Regular readers will no doubt be fed up of my recent whinging about missing my trout and salmon angling this year due to work commitments. There is a positive to this though, I am getting to know the canals around me in the middle of Ireland a whole lot better. Even on those evenings when […]


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Typical sessions

Back home. It is Friday evening and I have driven back to Mayo after another week away in the midlands. The days are flying by and it is hard to figure where this year is going. It was just the other day when I was scraping frost of the windows of the car each morning. […]

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Lil’ rainbows

I needed a break from all the coarse fishing I had been doing of late. I love my sessions with the float but a change to freshen things up felt right so I decided to try Pallas Lake near the village of Blue Ball in county Offaly yesterday evening. I will confess that laziness was […]

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Sedge hooks

I wrote last time about some keel hooks I had acquired and now I want to discuss another oddity, the sedge hook. I first became aware of these in the 1980’s when they were marketed as ‘Yorkshire sedge hooks’ and they appeared in a number of patterns tied by the foremost reservoir fly fishers of […]

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Keel hooks

A while back I bought some partly used packets and small boxes of fly hooks from a well know online purveyor of pre-loved goods. The photos accompanying said lot of hooks were none too, clear but for a small layout I thought it was worth the risk as I wanted to top up a few […]

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Of diggers and nippers

It has been a tough week. The first few days back in the reality of my job after a holiday were never the best but work was unremittingly stark and even when I went fishing for a couple of hours things did not work out as I had planned. Such is life and the minor […]

Read More Of diggers and nippers

Lift off

Most of the visiting anglers I meet on the western lakes are accomplished fly fishers with a vast array of tackle and tactics at their fingertips. Until quite recently they were much more adaptable than the locals who often stuck rigidly to short line wet fly. Switching to lures on HD lines, fishing tiny dries […]

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Under the knife

As you regular readers know, I am forever buying old fishing tat. Gear or materials that nobody else wants finds its way to me and I spend hours messing around trying make whatever it is of some use. One purchase from last year was a wooden box full of fly tying materials and a fly […]

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Counting turns

High winds and heavy rain are keeping me from the fishing this week so I will put up some fly tying posts. I’ll start off with this moan! Like the rest of you, I used to sometimes watch the plethora of fly tying videos out there on the different social media platforms. Being an old […]

Read More Counting turns

Wrong place at the right time

A pleasant evening tempted me out with rod and line again but this session was a bit of a muddle truth be told. The Royal canal beckoned again but I wanted to try out a section that was new to me. I drove up to the stretch at Shandonagh Bridge, a few miles to the […]

Read More Wrong place at the right time


As I widen my circle of potential fishing sites within range of my digs, the Royal canal around the midlands town of Mullingar has come under the microscope. In days gone by this part of the canal was famous for big bags of tench as well as some very good roach but the word on […]

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A quick tie

We all have boxes full to capacity with variations of the Green Peter, so why would you need any more? The truth is this variation is a really good one. I mean a REALLY good. I use it mainly on Mask but in smaller sizes it works on Conn and Cullin too. Very easy and […]

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March Browns

A fly which I rarely if ever use in the standard format but one I like when tied in different variations. The natural does not live here in Ireland but I used to love their explosive hatches on the Aberdeenshire Don as a young angler. One minute there were none to be seen, then suddenly […]

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Rainy Roscommon

The rain has been tipping down down for couple of weeks now in the West of Ireland. I had been fearing a drought after the cold dry months of January and February but the land has received a good soaking since then. Standing water in the fields and swollen drains bear testament to the change […]

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A long time coming

I finally got out to do a small bit of fishing today, the first time I wet a line since last autumn. My plans to dabble with coarse fishing throughout the winter months came to naught and a thin film of grey dust had gathered on the boxes of tackle piled in the corner of […]

Read More A long time coming

Almost there

There is, as we say here in Ireland, a grand stretch in the day. I became aware of it a couple of weeks ago when my normally dreary Monday morning commute was ennobled by a perfect sunrise as I ploughed along the east bound lane of the M6 between Athlone and Clara. With the days […]

