What to pack for Orange River fly fishing? I had obviously packed everything that could possibly fit into my car for the 4 day Orange River Largemouth Yellowfish Conservancy drift with Kalahari Outventures, but besides your general fishing tackle and your favourite polarised sunglasses, there were a few items that I found particularly handy:
Although they make you pack your 4-day-essentials for the float trip into water proof bags, in case one of the boats flip in the rapids, this big duffel bag was a great bonus for packing all my clothes, sleeping bag and pillow, as well as fishing gear purely for traveling purposes. Special note to fly anglers, this bag comfortably takes several rod tubes, including 4 piece 10 ft rods. The bag is huge and it is nice to have everything in one place. Although it is splash proof, I wasn’t going to risk ending up with wet clothes in case one of the boats tipped over the weir or in one of the faster rapids.
Both the Horizon TRS 9 wt rod and the new Horizon Tactical Competition 6 wt rod served me well for what I intended to catch with them – I caught most of my largemouth yellowfish by fishing a floating line on the 9 wt and landed several beautiful smallmouth yellowfish over a lunch break in shallow riffles on the 10 ft 6 wt. It was a largemouth yellowfish trip after all, so very little time was spent on sight fishing in shallow water.
The Rio InTouch Coldwater Striper floating line worked fine for swinging the bigger, heavy flies. I fished it most of the time. As recommended by Garth Wellman I also fished an Airflo Forty Plus type 5 sinking line to load the rod quickly and to get down in faster, deeper water (where he typically caned fish); and various floating, intermediate and sinking backups for my 6 wt outfit.
Other bare necessities that I had on me most of the time included lip balm (something I missed out on was hand cream – the combination of dry air and wet hands quickly result in cracked skin, so deep that you bleed), a head lamp (we often came off the water after sunset, so the headlamp was handy to find my bag and tent in the dark), sunscreen with high UV protection, combo nippers (I really like the Berkley stainless nippers), a pocket-size fly box with smaller patterns for other fish species (check out the new Ripple fly boxes), lighter tippet for smallmouth yellowfish and other smaller species (such as the new range of Scientific Anglers fluorocarbon tippet) and trusty hard fluorocarbon tippet between 12 and 19 lb for largemouth yellowfish, a down jacket for the cold mornings, and some ‘Mission’ caps of course…
Other stuff I could recommend:
A stripping basket (really helped with line control on and off the boat)
Bug repellent (we were warned that biting midges could spoil our fishing)
LifeStraw Go Bottle (for in case we ran out of fresh water on the boat and we had to drink river water – Craig Eksteen from Kalahari Outventures actually mentioned that most of the medical problems they’ve encountered on drifts involved dehydration)
You can expect to read more about this trip in a future publication of The Mission fly mag…