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Customising an old chest pack

This little project was driven by sheer frustration. I always have a small zinger clipped on my fishing jackets and waistcoats so I have a pair of clippers or scissors at hand but lately I have developed a nasty habit of pinging them off at every opportunity. I don’t know if this is just yet […]

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End of June

It has been a very hard few days, a lot of ‘stuff’ has been going on, things which have drained me to the point of exhaustion. I needed some time to myself so I made the effort to take my old boat out for a couple of hours on lough Conn. Heavy rain over the […]

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Change of scene

For the past few weeks I have been out chasing trout on the big lakes, either fishing myself or boating other anglers. Today I decided it was time for a change of scene. After sorting out a couple of tasks at home I headed off for lovely Leitrim to try my luck on a small […]

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Mixing dubbing

Disclaimer – I am not an expert on mixing dubbing materials. I do occasionally use dubbings straight out of the packet but to be honest that is pretty rare. Instead, I almost always add something else to the fur. In my head this adds ‘life’ to otherwise flat colours. Whether the fish appreciate my efforts […]

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32 – Episode 27, Kerry

6th June, D-day. I was stood up to my knees in Lough Bofinna in county Cork trying to decide what to do when it occurred to me that Kerry was not so terribly far away. There is a stocked lough called Barfinnihy which lies high up in the hills on the ring of Kerry, very […]

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32 – Episode 26, Cork

Lough Bofinna. I have no rational explanation why this secluded little lake sang to me but as soon as I read about it I decided I simply had to fish it. Cork is a big county with countless opportunities to fish so quite how my brain fixed on this far off lough will for ever […]

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The war on waste

This post will no doubt confirm your worst suspicions about me, that I am obsessed with waste. Fly tying, by its very nature is a wasteful process, we spend hours clipping and cutting then disposing of the waste in the bin. Some of this is necessary but we can reuse some of the bits we […]

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Black goldhead

I realise most of you already have this fly or something very similar in your box but for the sake of completeness here is the one I use. It has a lot going for it, easy and quick to tie, cheap and easily available materials and, most importantly of all, a proven fish catcher. Stockies, […]

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The International Dabbler

A very popular fly over here, this variation on the dabbler theme has been working well of late on lough Mask. You can find the pattern easily online but here is my take on the fly. Apologies for the flies in the accompanying photos, they have been well chewed by the trout and I have […]

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32 – Episode 25, Tyrone

Slap bang in the middle of Ulster lies the old kingdom of Tir O’ne, modern day Tyrone, the largest of the Northern Ireland counties. The O’Neill clan ruled these lands until the flight of the Earls in 1607, marking the end of Gaelic lordship in Ireland. This is archetypal Northern Ireland countryside with neat, well-tended […]

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On the oars

It’s a strange game which lacks even a definitive name. Boatman, ghillie or guide, take your pick. All those titles are in common usage across Ireland. I do a bit of it, helping anglers here in the west of Ireland to try and catch a few fish, handling a boat for them on the big […]

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32 – Episode 24, Derry

Another long journey for me to and from this northern county and a chance to cross the border into the UK. I know that political correctness demands that this county is referred to as Derry/Londonderry but I can’t be bothered typing that in all the time so Derry it is for the purposes of this […]

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Shorts

Four short, random pieces which have been lying around on my laptop. Hope you enjoy this eclectic mix of unrelated fishing topics. Donegal Blues Friday 13th, I should have known not to try anything adventurous on this day! A plan for the day ahead, detailed and coordinated, fell apart after a couple of early morning […]

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32 – Episode 23, Kilkenny

So there I was in New Ross, Co. Wexford on a fine spring day having caught a load of fish at Oaklands. It was 1pm and I had options to consider. I could spend the remainder of the afternoon fishing there (very tempting), drive back to Mayo and get home at a decent time for […]

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32 – Episode 22, Wexford

Ah, the sunny south east. Wexford both intrigued and vexed me in equal proportions for a long time. Not that there is anything wrong with Wexford, far from it, I think it sounds like a lovely place to live. It is one of the furthest away counties and one which I have never been in […]

