While Si Kay may have wallowed in the lifestyle aspect of Italy in the previous story, when the South African junior and masters’ teams descended on Trentino for this year’s FIPS world championship, they were all business. Here’s the combined feedback of what two ballies (old guys) and three boytjies (young guys) learnt.
THE BALLIES – Terry Babich (TB) and Fred le Roux (FLR)
THE BOYTJIES – Marthinus Maritz (MM), LeRoux Roos (LR) and Tom Walters (TW)
DIY OR GUIDED?
Get a guide. This is not necessarily to teach you how to fish, but most definitely to get you onto water and advise where the fishing is best at that given time. There is an abundance of waters to fish in that area. Knowing how to get to them and where to fish is going to save you a lot of run around time. The guide will probably either be able to get your permits or tell you how to get them. The area has water police so it is essential to have a licence. Also, be prepared to travel from a central point. We travelled up to two hours away from our hotel to get to different waters. TB
Although the comp rivers were good, if you can get onto some of the smaller tributaries and streams you might find yourself fishing the most beautiful streams around with an abundance of different circumstances in which to fish for them. In some the fish are extremely forgiving and will devour any reasonable well-presented fly. FLR
Tackle wise, a ten-foot rod (3-weight or even 4-weight) is a must. Italy has been experiencing some very high temperatures and some of the rivers were low so the ability to fish further away from your body can be a determining factor. Although most of the fish were small in the comp, many an angler was cleaned up by some of the big brown and marble trout, and a couple of fish of over 50cm were landed. Johan Janse van Vuuren landed a whopper of a brown in practice and I had a 54cm marble and 43cm grayling in one competition session. On the fly line side, a competition Euro nymph line and a floating line would be what you need. The floating line as a dedicated dry or dry and dropper line while the euro nymph is the line you fish the most. TB
Fish the lightest tippet you can. 6x would really be on the heavy side. 7x or 8x is where you want to be unless you book water that is known for bigger fish. We had one such piece of water in a practice session on the Sarca River that had been stocked with bigger fish and that had a rod limit imposed on it. Competition angling specifies that your leader cannot be longer that two times your rod length and I would say that for Euro nymphing you would always fish maximum length. On the dry line fish, the longest, lightest tippet you can fish effectively. FLR
At the end of the tournament some boxes were displayed consisting mostly of Hare’s Ear Nymphs in every conceivable variant you can imagine. Mostly well received flies for the grayling were with silver, copper and pink beads on size 18 and 20 jig hooks in natural colours. For dry flies CDC variations were the order of the day. But with the water colour being so variable from spot to spot even on the same river, you might want to have those in a variety of colours ranging from white and natural to black to maximise visibility. For example, there were parts of the Sarca River that were green, opaque, almost blue and clear. TB
In the case of the rainbows, although they weren’t in abundance you would find them on the seams and behind the rocks in all the normal places, but the browns didn’t behave the same. Some days they moved into the sun-lit water and other days they hid from the light. You could sometimes find them in a very fast shoot and other days hiding in the thinnest of pockets on the edges out of the flow. When the water warms up and the sun is higher the fish favour the shade. If the water bottom turns slightly green, fish the colour changes. When it’s hot fish the deeper water. You have to cover water and establish a pattern of where the fish are holding. FLR
Our local fish travel much further for food that the fish abroad. The insects in Italy are much bigger and more prolific than ours so the fish can afford to be more fussy. The drift can be a slow one for the rainbows, getting the flies down to the bottom where the fish hide behind rocks and sit in the slow current and seams. The browns wanted an extremely slow drift. You almost had to get into the shade of the smallest of rocks to be able to entice them out to eat the fly. Pin point accuracy was required. TB
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED IN ITALY?
Fish will sit in places that you would least expect, so every piece of water needs to be covered. MM
How to approach your water and look after it so that you can come through the good water multiple times and still get fish out of there. LR
Most of the water we fished was quite pressured from teams before us, so testing different patterns and techniques was crucial. Whether it was trying mop flies in milkier water or really slowing down the drifts in clean fast water. TW
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