Tom Sutcliffe recently approached me to put together my fly selection for the Eastern Cape Highlands for his March newsletter, The Spirit of Fly Fishing – an excellent publication that I can highly recommend all fly fishers subscribe to. Here is an extract from that newsletter with my choice of flies on the eve of the Dirt Road Wild Trout Association Festival to be held in Rhodes at the end of April 2021.
“And on the matter of flies, small-stream guru Peter Brigg has this to say about his fly pattern selection for the Eastern Cape Highlands.“
I have been fishing the rivers and streams of the North Eastern Cape Highlands for many years so when Tom asked if I’d put together a paragraph on my choice of three nymphs and three dry flies for wild trout country, it was a no brainer. Or so I thought until I started to think about it and realised it was easier said than done.
This is not an exhaustive list of the patterns I use there, but if I could pick only six for a trip to the North Eastern Cape, I’d be happy leaving home with nothing more than these in a range of sizes and, in the case of the nymphs, weights.
For the nymphs I choose a lightly weighted Zak tied in the original style and with a brass bead. I have often said that if I needed to pick just a single nymph, this would be it – in my opinion together with the PTN, it’s the best imitation of the naturals found in our waterways.
Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear
Then a Gold Ribbed Hares Ear with a red thread collar, the ‘Rooinek’ and finally
Gary Glen-Young’s GUN, tied on a jig hook and heavily weighted with a tungsten bead, especially for the deeper pools and in fast flows when there’s a need to get down deep and quickly. I tie my nymphs mostly in the range from #14s down to #18s.
My choice of Hopper
For dries, I’d go with a hopper, like the small bullet head variant I tie, and my
Wolf Spider, both very good searching patterns that seldom fail to attract the attention of trout.
Another unsuspecting trout fooled into eating the Wolf Spider imitation (pic Shaun Futter)
Then Philip Meyer’s Para-RAB, not because I choose it above Tony Biggs’s traditional RAB, but because I find it covers a wider range of situations.
What’s missing in this pick is an emerger and an adult caddisfly and for these, I’d choose a Klinkhamer and an Elk Hair Caddis, but at the risk of being sent to the naughty corner, I’ll leave you with just these six as my top selection for the North Eastern Cape waters. I have settled on them because my record of recent trips to the area reflects their effectiveness and consistency – and I need all the help I can get.
Many thanks Pete. I’m sure any angler would be happy fishing Eastern Cape Highland streams with just these patterns in their fly box. I certainly would, but I must get down to tying up some of Gary Glen-Young’s GUN patterns.“