From world champion caster, to building iconic fly lodges, rod building at G.Loomis and building his own brand in Echo Fly Fishing – if a life of variety, self-determination and hard-earned respect is worth coveting – Tim Rajeff is killing it.

“If I could be any bird in the world, I’d be that one you described that eats crocodiles and shits on its legs.”

Tim fighting a smallmouth yellowfish on the Bokong River in Lesotho
Tim fighting a smallmouth yellowfish on the Bokong River in Lesotho

We’re sitting around the dining room table in our home in Cape Town, South Africa discussing African birds. Tim Rajeff and Kath Hunt, his partner in Echo Fly Fishing and life in general, are in town as part of a roadshow across South Africa. They’ve got demos planned for the notoriously taciturn fly fishing crowds in Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg, with a week’s fishing in Lesotho thrown in mid-trip. Prior to this they were in Brazil fishing for peacock bass and afterwards they’ll head back home to Vancouver, Portland Oregon. As windows into their lives go – this kind of globe-trotting brand-awareness business trip/fishing adventure is not unusual at all.

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On the bird front, they’re clearly keen, cooing and gawking at common local irritants like the hadeda and Egyptian goose. In conversation we’ve now graduated to birds they might soon see in Lesotho. Like the Lammergeier (bearded vulture), an apex predator known for stealing and dropping lambs from great heights. We’re also running through bucket list African birds, like the innocuous-sounding African Shoebill, which also goes by the more accurate name, Murder Bird. A fearsome, category-defying, hook-beaked cross between a loner pelican and a silent assassin stork, it stands as tall as a man, shits on its legs to keep cool and eats baby crocs for breakfast. Fishing in swamps, it stands silent for hours on end, but when it makes a sound, what comes out is the noise of a machine gun, just because it can.

Given the choice to be reincarnated as a bird, Tim who is a wisecrack a minute, chooses that.”

Read the full story for free in The Mission Issue 14 below, or buy the print version here (we ship worldwide).


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