While we tend to be omnivorous in our tastes, there’s something to be said for those who specialise. Hyper-focused anglers know what they like and choose to spend their available time and effort targeting one species in one pretty specific way. Small stream nut, Stanton Bevan Hector, fits that description with his one-track devotion to the dry fly fishing of the Western Cape. He weighs in with the why of this fishery as well as his go-to clobber for long days in the kloofs.
Dry fly fishing of the Western Cape
All the rivers in the Cape are something special, whether they hold trout or not. Every time I see a picture of a Cape stream my heart skips a beat. I want to be right there beside it, walking its banks. The stark contrast of their setting, the incredible fynbos and all the unique species contained in it, the colour and clarity of the water… the list goes on. For me it’s a multi-sensorial thing.
Different waters, different tactics
No two days on any Cape stream are alike. The different waters require different tactics, whether you’re on the Holsloot or a secret stream in the Cederberg. Even on one stream there’s often a variety of types of water that can test your angling ability. Then there’s the intimacy and solitude of the streams, especially when I am alone, stalking a trout in a crystal-clear run high in the mountains with a dry on light tackle. Seeing it sway from side-to-side in the current, intercepting a tiny morsel off the surface, does it for me every time. It’s not as though I haven’t had the opportunity to fish for other species in other places. It’s just that the trout – their environs in the Cape, and the way I like to fish for them – ticks my boxes.
Rods: I use a few rods depending on conditions, where I’m fishing and the mood I’m in. Mostly I fish, in no special order: a Sage SLT 282 (my go-to), Scott GS 883, Scott F 262, Sage SPL 080, Sage ESN 2-weight, Boshoff 6’3 3-weight bamboo. I wish I had more bamboo rods. Each one of these rods is hand selected for a specific purpose.
Reels: I don’t need reels with fancy drag systems, so I mostly choose click and pawl reels. These include a Sage 3200 and spare spools, a Ross Colorado, and a very special Orvis CFOI.
What makes a great boot?
Boots: Simms Intruder boots. I found three key features that make them great. One, they are light, comfortable, and not too bulky. Two, the uppers are made from ripstop denier nylon, so they pretty much don’t scuff. Three, the rubber soles are fantastic for hiking and fishing. The only modification I made was to reinforce the fabric with some Shoe Goo.
Chest pack: Simms Rivershed pack (2016). It offers enough space and can be converted into a hip pack for a quick stream session. It’s fairly comfortable to wear and can easily be stashed in my backpack for the hike out.
Fly box: Marc Petitjean fly boxes. I don’t like bulk. These boxes are flat, have enough organised space to keep the integrity of my flies intact. They can also accommodate nymphs, so they fit the script perfectly.
Watch Stanton’s step-by-step video on how to tie the Mountain Midge:
Flies: I carry a range of go-to patterns, mainly my own designs that I feel work for me. I have a thing for minimalistic tying (thanks to veteran Cape streams guide Tim Rolston), so my fly patterns reflect those same characteristics. I tie off the top of my head, so I tend to stick to two to four materials. It’s easier to remember the tying sequences with fewer materials. I’ve been having a love affair with CDC for a few years now. So I have spawned quite a few different patterns. Lately, klipspringer (a gift from Tom Sutcliffe) also features heavily in my patterns. My standard stream flies range from size 16 to 20, mostly dries. But I do have the odd nymph, CDC Brassies and ZAKs. There are a few outliers that are bigger and smaller when I need to adapt to water conditions or fussy trout.
Read the full What’s in My Bag in issue 41. It’s very free buddy…