The fly fishing world is awash with ambassadors and endorsements, so when we threw the net wide asking people for fishing-related items they love or recommend, there was only one condition – it could not a brand or product they sell or represent. Here are the results.
LeRoy Botha, Feathers & Fluoro member
The first fish on my little Wychwood R&S 2-weight reel was a decent witvis. When that thing tore off and the reel started singing, I knew. Very nice little toy. A few years ago, a very dear mate gifted me a J-Vice. Never knew how good a vice could be, it changed my game.
Warwick Leslie, renowned 4×4 oke
My CTS Affinity X 7-weight is a weapon, I love fishing that thing, while wearing my Soft science boots. Oh and my Fusion 19 makes me smile a lot.
Trevor Skinner, Ocean Active Dubai
My Sightline Provision’s leather hip flask, is always in my backpack.
Ed Truter, African Waters destination scout
Eze-Lap Diamond Hone & Stone. If you’re anal about keeping your hooks sharp (and you should be or else what’s the point?), then these diamond hones are the best hook sharpeners I’ve ever used. I buy the 3-pack that comes with the Super Fine Grit, Fine Grit, and Medium Grit models, and then I’m set to sharpen hooks from #16 to 16/0. I cut the plastic handles shorter, drill a hole through shortened end, and it goes on my neck-hung lanyard – shap shap!
Ark Fishduc 350 – I love it that such great quality is made by a little South African firm that’s stood the test of time. All the ARK products that I’ve ever used have been excellent and 100% Africa-proof, but the Fishduc 350 is probably my favourite. Moerse tough, long-lasting and it opens up a world of possibilities, fun, and endless adventure limited only by your own imagination.
Addis Roughtote 68L. A game changing black box (another South African business that’s stood the test of time). Buy a bunch in the 68 litre size, nest them when you don’t need them. But anytime you’re fishing, camping, etc. they make great back-of-bakkie storage for everything from food to fanny-warmers, dry storage on the boat (they fit perfectly across the Ark Fishduc 350), you can wash the dishes (or your newborn) in them, and are strong enough to be seats for folks up to 115kg. Like duct tape, cable ties, and Ziploc bags, you just can’t have too many of these in your life, you’re welcome.
Mark Schwartz, disabled fly angler
My go to reel I always use is the Greys GTS 800 5/6 with Rio Intouch stillwater WF Floating line.
Jannie Visser, pre-eminent Western Cape saltie
Gear I would recommend is my Fish Cat float tube and/or my Aqua Marina fishing SUP. This opened up a whole new world on my doorstep.
Riverhorse Nakadate, Texas-based storyteller, bass fan and free spirit
Wherever I am, the canoe is there–to chase dreams and fish, sleep in on islands and alongside shimmering forest lakes, and especially for sunset picnics with chilled wine and the beautiful woman I love.
Kyle Knight, chef and owner behind SKOUT
My 20-year-old Leatherman. This thing has fixed everything from broken rods, steam side, to opening car doors in car parks ( yes we locked our keys in, out of sheer excitement to fish). If I was allowed to wear it daily just think of the good I could do.
Johann du Preez, guide and artist
Out of all the gear I have the most used item across the board is my rusty old Leatherman. I’ve lost it several times and it always finds its way back to me.
Nic Schwerdtfeger, Gaula River guide
A Leatherman and my Simms waterproof waist pack. I’m unstoppable with those too for the kind of fishing that I do. I can fit a full day’s gear, water and food in the bag and I can fix/cut/plier anything with the Leatherman. Please note these are just as essential at Afrikaburn as they are on any fishing trip. They live in the Land Cruiser.
Ray Montoya, DIY dude
Hand tied leaders built with Albrights using Seagaur fluorocarbon blue (the fifty meter spools).
Garth Nieuwenhuis, Protea fly angler
My Simms G3 wading jacket, sell a kidney and stay dry forever! This piece of kit has been absolutely indispensable in the unpredictable winter stilllwater fishing weather ensuring no matter what you can carry on fishing.
Craig Richardson, ex Protea angler now guiding in Idaho
Scientific Anglers Aptitude Smooth lines are game changer. Pick the right weight and you’re all set.
