One of the most common queries I get is around my approach to saltwater fly fishing. So here is a quick introduction.
I use 2 set-ups for most of my saltwater fly fishing. A 9ft 5wt with full floating line. This is my go-to kit when fishing over very shallow clean ground in clear water. One reason for this is the lighter outfit is less likely to spook fish. Another is that the flies I typically use here are small, similar to the size of most trout flies. Another plus is that this outfit doubles up as a mullet rod so I can target both species at the same time.
The other outfit I use is a 9ft 9wt. My personal favourite is the Mackenzie FX1 Salt rod. I have a few different lines that I use on this rod. Mostly I use a Rio Outbound Short coldwater line in intermediate and I also carry the full float in the same line (for surface flies). Another line I use is an OPST shooting head with various density tips. I find this line great for really big flies.
The majority of the time I am using the 9wt is for casting larger flies and or fishing over rougher ground. I also use it in estuaries in channels with a strong current.
This was the earliest in the season I have ever fished Loughs Corrib and Mask. At this time of year there is normally no hatch of fly and the trout will be feeding on hoglouse, shrimp, and fry. The best tactics are to fish fry imitations slowly on fast intermediate or sinking lines.
Hoglouse and shrimp patterns can be fished slowly on long leaders using a floating line. A good retrieve is a slow figure of eight with the occasional long draw of the line. Concentrate on the margins and shoreline as this is where fish are likely to be.
The forecast last week predicted dry weather for the weekend with a moderate wind. When we arrived at Clonbur last weekend the wind vanished and we were faced with bright sunshine and doldrums! This required a tactical approach if we were to winkle out some wily wild trout.
It was a real team effort for my boat partner Dave and I and our renowned local boatman Tom Doc Sullivan. A good boatman is essential in these conditions and Tom is one of the best.
Dave and I set up two rods each. A 7wt with fast intermediate lines for pulling wets and a 6wt with a slow intermediate or full float for hoglouse patterns. I was using my 10ft Mackenzie FX1 rods and Dave was using his NX1 rods.
By adapting to suit the conditions we managed to catch.
For a while on Sunday the breeze picked up slightly and even this light wind made a difference. The fishing improved for a while and we had lots of plucks and some positive hits that turned into boated fish. In the circumstances we were very pleased.
For us it was a positive start to the lough season and we are already looking forward to returning later in the year.
I had heard a few times that the western Lough’s can fish well at the end of the season to daphnia feeding fish in the deeps. There can also be a chance of dry fly fishing with sedges and daddies.
With this in mind I contacted my pal and Corrib boatman Tom Doc Sullivan to see if a trip would be worthwhile. Tom really knows his stuff and he told me to make the journey. However I wouldn’t be fishing any of the drifts I had fished on previous trips. It seemed like – go deep or go home!
I was joined by my mate Dave who has also fished the lake before but never at this time of year. Preparation had gone well and I was armed with a Mackenzie FX1 10ft #6 and #7wt. Tom had recommended tying up some bright daphnia patterns to pull on an Airflo Fast Intermediate line. As usual he was spot on.
We didn’t know what to expect but followed Tom’s advice and with good conditions we had great sport catching beautiful wild Irish trout in a fantastic location. 24 trout landed in 2.5days fishing is awesome.
We learned a lot about fishing the lake at this time of year and it was brilliant to have several nice trout take our dry flies.
There is still a month left and the great thing was there wasn’t as many boats out compared to mayfly time. The weather was much milder than some of our early season duckfly and olive fishing trips too.
We will definitely be contacting Tom around this time next year and if prospects are good we will be back.
Recent guided sessions produced some nice spring salmon from the Munster Blackwater river. This season the water levels have been quite high on our local rivers and fly fishing opportunities have been fairly limited. Luckily the weather has been improving and the rivers reached a better if not ideal fly fishing height, particularly in the upper stretches. As a consequence we managed a few very nice salmon.
My guests were using two outfits, one was a 13’7 Mackenzie Atlas rod matched with a Mackenzie Phased Density Shooting Head in Float/Sink 2 and a short leader to a White Francis fly.
The other client used a 15ft Mackenzie FX1 GRAPHENE Rod matched with a Mackenzie Float/S1 shooting head and attached to the business end was a local shrimp fly pattern called Hick’s Bug. The guys were blown away by this kit and when good fish came the were even more impressed.
So some very happy anglers and a nice tackle test was a great result. The river is coming into good order again after the latest flood so fingers crossed for some more action. Tight lines!
This year a pal and I delayed our visit to Lough Corrib until late April due to the abnormally cold spring. It proved to be a good move as the weather was horrible all March. We knew we had missed the duckfly hatch but were hoping for Olives and large buzzer. Once again we stayed at Grasshopper cottage Cornamona near Clonbur.
We hired a boat and engine from our good pal and top guide Tom Doc Sullivan. Unfortunately we were too early for Olives this time. Our approach was to fish the conditions as there was no significant hatch. On the morning s the Lough was calm and the sun was high although it was cool enough with a Northeast wind.
In these conditions we fished buzzers. I was really impressed with my Mackenzie FX1 10ft 6wt for this method. Luckily we managed to boat some nice trout with the largest 58cm and in prime condition.
In the mid afternoon the wind picked up and we tried pulling traditional wet flies and dabblers on intermediate lines. This was productive especially around shallow areas. We had a mixture of small trout with some better fish to just over 2lbs and quite a few missed takes also.
Overall we had a great weekend and are really looking forward to next year already.
I’ve been very busy lately with casting tuition and guiding. There is a good run of salmon at the moment but most of my guiding has been for wild river trout and a day or two on stillwaters. The reservoirs have been fishing really well.
The hard fighting rainbows give a great battle.
Still there is something about wild river browns that makes them special regardless of size.
Although when you hook up into a good one the heart races. One of my clients from Atlanta lost an 18inch brown at the net on the River Blackwater the other day. His face said it all!!
There is a lot more trout food in that river than some people realise.
I have been hearing a lot of talk lately about getting more youth involved in fishing and fly fishing. I know my local club has a youth day coming up and despite a hectic guiding schedule that weekend I will be there to help out. But there is no point talking about it, you have to get out there and do it!
This weekend I’m one of the experts at the Northwest Angling Fair in Strabane. I’m looking forward to it a lot. I’m demonstrating and giving casting advice on the Suir next weekend and on a stillwater the weekend after. And Ken Whelan and I have Seatrout fishing courses coming up in July and August. I think the August one will be a cracker so watch this space!!
Been too busy lately to blog but here’s a quick update on how the fishing has been. We have had a few salmon on the Munster Blackwater from the Ballyduff Bridge Beats with Brendan O Dwyer having 4 grilse on fly yesterday at Ballincurrig and Tony Murtagh having another at Ballyduff Bridge. Most of my guiding in the past week has been for bass and things are improving here with some nice fish from these tides. Tight lines!