The first International Fly Fishing Festival, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia…

Part 1: Abstract
I have visited many shows, festivals and fairs in my life and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at how well organized the first show in this part of Asian was. To be honest, I was perhaps most impressed given that Malaysia is not really a country known for its fly fishing.

The chosen setting for the event was at Kampung Budaya (Cultural Village) located in Taman Botani Negara (National Botanical Gardens) and in my humble opinion, there couldn’t be any better location. It was amazing to see that only a short distance from a big city like Kuala Lumpur you are face to face with the natural beauty of the ancient Malaysian rainforests. The village lay in rolling hills covered by tropical rainforest, complete with lakes and ponds and traditional structures. This unique venue perfectly reflected the majesty of the still pristine Malaysian jungle, not only to me, but to all the foreign visitors present. Real jungle has always attracted me as it is so full of life, day or night. I saw monkeys, lizards, many frogs and birds and all were totally new to me.


The show was held on 16-17 September 2012 and turned out to be an enormous success. The team from the United Fly Anglers Organization Malaysia (UFOM) really did a great job and all their efforts were well rewarded. UFOM or UFO is a none-profit organization that promotes fly fishing, teaching fly casting and fly tying. Dron Lee and Dr CK Ling (the first FFF MCI in Malaysia) are the key persons behind UFO, and we have become really close friends. Dron and Dr. CK Ling worked tirelessly almost 24×7 to put everything together as smooth as possible. I like their organization because they also raise awareness about environmental and conservation issues while also trying to bring about positive change in sport fishing in general in Malaysia. The show was also a huge international FFF meeting and testing event were FFF members from Malaysia, Europe, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, America and New Zealand were deeply involved with. Filippo Invernizzi from Avalon travelled the longest distance from everybody and came all the way from Argentina to give a few presentations about the wonderful and amazing fly fishing possibilities in Cuba.

Some of the people who worked hard behind the scenes to make IFFF 2012 a real success
Here another hard working team mixed with some of worlds best master casters

Spin casting is most popular facet of Malay sport fishing, but fly fishing is a fast growing activity in Malaysia. For me it was an incredible honor to help Dron and UFO as much as I could with advice, suggestions and even personal help to enable them to develop strategies in the most effective ways. UFO is also an informal group of fly angling volunteers who commit their time, sweat and money to developing and promoting fly fishing as a sport. UFO’s founding principle is that its members should not benefit monetarily nor materially from any of its sanctioned activities. UFO’s leadership is non-hierarchical with all members being equal. UFO aims to explore new fly fishing frontiers in Malaysia and to organize unique events and activities with the main object of bringing fly fishing enthusiasts together in Malaysia and even in surrounding countries.


Dr. CK Ling (FFF MCI) and newly qualified (FFF CCI) Dron Lee are the key persons behind UFO

UFO had no idea about the number of guests they could expect, nor how an operation on such a large scale would run in their country, but their worries faded away after a successful first day. Malaysia is a fly fishing country that still has to discover all its fly fishing resources, and it has huge potential, especially for fly fishermen happy to experiment. The prospects look better every year. The number of fly fishers and fly tiers is growing fast and more and more fly fishing techniques and flies are being discovered and developed here.

There were some international fly fishing activities before, but these were focused mainly on fly casting and sharing knowledge and building fly fishing skills. This completely new festival however, had an entirely new dimension and was based on an outstanding mixture of fly fishing, fly casting, fly tying, lectures, workshops and an excellent presentation of the latest fly fishing equipment organized by Tackle Box Adventures, Malaysia.
Tackle box as we call it is the only tackle shop in Malaysia that specializes in fly fishing and fly tying. IFFF Malaysia 2012 was not a huge show like you see in Europe or the USA, but it was a show that was well balanced and in perfect harmony with available resources and needs.

Tackle box (photo up and down) and in particular Nick Ooi and his wife did an amazing and long standing job for the entire fly fishing industry in Malaysia. It’s simple, without Tackle box fly fishing wouldn’t be possible or exist in Malaysia today…….


Nick Ooi with a beautiful bonefish caught on Maldives

As a participant at the show I discovered that most people I met during the event were just starting fly fishing or fly tying or had be at it only a few years. That’s why I was so impressed by the skills of a large number of the visitors. There were a lot of guests who had tied flies only a short time, but they already knew so much. There was plenty of enthusiasm and there were even some real fanatics among them. All were so eager to learn and to watch me as well as the other fly tiers and fly casters. A lot of them had learned their skills only from the internet and I saw an enormous difference for example in how I started to build up my knowledge with hardly any books available in the south of the Netherlands in my early days. I think the Malaysian people clearly proved to me the power of the internet during this show.

There was plenty of enthusiasm (© Wesley Tso)

I arrived several days before the show so that I would be able to acclimatize and get over my jetlag and prepare myself well. I love to do workshops and demonstrations with a clear head too. The big plan was to accommodate the special foreign guests and participants in the beautiful wooden chalets at Kampung Budaya located in the surrounds of the bigger event buildings. These accommodations were traditional buildings modeled after original Malaysian homes, each from a different state and the guests were absolutely thrilled to spend a few nights in them. Sadly, only three out of the six of the buildings were ready though meaning several guests had to be accommodating in hotels outside the venue. I remembered very well how embarrassment the committee felt about this, but for us it was not a not a problem, because we knew it was not their fault.

For me one of the absolute highlights inside the park was the FLY FISHING & LURE CASTING CENTRE EAK (Empangan Sungai Air Kuning).

Posing together in front of the EAK logo together with Nik Rahimi (© Jobina Chia)

It was officially opened in April 2008. EAK is located in the tranquil green scenery of the Sungai Air Kuning Dam (meaning the yellow river water dam). The UFO plan was to allow the visitors and guests to fish there during the show and to offer them some fly angling experiences in a perfect natural jungle setting. Of course, they wanted to promote the center as well. I have fished the location five times myself with amazing success and while it is so close and easy accessible within the Klang Valley, I only can say that it is a perfect place to go for every businessman who visits Kuala Lumpur and wishes to fly fish for a couple of hours during their stay. After my own experiences I only can highly recommend it and a catch of a big pacu or snakehead will stay in one’s memory forever, believe me!

My first pacu ever caught was realised at EAK while trying some night fishing during the show

The fishing center is approximately five hectares of natural Tropical Park, and is divided into two zones, called the upper dam and the lower dam. The upper dam is dedicated to fly fishing only while the lower dam is open to fly fishing and lure casting. The centre is stocked with a variety of freshwater species including sebarau, toman, jelawat, kelah, tarpon, roho, pacu, haruan, patin, talapia, and belida that provide for a wide variety of fishing experience able to satisfy anglers of all abilities, from the novice to the expert. In line with its conservation effort, the centre practices “Catch and Release” and prohibits the use of barbed, double and treble hooks. EAK’s goal is to become a premier Fly Fishing and Lure Casting Centre in Malaysia and one the leaders in the region. In the themes of education and conservation they hope to contribute towards creating and instilling awareness among the public in general and the anglers’ community in particular. This is aimed at conserving all freshwater fish species and maintaining a clean and safe environment for their future survival. Operating Hours: Tue-Sun: 7.30am-6.30pm. Rate :Fishing Adult : RM20.00/entry. For extra information please contact in Malaysia: Nik Rahimi – 012-3246959 or 019-6322876

EAK during daylight

Part 2