I used to go through surfing, fishing and climbing phases, but since time’s become limited with two little boys at home fishing’s naturally taken over any leftover, spare time. My interest in fish (which started at the age of three, according to faint memories and family photo albums) fuels the priority pastime; when I’m not pressured to work or forced to look after the kids, I’m fishing. Looking back over the past three years (my eldest son has recently turned three) though I realise that I even go through phases in fly fishing.

In a screenshot of several fishing decades, I’ve been attracted to hunting local marine fish, big carp and other large cyprinids on fly in the last couple of years, but am more interested in swinging streamers and tying delicate little #20-24 nymphs at the moment. The latter distractions mainly due to 1) figuring out that a floating line is in fact deadly for swinging large Clousers through deep estuary channels, 2) a recent trip with Kalahari Outventures to catch largemouth yellowfish on the lower Orange, in which case the swinging technique is used almost exclusively to target large yellowfishes and then 3) the most sidetracking fad of all, a crash course in ‘micro-nymphing’ by Garth Wellman. Micro-nymphing has devastated my attention at the office and at home, much to my employees and wife’s dismay.

Micro-nymphing in Western Cape streams has proven to be very effective for catching trout and some of our bigger barbs, but it’s the little fynbos fish, our colourful collection of redfin minnows (of which many are threatened or endangered), that have stolen my heart and become the main focus of this method for me. Besides going the extra mile to keep my wife happy between tying flies and the odd fishing trip, I’ve grown quite attached to these little fish, a reminder that it’s the little things we do in our relationships and attention to detail while we fish that can make a big difference in our lives.

Although not indigenous, rainbow trout could not resist eating a little shiny green nymph – Photo by Platon Trakoshis


And neither could browns…

The whole ‘indigenous’ theme, which is obviously also so fitting while testing a new Horizon TFS 1 wt rod, has also spurred me on to try and create micro nymph patterns from indigenous materials.  After much thought (and exorbitant school fees) I have settled on several patterns that have also proven to be deadly little things:

The Green Turaco

I was lucky enough to get hold of a Knysna turaco that died of peritonitis and managed to save a few of its beautiful, green chest feathers before it was autopsied. The natural copper-based green pigment in turaco’s have a metallic shimmer which I find very attractive and also thought could resemble the iridescence or shiny exoskeletons of ‘green’ aquatic invertebrates. While I don’t expect you to tie this fly with turaco chest feathers, I guess it is the idea and message that counts here…I added a splash of red as I’ve found that the combination of red and green works really well in lures and flies.

1. I used a Grip 11011BL #20 (which is very strong for its size) – secure a metallic red slotted tungsten bead with white Gordon Griffith’s Sheer 14/0 at the hook eye;


2. Tie in a few turaco chest feather fibres for the tail;


3. Tie in a very fine piece of copper wire;


4. Tie in an entire turaco chest feather at its tip above the bend of the hook;


5. Twist the feather and wrap it forward to form the ‘abdomen’ of the nymph;


6. Secure the ‘abdomen’ with the copper wire;


7. Tie in a bunch of turaco chest feather fibres for the wing case;


8. Tie in a whole chest feather at its tip, twist it and form the ‘thorax’, just like the ‘abdomen was done;


9. Fold the wing case over the thorax, tie off and colour the white thread with olive marker.

Although tied the same way as the standard pheasant tail nymph, it covers the many ‘green’ aquatic invertebrates that a brown nymph wouldn’t:

A bright green mayfly larva (family Heptageniidae) that I photographed in the more pristine, upper reaches of a South African stream.
A greenish, aquatic hemipterid – Photo by Christian Fry


Green dragonfly nymph – Photo by Christian Fry


Greenish mayfly larva – Photo by Christian Fry


Bright green aeshnid dragonfly nymph – photo by Christian Fry


Green caddis larva – Photo by Christian Fry
Green caddis larva – Photo by Christian Fry


A pretty little Burchell’s redfin (Pseudobarbus burchelli) caught on a micro nymph.


A Berg River redfin (Pseudobarbus burgi – an endangered species) caught on a micro nymph.


Other indigenous barbs, like the Breede River witvis (Pseudobarbus capensis – another endangered species), also seem to like little green nymphs.

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