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Beyond the gear with Al Saville

Beyond the gear with Al Saville

- April 12, 2022

Fly fisher Al Saville finds his Anywhere ankle deep in remote mountain streams casting tiny dry flies to wild-bred trout.​

Al was always going to fish, with his father, uncle and eldest brother all representing the South African Rock and Surf Angling team at different times. It was in his late teens when a new world outside of chucking bait opened up to him, however.​

© Craig Kolesky

“I was so intrigued by this ‘delicate’ means of fishing that required such different tackle and techniques to what I was used to,” he says, explaining how he first threw a fly to a rising trout in a dam in Dullstroom. Hooking and landing that trout (five casts later under the tutelage of a friend) began a lifelong passion for fly fishing. He’s since fly-fished in Mauritius, the Maldives, Indonesia, KwaZulu-Natal, Zimbabwe and Botswana.​

© Craig Kolesky

While Al loves collecting those passport stamps and chasing exotic species, he doesn’t need to travel way off the map to find his Anywhere. Less than two-hours from his home in Cape Town lie a few hidden valleys cut through the Cape fold mountains by spectacular freestone streams. These streams are home to beautiful rainbow trout.​

“The first time I fished in the Cape streams I just could not believe that there were places this pristine that were so readily accessible to me,” he says. “Within easy day-trip or weekend range I could be fishing a stream that, when you pause for a second to just take it all in, you could be mistaken for thinking that you're in a valley in Switzerland or some remote corner of Patagonia.”​

© Craig Kolesky

Today Al picks his spots on these rivers – which are so beautifully conserved and access-controlled by Cape Nature and The Cape Piscatorial Society – carefully and has a few secret beats on a remote creek that he escapes to from time to time. “These are strict catch-and-release waters, and it is these policies as well as the great work that the CPS does which has kept these streams so pristine and the trout population so healthy.”

Much like the active conservation of the quarry, fly fishing – by definition – is a thing of action: From stalking the trout, to the graceful loop of line through the air and retrieval (or drift on a river) of the fly. What really puts the ‘fly’ into fly fishing however is not the artificial flies but rather the fact that those are too light to be cast on conventional tackle, therefore they need the line to ‘fly’ in order to present the flies.​

© Craig Kolesky

For fly anglers such as Al though, the action starts long before he gets anywhere near the water. Even before prepping and loading his gear, which, on this trip, included a fly-tying kit and materials which all fitted safely in the super secure Wolf Pack Pro, latched down to the Slimline II. It preempts rigging up his rod and tying-on the fly. For a fly fisher like Al who ties their own flies it starts even earlier – over the vise as their thread-and-feather creations take shape. On this trip he tied up a few patterns on the Pro Table under the beam of 10" LED Light Round.​

“The whole procedure of tying flies is just so therapeutic,” he says. “I really enjoy the process and for me, nothing tops the satisfaction of catching a fish on a fly that I have just tied.”​

© Craig Kolesky

Press play to watch as Al finds his Anywhere, and fish some of his favorite beats in the Western Cape. “Whether 10cm or 35cm, leaping out of the water, tail-walking, head-shaking, each one different and, how beautiful is the shading of a rainbow or the exquisite spot-markings of a brown... Come on!”​



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