Popular Fly-Tying Clubs Involve Young and Old
Old teaching young to tie flies and vice versa.
If you take a short ride in the vintage elevator to the fourth floor of the Mercantile Building on Hout Street, Cape Town, you'll find the Cape Piscatorial Society, a fly- fishing club.
Fly-fishing is the most difficult and frustrating form of fishing there is. Casting is tricky (flicking a weighted line back and forth until you have enough out to throw the desired cast) and takes considerable time, patience and effort to master.
But for the members of the CPS, the remote locations, the graceful casting, the fly made of feathers and fur and the drug of the tug of a fish on your line - all of that makes the effort worthwhile.
"Fly" is a relatively loose term. Sure, many of the patterns do resemble a fly in either its larval or adult stages, but when it comes to fly-fishing, a "fly" could also imitate a small fish, a worm, a crab, a prawn, a frog or even a duckling. Some imitate nothing at all, yet still catch fish.
The club room is the CPS's HQ. Like Hemingway's man-cave, the walls are covered by book shelves laden with fly-fishing tomes, while pictures of men with eye patches and pipes share space with stuffed fish from more than half a century ago.
But while the club may be old, the library well-stocked and dusty, and the bar cheaper than a bowls club, the cross-section of people behind the CPS is mixed and the energy is high.
At the club's "Vice Squad" evening last month, about 40 people, mostly men between 10 and 70 years old, geek out.
First at the fly-tying vice is veteran journalist Ed Herbst with his Lakenvlei Dragon, a fly designed to resemble a dragonfly nymph. Herbst is followed by professional actor and fly-tying instructor Gordon van der Spuy. In keeping with the Arthurian theme, he presents a damselfly nymph pattern, designed to attract the Lancelot of trout. Moving on to saltwater patterns, sculptor Chris Bladen ties a pattern for Permit, a notoriously tricky species found on the tropical flats of the Seychelles, Caribbean and other exotic destinations.
Leonard Flemming, the CPS chairman and a doctor of microbiology, says besides being the home of fly-fishing in the Western Cape, the CPS manages "public access to numerous exceptional river fisheries in the Cape Fold mountain range and a prime stillwater, Lakenvlei, situated high in the Matroosberg. While we've been around for 84 years, it's certainly no 'old-boys' club and people of all ages are welcome to join the society or attend social fly-fishing events in our club room."
All around the fly-tying demos, in-depth discussions are being held about the water-resistant nature of elk hair, the best place to stay on the Breede River, which weight tungsten beads to use when targeting yellowfish, whether you could use the feathers off an Egyptian goose and just how to catch a mullet on fly.
After all, that is the goal. No bait, no mess, no fuss. No heavy lures and heavy lines. Members obsess over catching trout, indigenous yellowfish and myriad other species of fresh and saltwater fish on the lighter rods and reels that are part and parcel of fly-fishing.
Then, once they have thrilled in the fight and the glory of outwitting a creature with a tiny brain (no small feat when you consider how wily these fish are), most are returned to fight another day, wiser and wilier than before.
- Tags: fly fishing