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32 – Episode 21, Down

‘Where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea’ This was to be one of the big ones, a long and arduous road trip clear across the country from the stormy Atlantic to the Irish Sea. For the uninitiated, county Down lies in Northern Ireland and stretches from the city of Belfast in the […]

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Blank

I used to virtually live on Lough Mask. Renting a small house in Ballinrobe, I kept my boat in Cushlough and when not at work I would be out on the water chasing the gorgeous brown trout that lived there. Slowly, and with numerous scrapes to hull and propeller, I learned a little about this […]

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May

Around 5 or 6pm today I will log out on the slim silver work laptop, unplug it and stow it safely out of harms reach in the grey bag provided by my current employer. Papers will rustle as they are tidied away and the desk cleared at last as this seemingly never ending week draws […]

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Near the end

Afraid this is a rambling and at times barely coherent tale which spans decades and continents but at the end I will give you a really good salmon fly pattern. Trout and Salmon magazine was an integral part of my angling education. When I was still living at home with my parents my bedroom had […]

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Holiday Monday

I had hoped to fish on Sunday but in truth I was exhausted so took some time out to rest and gather my strength. Ghillieing on Saturday followed by a couple of drinks that night proved to be too much for my covid damaged body and so I made flies and drank coffee while listening […]

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My favourite dry mayflies

As a young fella back in Scotland my passion was fishing the dry fly. Summer evening saw me wading the rivers Don or Urie, flicking size 16 dries at rising trout until the light faded. Just before it got too dark I would take off the dry fly and change to a cast of sedges […]

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My favourite mayflies.

I know it is only April but the merry month of May will soon be upon us so with that in mind here are a few of my favourite Mayfly patterns. My own fly boxes are full of old masters and new patterns and most of them will catch a fish or two. Finding consistent […]

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32 – Episode 20, Louth

Again, a county I know very little about as I have only been there on business or driven through it. Zooming up and down the M1 had done little to enhance my knowledge of the angling potential around the county. Louth occupies that north east corner of the country between Dublin and the border. I […]

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Messing about

‘When the weather is fine, you know it’s a sign, for messing about on the river’ (Josh MacRea) Is it just me or do most of us find ways to spend more money? A recent set of events which on the face of it saved me money have in fact led me down the road […]

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PC fishing

In this case ‘PC’ stands for ‘post Covid’. I contracted the dreaded lurgy last week. Thursday was the day it played its hand and I became quite ill that night, forcing the cancellation of two days on the loughs which I had been so looking forward to. Sleep was impossible, uncontrollable shakes were followed by […]

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Casts and retrieves

Some thoughts on traditional boat fishing Casting and retrieving in traditional lough style. Now here is a subject we fly anglers can really get our teeth into! As someone who fishes a fair bit with other boat partners I get to see first-hand the wide variation of casts and retrieves employed. Experienced anglers find what […]

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Pulling flies

I should have started my trout fishing by now but work and some other obligations have got in the way so far. I am hoping to sneak out for an hour this weekend but there seems to be an awful lot of chores to get out of the way first before I go swishing a […]

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On the mend

As always, I was late. A couple of rod repairs had to be done before the season started. It is March now and anglers are out in force once again yet I had still not done my duty and repaired the rods. As a youth I loved making fishing rods and eschewed beautifully crafted Hardy’s […]

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Tactics for Mayo salmon loughs

Carrowmore and Beltra It is that time of the year again, the salmon season is opening here in the west. I want to just go over a few points which may help visitors to catch the elusive fish on a couple of the western lakes. I know I have touched on this subject before on […]

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Cloondroon

The last couple of days has seen a change in the weather with hard frosts at night but lovely bright days with light winds. I had initially planned to go trout fishing on the river Robe but the cold meant it would be unlikely the early stoneflies would hatch in any numbers so I headed […]

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Blowing away the cobwebs

Tuam, brought to the world’s attention many years ago thanks to the Saw Doctors, lies to the south of where I live, a little way down the famed N17. The grass is indeed very green and hemmed in by old stone walls but it was not the pastures of north county Galway I was going […]

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The wind it doth blow

The storms of last week continued to batter us here in the west over the weekend and my plans to go fishing had to be abandoned. Getting wet/cold at this time of the year in blustery showers is expected and if you can’t face those discomforts then spring fishing here is not for you, but […]

