Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, wetfly

Spiders and more spiders

As an Interim Manager I lead an odd sort of life. I am either buried in work, often far from home, or I am unemployed and dossing about in Castlebar. The contract I am working on right now falls somewhere in between those states as I am working in Westport, just long the road. I get home every evening and even better, the hours I work mean I finish up at 1pm every Friday. So yesterday afternoon I left the old car in to Mick to get a small job done on it and came home to a warm house and an afternoon off. Bliss! Coffee in hand and Rory Gallagher on the turntable, I settled down at the vice to knock up a few flies. I know I am going over very well worn territory here with this post but spiders are a major part of my river fly fishing armoury and yesterday I was busy at the vice topping up the early season boxes. While they catch fish at any time it is the first couple of months of the season that I rely on them most. Some are copies of naturals like the Iron Blue or the large dark olive while others are more general patterns. Here is what I was tying.

An old reliable, the P&O

I started out with the good old Partridge and Orange. A size 14 hook, orange Pearsall gossamer silk for the body and a fine gold rib. I like a thorax of a couple of turns of peacock herl and a hackle of brown partridge back feather. Very simple but very, very deadly. I have tried them on bigger and small hooks but nothing is as effective as a 14. I see many anglers waxing lyrical about the partridge and yellow but I have caught very few trout on that pattern. Orange is king in my book. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Then I moved on to Plover and Hares Lug. Yellow silk on 12 or 14 hook, hare’s ear body with either a narrow flat gold tinsel rib or fine oval gold and the hackle made from a golden plover feather. I am almost out of golden plover feathers and they are very hard to find these days.

my black spider

Black spiders now. Fl. orange tying silk and a flat holo black tinsel body with a silver wire rib for protection. A turn of a the small blueish feather from the upper side of a Jackdaw’s wing finishes this one off. The orange silk head gives a nice target for the fish.

olive partridge spider

My olive partridge spider was next on the list. As size 14 again and this time olive tying silk body ribbed with fine gold wire. I make a few variations of this pattern by changing the hackle, it can be a natural brown partridge feather or the same feather dyed different shades of olive. For some reason I seem to normally fish this pattern in the middle of the cast.

Whirling Blue Dun Spider

Whirling blue duns. Maybe not used that often these days but I like when olives are hatching out. Tails and hackle are ginger hen and the body is made for moles fur. I use yellow tying silk on a 14 or 16 hook. I tie then in both spider and winged versions, using starling for the wings.

Pheasant Tail (well sort of)

Pheasant tails. Where do you start with this fly, there are hundreds of variations. I like to use crimson tying silk and the body is made from the ubiquitous cock pheasant tail herls, but dyed yellow. the tail which is made from brown partridge fibres. The hackle is the same feather. One for May evenings……

Iron Blue

Iron Blue Dun. Darkest Iron blue hackle and tails, crimson silk dubbed with moles fur on a size 16 or 18 hook. All too often I see Iron Blue Duns tied with hackles which are far too pale. When you see the natural on the water you will realise they are nearly black. My Ginger Partridge is a handy pattern for searching streamy water. A yellow sik body with a fine gold wire rib on a size 14 hook. There are two hackles, one turn each of a brown partridge back feather with a ginger hen in front. The blue dun I tie is very simple. Yellow silk on a size 16 hook. Heron herl, either natural or dyed olive for the body with a fine gold wire rib to give the herls some protection. A pale blue dun hen hackle at the neck. Of course you can add blae wings. Red spider. This is one for summer evenings. Usually a size 14 but strangely I have had success with a size 12 too. Red gossamer silk body with a fine gold wire rib and a red game hen hackle. You can add a lime green butt if you like but to be honest I can say that has proved any more effective. Partridge and hare. Yellow silk, fine flat gold tinsel to rib a body of dubbed hare’s ear fur. A brown partridge hackle to finish. Not a million miles away from a March Brown pattern but we are not blessed with MB’s here in the west of Ireland. A general nymph like spider that does well early on. IMG_20210123_135453[1] Grey dun. Two versions here, the light and dark. Hackle is the same for both, from the knuckle of a coot’s wing. Body is pale straw coloured tying silk for the light version and black silk for the dark one.

Fishing in Ireland, shore fishing, trout fishing, wetfly

It’s that time of the year

I have never liked Christmas. Even as a kid I found the whole thing a waste of time and once I had discovered fishing this time of the year became unbearable. No fishing to be had, terrible weather and still the seemingly never-ending month of January to suffer until the new season opens.

With nothing better to do I console myself with carrying out all the little jobs of repair and replace in my tackle boxes and fly wallets. Rusty hooks are discarded and replaced with nice, sharp ones. I review the serried ranks of trout and salmon flies like some sort of piscatorial Sergent-Major, weeding out those which are sub-standard. A chewed hackle or broken ribbing are sufficient reason for the axe to fall and the gaps created are an incentive for me to spend more time at the vice.


I didn’t manage to fish very much last season, so most of the fly boxes require only a cursory top-up. The exception this Christmas is the box of spiders which looked a bit forlorn last week. A couple of tying sessions has put that right though and along side the usual suspects there are a few of my new patterns to try out next Spring.





Spinning tackle, by the very nature of the technique, takes a hammering and so I go through the lures and replace rusty split rings, dodgy swivels and bend hooks. While others are immersed in ho, ho, ho-ing and other such nonsense I am beavering away with pliers and WD-40. About 20 Devon mounts had to be discarded and new ones made up this week, using those wonderful Owner treble hooks.


Next job for me is the shore fishing gear. I was horribly disorganised last summer and my box seemed to be full to overflowing but it contained practically nothing that I really needed. On one trip I could only find 2 four ounce weights at the bottom of the box. On another occasion I ‘lost’ both spools of elastic (only to find them the next day). I not only need to organise the box better but I need to drastically reduce the amount of gear I bring with me. Wish me luck!



Fishing in Ireland, fly tying

Killdevil Spider (great name for a fly)


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!