Simply a fisherman

Simply a fisherman

Words by Ewan Naude

I’m not a papgooier, spin fisherman, rock and surf angler or fly fisherman, I’m simply a fisherman. The fact that I predominantly fish with fly tackle is a matter of personal preference and not a delusion of grandeur. If you are a person that subscribes to the #itonlycountsonfly philosophy then you can #suckmyballs because a rounded angler undoubtedly makes for a better fly angler and I would hazard a guess that those who spout that drivel are probably not as good at double hauling as they think they are. The lessons I learned chucking Lazy Ikes and plastic worms at bass in farm dams in my whipper snapper days taught me plenty about fish behaviour and I made some key observations during those times.

Kob fishing knowledge built up by rock and surf and lure fisherman created a basis for catching these fish on fly.
Kob fishing knowledge built up by rock and surf and lure fisherman created a solid base for catching these fish on fly.

Similarly, drifting earthworms down the Swart Kei for smallmouth yellows helped me to detect the slightest of takes which stood me in good stead when fishing for these fish with small nymphs. Fishing ‘heathenware’ (a term used by the #itonlycountsonfly gang to describe any method other than fly fishing) from a young age, teaches you way more than you are likely to learn throwing a bunch of feathers into a howling South Easter and most importantly gives a new fisherman a good opportunity to reach their quarry and build up confidence by putting some early points on the board.


Lures that fool big garrick may be copied by fly anglers to get a shot at the same quality fish.
Lures that fool big garrick may be copied by fly anglers to get a shot at the same quality fish.

Fishing heathenware teaches you hardship. It teaches you to accept that your balls are likely to be wet for eight straight hours while waiting for a kob bite on a Transkei beach. It teaches you that your dad’s tackle bag is the heaviest thing you are every likely to carry in your entire life and that the spike of a sea barbel hurts like a son of a bitch. It teaches you to never turn your back on the sea and that a bed of mussels cuts like a razor. It finally gives you sea legs after you’ve ‘chundered’ more than you thought physically possible and makes the next trip through the pounding swell a little easier.

You learn about formations, tides and winds in a way that exclusively fishing with fly will unlikely ever do. You get to see, feel and smell (for those of you who dip your JAM fly in GULP) different baits and baitfish which will help you when tying flies.

If you have to look at the top ten fly fisherman or guides that South Africa has produced, I would bet that the majority of them have a sordid history of wielding the heathen stick. By top fly fisherman I mean well rounded anglers that are as comfortable fishing the Witels with a 3 wt as casting 8/0 Sempers at fast moving giant trevally in the surf zone.


Fishing is about constantly challenging yourself and I don’t care whether you catch a yellowtail from terra firma on fly or whether you succeed in tricking a belman to eat a soft plastic, as both would be exceptional fishing achievements in my opinion. So for those fly fishing ‘purists’ out there who truly believe that they are part of some elite group and that any other discipline is fishing sacrilege, remember that many fly fishing innovations were inspired from the ‘poorer cousies’. At the end of the day we’re all just trying to trick a fish into eating something.

Fly fishing is fun and challenging, but by no means the best method to catch all fishes on under any circumstances; a diversity of methods makes sense for those who wish to simply catch a fish.

14 thoughts on “Simply a fisherman”

  1. Great read, really enjoyed it !!! By the sounds of things you been wanting to get that of your chest for awhile. Lol!

  2. I’ve believed that all my life, and marveled at the blank stares I’ve gotten from #itonlycountsonthefly guys when talking about how easy it is to feel the bottom with a plastic worm on a baitcaster vs. a sinking line and any fly or at the gear guys who say they can out fish a streamer fisherman in a drift boat. Everything has its place and there’s no reason we can’t learn from every type of fishing. One day in my dream world I’d spend a season as a commercial fishing boat mate: talk about learning to catch fish; no fish equals no money!

  3. Well said Booet! And for the fly fisherman dads and moms reading this, teach your kids to FISH first, teach them about fish and becoming anglers by letting them sample all manner of fishing and especially float-fishing with bait, and some papgooing and some fishing for estuary nibblers with prawns and tough tjokka, and some little-farm-dam bassing with Hula poppers, etc. etc. Once they come naturally to all of that, they will come naturally to the fly, and be talented anglers.

  4. Thanks for the comments chaps, it’s a good debate. When my lightie is born in June he’s getting a few mielie bombs and vanilla essence.


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