In early 2015 we received an order for one of our 686 Fly Rod kits to go to a chap in South Africa. I believe this was the first time we'd had an order come in from South Africa - an email followed soon after and correspondence was entered into around fly line section and shipping over there.
The bloke on the end of the email seemed as keen as mustard and we shipped the kit - Only to hear a couple of weeks later it went missing in action. Eventually the kit was found and re-routed to it's new owner. A few more enthusiastic emails were exchanged once the kit arrived and the rod build had commenced.
Eventually we heard that said fly rod was complete - and the architect of the new stick was “Pretty Bloody Happy” with the result - terrific, nice bloke, happy customer, all good.
Things went quiet for a while until we started seeing pictures of a large man with a lion like mane of hair posting pictures of the most impressive Carp and other toothy critters I've ever seen - caught on a home built green glass rod that came from New Zealand. Amazing!
He called himself Nepptuna (with two p’s) and bugger-me-days if he didn't look just like what you’d envision a Roman Sea god to look like!
Over the next few years we followed Nepptuna's fly fishing fortunes from here in our New Zealand workshop, fishing vicariously with him on many adventure filled trips. And although we’ve never actually met, and his country is still only the second best footy team in the world - we are incredibly proud and privileged to announce that Andre Van Wyk has agreed to join our ever growing global Epic family as a Brand Ambassador.
Thanks so much for your early faith in us Andre, for sharing your incredible energy and those sensational fly fishing pictures - We're stoked that you've taken a shine to our gear, and we're even more stoked to have a Saffa on the crew mate!
~ Carl McNeil
Introducing Epic Brand Ambassador, the very fabulous Andre ( Dre ) van Wyk
I was born and bred on the East coast of South Africa, I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb holding a fishing rod.. ( sorry Mom ), and have gotten more obsessed with anything that swims as the years have gone by… I was fortunate to grow up in a small town on the South African east coast.. with a warm water ocean on my doorstep, and a coastline of Sugarcane farms, every one of the home to a bass pond of some kind, and the mountain streams and lakes of the Drakensberg about a 2 hour drive away.
My late father was a big fisherman, and was the kind of legend who nurtured my fishing obsession from a young age, always happy to have me tagging along at every opportunity, be it fishing the surf zones, chasing bass on farm ponds, or rowing me around mountain lakes.
We discovered flyfishing when I was about 4 years old, and subsequently flytying a year or two later. Being the local veterinarian , my old man was never short on quality flytying material. From chasing trout, we ventured on to chasing Bass, then saltwater with the fly.
My folks loved to travel, and get the family out into far-away remote places, as a fishing obsessed kid, I could not have been more blessed as I was exposed to a huge variety of water and species from a young age, all over southern Africa.
At 18 I shipped out to the University of Life, which just happened to be on Grand Cayman in the Caribbean.. 5 years of “Study” saw me chasing fish pretty much everyday. Bonefish, Tarpon, Snapper, Tuna, Wahoo - whatever swam, I chased it.
I’ve been back in South Africa for 14 years now, moving down to Cape Town where my real job has me running a production Company with my sister, with every spare thought, moment and cent spent chasing fish. I’ve been lucky enough that working like a lunatic at times has afforded me the opportunities to chase fish in some pretty incredible place - Seychelles Outer Atolls, St.Brandons, Oman, Madagascar and all over Southern Africa.
3 years ago I came across Epic Flyrods on a social media post.. at the time I was looking for something new in my flyfishing… and there was a lot of talk about the resurgence of Glass rods, and my interest was piqued. I’d recently found a new addiction, chasing Carp on fly and discovered a fishery on my doorstep in Cape Town that had big, super skittish, super picky Carp in a crystal clear river and this was my excuse for investing in ANOTHER rod. My Epic 686 landed a week or so later, and I spent a few evenings building her up from a kit. The first morning out with the rod changed my view on flyfishing, something at that stage I didn’t think possible, and I have been in love with my Epic’s ever since.
On top of the incredible products, what I found at Epic was an ethos I didn’t even realize was lacking in the flyfishing world. Being a smalltown boy, I was, and still am, blown away by the family feel that Epic operates on, the love and thought that goes into the products, the service they are able to provide from across the other side of the world, and their ability to get me closer to the core of flyfishing, the cast, through their products is amazing… I love to fish.. and I am not a purist fly angler, I fish “heathen” tackle , throwing big poppers and giant stickbaits for GT’s, Tuna and other beast, I’ll even throw a bait in some cases. But my first choice, is always a fly rod, be that painting dries on the surface of the tiny local creeks for small wild rainbows, plonking bugs in the path of skittish mudbones, slinging Clousers in spring time inlets for big Smallmouth Bass, punching shrimp and crab patterns across a tropical flat for Bones and Triggers, or ripping a big Semper or Brushfly as fast as I can ahead of a big GT, it's always going to be a fly rod I want in my hand, an Epic Fly rod.
If you want an eyefull of some of the best fish images around take a look at Andre's Instagram, give him a follow and say "Gidday" from us! https://www.instagram.com/nepptuna/
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Also in The Drift - Fly Fishing, Fly Casting and Fly Rod Building
I was recently chatting to my buddy Brian O'Keefe about what he was up to over the winter months, and after having returned home from a balmy trip to Patagonia he was straight back into it - in the snow. In New Zealand, all but the most hardened anglers hang up their gear come winter, so I had a few questions.