past articles written by Malcolm Meintjes

(Author of Zambezi Tiger, Remarkable Flyfishing Destinations of Southern Africa, Trout Through the Looking-Glass and other titles)

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                                                            THE ABERDARE NYMPH (1997)

If I think idly of it, perhaps it was inevitable given all the talk about the GNU in South Africa, that I  would inevitably scratch through a reserve fly box to discover my long-lost Aberdare nymph. To be honest, I was actually picking my way along, searching for a Spent caenis nymph.  Diminutive of form, pale yellow of hue and airy enough to hold station in the meniscus - it would approximate what I thought the swirling trout seemed to be intent on. After all, the only natural fly in the vicinity were caenis and a bigger sulphur coloured mayfly. Yellow seemed to be a reasonable colour to keep in mind.

An Aberdare nymph to tickle the palates of  surface movers! Fluorescent yellow thorax, white tail carefully trimmed from Jean-Pierre our Maltese, and peacock herl wing case. It wasn’t ideal, but it was the closest compromise to what I desired. It was small - well smallish at  size 12 -  but its sparse ginger hackle might just hold it in suspension. Listing the materials that made up its being, I remembered why, these days, I seldom fish it. Not that I’m a lazy fly-tyer mind!

 The Aberdare nymph was born in the early 1980s. It was prompted by the latest fascination with fluorescent materials that were emerging on to the scene and it made a Pollock-like debut at Middelpunt one brisk July morning with a six pounder. It continued a formidable career as a successful change-of-light creation and then doubled as an early season daphnia pattern. Now, with the noon-day sun sliding behind dark-bottomed scudders and swaying curtains of caenis taking advantage of the subdued light, the Aberdare nymph was about to be used as a “dryish fly”.

In the absence of mad dogs, I had been employing a slow-sink line in deference to the brightness of the occasion, but the clouding afternoon and visitations of trout near the surface prompted a switch to a floating line. I lengthened the leader, reduced the tippet to 4 lb. and plucked the Aberdare nymph from its resting place.

 It did work. A trio of nice rainbows eliminated a morning’s fruitless endeavour and a fear that Willie F would return home to wife and twins without concrete evidence of his trout fishing week-end.

I must tie up some more Aberdares even though their memory is a decade-and-a-half old. Perhaps the trout have not greatly changed their habits over the years. 

Perhaps too, the tried-and-tested can still work.


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