Fishing in Ireland, Nymphs, trout fishing, wetfly

Fishing on the Robe picks up



We went to our favourite restaurant last night, my better half and I. Luckily I had booked a table as the place was packed with others similarly engaged in eating and drinking. The food as superb (the spinach gnocchi with clams and prawns was to die for) and we washed the meal down with lashings of red wine and we talked and laughed. It was a great night. We are in the habit of lingering over our dinner and our conversation turned the dangerous world out there beyond Ireland’s shores. Fears of nuclear war, Trump’s tweets and imbecility, children dying in Syria, Westminster’s ineptitude, Brexit; the list seems to grow with each passing day. It made us both realise just how lucky we are to live in the West of Ireland.

This morning I was tied up with odds and ends around the house and it was after 1pm before I decided to go to the Robe for an hour. I had to shake the doom and gloom I have been feeling for the past week and which was heightened in light of the after dinner conversation last night. A short session swinging small wets in the stream would be just the ticket.


As you can see from these photos the wild browns were in a cooperative mood for a change and a total of 11 of them came to hand in a little over an hour. A couple of them would have nudged a pound in weight. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I only used 3 flies, a size 14 Partridge and Orange on the bob, a wee size 16 midge pattern in the middle and Hare’s Ear with a copper bead head on the tail. Honours were even between all three.


The fishing took my mind off of the rest of life for the hour and a bit. Refreshed and grounded, I headed back home to enjoy what was left of the holiday weekend.

Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, Nymphs, trout fishing, wetfly

How to tie a bead thorax nymph

I use this style of nymph a lot both in ‘traditional’ nymphing and as a point fly on a wet fly cast. Obviously other tyers have developed this style and it is commonly used in different parts of the world for trout and grayling. I love the extra ‘kick’ the bead gives to the hackle fibres which really adds life to the pattern.


a 2.8mm bed threaded on to a size 14 wet fly hook

This is an easy fly to tie but there is a definite need to concentrate on the correct positioning of the bead. Too far back and the fly looks out of proportion; too far forward and you will have insufficient space to wind the hackle and form a neat head. Here is how I make my favourite version of the beaded thorax nymph:

Start by threading a gold or copper bead on to the hook. I normally use a size 14 hook and a 2.8mm bead but you can go bigger or smaller as required to match local requirements.

Now start the tying silk behind the bead.Wind down towards the bend and catch in a few fibres of partridge dyed brown olive.


Continue winding towards the bend and catch in  length of fine gold wire to use as a rib.


I used gold wire here but copper is just as good

Now dub the silk with hare’s ear fur and wind a thin abdomen, stopping about 2/3 of the way back up the hook shank. Rib with open spirals of wire and tie off with the silk.


Ribbed abdomen and the tying silk has been whipped finished before cutting off the waste

Make a whip finish and remove the end of the tying silk. Now push the bead back against the abdomen, leaving space near the eye.


Bead now in the correct position


Tying silk re-started in front of the bead. Notice the proportions.

Re-start the tying silk in front of the bead again. Tie in a partridge hackle which has been dyed brown olive.


The partridge hackle has been tied in

Two turns of the hackle are made around the hook and it is tied in. remove the waste and form a neat head before whip finishing and varnishing the head.


the finished fly

The beauty of this fly is its versatility. It can be used in a wide range of conditions and fished in many different styles, so it is worth making  few for your fly box. Colours can of course be varied as necessary but I have found the brown olive pattern illustrated here to be a consistent performer.

Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, trout fishing

A small Stonefly nymph

Some seasons we get a reasonable hatch of early stoneflies on the River Robe, so in anticipation of next year I made up a wee stonefly nymph along the lines of those great big American patterns.

To get a bit of depth when using this pattern I have added a 2.8mm copper bead. Begin by threading this on to a size 12 wet fly hook (here I have used a Kamasan B170). Push the bead to the bend of the hook while you start some brown tying silk and then catch in a pair of goose biots, dyed dark brown. These point forwards and are positioned either side of the hook eye. Now bind down the ends of the biots and whip finish before cutting the silk and wastes ends.



Biots tied in and silk whipped to finish. Bead pushed back up to the eye. Then re-start the tying silk behind the bead

Now push the copper bead back up to the eye over the silk base. Re-start the tying silk behind the bead and run touching turns down to the bend.

Here you catch in another pair of biots but this time they face backwards to form a forked tail. Tie in a length of vinyl rib (I used rust coloured here) and take the silk up to about halfway between the bend and the bead.


Tails tied in

Wind the vinyl rib to form the body and tie it down.


Abdomen formed of vinyl rib

Next, take a section of herl from a Canada Goose body feather and tie it in. this will form the wing pads. Now dub the tying silk with a mixture of dark brown and dirty olive seals fur.


Goose herl tied in

Wind the dubbed silk to form a bulky thorax, then pull the goose herl over the back, securing it immediately behind the bead.


Remove the excess herl and whip finish. Now you get out the dubbing needle and tease out some fur from each side of the thorax to suggest legs.


Teasing out the seal’s fur


All it needs now is a slight trim with the scissors

Trim off any excessively long fibres and varnish the whip finish.

