Elpheus Ndlovu has come a long way from his village in the South African province of Mpumalanga. He once worked as a taxi driver. Now, he makes fishing flies – artificial, man-made flies that are used to catch fish. The flies he now ties are used all over the world by fishers to make record-breaking catches.
A man tests a fishing reel in the Fly-Fishers Unlimited store in Johannesburg. Next to him is a quiet man in his 40s. Elpheus Ndlovu is affectionately known as ‘Alphons' in the fly-fishing community. He is seated at a table. Right now, all of his attention seems to be on a fastener that holds a fishing fly. He wants the fly to look like a grasshopper.
"Some guys, they send you a picture, just a picture, and they say, ‘I want this fly. And if you check in the picture, you have to look at what exactly what material it is, and then you do it, hey. Some guys also, they like to change a fly and say, ‘I want something different on this fly,' so it can catch more fish. I can do that also."
Elpheus Ndlovu uses both natural materials, such as bird feathers, and artificial ones, like plastic and foam. His goal is to make flies look like real creatures -- insects, frogs, minnows and crabs -- that fish feed on.
He remembers the first fly he ever tied, more than 20 years ago. It was a clouser minnow. Made of pink and white buck-tail, it was used to catch saltwater gamefish.
"It took me maybe like a half an hour because I didn't know what I'm doing! Now it can take me about five minutes to tie just a clouser."
Elpheus Ndlovu likes to remember the day back in 1994 when he saw the newspaper advertisement that changed his life. The ad was for an apprentice fly fishing rod builder. At the time, he was still driving a taxi.
While making fishing rods, he met the owner of Fl