Fishing in Ireland, fly tying

Bibio’s

Bibios are so widely used that you may be forgiven for thinking that you know all about them. A great fly early in the season when you need something dark and a handy pattern if there are salmon around. What else is there to know? A hell of a lot is the answer!

Let’s start with the basics. Here is the original pattern:

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Hook: 8 – 10 wet fly hooks

Tying silk: black

Rib: fine oval silver tinsel

Body: 3 parts, 1: black seals fur, 2: red seals fur, 3: black seals fur

Body hackle: black cock hackle, palmered

Head Hackle: A black cock or hen hackle

This is still a fantastic fly which catches thousands of fish every season. Sizes have gone from big salmon irons like the size 4’s used on Beltra in the spring right down to tiny size 16’s for copying small midges on hill lochs. Some tyers prefer a claret instead of red centre band.

Somewhere along the line somebody had the bright idea of adding jungle Cock cheeks to the fly and the Jungle Bunny was born. It is normal to position the JC cheeks so that they sit up a bit.

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The Jungle Bunny

Then the body colours began to get some attention and we saw the introduction of the four banded Bibio:

Hook: same as above

Tying silk: black

Rib: fine oval silver tinsel

Body: 4 parts, 1: orange seals fur, 2: black seals fur, 3: orange seals fur, 4: black seal’s fur

Body hackle: black cock hackle, palmered

Head Hackle: A black cock or hen hackle

The lads from Kerry came up with this variant:

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Hook: as above

Rib: fine oval silver tinsel

Body: 3 parts, 1: black seals fur, 2: bright green seals fur, 3: black seals fur

Body hackle: black cock hackle, palmered

Head Hackle: A black cock or hen hackle

When pearl tinsel first became available it was quickly incorporated into the Bibio.

Tying silk: Black

Ribs: 2 ribs, first is medium width pearl tinsel wound opposite direction, rib 2 is fine silver wire wound normally and used to secure the body hackle

Body: in 3 parts, 1: black seals fur, 2: red or orange seals fur, 3: black seals fur

Body hackle: Black cock hackle, palmered

Head hackle: a brown partridge hackle

Next the fur body itself was change to include tinsel. Thus was born the Pearly Bibio, a widely used variant of the standard dressing

Pearly Bibio

A Pearly Bibio

Hook: 8 – 14 wet fly hooks (Kamasan 170 is fine)

Tying silk: black

Rib: fine oval silver tinsel

Body: 3 parts, 1: pearl tinsel, 2: red seals fur, 3: pearl tinsel

Body hackle: black cock hackle, palmered

Head Hackle: A brown English partridge hackle

Of course you can add jungle cock to a Pearly Bibio and make a Pearly Jungle Bunny.

From the English competition scene we learned of the snatcher design and the Bibio was quickly given that make over too.

Hook: curved grub hook, size 10 – 12

Tag: Globrite floss, no.4

Rib: silver wire

Body: Black synthetic dubbing

Body hackle: short fibred black cock hackle

Thorax: Red fur

Cheeks: white turkey biots (yellow, sunburst or red biots are also alternatives)

Head hackle: Black cock, longer in fibre than the body hackle

Of course all of the foregoing patterns can be converted to snatchers with a little thought.

Oh, then we have tails. Some people like to have tails on all their flies so the Bibio grew a lime green tail which is particularly attractive to Rainbows (I can’t confirm this myself having never tried it but the fly certainly looks good)

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Lime Tail Bibio

Still with me? OK, now it gets interesting because one obvious addition to any bushy fly destined for the top dropper position on a cast is a muddler head. Tying a deer hair head on to the Bibio turned a good salmon fly into a great one. The choice of colour is usually between natural or dyed black and I much prefer the black option.

I could go on! Every season there is a new twist on the Bibio theme and they all catch a fish or two on their day. The essential essence of the fly has not changed though, black body with a dash of some colour in the middle and black body and head hackles. If I was restricted to just one Bibio it would be the Jungle Bunny for me.