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Simple Beltra Badger

I am guessing that most of you reading this are already very familiar with the Beltra Badger salmon fly. Although it is a pretty easy fly to tie in its original form I make a simplified version for tying on small hooks such as a size 10 trout fly hook. This makes a very useful […]

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Favourite Silvers

Some of my favorite silver bodied flies We fly tyers live in what is the golden age of artificial flies. Every conceivable material is readily available and at affordable prices. New materials proliferate every year and so new, innovative patterns are devised to use this plethora of plastics and threads. I now that I now […]

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Winters tale

For the first time in two years I was in a pub last night, partaking of pints of Guinness, first in Johnnie HcHale’s and then Paddy Moran’s. Very pleasant it was too at the time but this morning it was a bit of a struggle to get out of the bed. I eventually sorted myself […]

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Float repairs

Messing about again When I started out coarse fishing a couple of years ago the only floats I owned were a few large Avons which had given sterling service when trotting for grayling on the mighty river Tay back in the eighties. These large cock bodied floats were required over there to handle the heavy […]

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Getting over Saturday

Burnley managed to scrape a draw at home to Watford on Saturday evening but being realistic my team are bound for the Championship next season. We had a good run in the Premiership I guess but I worry about our financial position and how we are going to rebuild an aging team. Being a Clarets […]

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New rod

I don’t get those ‘unboxing’ videos which are all over the place. I am obviously missing something here as they are incredibly popular but I will spare you the unboxing of my new purchase. When I looked at this 14 foot Shakespeare feeder rod in the shop it seemed to be an awful lot of […]

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Ramblings of a restless angler

May I apologise in advance, this is just a random collection of thoughts with no real structure or purpose! This is what happens when an angler is not fishing and has time to think. I promise my next post will be more focused. I was looking at some gear in my local tackle shop last […]

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Legs

The days are stretching and you can feel the new season approaching. The gaps in my fly boxes are proving to be painfully slow to fill but as I tie more flies some niggling questions need answered. Do we really need to tie such complex patterns for a start. Is it vital to add tags, […]

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Sunday morning

The trip to Kildare the other weekend lit a fire inside me. It smoldered through the week, a glowing ember inside which I could not extinguish. All my angling senses told me that this is January and there very few fish to be caught but still that orange glow grew stronger and by Saturday night […]

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Francolin ideas

I have written before about using feathers from the Francolin to make spiders. These are very effective little patterns for use on the river when small stoneflys are hatching in the spring. It’s the smaller feathers from the breast on the skin that I have which provides the hackles for the spiders but it also […]

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32 – Episode 19, Kildare

To the south and east of Dublin stretches the wide flat plains of the Pale. I am no Irish history buff but the term ‘the pale’ seems to date from the middle ages and signified the area under English control. The borders of the pale fluctuated wildly over the years but Kildare was pretty much […]

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Fishing the Yellow river

Of course you all have heard about the Yellow River, one of the great rivers of the world. For over 5000 kilometers it flows from west to east across the ever changing face of China, providing transport, water, power and irrigation for millions of people. Also known as ‘China’s Sorrow’ for its propensity to flood […]

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January fly tying sessions

Still busy at the vice these days as I add some more trout flies ahead of the coming season. The Kate McLaren or Katie as it is often referred to these days needs no introduction but like may other tyers I change the colour of the head hackle to suit different conditions. When fishing for […]

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Thoughts on photographs

For a blog dedicated to fishing I have noticed something strange about my musings here – there are very few photographs of fish! I guess that is partly because I do not catch that many! OK, I may be a bit harsh on myself with that last statement, but I don’t seem to catch as […]

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Colours of our lives

The cold cuts me like a knife, a raw winter morning of windblown snow and I am stood shivering on the stone breakwater of Stonehaven harbour. My head still pounds from the alcohol of last night which I spent drinking pale ale and awkwardly trying to chat up skinny blue jeaned girls. My old parka […]

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Float repairs

When I started out coarse fishing a couple of years ago the only floats I owned were a few large Avons which had given sterling service when trotting for grayling on the mighty river Tay back in the eighties. These large cock bodied floats were required over there to handle the heavy flows on that […]

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