Fishing in Ireland

Getting ready for the first outing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the trout vest in all its glory

I am normally pretty organised before the start of the season but not this year. Some dark evening in January I drag out all my gear and delight in going through it in great detail, Rods are checked and rings replaced/re-whipped as required, corks are checked and filled in handles and rod bags plunged into the washing machine for their annual rinse. Nets, bags and all the other kit is scrutinised and patched/glued/stitched/burnished or otherwise mollycoddled as the rain hammers against the window.

Then I set about the reels. I love reels. There is no obvious reason for this passionate affair. I am not an engineer or designer. The technicalities of gear ratios or the comparisons of die-cast vs. single piece go way over my head. Yet I love the feel and even the smell of reels. Being mainly a fly fisherman it is fly reels which provide the greatest pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t own a huge collection of expensive reels. Just a few bog standard fly reels of the kind churned out by the thousand in nameless factories and machine shops in the orient. Never the less, I thoroughly enjoy stripping them down and cleaning, greasing and oiling all the right bits and finally re-assembling them for the upcoming season.

Somehow January 2015 came and went without me finding the time to carry out my pre-season ritual. Only this evening have I managed to address this oversight and even then i have to admit it has been a pretty half-hearted affair. Just finding everything was a nightmare and a few items are still in hiding. Some important kit was eventually tracked down and I think I am in a position to venture out to the river tomorrow if the weather Gods are kind.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t carry a bag when fishing on rivers, I find them too clumsy and I much prefer to lug all my tackle around in a waistcoat. To save constantly swapping items around I have different waistcoats for salmon and trout. Tonight the trout waistcoat was given a thorough spring clean and the contents of the numerous pockets checked out. Spools of tippet material have been placed in the handiest pockets as I change tippets frequently.  Tools such a nippers, de-barbing scissors and hook hones are all present and correct but the magnetic lanyard which attaches my scoop net to the back of my jacket had gone AWOL. It eventually turned up on a ‘D’ ring on the front of my waders.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next it was on to fly boxes. Last season was a disaster for me in terms of actually getting out on the river, so the boxes are still pretty well stocked as you can see. Early on I rely on nymphs and spiders for much of my fishing so there are a couple of boxes crammed with these goodies in the pockets. A box of dries is also there just on case there is a hatch to bring the trout to the surface.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI know that I carry far too many flies with me but I am happy to burden myself with the problems of fly selection, it adds to the fun for me. I guess that it costs me in terms of the numbers of fish i catch as I swap flies more often than I really should. Weighed against that is the pleasure I get when, just occasionally, I dip into the box and pull out some long-forgotten fly which then goes and tempts a fish.

Eventually I had tracked down all the gear I think I need to try my luck for the first time this season. I will report on that in my next post.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Standard
Fishing in Ireland, fly tying

Black Doctor

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I think I would right in saying this is a fly which does not get used as much as it used to. More modern patterns has taken its place on the cast of most anglers and it is slowly but surely slipping into oblivion. This is a shame as the Black Doctor can still fool a fish on its day and I like to have one or two tucked away in the corner of my fly box for those times when I am unsure which dark pattern to try. Note that I like my Doctors with a claret body hackle instead of the more usual black one, I think the contrast between the black body and the claret hackle is important. I also retain the red butt, a detail which many commercially tied doctors seem to lack. I use dyed ostrich herl for the butt, accepting that the first fish will probably tear the butt asunder and render the fly beyond repair. Any fly which catches a springer has earned an early retirement and one which has been wounded in battle can still raise a smile when you come across it while poking about in your fly box during the long winter nights.

Look, there is a bit of tying involved when creating a Black Doctor but it is worth the effort in my opinion. A well tied Doctor nestled in the scissors of a large spring salmon is a thing of beauty and worth the cussin’ and swearin’ as you try to get those wings to sit just right. Make up a couple on biggish irons, 4 and 6 are good sizes, and stow them in the box for your next day out on the lough.

There are silver and blue doctors too, so maybe I will get around to adding them in a later post.

Standard
Fishing in Ireland, fly tying

The Beltra Badger

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Picture the scene, you are drifting on a salmon lough in the West of Ireland. It is a bright, breezy day with a little high cloud and the water levels are good after recent rain. There is a bit more sun than you would like so what fly do you reach for? It has to be a Beltra Badger! The silver body and yellow/blue hackles look great together and the fly has a well deserved reputation in these parts as a killer on a bright day. I tie it on all sizes from dirty great size 2’s right down to size 14’s. There are many other Badger patterns but the Beltra is the one I prefer. I also tie a muddler version with a head made of bleached deer belly hair dyed blue.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Standard
Fishing in Ireland, fly tying

Fly patterns – the Claret Bumble

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Since I tie lots of flies and use a small proportion of them actually fishing it seems only sensible for me to show you all the patterns that I and my fishin’ buddies use. Let’s start with the Claret Bumble since that is where the name for this blog comes from.

I use it in big sizes (6, 8 and 10) for salmon and sizes 12 and 14 for brownies on the local loughs. There are hundreds of variants of the original and just being told a fish was caught on a Claret Bumble is not going to be the whole story (this is Ireland, so the chances are it was actually caught on a Green Peter or a Watson’s Fancy anyway, but I digress). The basic claret fur body with a black and a claret cock hackle palmered and a blue jay or blue dyed Guinea Fowl hackle at the shoulder is pretty standard. The shade of claret ranges from nearly magenta right through to almost black. Personally I like a rich reddish claret usually. The rib is fine oval gold tinsel. Tails can be tippets or toppings (dyed or undyed) and there are sometimes tags of floss, fur or tinsel added to fool the fish and confuse the fisherman even further. Legs are also a common addition and other assorted fancy bits and bobs can also feature. Oh, and then we have muddler heads to consider – black, claret, brown or blue are all alternatives. All these variants will catch fish on their day so don’t stress out too much about exact patterns with this one. I think size is much more important and would never stray bigger than a 12 for Brownies.

Glister headed Claret Bumble

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Standard
Uncategorized

Later the same day……………….

So I have been punching buttons like a lunatic for an hour or more, swapping different backgrounds and trying out the various tools available and I think I am getting the hang of it now. I now need to figure out exactly what I am going to post on this blog! I don’t fish nearly as much as I used to and even when I do venture out with rod and line the trips are pretty short. The days of long, hard hours on the river or lake are behind me now and I get more pleasure from an gentle hour or two than exhausting myself in some sort of piscatorial marathon. That means this blog is liable to be a record of a few short fishing days, hopefully showing some of the delights of the angling here in the West of Ireland. I will also try to pepper the posts up with some photos of the days events.

I get a bit bored with blogs which reel off endless fishing days so I will try to make this one a bit wider ranging. The west of Ireland is beautiful and interesting so I’ll post some bits to give you a flavour of what life here is really like.

It’s the 11th of March 2015 today. The weather so far this month has been all over the place, heavy snow and frost last week has been replaced by strong winds and showers with some sunny periods. Just about what to expect here in March. Temperatures have risen this week so there is every chance that the brown trout in my local streams are going to be inclined to take a well sunk nymph and I’m planning on trying my luck before this week is out. Tonight I will go over my tackle and get it into shape.

wet flys

Standard