We had the opportunity to chat with one of our good friend, Christiaan Pretorius. He is one of the most well known South Africans in the industry and has probably one of the largest species lists we know of. Not only can he fish, but he is also an avid hunter and photographer. With all of these outdoor interests, he knows how important wildlife and fisheries are. He truly is a key advocate for conservation.
Flylords: Who is Christiaan Pretorius
Christiaan: I was born September, 14th 1990 in South Africa. I was really fortunate to have been brought up by two amazing parents who really went out of their way to expose me to all the beautiful aspects of being outdoors. My dad is to this day still a very passionate fly fisherman, bow hunter, photographer, and outdoorsman. Well, long story short, I started casting at the age of six. Twenty-two years later and I am casting more now than ever before.
Flylords: When and where did you first pick up a fly rod?
Christiaan: Like so many of us, I was introduced to the great outdoors including fly fishing from a really young age. I caught my first fish on a fly rod when I was six years old.
Flylords: What led to your success in the fly fishing industry?
I think personally it was an internal commitment of trying to get as good as I could be because I enjoyed fly fishing that much. I wanted to work hard to get rid of excuses, but rather to identify where I could improve more. It’s for that same reason why I started competing at the age of fourteen. I just wanted to learn and grow, and the competitive circuit was the biggest learning curve of my career.
Flylords: How many countries have you fished in?
Christiaan: I actually sat down last night and started writing down the countries I have fished. I was actually a little surprised how much I have gotten to experience in the past couple of years. I have fished in 34 countries to date.
Flylords: If you had to choose, what was your most epic fight on the fly?
Christiaan: It’s one of those really difficult questions to answer so I will narrow it down to my top two. First off I can’t help but think of the Blue Marlin in Guatemala, fish like these really are not supposed to be caught on fly gear… Another epic battle was with a really big Roosterfish in Baja. It’s always nerve-racking when you hook into that fish of a lifetime on the last day.
Flylords: Is there a place you haven’t fished or species you haven’t landed?
Christiaan: Oh absolutely, the list is still long which makes me really excited. I think even in my lifetime it will be hard to tick all the destinations on my bucket list. I would say my next big trip would be New Zealand.
Flylords: What are your thoughts on how the fly fishing industry is today compared to when you first started?
Christiaan: There are both positives and negatives for sure. Just in my time, I have definitely seen the impact of plastic pollution on certain fisheries. Then again I have also seen more and more people get on board to help educate and contribute in efforts to make it better. There is a major influence from youngsters too in the industry which is ideal. Fly fishing is cool now!
Flylords: How else do you spend time outdoors?
Christiaan: I am a really passionate bow hunter and photographer. Fishing is very much a form of hunting. I am a hunter whether it be with a fly rod, bow or camera. I enjoy the journey, the process and the preparation that lead up to you finally making the cast, flinging the arrow, or getting that picture.
Flylords: Compare catching a trophy fish and harvesting an animal. Do they both get the heart racing?
Christiaan: Absolutely they do, otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it right? There are so many similarities between bow hunting and fly fishing. At the end of the day the biggest difference is that there is no catch and release when hunting with bow and arrow, so harvesting an animal is a big deal and one that I don’t take up lightly. Again this is where practice and preparation come in. The key is to be able to make that perfect ethical shot.
Flylords: What do you snack on when out on the water?
Christiaan: It’s pretty simple but either Biltong (South African Jerky) or Jerky. Depending on what I can get my hands on. Sometimes I do enjoy snacking on a beer or two…
Flylords: What is your favorite picture of you? Define it in one word.
Flylords: What was the best fly fishing film you were a part of?
Christiaan: I would say without a doubt the one we shot last year in Australia called “Glorious Bastards”. It was a great group of friends, a great destination, and incredible fishing. It is currently in the Fly Fishing Film Tour making its way around the States, go check it out.
Flylords: Any advice to younger anglers trying to make a living in the industry?
Christiaan: Social Media aside, do it for the love for the outdoors, for the love of being in pristine environments with the bonus being catching a fish. But also document your adventure, tell your stories to others, and engage them in this fascinating adventurous life you live. Also remember you will never know everything in fly fishing, and it’s for that reason that I love it even more. So go out there and look around a little more, focus a little less on catching a fish and you will be surprised with how much more you take in.
Article from Flylords Content Development Lead, Collin Terchanik.