Small Water Winter Tactics

It’s that time of year to try the small water trout fisheries rather than packing away your fly fishing tackle.  I recently visited Ardaire Springs in Mooncoin with my friend Kuba to show him some of the tactics I would use on a small water in winter time.  Kuba is a great guy and has experience working for a fly fishing magazine in Poland.  In fact he still submits the occasional fly fishing article.

The weather was somewhat wintery as we set off on our journey to Kilkenny, although not quite as cold as I would have liked.


When we got to the lake I set up 2 rods.  A 10ft 7wt Hardy with a sinking sweep line and a 10ft 6wt Hardy with a full floater.


A few fish were cruising the margins just below the surface.  I quickly tied on a black fly and dropped it as close to a trouts nose as I could manage for my first cast.


CRASH – Fish on!


Once I had caught a fish or two from the margins in one spot they moved out further and into deeper water after the disturbance. I walked around the lake targeting fish along the margins in this fashion for a while.  A few more anglers arrived so I decided to opt for a change in tactics which met with instant results. Just a look at the bend in that Hardy 10ft 7wt!

bendy rod

I switched to lure on a sinking line and caught a few nice rainbows. Kuba put on a lure (saltwater fly!) and had some success with that also.  Some visiting anglers from Cork were having good success with BIG Snake Flies on really fast sinkers.  A few more fish and it was time for lunch.


With the fish having seen all manner and colour of lures I figured that something more subtle would work best after lunch.  There was a spell of about 2 hours where the fish went sour and the other anglers were really struggling.  Even guys fishing the ever reliable bloodworm weren’t catching.  However, my decision to switch to a dabbler on a sweep line caught me several nice fish.


When I went back over to where Kuba was fishing he looked quite surprised that I was catching on a dabbler but that’s fishing.  I demonstrated the technique I was using to him and caught a few more fish in the process.

dabbler fish

It was a very enjoyable day and we agreed to return to Ardaire Springs around Christmas by which time the weather should have turned colder and I can hopefully demonstrate some more tactics and techniques to Kuba. With a bit of luck we will catch lots more quality fish!