15 April 2012

nymphing South African high altitude still waters

I'm on holiday in South africa visiting family, not a fishing holiday but I packed a 4 and 8 weight just in case!

We spent a few days in the Natal Midlands and the guys at Wildfly kindly invited me to fish one of the waters they guide on. I didn't bring any still water tackle or flies but I reckoned the Hardy Zenith 9' 4wt was more than up to the job and I needed a few hours on the water.

I got on the water a little before 7am and saw some large bow waves in the shallows, just what I had hoped for. I also saw some small creatures breaking the surface: putting the 2 observations together I guessed the fish were either chasing small baitfish or emerging insects (although there were no adult insects about except for the occasional caddis). Fishing a dry is always my first choice so I strapped on a CDC caddis and covered a couple've rises. 2 refusals. clearly the fish weren't focussed on emerging caddis. So, option 2, small baitfish. I looked in the nymph box and figured that my extended body Danica nymphs (#8) could pass as a baitfish if I work them with a steady hand twist retrieve in front of the bow waves.

I stalked the margins looking for bow waves, plopped the nymph gently ahead of the bow wave (helped by a 16foot leader tipped with 5X).... twist... twist...twist... bang!

Got 2 fish that way and then the sun was beating down on the water and the fish moved into the depths. I'm not big on blind fishing in still waters so I got back to the family in time for breakfast at 9. 

what a great little stillwater, thanks Gareth, Jan and Juan at Wildfly!

Hopefully I'll be meeting up with some old friends later this week to fish the upper Bushmans river in the Drakensberg for wild brownies and rainbows... I'll let you know how I go. now off to the beach with the family. 

3 April 2012

The Hardy Zenith 10' 3wt- sublime!

I finally got it on the water and it is a remarkable rod!

Last year I fished the Zenith 9' 4wt in Poland (see the post) and I was very impressed. I was fishing with Jeremy Lucas and he and I are both fans of longer rods for superlative dry and subsurface presentation and connectivity: But I've always been a little disappointed by the tip heavy feeling I get when fishing 10 and 11' rods. I told Jeremy how I thought a 10' 3wt Zenith could solve that problem because the ultralight Sintrix thinking could produce a 10' rod that was balanced on the grip, without that heavy tip feeling. It would be a rod that would "feel like it almost floated in your hand". But Hardy hadn't produced a 10' light  line weight Zenith yet and we didn't know if they were going to.

So I got back from Poland and got on the blower to Steve Peterson at Hardy and, well, one thing led to another and the rod was delivered in late January. Along with a new CC 2000 reel. I got the outfit together on the lawn (couldn't wait to get onto water) and it felt magnificent, but that's the lawn and the lawn is no substitute for casting the thing on water, with flies attached, and in anger. The 2 streams I fish around home are both small (one chalk and one silt substrate) and not really suited to a 10' stick: But on Sunday, with the season open, I got onto my stretch of the Darent, the chalkstream, here in Kent. I figured with the bank side foliage still very low after the cold winter the 10' rod would not put me at a disadvantage (by late summer I am normally flicking my 6'10" 3wt in amongst the foliage).

So what was it like?

Howard Croston,  the designer behind the Sintrix range, has once again applied himself with incredible results.

This thing is amazingly light in your hands, there is no tip heaviness whatsoever. Very importantly the rod is not merely a 10' 3wt version of the meatier 9' 4wt. It has been perfectly tuned to the job of a long light rod: It is much slower than the 9' 4. It is a paradox in that it is a crisp yet smooth mid action rod. It doesn't produce that sluggishness you normally get from a mid action rod because it is so light. There is no sense of "heft". Of having to thrust it forward and back. It is smooth, delicate and effortless, and yet not overly fast.

This is not a one trick pony. It is remarkably versatile. A more open loop or very tight, wind-cheating arrow are both equally available to me. I caught myself moving between the 2 and smiling to myself, a lot.

I fished both single dry and duo rigs and the rod effortlessly excelled at both. I was working a 15' leader tapering to 7x and it turned over perfectly, unless I duffed the cast.

I only fished for a an hour or 2 after having taken up a chunk of the morning stringing up extra barbed wire to deal with a poaching problem we had last season. But I had more than enough time with this rod to know I want to fish it a lot more. 

I've got to be in South Africa for 2 weeks and if I take a rod at all it'll probably be salt stuff, so the 10' 3wt will have to stay at home. But late April it's the Frome, then the Usk hopefully, then more on the Darent, then the Wye and then, in July, it's Slovenia, where this little gem is going to put on some serious miles.

I'll let you know how I go.

Once again the Hardy team blow my mind. Well done guys!

1 April 2012