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The Jury’s out

The way this coming season is shaping up I will in all probability do a bit of rainbow trout fishing. Living in the Midlands during weekdays will severely curtail my normal boat fishing for wild browns but there are a couple of rainbow put-and-take fisheries close by to keep me occupied. The last couple of […]

Read More The Jury’s out

New reel

In a sort of celebration of my new job I have splashed out on a reel. Not one of my usual second hand ‘projects’ that require refurbishment but an actual new one. The idea had been running around inside my head for a while now but I had yet to do anything concrete about it. […]

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All change

I don’t like January. The weather is usually awful and there is little to no fishing. This January is shaping up to be like the others, making for a depressing few weeks. Ireland has been on the receiving end of near perpetual rain after that cold spell before Christmas, leaving us squelching through puddles and […]

Read More All change

The Whisky Fly

Rainbow trout were exotic arrivals to the fishing scene around Aberdeen when I was but a lad. The ADAA stocked some in the Loch of Loriston just to the south of the city and I cut my teeth on rainbow fishing there. My boxes of dry Greenwells and other size 16 flies failed miserably to […]

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A strange year in many ways, 2022 will not go down in the annals as one of my finest when it comes to angling. I strongly suspect it may have been the same for many of you judging by the feedback I get to this blog. For the first season in many, many years I […]

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Let me start out by saying I am no expert on Euro-nymphing. I do a little bit on my local rivers and catch a few trout alright but I am not one of these lads who can almost empty a river at one go. I use the method sparingly and often only when other methods […]

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At it again

The drive back to my digs along slippery back roads took me way longer than normal and I’m tired by the time I have eaten, showered and am tucked up in bed. My laptop bursts into life and I catch up on emails before my attention is turned to all matters fly tying. Outside the […]

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The Ke-He

Apologies for the recent lack of posts here, I am very busy at work and weekends are spent catching up on stuff, leaving no time for angling. A sad state of affairs I know but a small crumb of comfort is the evenings away from home usually present me with a little time to tie […]

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Skin in the game

The cock pheasant is such a handy bird for us fly tyers. We are all familiar with the tail feathers but this handsome chap provides a host of others we can use too. While it is easy to buy packets of the different feathers purchasing a complete skin gives you access to a range of […]

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The great clearout

I blame the mayfly. In late spring each year anglers flock to the west of Ireland to fish the mayfly hatch and I am out most days acting as Ghillie to some of them. It is massively important to me that my charges enjoy the experience of a day on the lough and so I […]

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Brown thing

Many years ago, soon after I pitched up in Ireland in fact, I began tying some of my favourite Scottish patterns but adapting them to Irish styles such as Bumbles and dabblers. Some of these worked well but others were frankly useless. Exactly why this should be is not obvious but there you are, that […]

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Back at the ditch

Irish canals are not on the whole held in high regard by anglers. Often referred to as ‘that ditch’, the Royal canal is the only option for me these days so I take a slightly more pragmatic view of it. The canal traverses the Irish midlands in long straight lines interspersed with odd turns, presumably […]

Read More Back at the ditch


I was worn out, emotionally drained if you like. Thursday was a day of meetings and stress. OK so it wasn’t like I was being beaten up by a Tory whip (like some) but never-the-less I felt tired and needed to relax. I’d go fishing! Now this was sort-of pre-planned but the plans fell asunder […]

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Finding gold

In this world which appears to be hurtling toward oblivion, any small success feels disproportionally satisfying to me. Saturday was a day of many small successes including the discovery of long lost treasure. Working away from home again has meant dropping back into a rigid cycle of mental highs and lows. That alarm going off […]

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Just down the road

It turned out I was a little hasty in my summation there was no fishing near my new employers factory. For a start, the little drainage ditch I could barely make out at the bottom of an adjacent field turned out to be the river Brosna. Formally a wonderful game fishery full of trout and […]

Read More Just down the road

Make mine a double

Working away from home is a bit of a mixed bag. The downsides are obvious but there are a few pluses too if you try hard enough. My weekly routine now consists of early starts and a long drive to work on a Monday morning, stay in digs until Friday then drive home that afternoon. […]

