Dis­cov­er­ing an an­cient sport

EleanorMombergdis­cov­er­s­the­finerarts offly­fishingintheMa­galies­berg

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

FLY fish­ing is an an­cient sport that, in mod­ern times, sees us con­jur­ing up im­ages of Brad Pitt wad­ing through a river cast­ing his line in Robert Red­ford’s pop­u­lar movie,

I had not imag­ined it to be a sport for women. Rather, a sport for men who wanted to es­cape from board­rooms to find a few hours of quiet time. It was thus with trep­i­da­tion and ex­cite­ment that the in­vi­ta­tion to learn fly fish­ing was ac­cepted – a mere hour’s drive from Pre­to­ria and Jo­han­nes­burg.

The Ma­galies­berg Val­ley Lodge is sit­u­ated on the banks of the Ma­galies River, sur­rounded by a 7 000hectare na­ture re­serve in lush veld.

I took along my sis­ter, an ex­ec­u­tive and mother, for the week­end to savour some tran­quil­lity and, of course, to learn a new sport.

We had fished be­fore un­der the guid­ing hand of our fa­ther, spending hours on the banks of the Vaal River and at dams across the coun­try catch­ing bream, cat­fish, carp and what­ever else liked the taste of the bait we had at­tached to our hooks. Catch­ing fish was easy, or so we thought.

On ar­rival, we booked into our comfortable suite over­look­ing a bridge cross­ing the river and were soon met by Pa­trick Mot­samai of MBH Fly-Fish­ing, who handed us each a light-weight fish­ing rod and es­corted us down to the river.

He talked ex­cit­edly about the won­der­ful, an­cient sport of fly fish­ing, which, it tran­spired, was a method of angling used in days gone by to catch trout and sal­mon, but used to­day to also catch and release bass, carp, snoek, bream and a va­ri­ety of other fish species. His love for the sport was in­fec­tious. We were hooked, but first we had to learn how to cast and tie a fly to the end of the line.

It is an art. The va­ri­ety of casts is im­pres­sive – for­ward casts, back cast­ing, dou­ble haul­ing, rolling, side, low, bow and ar­row, and false cast­ing. It is all in the pre­sen­ta­tion – the line must land smoothly on the wa­ter. One, two, up, hold, cast. It is all in the wrists, fore­arm and the rhythm.

It is al­most hyp­notic, calm­ing. Peace­ful­ness de­scends over you as you stand on the bank of the river be­com­ing one with your fly rod and fly line which floats on the sur­face of the wa­ter as the ar­ti­fi­cial fly sinks slowly down­ward to lure its prey.

But, Pa­trick’s les­son on the sport made pop­u­lar by the likes of Hem­ing­way was not over. There are dif­fer­ent types of fly lines – float­ing, sink­ing and in­ter­me­di­ate, cast­ing was a com­bi­na­tion of speed and weight, the waves that ap­pear when you are cast­ing are called loops, types of cast vary ac­cord­ing to the con­di­tion, and each fly has a dif­fer­ent name. In­ter­est­ing names such as hotspot nymph, green cad­dies, dry fly nymph, dragon­fly nymph, green and black willy bug­gers, green Mrs Simp­sons and pau­pers.

Then there are the knots used to tie the fly line with the sink­ing or in­ter­me­di­ate line, and then the fly. Nee­dle knots, nail knot, blood knot. It is in­tri­cate work ty­ing a knot and mak­ing a fly, he tells us as he shows off the flies he had made him­self.

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