I was surprised recently to be contacted by Catherine Akondo of Kakamega, Kenya, exploring the possibility of marketing trout and bass fishing flies tied locally in Kenya and marketed through a few organizations in UK, Canada and the US. The company, Cath Fly, is an offshoot of the more famous Ant Top Fly Company based in Nairobi.
The minor anomaly of something as northern hemisphere, and perhaps as arcane, as commercial fly tying in a place like Kenya is probably not as odd as it seems, bearing in mind not only that most commercial fly tying takes place in the developing world for the western market, and that Kenya, with quite a few indigenous fly tying enterprises, enjoys something of a pedigree in the sport. Brown trout were introduced into Kenyan rivers during the latter decade of the 19th century – origins obscure but of course originally Scottish, but probably introduced from South Africa where the sport is best established in Africa. The main venues for this were the rivers of the Mount Kenya and Aberdare Highlands, both in the Central Province, what was once the White Highlands, and although not as widely supported as in the past, Kenya is still something of a desirable if obscure fly fishing destination.
Cath Fly styles itself as a self-help, youth-development program with it’s main objective the training of Kenyan youth in the fine art of fly tying, and this is probably not altogether untrue, but there is a tendency when trying to attract the attention of foreign markets to play somewhat on the philanthropic aspects of operations. However the images sent, and the selection on offer, is impressive, whatever might be the primary motivation for setting up shop. The company consists at any given time of some ten expert tiers and twenty trainees, with 100 experienced journeymen/women having graduated from the company so far.
Watch this space for more information on the development of Cath Fly, but for the time being here are a section of images of some of the products available.