Move over fish-eyed wielder of the mighty fly rod. This one is for your significant other.

Disclaimer: This article may either inspire or dissuade you from joining a cult known as fly fishing. 

It is most intriguing to go on adventures with someone who gets excited about 20 pounders, sight-casting at surface feeding fish, and who is on a mission to leave no body of water unexplored.   

Here are ten things I have learned while spending time in the quiet side-line backwaters, observing a member of the cult of fly fishing.

Fish river canyon / Namibia


Whatever you previously considered an appropriate time to get up for an adventure or mission – scratch that. These dawn-chasing nutcases are evidently no lovers of sleep and before long you will get used to 4AM wake-up calls – the fish are waiting.  As I am not yet so heavily affected by the common fish-fever, this does not make getting up that early any easier. 

Side note: Do not even try to convince them that if they can wake up at 4AM for this they can do the same for non-fishing trips – it is a lost case.


Don’t be fooled to think that fly fishing is a separate mission or occasion.  Get used to the ever-present travelling rod that will always find its way into the back of your vehicle (or flight luggage).  Who cares if you are attending a wedding, visiting friends or travelling for work – no self-respecting fly fisherman will let a prime fishing opportunity pass. So naturally, there can be no rod left behind.  



In every cycle of twelve moon orbits, there are the well-known trips by the pod of fly rodders to go fish the unexplored. As there is a strict and sensible no-aanhangsels policy on these exclusive missions, I have only been able to draw some conclusions. Satellite maps get scoured, copious amounts of flies are crafted, pantry stock seems to disappear, coffee consumption is dangerously high and yes, fishing gear requires more than one suitcase.  During these trips, I am usually the lucky winner of a camera roll filled with gnarly looking fish held proudly by grinning scruffy creatures in brommer-like sunnies as the boys live out their dreams.


This is a common line that makes its appearance near the intended time of departure or when the sun starts fading into the dark horizon behind treelines or mountain scapes.  At this particular moment on almost every single fly fishing mission, a hatch will appear on the surface, some activity will be spotted or the fish that was ignoring the fly the entire day decides to show slight interest.  That is why I like to call it the legend of “only one more cast”.   In these situations, you have two options – hope that the fish decides to take the fly or just embrace the legend, get comfortable and enjoy that sunset.

Olifants river


The final reward of catching a fish, I have observed, is the photo they get to take of the majestic beast just wrestled from the deep as proof to the rest of the cult upon their valiant return. This is usually the part where they remember you tagged along on the mission and make use of your amateur photography skills. Gaze happily at the fish. Good natural lighting. Lucky cap well positioned. Shades off. Fly rod on the shoulders. Keep the fish dripping wet with a quick lift. Adventurous landscape in the background. Only a few tricks and tips I have been repeatedly reminded of when taking the oh-so-famous fish shot.


Another term I quickly learned in my discovery of the cult, is the peculiar art known as fly tying. Hours and hours of intense focus and great care to craft a bug-like fly only for a fish to mangle, a tree branch to hook on to or for a riverbed rock to collect – all in a couple of seconds. Don’t be surprised about nail polish disappearing, dead squirrel tails in the freezer or the labrador missing a blotch of fur – these are all crucial components in the creation of a perfect fly. On the up side, this set of crafting skills can come in handy when you want a new pair of bohemian feather earrings. Just saying.  

Elephant / Mapungubwe
Carp / Crocodile river


If you love adventures and missions, you are usually the type of person who is game to try new things. So when the opportunity presented itself for me to hold a fly rod for the first time and attempt to cast my first fly, I didn’t hesitate.  Similar to presenting a Parachute Adams in a drag-free drift, the oh-so noble intention of getting you to hook into your first fish is also a well-executed technique to lure you in for the take. If you can’t beat them, they will make sure you join them.


But let’s be honest, fly fishing has never had horrendous surrounds that go with it.  If you hang around long enough in the dreamy conversations about tarpon, golden dorado, arctic char, taimen and goliath tiger fish you realise these come with pretty spectacular locations. The local missions equally so. And if, like me, you really are not into adventure locations that attract the common flock of city dwellers, these fly fishing holy grounds will be right up your alley. Missions to hippo-hosting rivers in Africa, the jungles of Bolivia, mountain treks in Mongolia and ice-carved valleys in Greenland – they can fish all they want, I will be soaking in the wonders of the holy grounds with my camera and journal. And perhaps present a fly to a fish or two, you know?

About us background


What I have discovered tagging along on adventures with my own cult-member and even attempting to fly fish myself, is a glimpse at the justifications for their blatant addiction to fly fishing.  In my time spent in the backwaters, I realised why they keep doing it. It’s about losing track of time casting a line on porcelain waters, perhaps missioning for an entire day not catching a single fish, but concluding it was a spectacular day out.  It’s the adrenaline rush pulsing through your veins when you tricked a fish into taking your imitation. I realised that the grin when you cradle a first-time species is inevitable. Nothing else matters in that moment. And that is just my perspective – imagine all the deep inner stuff real fly fisherfolk experience? 

Side note: They probably won’t tell you all this – they are only about the hardcore stuff.


And then before you know it, you’re trying to perfect your double haul, your recommended videos tab on YouTube is filled with fly fishing propaganda, and you catch yourself scanning any water body for moving silhouettes. But above all, you discover the magic of fly fishing with someone you love. I do not see myself as a member of the cult (yet) and still fall under the category of a FlyNoob, but I appreciate the fact that I get to adventure with one of them anyways. The crazy early mornings with coffee mugs warming your numb fingers, the missions to under-the-radar landscapes, the shared joy when a fly line tightens and red-wine-in-enamel-mugs celebrations at the end of a day filled with fishy recaps and full hearts.  You learn patience. You realise the importance of simple joys. You forget the fast-paced life waiting at home. And you discover that it is so much more than just fly fishing they love – and you get the opportunity to share in that.

Largescale yellowfish
Sharptooth catfish
Largescale yellowfish