This post is part of the book review on South African Fishing Flies (by Peter Brigg and Ed Herbst) and my successes with personal favourite flies featured in the book. I revelled in the efficacy of Tom Sutcliffe’s Zak nymph in fooling many fish species; now I will be discussing his DDD and Tony Biggs’ RAB, two dry flies that should be in every trout (and yellowfish) angler’s fly box.

My experience with these two flies date back to the year 2003 when I replaced my spinning gear with fly tackle. A novice to fly tying at the time, it took much practice to tie a DDD and RAB that looked like the one’s I’d seen in books. Nevertheless, I tied them because on two separate outings other anglers caught many trout on them when I got comparatively fewer fish on other dries.

Like the evergreen parachute Adams, I’ve learned to tie DDDs and RABs for most freshwater fishing trips because they catch fish. Brown trout were the first fish I caught on them, but they’ve earned my trust to make many fishes rise and especially in big rivers. Now I know that both flies are brown trout and yellowfish magnets.

The ‘bi-colour’ RAB, my favourite, personal version of Tony Biggs’ fly.

The RAB is my favourite search pattern on the Witte River (and most other brown trout rivers in the Western Cape), while I prefer to use the DDD to rise big browns in deep pools. The DDD is also a fly that I’d fish on larger rivers in other countries (like New Zealand for instance). Peter Coetzee has caught big smallmouth yellowfish on the DDD in the Orange River and the ‘bi-colour’ RAB is my favourite dry fly for Clanwilliam yellowfish.

Peter Coetzee with a big smallmouth yellowfish that he caught on a DDD – photo by Ewan Naude.
The bi-colour RAB is one of my best flies for catching Clanwilliam yellowfish in shallow runs and small streams – photo by Billy de Jong.
Clanwilliam yellowfish feeding in shallow runs charge and grab RABs off the surface like bird-eating giant trevally; a fly fishing wonder to behold. The take of this fish looked like an explosion in the pool as it rushed to eat the fly before others could get to it – photo by Billy de Jong.

They are classic dry flies in my opinion, being progenies of the ‘old school’ genre; they look good, float well and many fish species eat them – great flies to try first on new waters or as a last resort to catch difficult trout. I would highly likely continue to tie these dries for future trips in our country and abroad to catch trout, quite possibly to the day I can’t walk anymore.

RABs can be tied in many shapes and colours, but I’ve found those with red in them to be most effective. This RAB was tied to imitate a boulder jewel (see photo below).
A boulder jewel, just one of many insects that fish could see in a RAB.
I took a photo of this brown trout hugging the bank of a large New Zealand river before catching it on a #10 DDD tied with natural klipspringer hair.
DDD in natural and dyed klipspringer hair (deer hair works perfectly fine too).

(Next up is Hugh Huntley’s Red-Eyed Damsel )

Related post:

Book review – South African Fishing Flies by Peter Brigg and Ed Herbst

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