Massive fish are not the be all and end all of saltwater fly fishing. Sometimes, awkward beauty triumphs. With wings, lips, spots and attitude, gurnard have a growing legion of fans. As featured in The Mission Issue 05.


Like a Gremlin crossed with a butterfly, Cape gurnard (Chelidonichthys capensis) and/or bluefin gurnard (Chelidonichthys kumu) are colourful, local members of the scorpionfishes. They could also claim the mantle of the Jar Jar Binks of the piscatorial world.

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You’ll find them along most parts of the South African coastline – from the Mozambique border to Namibian border. Generally bottom-dwelling fish, although mostly caught offshore, there’s a small band of die-hards targeting them in shallower water or from the side. Leonard Flemming of Feathers & Fluoro says that they seem to favour sandy substrates in deepish water, near drop offs or structure from the side.



A crustacean imitation or a Clouser, a fast sinking line (lead core line) in deep water offshore, or an intermediate line if fishing from the shore, 5 to 9-weight, 15 lb tippet or less.


You, yourself and Irene. There are very few guides who target these gems, but there’s nothing stopping you.

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