Read More Make mine a double


So here I am sat at the vice tonight whipping up a few small Butchers. The normal silver ones, some Bloody Butchers and a few Irish Golden Olive Butchers. A pair of mallard wings were providing me with the lovely blues to make the wings and I was churning the flies out in good style. […]

Read More HP’s

Green Bumble

I am busy filling up the fly boxes again and found no trace of an old pattern I used to love fishing, my Green Bumble. Very simple and yet surprisingly effective, I sat down and made a few so here is the pattern for you: Hook: normally a size 10 or 12 wet fly hook. […]

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Season’s end

Life gets in the way of so much, doesn’t it? One minute I was happily cruising along when an innocuous phone call turned everything upside down. The fishing has been forgotten about since then, not that I have been missing anything. No wind or rain has meany dreadful conditions for game fishing. Like me, the […]

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Pontoon bridge

For those unfamiliar with the area around here let me explain about Pontoon bridge. When the level in lough Conn was lowered many years ago a cut was blasted to join up loughs Conn and Cullin. A fine bridge spans that cut and it is a very popular spot for salmon fishers who gather there […]

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So I found myself in the midlands yesterday and decided to have a quick look at the river Shannon. I did not have much time, just a couple of hours, but as I was within striking distance of the river I thought it was worth a look. I picked up some maggots in Tullamore and […]

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Cartographic Reminiscences

No fishing today, there is just too much to do around the house. So we slog away at tidying the garden and making some changes to the sitting room. Helen has some lovely drawings which we frame and mount of the walls and that got me thinking about a couple of cardboard tubes containing posters […]

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Long, long ago when I was learning to tie flies as a young fella back in Aberdeen I fell under the enchantment of the traditional salmon fly’s siren call. So I spent time and treasure on creating some of those gems from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, along the way learning how to make built […]

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Saturday afternoon

With a free afternoon yesterday I decided to try my luck fishing Cloondroon lough just across the county border in Galway. A survey of the two plastic bait boxes in the fridge revealed some healthy worms in one but the maggots from last week in the other one were not in great shape. Most had […]

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Time and Tied

I need a wee project on the go to give me a bit of focus. With the end of the ’32’ I had to dream up something else to keep this over active mind of mine occupied. It is not as if I don’t have plenty of other things to stop me from hanging around […]

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Busy morning in Sligo

‘Showers, heavy at times, clearing to the east in the afternoon’. That is what the forecast said so I looked out my waterproofs and stowed them in the car. A planned sea fishing trip had to be called off due to high winds on Saturday so I was mad keen to get out and do […]

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The 32 project in summary

Now it is over I have taken the time to review and tabulate the results of my 32 counties project. As with all statistics the truth is mangled and twisted but here is how it all ended according to my spreadsheets. I would like to be able to state that each trip was carefully considered […]

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32 – Episode 32, Donegal

Thirty one done, only one to go. Donegal was in my crosshairs as for the last time I would take to Eire’s highways and byways on my wee project. The rugged lands of the far north west of Ireland have captured the hearts and minds of many who have traveled there. This is picture postcard […]

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Fishing from the shore

When we think about fly fishing the Irish loughs our minds immediately leap to lough style from drifting boats and indeed this is the usual and often highly productive approach for most of us. Sometimes though fishing from the shore is necessary or desirable so I thought I’d take a look at that topic today. […]

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32 – Episode 31, Limerick

Here’s the craic, Limerick (along with Louth) kept slipping down my list of counties to fish for the better part of two years. My research kept coming up short on options for both of these counties so I put them on the long finger for ages. Louth was completed some time ago though, so it […]

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32 – Episode 30, Wicklow

Hearing the name Wicklow always conjures up visions of the mountains for me. Rising like some mythical protector of the land, the Wicklow mountains guard the southern approaches to the capital, proud and ancient. These hills and glens are thronged with people every weekend as they escape the city for rest and relaxation – walking, […]

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32 – Episode 29, Waterford

Was there an element of exhaustion creeping in? A mental as well as physical tiredness seemed to be growing on me of late. The finishing line is so close but it felt like it would take a herculean effort to complete the next county on my ’32’ list. A second dose of Covid didn’t help […]

Read More 32 – Episode 29, Waterford