Subtitle: A guide to freshwater and saltwater fly-fishing in Africa
Author: Bill Hansford-Steele
Southern Books Publishers
2nd. edition, RSA, Rivonia 1999
Soft cover, 17x24 cm, 304 pages, numerous bw-photos and illustrations, some in colour
Fly-fishing in all its forms is the fastest-growing participatory field sport in the world. Whether you're hoping to catch trout, tigerfish, mullet or queenfish, there is little to match the sheer joy of fishing with a fly rod. Whether you're standing waist deep in a raging river estuary fishing the saltwater, or wading slowly into the calm waters of an inland lake, the thrill of casting a perfect line is unmatched.
Africa is one of the most exciting fly-fishing destinations in the world. Dedicated fly-fishermen can be found casting their lines all over the continent - in steaming tropical rivers, in the vast lakelands of the rift valley, in mountain streams, on golden beaches and in turbulent estuaries. Africa offers everything from the well-fished and managed rivers and dams of South Africa and Zimbabwe, to the relatively unexposed and unknown destinations like the Bale Mountains in Ethiopia and the coastline of Madagascar.
Bill Hansford-Steele's "African Fly-fishing Handbook" is the first ever guide to fly-fishing on the African continent. It discusses all aspects of the sport, and includes chapters with information on the following:
- When and where to fly-fish in Africa
- How to get started and what equipment to buy
- Casting techniques
- Tactics and strategies for freshwater and saltwater fishes suitable for catching on the fly
- Fish food forms, including an extensive chapter on African insects
- Winning fly patterns The most comprehensive book of its kind, the African Fly-fishing Hand-book will be indispensable to both seasoned fly-fishermen and those just starting out.
Bill Hansford-Steele is a professional fly-fishing instructor. He counts Cyril Ramaphosa among his .successful student. Originally from the UK, he has lived and fished in southern Africa for the last 35 years.
Before you start:
Chapter 2 explains how to go about setting vourself up with a balanced outfit. This is the essence ot fly-casting: without a balanced outfit vou should not even attempt to learn casting. The wrong outfit will force you to try and compensate for its inadequacies, which will result in bad technique - technique that can never work properly. Bad habits will be formed, and these may take years to correct later. Quite apart from the bad habits, the fly-casting will never be good - incorrect technique may tire vou quickly, wind knots become a major problem, and without correct technique vou can look torward to little accuracy and manv other problems. If vou know what goes wrong and why, then you can correct it, and this is where instruction is invaluable. The importance of a balanced outfit plus casting know-how cannot be over-emphasised.
Some say fly-casting is an art form ... and perhaps it is. Flicking a tiny fly under a bush, so accurately that it dritts down over a fish without skiting, is indeed artistry. Predicting the path of a rising fish, and casting to the spot where he will be in ten seconds ... that is also artistrv. Casting 45 metres out with a tungsten cored line, to drop your fly in to an old river bed ... that's skill. Reaching the third wave at the edge of a reef just where the queenfish are harrving frv ... that's also skill. I could go on, but the point to be made is that fly-casting at its best is both artistry and skill! You could say that the skill can be learnt and the artistry comes with experience, as a bonus.
In the earIy davs of your fly-fishing it is advisable to use barbloss hook flies - these are much easier to remove in the unlikely event that you do get impaled. I use them all the time anywav, since they are easily tweaked out, and are much better for releasing fish. On some waters, barbless hooks are compulsory. Generally speaking, accidents from casting only occur as a result of distraction er unexpected gusts of wind.
Keep a watchful eye for passers-by when casting. Offen thev are non-anglers and have no idea of what a back cast is, or how easily they can get hooked-up. An angler passing by should always shout 'passing', and would in any event be wise enough to wait for the cast to be completed before passing. [...]
As a casting instructor for many vears, I have always been amazed at the mystique that some people spin around flycasting. I have met people who honestly believed that they could never master casting because they were working-class folk, some who thought it impossible because they had little strength (usually women), and some who thought it was no different to tennis. I have met some who had been as keen as mustard an flyfishing for 20 years and could cast no further than ten metres. At the other extreme, our local vicar read one magazine article and went straight to the water and started double haul casting to 35 metres (some might say he had divine inspiration). The truth is, everybody can cast a fly live - they just have to learn the correct way.
Two of the casting instructors at Trout Hideaway in South Atrica learnt to cast trom an article I wrote in the early seventies in "Tight Lines" magazine. With no personal instruction (I only met them years later), they managed all by themselves, and both are extremely competent casters today. The moral is, that it can be done from a book! Nevertheless, a casting course is highly recommended, and every aspirant flyfishing person should attend one it possible.