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Urban Fly Fishing: Sandton Edition – by Stuart Van Der Linden

Ur-ban: Adjective. Fishing natural waters within city limits of any modern metropolitan area.

Not too long ago I read an article by Louis Cahill titled “Urban Fly-Fishing”. This article intrigued me as I live just a stone throw away from the Braamfontein Spruit in Riverclub, Johannesburg RSA & having walked down there a few times before (because which fly fisherman can honestly say he doesn’t inspect any body of water nearby) I knew exactly what to expect, Barbel (African Sharptooth Catfish).
Now just the thought of going near the water in the Braamfontein Spruit is enough to put even the most hardened of fly fisherman off. It’s dirty, it smells & there’s rubbish everywhere.

It was against my better judgement that I went off with my trusty 5wt in hand & a few other essentials. Well boy was I in for a surprise!

I found a myriad of undercut banks & semi deep pools as I slowly made my way upstream. Eventually I settled on a spot that looked as inviting as it possibly could with a nice shallow pool and a steady flow. Peering into the water with my 5wt at the ready a few passers-by giggled and looked at me as if I was mad. Then as I looked a bit further I saw at least a dozen small barbel, head upstream, in an undercut bank. I walked to the opposite bank rigged up a size 8 black wooly bugger and put the fly just upstream of the fish. As it slowly drifted down I gave it a few small tugs and BAM, fish on. For such a small fish it puts up a hell of a fight doing everything in its power to snag me up on the fallen logs and overhanging branches but to no avail.


After hooking into a few more I decided to change focus & my attention to another shallow pool nearby. With the sun slowly fading I could see the fish starting to make their way into the open and gulping at the surface. I decided to give Terry Babich’s technique of hitting the fly on the surface a try and it certainly did the trick. Just one slap on the water was enough to entice the fish my way and as the fly landed the second time it just engulfed it. As evening broke I had 6 fish under my belt & was rather chuffed that I had found a fishing spot close to home.

We all get that midweek itch to throw a line in the water after work & with the guidelines below you should no longer have a problem doing so.

Top Braamfonein Tips

The best time to go is late spring to early autumn when the water temp is warm. Watch the water as flash floods often come down during this time.Fishing with a 5wt is overkill so I would suggest a 3 or 4wt with a floating line and a 6/7ft leader will do the trick as you probably won’t be casting further than 3 metres into shallow water.

Any dark buggy fly that pushes water will suffice & if they are gulping at the surface maybe a fat hopper pattern.

Some old boots to get you over the rocks and onto the sand banks but I wouldn’t recommend wading in the water!

And last but not least, Hand Sanitiser! I would definitely not recommend putting the leader or your hands near your mouth as this water contains some gnarly bacteria.

Tight Lines.. if you dare! 

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