I met Michael Scheele when I visited New Zealand earlier this year and he guided me for a day on the wonderful Ahuriri River (see “South Island, New Zealand” September 2010). For over a decade now, Michael has created a calendar featuring his watercolour paintings of fishing flies, and the 2011 edition has recently been published.
It’s not my intention to plug any particular product on my blog and I’m not benefitting in any way by mentioning the calendar. However, I was involved in a very small way in its creation earlier this year, and it’s been great to have finally received the finished product through my letterbox this week.
After our day’s fishing, Michael mentioned that he was planning an internationally themed calendar for 2011, with each calendar month dedicated to flies from a different country. Naturally, I asked if he had considered painting South African flies, and, rummaging through my fly box, the only South African pattern I had with me was an RAB. Michael hadn’t seen any South African flies before but liked the look of the RAB so I promised to send him a selection of flies after my travels.
Deciding on 8 flies of authentic South African origin, rather than local variations and adaptations of successful international flies (of which there are many), proved quite difficult in the end. I initially thought it would be an easy task, but how wrong I was! For example, I bet the vast majority of South African fly fisherman would suggest the Walker's Killer as the most widely known South African pattern. And it probably is – it’s difficult to argue with its well deserved credentials - but its origins are actually found in a New Zealand fly called the Killwell No.1. I also wanted to keep the fly selection as current and as instantly recognisable as possible which ruled out some unique and truly African creations developed in the early 20th century, long forgotten by most.
Of course, there are a handful of truly South African flies that will no doubt be found in almost every South African fly box today and would not be left off anyone's list - the Zak Nymph, the DDD and the RAB. These are legendary South African flies.
|Duckworth's Dargle Delight (better known as the DDD)|
What’s been great is that my search awakened in me an interest in the development and history of South African fly patterns, and in that regard, Bill Hansford-Steele’s latest book “Fishing Flies For Africa” is the authority on the subject.
In the end, I settled on the DDD, RAB, Zak Nymph, Mooi Moth, Machadodorp, Highveld Dun, Spekboom Sting and Gorbenmac, making up a cross section of dries, nymph and traditional wets.
My thanks go to Murray Pedder who tied the flies in South Africa and shipped them over to New Zealand, and simultaneously my apologies as the calendar erroneously credits me as the fly tier. My abominations are certainly nowhere near calendar quality.
The calendar also features some terrific fly patterns, both innovative and traditional, from Norwegian, Japanese, Australian, Dutch, American and New Zealand fly tiers, with experienced fly fishing guides and national competitive fly fishing champions amongst them.
Congratulations, Michael, on a beautiful calendar that will look the part in any fly fisherman’s office or home. You can find them on sale at Art Of New Zealand Fly Fishing Calendar and they ship by international DHL courier at no extra charge.