Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, trout fishing, wetfly

Invicta variants

Possibly one of the most effective all-round wet flies every concocted, the Invicta will catch trout from the first day of the season to the last. Invented in the mid nineteenth century by a chap called Ogden, it has spawned a wide range of variations and I want to share a couple of those with you today.


Bright and easy to use, Mirage Opal tinsel

First up, the Pearly Invicta is a good fly for the times when trout become preoccupied feeding on pin fry. They can become notoriously hard to catch when this happens, probably because they have so many targets to aim for that our flies stand little chance of being singled out. When I suspect this is what is happening I look to fish quiet corners close to weed beds and work my flies in an erratic retrieve to simulate a wounded fish. I like to tie both the Silver Dabbler and the Pearly Invicta on to my cast for this type of situation.


Tying a Pearly Invicta

My tying of the Pearly Invicta has a Golden Pheasant topping for the tail and a body of Mirage Opal tinsel for the body, ribbed with fine silver wire. The body hackle is taken from a ginger cock cape and the throat is made of Guinea Fowl dyed bright blue. A wing of hen pheasant tail is over laid with 2 or 3 strands of pearl flash.


Pat McHale invented the next variant many years ago and it continues to give grand service to those who know of it right up to today. This dressing is identical to the original Invicta with two important exceptions. The Golden Pheasant tail is replaced with one of bright red wool. The body hackle is still the red game colour of the old fly but instead of using a cock hackle it is replaced with one taken from a hen. The softer fibres seem to make a big difference. I have caught so many trout on this fly over the years it has earned a regular place on my lough cast in just about any conditions.

Cahir Bay

Cahir Bay on Lough Mask. The Red-tailed Invicta once gave me a wonderful afternoon’s sport here during a hatch of Lake Olives

Sizes for both of these patterns range from size 8’s (think Lough Carra in a big, rolling wave) right down to size 14’s for the hill loughs. I can’t say I have ever caught a salmon on either of these flies but Pat McHale tells a stirring tale of boating a fine 9 pound springer on a Red-tailed Invicta one time off the Colman Shallows on Lough Conn. The way Pat tells it you could almost be in the boat with him when the reel screamed as the fish grabbed the size 8 fly.


A Red-tailed Invicta


fly tying, salmon fishing

The Crunchie Shrimp

I first tied this fly more years ago than I care to remember. I had read somewhere about using sweet wrappers to form the bodies on flies and experimented with a couple of ideas. This was pre-multi-coloured holo tinsel days and a box of Cadbury’s chocolates provided some pink, blue and red shiny wrappers. None of the resultant flies worked but the germ of the idea had been sown and I later hit on using Crunchie wrappers to make bodies. For those of you  not familiar with this particular confectionery the Crunchie bar comes in a brassy gold foil wrapping.

By carefully opening the bar and flattening the wrapper you can cut a few narrow strips which can then be wound as a body. The beauty of this material is the colour, it is a lovely deep, brassy shade. I will take you through the tying process of the Crunchie Shrimp.

  1. With the hook in the vice start the tying silk at the eye and catch in a soft dark ginger cock hackle

2. Next tie in a cock hackle dyed Fire Orange which is slightly shorter in barb length than the ginger one. Run the tying silk down to a point 2/5ths of the way to the bend.

3. Here you tie in another dark ginger cock hackle, again, shorter in barb length than the first hackle.

4. Now catch in a slim bunch of orange dyed Bucktail hair to form the tail which should be approximately the same length as the hook. At the same time tie in a piece of fine oval gold tinsel which will be used as a rib. If desired, tie in a tag of oval gold at the end of the body.

5. Take one of the narrow strips of foil wrapper you previously cut and whip this in. now run the tying silk back up to the point where the middle hackle is tied in.

6. Wind the foil up the body in touching turns and tie it in at the middle hackle. Cut off the excess. Rib with open turns of oval gold, tie in a remove the waste end.

