Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing

Fly patterns for Lough Beltra

After my posting some photos of Lough Beltra I thought I’d better give you some patterns to try if you are fishing there. Elsewhere in this blog you can find details of the Beltra Badger, Claret Bumble, Bibio, Goat’s Toe and Black Doctor. Those 5 alone would make a good selection for the lough, but here are some others to think of using.

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This is my own interpretation of the Jaffa. As far as I know this was originally tied by the redoubtable Eamonn Kennedy and the head hackle he uses is a silver badger one. I prefer to dye that yellow. This catches a lot of salmon on both Beltra and Carrowmore every season

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You simply can’t fish an Irish lough without trying a Green Peter. Variations abound of course, so picking the right one can be a bit of a lottery. The Red Arsed variant is pretty good and works a treat on Beltra. On days on mountainous waves a Peter with a muddler head is good for creating a disturbance too.

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Dark skies call for dark flies and the Clan Chief  is supremely good in these conditions.

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Beltra is known as a springer fishery and rightly so. We expect the best of the fishing to be over by July but there is a run of grilse through the summer and so there can be the opportunity to catch the silver lads on daddy imitations. Red Daddy and Silver Daddy will both work as will the more normal pattern with a Pheasant Tail body.

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A word now on hook sizes. The old adage of ‘the bigger the wave the bigger the fly’ holds good and we use some fairly meaty flies in the springtime. Size 4 salmon irons are definitely not too big in a decent wave in March or April. We scale down a bit in calmer conditions and as the water warms up, dropping down to 8’s and 10’s.

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Fishing in Ireland, fly tying

Black Doctor

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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.

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