Vaal River


There are few images which sum up the wonderful addiction we call fly fishing quite like an angler staring intently at a swiftly flowing piece of water. The emotive response that is brought to the surface as a large dry fly lands gently in a bubble ridden glide is surely felt by all who have ever cast a fly rod. For many fly anglers its like going home after an extended period away..the return to the place where it all began.


The Vaal River which flows rapidly through the African bushveld is the largest tributary of the Orange River in South Africa and is one these truly special pieces of water. The middle section of the Vaal River which is where we spend most of our time, flows through central South Africa and down through a little town called Parys which is situated in the North West Province. We fish a large stretch of river, starting just below the Barrage approximately 20km north east of Parys and down through the Vredefort Dome approximately 30km south west of the town. Best of all, this majestic river is home to a wide variety of fish species, most of them targetable on fly.

The two major species which are targeted by fly anglers are the Smallmouth Yellowfish (Labeobarbus aeneus) and for the more experienced angler, the Largemouth Yellowfish (Labeobarbus kimberleyensis). Both species give a really spirited account of themselves on fly tackle, with Largemouths (similar species to Indian/Himalayan Mahseer) reaching weights in excess of 20lbs and their Smallmouth cousins consistently reaching the 8lb mark. The entire Middle Vaal has as a huge diversity of fauna and flora, giving anglers the chance to fish in a truly African surrounding. This section of the Vaal River offers some of the finest fishing for both Smallmouth and Largemouth Yellowfish. Most of our guides grew up fishing this large river and have intimate knowledge and a deep passion for this world class fishery. Although extended trips in the area can be arranged we generally offer day outings to various sections of the river depending on current conditions. Guests will generally meet their guide/s for the trip on the main road running through Parys. From there the guides will lead you to the specific stretch of river nearby which they intend fishing. Fishing for either Largemouth or Smallmouth Yellows on the Vaal River is an African fishing experience not to be missed. Whether you are an angler keen to catch your first or largest Smallmouth or an experienced angler keen to step into the secret world of the Largemouth Yellowfish, our guides are well seasoned with regards all forms of river craft and will make sure your day is both rewarding and enlightening.

The fishing

Smallmouth yellows have over the last ten years rightly become South Africas most popular indigenous freshwater target species. These highly adaptable fish are found in shallow rapids/riffles, glides and slower flowing pools depending on the season, water temperature and current insect activity. Their general diet consists of mayflies, caddis, blackfly, midges, a host of terrestrials and other winged insects. This allows for a variety of fishing techniques which include upstream nymphing, Czech nymphing or classic dry fly fishing, depending on what or where the fish are feeding.

During the warmer months one can expect to wade the shallower sections of the river, throwing short upstream casts using an indicator and two nymphs into pockets, riffles and glides. When water temperatures reach 18C and higher the fish begin actively moving in skinny water and it is not uncommon to see shoals of flashing fish as the scour the rocks and gravel, picking off the abundant caddis larvae and mayfly nymphs that reside here. As the water temperatures drop and we head into our winter months the fish tend to drop back into the pools and deeper glides where water temperatures remain more constant. Dry fly fishing to fish sipping emerging or adult mayflies becomes the main attraction during this time of the year.We have inflatable boats which allow us to access these deeper sections in winter or allow us to drift down into secluded parts of the river in summer. Smallmouth Yellows in this section of the Vaal usually average between 2 6 lbs with fish of around 10lbs being landed each season.

Largemouth Yellows on the other hand, are a large and powerful species which reach substantial size as they mature in age. These majestic fish are a true visually orientated predator which feed on a variety of prey including smaller fish, crabs, frogs and insects. They are unfortunately listed as threatened species on the IUCN red data list and for this reason great care should be taken in performing the correct catch release methods. Unlike their Smallmouth cousins, they are not found in great numbers and hence having a clear idea of when/where/how to target them becomes even more crucial if you are going to be successful. Although their is still plenty of room for discovery, the best time to target Largemouth Yellows is generally during the colder months here on the Highveld, namely May through to September. The rivers clarity is generally at its optimum during these months and the fish generally congregate in the deeper pools, which makes locating them a whole lot easier.

Tactics for these elusive trophies usually involve throwing a long line with small baitfish patterns at likely looking structure such as edges, rock piles and ledges. As mentioned previously, Largemouth Yellows generally prefer deeper pools and so we tend to do most of our fishing from our inflatable boats.

Largemouth Yellows vary in weight quite drastically, with most fish landed weighing anything from 4 10lbs. This being said, fish of between 12 and 18 pound are caught each season in this section of the Vaal and every now and again fish over the elusive 20lb mark are caught by a subsequently ecstatic angler.


Cost: ZAR R2500.00 per guide per day

Single supplement: Available

Max Pax: 4 to 6 (2 anglers to 1 guide)


  • Inflatable boat (if required)
  • Venue entrance/rod fee


  • All travel to and from the venue on the Vaal River
  • Accommodation, Meals, Drinks etc
  • Flies & Tackle
  • Visas if required
  • Gratuities for guides if desired

Location: Parys 110km south west of Johannesburg, South Africa

Getting there:
International guests need to fly into Johannesburg, South Africa. They are then required to travel down to Parys by road on the N1 which takes roughly 1 hour. Your guides for the week will meet you in town and lead you to the piece of water they intend to fish (directions to follow after booking has been confirmed).

Target Species:
Smallmouth Yellowfish, Largemouth Yellowfish

Smallmouth Yellows Year round depending on river flow ratesLargemouth Yellows May to September depending on river flow rates

Jan April & October – Dec: Temperatures averaging between 20 – 30C.May Sept: Temperatures averaging between 15 – 20 C. Mornings can be chilly.

2 x Inflatable two man boats

Pre trip

Time difference: GMT + 2.

Flight time from the UK: 12 hours

UK, US, EU & USSR passport holders do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days in South Africa.

Medical & Health Requirements 
A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required if travelling from a Yellow Fever infected area.

The South African Rand (ZAR) is the only excepted currency for gratuities and expenditure.

English is the official language of South Africa. All FlyCastaway guides speak English.

There is cell phone network coverage around most areas of the river. International clients networks can be switched to international roaming or a local SIM card can purchased.

Tackle & Gear
Single-handed 9ft #5wt freshwater outfits with matching weight forward floating lines being ideal fro Smallmouth Yellows, with single-handed 9ft 7wt saltwater outfits with matching weight forward floating lines being ideal for targeting Largemouth Yellows. A comprehensive tackle and gear list along with an order form (should you wish to purchase your tackle through us) is issued after your booking has been confirmed.


coming soon