HIGH FIVES: LIAM VAN DER MERWE

HIGH FIVES: LIAM VAN DER MERWE

Coming out of the comp scene and into the cauldron of professional guiding, over the last few years Liam van der Merwe ‘s career has taken off. With the Orange River, Angola and the Seychelles on his CV, the sky’s the limit for this fly fishing guide as featured in The Mission Issue 42.

5 best things about where you guide? 

1. Chatting to the locals in the areas that I’ve guided has always excited me to the core. The wild stories they have about the fishing in the area over the years always blow me away. 

2. The wildlife. I’ve always been a sucker for incredible wildlife; creepy crawlies and specifically scorpions are my thing. 

3. Fellow guides. Building relationships with different guides is the best. Listening to their experienced know-how has brought me tremendous growth. Former X-Factor Angling head guide Luke Pannell contributed greatly to my guiding etiquette. 

4. The fish. Without them I’d be jobless! 

5. My clients. I’ve met some legendary clients in my short career and I can’t wait to meet more. 

5 fishing-connected items you don’t leave home without. 

1. Fujifilm X-T2 with a 35mm prime lens. 

2. Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Lumber Pack. All the good stuff goes in there. 

3. Lucky pair of medical forceps. Gifted to me by a fellow nurse, they have been with me on every one of my guiding seasons. Nothing like that medical-grade stainless steel. 

4. Rip Curl Mirage boardies. I have a couple of pairs going on six years of use. 

5. Box of gwaais [cigarettes]. For those times you need to go back to the drawing board, or for great celebrations! 

5 bands you listen to on a road trip? 

1. Kings of Leon. Who doesn’t like them? 

2. Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

3. Green Day. Have listened to them from a young age. 

4. alt-J. Makes me feel like going for a fly fish. 

5. NTO. I enjoy a bit of techno every now and then to get the blood pumping.

5 things you’re loving right now?

1. Fly tying. I’ve been tying for years now but the saltwater flies are my favourite. Rupert Harvey’s printed crab bodies and beast fly cones are game changers. 

2. Conventional land-based spinning. I was never a huge saltwater fisherman, but queen mackerel and garrick are great fun. 

3. Exploring new fishing locations locally on the fly. This off-season has been eye opening as to what’s on my doorstep! 

4. Videography. I’ve been enjoying filming recently (fishing films of course). 

5. Golf. I recently played my first round and found out it’s not that bad. 

5 indispensable flies for saltwater?

1. Clousers, in all different sizes and weights. It’s the oracle fly for me. 

2. Bucktail baitfish. From small to big, these flies have incredible movement. Fish can’t say no. 

3. Alphlexo crabs. Everything eats them.

4. Crazy Charlies, in every colour imaginable. 

5. The J.A.M fly. One of my favourite estuary prawn flies. 

5 indispensable flies for freshwater?

1. Zonkers. Anything with rabbit zonker is always my go-to when fishing new and old trout water. 

2. Pheasant tail nymphs. Countless species have been caught on these. 

3. Jig Buggers, the equivalent of heroin to most freshwater species. 

4. CDC parachute dries. Pink Antron posts on these are my favourite. 

5. Spanish Perdigons have been my top performing flies in many river competitions. 

5 favourite fly fishing destinations across Africa?

1. Barkly East, this is the equivalent of Jackson Hole and Colorado for trout in South Africa! 

2. Richtersveld, Orange River, the Mecca of large- and smallmouth yellowfish. 

3. Lobito, Angola, sailfish and dorado on fly for free. It’s too good! 

4. Queenstown, South Africa, this is where all the 10lb-plus trout live. 

5. Umzimkulu River, South Africa, most sections of this river are great for Natal yellowfish (scalies) and definitely one of my favourites for them. 

5 favourite fly fishing destinations globally?

1. Alphonse and St François atolls, Seychelles. These atolls have out of this world bonefishing. 

2. Devil Stones, Czech Republic, hundreds of wild browns in between massive boulders on a steep gradient. 

3. Cosmoledo, Seychelles to get your GT numbers. 

4. Lobito, Angola. I caught small dorado on fly literally off the dock in the harbour.

5. Vltava River, Czech Republic, memories of catching over a hundred wild browns in a single day amongst a bunch of different whitefish species at the World Championships. 

Read the rest of Liam’s High Fives interview in The Mission Issue 42 below. It’s free!

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