7. Wind the middle hackle, 3 turns is usually about right. Tie in and cut of the excess.

8. Now repeat the foil/rib used on the rear half of the body to form the front half. As a variant you can use orange floss silk to make the front body.

9. Wind the orange hackle and tie off as usual.

10. The ginger head hackle is given 3 or 4 turns now and tied in in the usual way.

11. Form a neat head with the tying silk and whip finish.

12. I like to give the head a coat or two of red varnish to finish it off.

There you have it! Tied on sizes 6 – 14 this is a good pattern for salmon and grilse.

Happy tying!

Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, trolling

A quick update

Just a few lines to update you all on the game angling in Mayo this week.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Strong winds have disrupted the fishing on Carrowmore Lake once again. For those unfamiliar with the lake a big wind, which is normally so desirable for salmon fishing on other lakes, churns up the peat sediment on the bottom of Carrowmore. The water turns an opaque brown colour and catching fish is extremely difficult. We need a more settled period for Carrowmore to deliver constant results. There are certainly fish in the system with catches into double figures on days when the boats are getting out.

2013-05-26 10.24.45

Lough Beltra is a bit disappointing and I heard of some very experienced rods who fished it this week without meeting a single salmon. There are a few in there, so it is a case of putting in the hours.

heading downstream

The River Moy rose and slowly fell this week and salmon were landed the length of the river, many in the 8 -12 pound class. The level is back to normal again and we await the next flood to bring in a substantial run of grilse. One angler had 2 grilse on the fly on the East Mayo waters this week but worm and flying C accounted for most of the remainder.

Loch Conn is producing a few salmon on the troll and to the fly. The top part of the lough seems to be fishing better than the Pontoon end. Cullin is beginning to weed up pretty badly in some areas. The Ballyvary River benefited from the recent rain and a small run of salmon penetrated as far upstream as the castle where a few grilse were landed.


I will add some more information early next week once I have had a chance to get out with the rod myself.

Fishing in Ireland, fly tying

fr. Ronan

Despite the ecclesiastical name I don’t know of any particular connections with the church for this fly. It is a dabbler style pattern for use when fishing for sea trout and salmon but I can see no reason why it would not work for brownies too, especially around the time of the mayfly hatch.

Fr. Ronan

It is an easy fly to tie with the body in two parts, yellow seals fur at the front and red seals fur at the rear. A silver rib and a GP crest for a tail with a bronze mallard cloak and some JC cheeks complete the fly.


I like to think that the combination of yellow and red hackles is the key to this patterns success, but until we find a method of communication with the fish I will never really know. I tie this one up in sizes 8 down to 12 but you could rattle some up on bigger or smaller hooks if you so desire.


Keep the Jungle Cock cheeks small, if they are too big I think they detract from the yellow/red trigger.

Fishing in Ireland

The Red Invicta


I was tying some lough flies yesterday evening and made up a few Red Invicta Bumbles. This fly is a hybrid of other patterns but the end result is a nice approximation of a hatching red midge. Fished on the top or middle dropper positions of a cast it can pull trout like magic on a breezy day. I like it dressed on a size 10 hook but you can vary the size up or down to match conditions.

The trend towards mixing different parts of flies to create new ones has gathered pace recently and ‘muddled-ice-snatcher-bumble-emerger’ type things are all the rage. How much of this is driven by the need to address actual angling situations or by the fly tying industry’s introduction of new synthetics is a moot point. Some creations look awful, totally lacking balance and form and just relying on ever brighter colours or increased mobile tinsels. I guess I am a bit old fashioned and like to base my flies on fur and feather, anyway, back to this Invicta.

Tag: Globrite floss, no.4

Tail: a Golden Pheasant crest feather

Rib: fine oval silver tinsel

Body: red seal’s fur

Body Hackle: Red Game

Wing: Hen Pheasant tail or secondary’s, which ever you prefer

Head hackle: Jay or Guinea Fowl dyed blue

That’s all there is to it, a very easy fly to tie. I would expect to use this one any time after the Mayfly and it can be good as the light starts to fade.

Happy tying.