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Fishing in Ireland, fly tying

A typical spring day on the river

16th of March. A Monday, blessed with an overcast sky and light winds from the North East. By 11.30am I have cleared the desk and can hit the river for a few hours. A west wind would be better but beggars can’t be choosers at this time of the year so any day that is not frosty or stormy can be considered a fishing day. I make my excuses and check the gear is all in the car. Then it’s on the the N84 and the short trip to the River Robe.

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The wet fly accounted for a nice wee trout in the first pool I fished and a couple of others splashed at the flies without holding on. A sprinkling of Large Dark Olives were hatching, always a welcome sight at this time of year. I fished down through the next pool and then the one blow that without further action despite the trickle of duns on the surface. Out of the lee of the bridge the temperature dropped as the wind cooled the air and I felt this was what was putting he fish off. I re-traced my steps and headed off upstream to find a warmer spot.

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A trudge across a couple of fields brought me to a good pool which has given me big fish in the past. A few minutes watching for signs of life revealed some LDO’s and also a hatch of stoneflys. A small trout was rising steadily below me and another fish was taking flies off the surface some yards upstream. Time for a change.

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On went a dry fly, a size 14 Olive Klinkhammer to be exact. I managed to fool the trout in front of me and he was carefully returned to the water after a brief fight. Great! My first trout on the dry fly this year. I worked my way up river looking for more rising fish but none were forthcoming. Searching the water with the dry fly produced nothing and after a promising start I was beginning to struggle. I had not fished this part of the river before and the going became harder as trees and fences barred my way.

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Perseverance brought me to a nice pool which I fished through with the dry fly without response. A change to a nymph was equally unsuccessful and since there was no sign of rising fish I wound in and pushed on upstream once more.

Time to change the setup again so I swapped back to the wet fly and a three fly cast of Olive Partridge, Plover and Hare’s Ear and a Beaded PT occupying the tail position.

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By now the wind had swung East and it was cold. Fly life has ceased too, so things were not looking too optimistic for me. However, the team swung around perfectly in the current as I worked down the pool and eventually the line tightened as a perfect Brownie grabbed the PT.

The very next cast produced another trout to the Olive Partridge and one more fell to the charms of the Plover and Hare’s Ear right at where the water breaks at the tail of the pool.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Enough was enough and I plodded back to the car going over the days events in my head. The trout were keen to take but only in certain pools. Other spots failed to produce a single take. Maybe I had stuck with the dry fly too long today and I should have gone back to a team of sunk patterns sooner. Ah well, we are always wiser after the event.

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The fields were well populated with new lambs and the daffodils are in full bloom now adding a splash of colour to cheer the heart. So ended a typical spring day’s trouting. No monsters but a few problems to solve and the old familiar tug on the line and a wink of bronze under the surface. Spring is here at last!

This post is in memory of Ally Skinner, a great fisherman who would have been 40 years old on this day. His loss at such an early age is keenly felt by all who knew him. Rest in Peace Ally.

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Fishing in Ireland, fly tying

Killdevil Spider (great name for a fly)

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What a name! ‘The Killdevil Spider’. It’s like something out of a 1950’s ‘B’movie. In practice it is a confusing little pattern which some anglers swear by and other rate as highly as Jeremy Clarkson’s diplomacy skills. Personally I think this is one which is misunderstood (the fly, not Clarkson) and you should make a couple up to try out.

A simple wet fly with not too many difficulties in the construction, the only real issue is getting the proportions of the body right. I favour one third silver at the rear and two thirds peacock herl at the front. The silver part should be made of oval tinsel wound in touching turns. Hackle and tails are fairly long fibred furnace cock hackle. Hook sizes are 10 down to 16. I say that this fly is misunderstood because there is another version which calls for a golden olive cock hackle instead of the furnace. I have not tried that pattern out but it looks as if that might be a good one for sea trout. I have also heard of some fishermen using a Killdevil with a teal blue hackle. I have more than enough blue hackled flies in my box already so I won’t add further complication to my life, but it would make a very pretty fly.

The way this fly is fished is also something to be aware of. For me it needs to be fished deep. I can’t recall taking a trout on it unless it was near the bottom. Like the Peter Ross, I fish it with a series of small pulls and jerks. I have never tried the Killdevil for Rainbow trout but it might be worth a try. Let me know if any of you have success with this one.

Tight lines!

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