We were floating down the lower Orange talking about fish species and fly tying while watching birds and casting streamers when we spotted a goliath heron hunting majestically on the bank. Garth Wellman mentioned how heron biots were some of his favourite materials for tying nymphs. Like it was destined to happen I found a large goliath heron primary wing feather at the next lunch stop and shoved it into my backpack.

I unpacked my tackle bags weeks after that trip, the procrastination unavoidable after a great fishing experience in my case, and found the crippled goliath feather at the bottom of the backpack. I brushed over the long, tantalising barbs and took it to my vise. My micro-nymph fly box sported several #20 nymphs, but I noticed on a previous redfin minnow outing that these were still on the ‘big’ side and that the need for some #24’s may arise. So I plucked a goliath barb (the tiny barbules on the heron barb are ideal for imitating the gills on the abdomen of mayfly nymphs) and picked out a #24 Grip hook and started with the tedious process of building a micro-nymph. The Mini Goliath was completed with Egyptian goose chest feathers, Cape hare fur and a small hot orange bead:

The #24 Mini Goliath, a useful micro pattern for small barbs (and I’m sure that trout will eat this too).

Hook: Grip 11911BL #24

Thread: Gordon Griffith’s Sheer 14/0 white

Tail and wing case: Egyptian goose chest feather fibres (Alopochen aegyptiaca)

Abdomen: Goliath heron primary wing feather barb (Ardea goliath)

Rib: Fine copper wire

Thorax: Cape hare fur (Lepus capensis)

Bead: 1.5 mm fluorescent orange tungsten

The Mini Goliath played a vital role in catching the Verlorenvlei redfin (Pseudobarbus verloreni), a relatively small (and incredibly beautiful) descendent of the berg River redfin that thrives in hot, muddy lowland pools between Piketberg and Elandsbaai. This is an endangered species, threatened by alien fish and water abstraction.


Some of the Western Cape redfins, like this Olifants fiery redfin (Pseudobarbus phlegethon) have tiny mouths and they reject flies faster than you blink, making these little bastards incredibly hard to catch. It took me a good three hours of frustration before successfully hooking an Olifants fiery redfin on the Mini Goliath.


Stunted adult Clanwilliam yellowfish living in the upper reaches of Olifants River and Doring River tributaries also greedily ate the Mini Goliath.

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