Matt Gorlei of FlyBru is a bloody good angler. He’s represented South Africa at the World Champs and KwaZulu-Natal at Nationals, but for the most part he’s too laid back to take it overly seriously like many of the comp guys do. When he’s not guiding at Kau Tapen on the Rio Grande, in Russia or on the Orange river in the Kalahari, he gets involved in comp fishing again. He recently went to A Nationals in Pilgrim’s Rest. This is how he packed:
Hi, my name is Matt and I fish competitively. It’s a once a year thing, you travel to represent your province and try kick the Western Province team off the throne. These guys have been unbeaten, for I think like three or four years leading into this year’s 2019 event at Pilgrims Rest in Mpumalanga. So ja, it’s basically a competition for 2nd place that the other teams are fighting for, depending on how realistically you look at things. I must say, that there probably hasn’t been a team of such caliber that has represented at provincial level in the history of competitive fly fishing in South Africa.
I am born and bred soutpiel from Durban, I have fished provincially for KwaZulu-Natal since I was 12. I am now 25. I have never placed individually at an event, I think I’ve placed 4th on 2 occasions and to be honest the reason for that is the fact that I arrive at an event with minimal prep and whatever flies and gear I haven’t destroyed or lost. My gear fund goes towards more interesting stuff of late, such as switch rods, spey lines, saltwater stuff and thicker tippet, so my trout and competition fishing gear has been kind of depleted due to overuse and mistreatment.
I found myself before this year’s national event, repairing reels, rod butts and cork with duct tape and glue, scratching in my dad’s throw away box* for reels and taking my euro nymph line off my spey reel as I was using it as a running line. It was pretty fucked but it did make for a decent slick shooting line.
All this made me realize I’m not as serious about this shit as I used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love the competitive vibe, being at an event with the best fishermen in the country, weighing yourself up against the best of the best, fighting through the mental games, making the most of your draw and testing your fishing ability within parameters, it gets the blood pumping in ways that only those that have experienced will be able to vouch for. It’s not for everyone, but for some it’s the only way. And don’t get me started on the learning curve; at each event you learn stuff that would take a year’s worth of outings as a social fisherman.
Most of the serious guys attending these events are putting in months of preparation before a competition, on and off the water, as a team and as an individual. I wouldn’t say that I’ve done much in the last three years of competing, I’ve kind of fallen off the pace. My fly tying prep consist of scratching together five or six patterns that I have confidence in anywhere, takes me a day of tying 25 – 30 flies, which is terribly slow and that’s me. I fish the same leader I did last year, and I buy 2 fresh spools of tippet. My fly vest stayed packed from last year’s nationals. I even found a BarOne (mildly squashed) and a pack of Fisherman’s Friend in it as I was packing. Luckily this Nationals consisted of only river fishing which meant it was half of the gear to pack and lug up with me.
I think I had everything I needed, though some guys would definitely have had quite a bit more than this and would have been a lot more organized. Nevertheless, here is my list of gear, The Not So Competitive Angler’s Competitive Angling Tackle list:
Minimal fly tying materials, I’ll steal from my teammates
Squirmy shit (ed: now banned)
9ft Streamer Rod
9ft Dry fly rod
10ft Nymphing Rod
8ft Nymphing rod
Spare 10ft rod
Dry fly Line
2x Nymphing Line
Floating line for streamers
Dry Fly Box
Squirmy and Streamer Box
Forceps and Nippers
Spare Forceps and Nippers
Floatant and Shake
Note Book (Dear Diary, today I got my arse handed to me by the WP team)
Leatherman and knife
* Matt’s dad, Richard Gorlei, recently won the World Masters Fly Fishing tournament held in South Africa.