When I tie flies for the Orange River between the Richtersveld and Upington it generally results in spent spools of thread due to the many nymph patterns for smallmouth yellowfish (and only a handful of streamers for largemouth yellows). Well, that is how I used to prepare myself until I met Garth Wellman and Armand Flies. They insist on fishing long, slender, heavily weighted streamers only, targeting largemouth yellowfish almost exclusively in that way – the other fish that they get are smallmouth yellowfish the size of piglets, as a by catch…Completely the opposite of my trips, which involved fishing 10 hours a day for smallmouths and casting the streamers only for a few minutes here and there, in-between.

Big smallmouth yellows, fat as piglets, are the by-catch of Garth and Armand’s trips to the lower Orange – photo by Garth Wellman.

I have caught most of my largemouth yellowfish (a handful of the dozen or so I’ve managed to land on fly) in the muddy Gariep area, where fishing larger, bushy flies that sink slowly and push a lot of water makes sense. However, we’ll be digging deep for diamonds this time I’m told.

flies for the Orange River
Long, slender, heavily weighted zonker patterns are the type that Garth and Armand recommend for the clearer parts of the Orange River – fly tied by Armand Flies


Although the colour of yellowfish are often described as ‘gold’, a polished Orange River diamond would be more apt for this largemouth yellowfish – photo by Garth Wellman


flies for the Orange River
I’ve been up late for several nights now tying largemouth yellowfish streamers according to Garth and Armand’s recommendations…I can only hold thumbs that my flies will actually catch a yellowfish.

The thought of swinging sparse, lead and tungsten weighted zonker patterns on 18 ft leaders in fairly clear and fast flowing trenches makes me feel completely out of place. One of Garth’s favourite spots for targeting largemouth yellowfish with that method is in the Kalahari Largemouth Yellowfish Conservancy that he helped establish with Craig Eksteen on a section of the Orange River above Augrabies Falls. We’ll be heading there at the end of the month on a 4 day float trip with Kalahari Outventures where I will hopefully get the opportunity to land a fish or two on their swinging techniques and put my restless mind to ease.

Warning – Garth Wellman’s passion for indigenous barbs is extremely contagious! Here he is in is element with a beautifully conditioned Kalahari Largemouth Yellowfish Conservancy fish.


Kalahari Outventures guide Matt Gorlei (@flybru) finding double figure gems while digging deep with streamers in new sections of river above the Augrabies Falls.

Leave a comment



Subscribe to our newsletter and get all the latest to your inbox!