Fly Fishing at Gateshead December 2017- January 2018

By Herman Potgieter

Spending almost four weeks during December in Rhodes was a dream come true for me. My holiday at Gateshead was heaven on earth! After a solid days drive from Cape Town we arrived well after dark. Driving the last 30 km from Basie and Carien Vosloo’s home at Birkhall, up the Bokspruit to were the road ends at Gateshead, is an adventure in itself. Doing this in the dark, was quite a story.


The Gateshead Homestead from the ridge above                   Over that far ridge we will go!

The rain fell intermittently during the first week, with the usual afternoon thunderstorms, typical for this time of year. After the disappointing few seasons brought on by successive droughts, the stream and fish have recovered well.


We used rod, reel and fly                                     Bokspruit flowing high 

Being a typical headwater environment the Bokspruit at Gateshead and above can flow high and unfishable to very low and glassy during a relatively short period of time. From a fishing perspective one has to adapt to these changes. A stealthy approach and delicate presentation are imperative if one wants to succeed when the water is low and clear.


Small stream and not so small fish. The Bokspruit at Gateshead is renowned for its small, feisty and eager wild rainbows.

Every day saw some action with sparsely dispersed fish of decent size. It was interesting hooking into the same dominant fish in its particular stretch of water over time and changing water flow and conditions. The hoppers worked and then no longer…

I arrived armed with two authoritative volumes on fly tying with CDC lent to me by Ed Herbst. Written in Italian with the photos in English. I came prepared with a variety of hoppers from seasons gone by. Hoppers have always been my go-to Gateshead summer fly. Inspired by Ed’s books I started tying up some new hoppers using CDC for underwings and then CDC legs when I ran out of rubber legs.


Version 1, 2, 3 and …it rained a lot….               Para CDC Hopper

The CDC provides volume, movement and adds an extra dimension to any fly. Gordon Van Der Spuy’s new CDC Humpy being a prime example! By the way recognise the photo background anyone!?

Four CDC feathers eventually did the trick for underbody and legs with varnished Partridge feathers for wings and over body. Tied standard and as a parachute, these were all we needed for quite some time.

Durability, buoyancy and visibility were key in the fast moving stream, for windy and hot summer days on the Upper Bokspruit.

…the CDC Foam Hopper

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