A self-confessed irreligious man of science, Conrad Botes struggles to reconcile that world view with the magic, big-fish juju he found in one very specific make and model of cap.

Makhulu Baas in action.

I came to fly fishing quite late in life. After spending my youth spearfishing, bodyboarding, and fishing conventional tackle, it was my older brother Herman (aka Harry) who opened the doors of fly fishing for me when I was in my 30s. He’d relocated from Cape Town to Gauteng when we were in our 20s and quickly became seduced by the wonders of the Vaal River and its yellows.

Luckily for me, Harry was a great tutor and, though I started late, I learned the ins and outs of the fly world very rapidly. I began on the Cape streams but, when the first summer arrived, I was catching my first leeries (garrick) on fly. Harry was always there with some advice and a pearl of wisdom. We were holidaying in Struisbaai when I caught the leervis, and Harry was not impressed with my gear.

“Jirre boet! You cannot wade out onto the bricks wearing flip-flops. That T-shirt looks ridiculous, and wat de fok is that on your head? A bucket hat?! Nee man!”

Harry taught me that real fly fishermen wear fly fishing apparel. The message was clear. Don’t wear tekkies on the streams. Ditch the Ray-Bans, get a technical shirt, and a chest pack for your flies and tippets. And for god’s sake, wear a FLY FISHING CAP!


The predecessor…

With a fresh cap on my pip I was on my way to Gabon yet again and I nervously wondered if it would have the same mojo as the old one? To coax the hat into doing its thing, I had a special embroidered patch made that I had sewn onto the front of it, above the logo Sette Cama 2018. The gamble paid off.  On the last night of the trip, after losing eight tarpon, I landed the fish of a lifetime. The cap was duly christened “Makhulu Baas” – big boss. Years came and went, and Makhulu Baas was always there when I expected shit to go down. 

Read the rest of Makhulu Baas in issue 40. It’s free!

Leave a comment



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