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

A stretch in the days

The days are growing longer again as winter begins to lose her grip on Ireland. I took a drive around North Mayo today for a look around. The weather was cool but bright and (most importantly) dry. Water levels are up due to the heavy rain the west has endured lately. That is good, the high water will allow the kelts to move quickly down river and exit the systems. It should also attract in a sprinkling of fresh salmon too. The Moy was high and coloured as it powered through the Cathedral Beat in Ballina.

Springers have been in short supply across the country so far with only a couple of fish off the Drowes and ones and twos of the other early rivers. It is early days though and there is plenty of time the runs to strengthen.

The afternoon has brought increased cloud cover and the threat of more rain. Time to tie some flies and drink endless mugs of strong, aromatic coffee. I need to top up a few patterns before we get the rods out for the 2018 season. Firstly, I want to tie up some Fl. cascades with hackles from the capes I bought last year.

Standard Cascades, I want to make some fl. versions

My endless love for muddler headed salmon flies shows no signs of abating, so I intend tying up some more this weekend.

Deadly! A muddler Clan Chief

Early season nymphing is always one of the highlights of my season and I am planning on trying out some hot head versions this March/April

Murroughs – I am short of Murroughs too!

Fiery Brown Murrough

And Balloon Caddis dry flys. They are so useful in the summer months and I only have a couple left in the box right now.

This Balloon Caddis is a bit worn

OK, time to get going. I will post again soon.

Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, trout fishing, wetfly

Flies for Lough Conn, part 3

I hope you are enjoying this series of posts about the flies I recommend for Lough Conn. Today I will take a look at patterns which fish well from May onwards, an exciting period for us fishers in Western Ireland. The Lake Olives will still be hatching and the Mayfly will start to appear any time from the first week of the month depending on the weather.

My Light Golden Olive Bumble.


I finally arrived at this pattern after years of tinkering with the standard GOB. My reasoning is that during May/June the trout must see scores, if not hundreds, of standard GOB’s as most anglers give the pattern a try when the Mayfly is on the water. I wanted something just a little bit different and numerous small (and not so small) variations have been created and then rejected. This fly however has eared its corn and delivered some excellent catches for me on all the local lakes, so I can heartily recommend it to you.


My Light Golden Olive Bumble


Tail: a GP topping

Rib: Fine oval gold tinsel

Butt:light claret seal’s fur or synthetic dubbing

Body: pale golden olive seal’s fur or synthetic dubbing

Body hackles: a pale golden olive cock and ginger cock hackle wound together

Head hackle: A guinea fowl body feather dyed pale yellow

Tying silk: olive


Hackles tied in, Topping tied in and butt trimmed


Rib tied in and butt/body dubbed and wound


Almost there, body hackles and rib are wound and now just the waste to trim off and wind the head hackle.

The method of tying is exactly the same as a normal bumble pattern, just watch out for not leaving enough space at the eye for winding the hackles. I use size 10 and 12 hooks for this one. Fish this one as a bob fly and keep it moving though the waves.

Claret Murrough


Claret Murrough

A really popular fly on the Conn, this will catch you a trout or two any time from may to the end of the season. I think the colour of the hackles is important, they should ‘glow’ with a red tinge in my opinion.

Tag: bright orange seal’s fur

Body: medium claret seal’s fur

Rib: fine oval gold tinsel or yellow fl. thread

Body hackle: rich chocolate brown cock hackle, palmered

Wing: a slim bunch of red squirrel tail hair under paired woodcock slips

Head hackle: same as the body hackle but longer in fibre

Horns (optional): 2 strands of cock or hen pheasant tail tied forward.

Silk: brown


Horns are optional


Chocolate CDC Sedge


Finally for today here is a dry fly pattern which has seen good days on Lough Conn. Funnily enough I can’t recall using it on any other lake, so there is room for experiment on Mask and Carra. My Chocolate CDC Sedge is a grand floater thanks to the CDC wings and is very east to tie. You could use the same method to tie sedges in a range of different colours but I like this dark brown version as it matches those smallish dark  caddis which hatch steadily during May and June.