Chris Clemes, owner of Chris Clemes Cane Rods
I must say my probably longest standing piece of kit and which I use almost every trip is my Olney Crushable Felt Hat, it has been a companion for many years on trips around the world.
Beniamino Pellegrini, DIY dude
Mountain Equipment technical pants. They cost a pretty penny, but are rip proof, dull and drab and perfectly indestructible, saving your legs from kameeldoring, fynbos and harsh sun.
Tim Rajeff, owner of Echo Fly Fishing
I suck at organizing my gear. My flies, tippet, lunch, rain jacket, libations, all need to reside in the same place. A Simms Dry Creek 20L boat bag has become my best fishing friend. It has a fricken magnet that grabs the buckle so in less that 2 seconds I can close my bag and take off running or move to the other side of the boat. Oh yeah did I tell you it is waterproof?
Tim Rolston, guide and casting instructor
An Eze-Lap Model S hook sharpener, it is the best I have found for trout sized flies, although they make a large model for Salt Water applications. Hooks are NEVER as sharp as they can be when they come out of the box.
Cameron Musgrave, Cosmoledo head guide
Van Staal Titanium Pliers. I have had several pliers over the years and nothing comes close to these pliers. Bullet proof, low maintenance, zero rust, can cut any thickness of leader and nips 10lb braid easily. Ultra-light for their size and feels good in your hand. I hate trying to remove an 8/0 from a big GT and it feels like I’m using my wife’s tweezers!
James Christmas, guide
The YETI Zinger- a lot of people can’t stand the thought of too many “dangly bits” when fishing- but if you are like me and prefer not to be buying a pair of clippers every time you go fishing, then the YETI Zinger is a game changer. Salt or fresh water, this thing just lasts!
Ewan Naude, Feathers and Fluoro member and the most rugged man in Christendom
My Maui Jim Red Sand prescription sunglasses. Super impressed with the frames, the prescription lenses and the optometrist I got them from in South Africa. Maui Jim in the US got me the glasses with prescription lenses within a week.
PJ Vadas, Chef and owner of Vadas Smokehouse
Anti-chafe cream is a must in all my fishing bags, Nothing like a 6km walk back to the car after an entire day’s fishing with severe chafe. I like the natural Squirrel Nut Butter stick.
Myburgh van Zyl, chairman of the Cape Piscatorial Society
C&F Design Micro Slit Foam Chest Patch. Everyone seems to have one these days and after using one you’ll understand why. Gives quick access to the day’s selection, and the magnets allow you to lazily drop drowned flies in the general direction of the patch and sort them out later.
Stu Webb, guide
My camera. One day when I’m a raisin from sun exposure and my nuts touch my knees I’ll have my images. It’s not just grip and grins it’s the places that fly fishing has taken me that I want to remember.
Alan Hobson, guide and owner of the Angler & Antelope
Underwater camera to take that dorsal fin ***k you picture. Fin freedom and the release gives me such a kick.
Nick van Rensburg, former guide and one half of FlyBru
I’ve been finding a bunch of application in Rio’s Sink Tip range. From their Replacement Tips to their MOW tips, they offer so much versatility, and great function for a lot of South Africa’s fisheries. For example, I love using Rio’s 10ft Replacement intermediate tip on my 9wt floating line, to pull the fly under the surface just that little bit more. From the Orange river to your local bass pond, having a few of these can make all the difference.
Lionel Song, location scout and guide, Majestic Rivers
I would have to say that my machete/panga is my essential piece of equipment that I carry crossways in the small of my back. I call it my one percenter, as it might be the 1% chance I have of surviving a croc attack.
MC Coetzer, former Proteas fly fishing captain
Good leaders and tippet material are important for me. Rio leaders for fresh and salt are great and there is no better tippet material for salt and freshwater applications than Trout Hunter Fluorocarbon. It’s expensive, but it’s definitely the best out there.
Jeff Tyser, Boston-based DIY dude
I’m really no gear junkie, but I’d have to say TroutHunter Fluorocarbon. I’m sure there are some much more scientific reasons, but I just trust the fuck out of it. Abrasion resistant, knots well and has hardly ever failed me. The way I see it, if you can’t trust your weakest link, who cares about the other gear?
Get stuck into the rest of our Gear of the Year feature in issue 36 below. As always, it’s free.