So I’ve been dreaming about a yellowfish fly fishing mission to the tropical parts of Africa for some time now, where – as Ed Truter recommended – one may need a short, ‘6 ft fly rod’ to cast under a canopy of low-hanging trees. The higher reaches of African rivers can be very bushed in and the closer you travel to the equator, the denser and higher the bankside brush becomes until you obviously reach rainforest. While planning the timing and logistics of African trips and getting tackle ready for these places can take up a lot of time, finding a ‘6 ft’ fly rod proved to be a bit more difficult than expected. After approximately 2 years of Googling and pondering, I eventually even considered ordering a custom glass fly rod blank between 6 and 7 foot.
It was purely by chance that I spotted an Echo River Glass 6’9″ 3 wt in the rod stand at StreamX; it initially caught my eye because it was so odd-looking and short, standing out like a sore thumb between the other fly rods. Then, as if my subconscious mind was desperately trying to bring a message through, I picked the rod off the shelf and realized how perfectly suitable it would be to cast on overgrown rivers. If this ‘African yellowfish in thickets’ theory failed, I reckoned that it would still be a great small stream rod for trout and stunted indigenous fish in headwater streams (i.e., African yellowfish in thickets anyway…), which I frequently visit in the Western Cape.
Since I had found a short fly rod that could load a short piece of fly line for tight casts, the next step was to test its performance (casting distance and pull power) on some biggish cyprinids. The closest things to yellowfish near my house are carp and witvis, in that order, so I decided to take the rod for a bend on some stillwaters in the Boland area. While the witvis I caught on it were small, it proved a handy tool for reaching fish rising between 15 and 20 m from the bank. Next, I braved a carp venue where I had seen some amazing fish over 10 kg on previous trips. I was fishing the little 6’9″ 3 wt with an Echo Ion 2/3 wt reel (which has a drag system that could potentially handle a 20 kg sharptooth catfish) loaded with a Rio WF 4 wt floating line to load the rod quickly and cast fairly big and heavy flies.
Although I only managed to find and hook carp up to 7 kg on the day, the little Echo 3 wt rod and reel setup was a powerful combo that helped me to land even the bigger carp quickly. As I got used to the rod and eased into my fishing session, I started to crank up the drag and found that one could stop fish from running further than 10 m and land +6 kg fish under 2 minutes. I’m blown away by this little rod’s performance and simply can’t wait to test it on some more species now. In terms of catching tropical African yellows in a tunnel of trees, I consider the rod box ticked!