Hook: size 12 dry fly hook

Tying Silk: Brown or black

Body: dark chocolate brown synthetic dubbing

Wings: 4 dark grey CDC plumes tied down close to the back

Hackle: A small grizzle cock hackle wound in front of the wings

In use I carefully apply a small amount of Gink to the body and hackle only, NOT the wings. Fish it singly or in tandem with a dry mayfly. You may be surprised how many trout take the sedge even though they are mopping hatching Mays from the surface!

Chocolate CDC sedge

Chocolate CDC Sedge


Sun going down over Lough Conn


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dryfly, Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, trolling, trout fishing, wetfly

Conn tricks – catching trout on ham sandwiches

The word on the street was that there were salmon being caught in Lough Conn so I decided to head out today and give it an auld lash. My boat is on Cullin so it meant driving it across Cullin, under the bridge at Pontoon and motoring half way up lough Conn. The journey was uneventful and I was fishing an hour after leaving Healy’s Bay.


Fellow trollers on Lough Conn today

I had a couple of trolling rods set up and with the engine turning over slowly I set about following the contours of the Massbrook shoreline in the company of a few other like minded souls.  Two hours later and there had been no action at all, not even a salmon jumping in the distance. However, the mayfly had been hatching in ever increasing numbers and the trout decided to put in an appearance. The air was full of swallows, martins and swifts chasing the unfortunate greendrakes and now the brown trout started to hammer them from below. Time for me to set up a fly rod, so I pulled into the shore.


The first line of attack was a team of three wets. A good, rolling wave and a brisk westerly wind coupled with an overcast sky seemed to point towards the wet fly and sure enough I started to catch a few trout on a yellow hackled Green Peter, one of my own patterns which I especially like for Conn.


My yellow hackled Green Peter

Trout were showing all over the lake now and takes were coming thick and fast. The only problem was the size of the fish, they were all between 12 and 14 ounces. This took me back a few years to when Conn produced great fishing for trout of this size. Later the average size increased dramatically but the fish were much more scarce. Maybe nature is reverting back to the old days. Anyway, I decided to change to the dry fly as the trout were obviously taking the duns as the sat on the surface drying their wings. I changed the cast and tied on a couple of dries. When I reached into my bag for floatant I came up empty-handed – no Gink! OK, I would try fishing the heavily hackles flies without waterproofing. I flicked out a short cast with untreated lies and the Yellow Wulff was snapped up immediately by a lively three-quarter-pounder. The Wulff was a bedraggled mess by the time I had freed the tout and popped it back into the lake. I needed to find some floatant urgently.


Ham sandwiches, that staple of the anglers lunchbox came to my rescue. I had a couple of rather sorry looking examples of porcine slices ‘twixt granary bread lurking in a box. The bits of pig were not my focus of attention, it was the butter which fired my imagination. Surely a dab of butter worked into the dressing of the flies would aid them to float? I had never tried it before but lacking any other suitable material it was worth a bash. I scraped some butter from a sandwich and rubbed into a Wulff. At first it looked to be a disaster but when the butter melted it soaked into the yellow fly and seemed to be OK. Feeling rather pleased with myself I set off on the next drift.


A Yellow Wulff lathered in butter!

There was a good wave now and the flies would sometimes disappear from view behind a wave. After only a few casts the Wulff disappeared OK but in the middle of an impressive swirl. I tightened into the fish and played him out but the fly came out of him mouth at the side of the boat. No matter, it was only a small lad. The question was was the fly still going to float? You bet it did! It fairly bobbed about on the surface and tempted another half-a-dozen trout before I called it a day.

As I was tidying the boat to prepare for the long run home to Healy’s Bay I noticed a large, brownish fly on one of the seats. The first Murrough of the year.


A Murrough that thought he was a mayfly

OK, so I didn’t catch a salmon and the trout I boated were of humble proportions. But still it was a great day to be out between wind and wave (just where Admiral Lord Nelson liked his grape shot to arrive). I will be dropping into Frank Baynes tackle shop for some Gink before I venture out again though!


A very out of focus pic of a trout with my Green Peter in its mouth


Muddler headed Golden Olive


Nephin cloaked in mist