dryfly, Fishing in Ireland, trout fishing

Griesed lightening

Where has the season gone? Work has been frenetic and I’ve covered many hard miles criss-crossing the island between Mayo and Kildare since mid-August with little time left to pick up a rod. Now here we are near the end of September and the season is almost over. Looking back there have been scant opportunities to fish but I did manage a couple of hours on a river which was new to me.

August was a difficult month for us flyfishers in Ireland. The weather was often changeable and ranged from baking heat and bright sunshine right through to thundery downpours and high winds. It all combined to create challenging conditions.

This past August work brought me to the lush agricultural lands in south County Kildare. Work days are long and challenging with minimal free time in the evenings. As I drove from work at the end of the first day of the assignment I crossed the small River Griese. Up here in Kildare the Griese is tiny but it drains a fair old chunk of Kildare and Carlow before it joins the Barrow, growing steadily as it meanders between fields of ripening cereals. Importantly, small though it is, it has something of a reputation as a brown trout fishery.  I decided that I would make time to give it a lash some evening.

The Griese from a road bridge.

A little research with the assistance if Google brought me to the website of the River Griese Trout and Salmon Association. A veritable cornucopia of information, maps and photos of the upper Griese was available, including online booking for permits. All good so far but was the price of a day ticket going to be prohibitive? A fist full of Euros or your first-born child perhaps? I need not have worried, you can fish the Griese for the princely sum of €5 per day on one of the beats or €20 for a season. Come on now folks, have you ever seen a better piscatorial bargain? The association water is divided into a number of beats, the upper ones can be accessed by visitors on a day permit while the lower beats are reserved for season ticket holders. My first week at work was demanding so I would have to wait a little while longer to cast a line on this little gem. Over the weekend while back at home I consulted my angling books to glean some more detailed information about the river. I gathered up some gear and chucked it in the back of the car, all ready for a few hours chasing small trout on the Griese the next week.

Ballitore is a pretty little village and the Griese gurgles and glides through it, as clear as expensive gin. The ruins of an old mill sit next to the stream just outside the village and I parked up here to tackle up and access beat. Upstream the river flowed in a fairly straight line through a field with only one or two trees for cover. Downstream was more varied with a weir and some weed beds on a sharp bend. I leaned over the bridge (as you do) and peered into the water. Lo and behold! Fish were rising! Now not big fish you understand, just wee fellas sipping tiny midges but they were never the less fish. I tied on a suitable copy and started to cast – nothing. I changed fly, no joy. I changed again, this time to a teensy-weensy gnat which has often done the business for me – nope, they didn’t want that either. To cut a long story short I blanked. A small sedge rose plenty as the darkness fell but none of them stuck. Non-plussed I retired to lick my wounds.

The following week I was back on the Griese but this time on a lovely section further downs river where it flows through a golf course in the grounds of a hotel. I spent most of the evening just wandering along the banks spotting fish in the clear water but I at last settled into some proper fishing as the sun dipped below the horizon and the wee trout began to show themselves. I rose a huge number of fish but landed none of them. As our transatlantic cousins say – I skunked! They really are very fussy fellas in this river. My striking seemed to be too slow and I tried to adjust it to keep up with the pace of the trout but they were only laughing at my feeble attempts. I need a pattern they are more confident in and take their time to swallow. I will be back soon to give a couple of other patterns a try. Until then here are some photos of my recent dismal failures:

A nice run

The pool beside the ruined mill

Crystal clear water

sunset in Kildare

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.