As yet untested, but this pattern should work next March! I will also tie up some with additional lead under the dressing for dropping into deeper holes.

Fishing in Ireland, fly tying

What you need in your box

The trout fishing on the rivers has taken off now and those of you who are lucky enough to be able to fish for wild Brownies in the West of Ireland should be on the river at every opportunity. A lot depends on the weather of course, but the next 6 weeks will provide us with the best fishing of the whole year. So what flies are the killers? Let’s take a look at a few of the old reliables which produce the goods every season.

The Wet Flies


The Partridge and Orange

The P&O is a regular on my wet fly cast. It takes fish consistently during April and May when it is probably taken as a nymph rising through the water column and it does well during hatches of olives and stoneflies.


Wickhams Fancy

Good on days when there is a bit of sunshine and the fish are feeding in fast water, the Wickhams catches trout despite looking like nothing in the natural world. I am constantly amazed by the ability of this gaudy creation to catch fish but it does so I don’t complain.


The Connemara Gold

Some of you may not be familiar with the Connemara Gold but it is a really good spider to have in the box for the days when small dark flies are hatching out. A simple black hen hackle with a body of Pearsall’s gold silk covered with gold tinsel and then clear horsehair is all that is required. I fish this in small sizes, sizes 14 to 18.

Claret Partridge

Claret Partridge

On the days when claret duns are hatching this  fly will do the business for you. Claret Duns hatch out in small numbers in the slowest pools so they tend to be overlooked by many fishermen but the trout seem to like them and this fly is a good imitation of the nymph.


Beaded Hare’s Ear

My ‘go to’ tail fly this is a hugely effective pattern. I add a touch of red seal’s fur to the Hare’s Ear body and vary the bead between copper and gold to meet the needs of the day. I guess I use a copper beaded one more often than the gold version.

The Dry Flies




My favourite dry fly in either the normal tying or klinkhammer (both shown above). This one takes fish right through the whole season so make up plenty in a wide range of sizes. it even takes trout feeding on the mayfly so some size 10’s area good investment.


Gold ribbed Hare’s Ear

A very old pattern, the GRHE still warrants a place in you dry fly box, especially when olives are hatching in the spring. You have probably noticed that I tie my dry flies with synthetic wings. This is so they are stronger and it also gives me the option of changing the wing colour to pink of lime to aid sighting in difficult light conditions. My days of tying double split wings are well and truly over!


When the trout are feeding in fast water keeping your dry fly afloat becomes a nightmare. That is when I turn to the Irresistible. The one in the photo is tied as an Adams but you can turn many patterns into an Irresistible with a little thought. OK, so they are a bit tricky to tie on small hooks but I think the effort is well worthwhile.


Black Bi-visible

Dressed very small (18 – 24) this can be a handy one to have on difficult days. Trout can become preoccupied with tiny dark Diptera and this is the pattern you need for those days. A small Griffiths Gnat also works well in those circumstances.

The fly is only as effective as the fisherman, so stealth, attention to tippet diameter and good water craft are every bit as important as the pattern. Take you time getting into the correct position to allow you covering the water correctly and keep watching out for the clues about what is happening around you. Don’t get too hung up on swapping flies – any of the flies on this post will catch you a trout this spring.


The Gold Head Daddy


Most of the flies I describe on the blog are generally designed or used for Brownies, sea trout or salmon. We don’t have any rainbows around here so my boxes of lures and other rainbow trout flies lie gathering an accumulation of dust. Every now and then I take an urge to make up some more of  lures kidding myself that they will be used one day in the near future. One of my favourites is the Gold Head Daddy.

I have often asked myself what the hell the trout take this fly for? Do they really think it is a daddy long legs? I assume that they do on occasion as this fly has produced a good catch one day many years ago at a put and take fishery in Fife. It was late in the season and some naturals were being blown on to the surface where they were greedily snapped up by the fish. I caught a limit using a Gold Head Daddy and there is every reason to think this was due to it resembling the live beasties. However, many other times there has been no sign of a natural fall of daddies and yet the gold head was effective.

The dressing is pretty simple  and can be knocked together in a few minutes. I like to tie mine with a fl.lime or yellow tag and also give the pheasant tail body a rib of fine copper wire for protection. These days the colour of the bead can be varied to with copper, fl. orange and fl. green all worth a try,


When it comes to actually fishing this fly I have a very effective trick for you to try out. Find a rising fish and cast into the rings of the last rise. You need to have your wits about you and reasonable casting skills to change direction and distance quickly to do this effectively. Once the fly has pitched into the diminishing circles of the rise do – nothing. No movement, no pulls or jerks, just let the fly sink freely. You will be amazed how often the line simply tightens and the rainbow is perfectly hooked in the scissors. Other techniques include a figure of eight retrieve and a fast strip on a sinking line, so you can see this is a versatile pattern to have in the box. I can’t say that have ever caught anything other than rainbows on the Gold Head Daddy but maybe it would be worth a go on some waters stocked with browns. Gartmore near Alloa springs to mind as a likely candidate.