of fishing addiction!
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