The Year Ahead – Cautious Optimism!

First off, it’s been a while since I have had blogged about anything fishy but I decided to take a little break after a fairly hectic end to the 2016 season.  I didn’t do a whole lot over the closed season except tie a few flies including some intruder style flies for my pal Ned for his trips to Canada.  One of these years I will join up with them as the whole experience seems mega.

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September 2016 was a bit of a scramble with the river trout and salmon seasons coming to an end combined with some fantastic bass fishing tides!  The weather was good and the bass fishing continued to provide decent sport right through November.

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I didn’t do anything like as much winter reservoir fishing as I have done in previous seasons and 2017 kind of crept up on me and before I knew it I was off to Dublin for the Ireland Angling Expo in February.  This is always a great event and this year was no exception although if anything there was more for the predator (bass/pike) angler to see than some previous years.  There was still a lot there for the trout and salmon angler too with top brands like Simms, Redington, Mackenzie, Airflo, Nautilus, Hardy/Greys etc etc all on display.  The attendance at my talks each day was brilliant and as always it was epic to meet up with the Mackenzie Pros and all of the various people who make the show tick in one way or another.  I always say this show is much much more than just tackle sales.

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March is now upon us and things are already starting to get busy.  I have been out giving tuition and guiding and later this month I have two stillwater courses running, a Match the Hatch course in Wicklow with Ken Whelan and a Stillwater Tactics course at Ardaire Springs in Mooncoin.  In the meantime I am putting a lot of effort into testing the absolutely awesome prototype for the new 10ft 6wt Mackenzie FX1 Graphene single handed rod.  So far the results have been superb.  It casts really well and everyone who tried it at the show in Dublin gave great feedback.  Trials have indicated that this will be a great buzzer/nymph rod that can also be used for some dry fly and small lure fishing if needs be.  I am enjoying the testing so much with this weapon that it will take another while before Scott will be getting it back!!!!

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So everything is looking great so far for 2017.  While some salmon rivers in Ireland had a disastrous start the Munster Blackwater seems to be performing quite well.  The quality of trout in Ardaire and the Waterford Reservoirs is excellent.  Initial reports on the river trout fishing in the Blackwater and surrounding rivers that are already open suggest that fish are in excellent condition.  With lots more courses running during the year including our new Saltwater Fishing Course in June and the North West Angling Fair in Strabane in April not too far away it is difficult not to be positive.

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However, in spite of this optimism it is still early in the year to get carried away as to what the salmon season here will produce.  The same can be said as regards sea bass. It will be interesting to see the effect of current conservation measures over a long period of time. Many rivers in Ireland are now classed as ‘closed’.  This seems to be causing great confusion as to whether an angler can still fish them for brown trout and indeed sea trout under 40cm.  Factor in the complete confusion as to what the rules are about fishing for sea trout in saltwater and you have something of a Gordian Knot.  More on this to follow in my next blog (not to be missed)!!!!

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Autumn Gold (and Silver!)

Guiding was really busy all summer and of course family time is very important too, especially when you have two young kids. Anyway, there was little time to sit down and write blogs about the fishing. To be fair, salmon fishing slowed down towards the end of summer this year. As always September is a mad hectic month for me as customers are keen to finish off the freshwater season with a salmon, trout or seatrout. Saltwater anglers know that some of the best bass tides of the year fall in September too. There was a lack of fresh salmon in most rivers and a few days on the lower Munster Blackwater with clients resulted in three salmon landed, two lost and a few seatrout in the mix. The water was very high then dropping nicely and clearing then rising fast all in the space of a few days! All but one of the fish the guys landed and lost were red. The high coloured water meant fishing from the bank rather than wading so we had to use the landing net and place the fish up on the grass for a quick photo before release.

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My clients exercised their discretion to tag and keep a fresh salmon for the table. I rarely keep a fish anymore but at the end of the day it was up to them.
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For me the seabass is one of the best game fish in our waters.  I just love fishing for them.  The September tides always produce some crackers and with some settled weather things looked really promising.  I guided during the spring tides with Lee, Paul and Daire on alternate days and we had several superb fish with the best measuring 74cm.  Belter!!

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We had fish on soft plastics, surface lures and hard lures.  One of my favourite shallow divers is the Feed Shallow but this year I have really taken to the IMA Komomo and Komomo II.  These are excellent lures and fish well on a slow retrieve.

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As often happens you can get a day or two when the sea conditions make bass fishing a less than promising option.  However, the great thing about Dungarvan is that there are other good fishing options available, such as salmon or trout.  So when the water got really discoloured Paul agreed to do some fly fishing over at Ardaire Springs in Mooncoin.  I lost count of the amount of quality trout he landed on dries!

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So we the rivers closing at the end of September there is still lots of opportunity to bass fish.  Keep an eye out for my next blog on some awesome fly and lure fishing for large bass along the copper coast!!!!!

 

 

 

North West Angling Fair

On Friday evening I made the long journey from Waterford up to Strabane, Co. Tyrone to the North West Angling Fair.  This was a new event on the Irish fishing fairs calendar so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew there were some really good people involved in the organising of it so I was quietly confident it would be a good one.  It was late enough when I arrived and got checked in to the Fir Trees Hotel where I was joined by my good friend Dr. Ken Whelan who was going to be giving a series of talks with me at the fair.  On Saturday morning Ken and I went down early to the Melvin Complex which was the venue for the show.

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Everyone was busy setting up their stands and it was great to meet a few familiar faces on fly tyers row and the trade stands.

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My good friend Shane Rodgers from Rodgers Tackle was there with his fly tying materials and Brendan Winters has a fantastic range of fishing tackle.  Declan Tuffy, Stevie Moates, Roy Christie, Brian Finaly, Peter O’Reilly and many more were tying all sorts of wonderful flies.

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I also saw some very informative stands manned by the Loughs Agency people.Outside there was lots of free tuition for beginners and especially youngsters.

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The river was only a stones throw (and I mean this!!) from the venue and there were casters giving demonstrations down there including my good pals from Mackenzie, namely Scott Mackenzie and Andrew Toft.  It was great to catch up with these guys at the fair.

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The atmosphere at the fair was great with lots going on including the talks in the lecture room.  Ken and I gave talks on Saturday on Seatrout fishing which were really well attended and we had lots of interest at our stand area in our courses and people were getting Ken to sign his book Nomads of the Tides.

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After the fair closed, I nipped down to the river with Brian and Ken and spotted some nice wild browns rising.  I tackled up with a dry olive pattern of mine and waded out.  I managed to land 7 lovely trout in less than an hour and lost a few more including two about 1.5lbs.  It was somewhat inevitable when I was trying to get them back across the current to the guys on the shore to get a photo.  We did manage one nice video clip of a fish approximately .75lbs going back.

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On Saturday night we had an excellent dinner at the hotel and chatted with some of the other contributors to the show over a pint of beer.  It was clear that they really enjoyed the fair and were keen to see it continue into the future.  It was more of the same on Sunday and again our salmon talks went really well.  We were followed in lecture room by Stevie Munn who was talking about Dollaghan fishing.  I didn’t mind the journey back on Sunday evening because the buzz of the fair was still there and the weather was great.  This fair has great potential into the future and the organisers did a fantastic job for their first attempt.  They deserve all the credit that goes their way.

Mackenzie FX1 Graphene

The Mackenzie DTX team combined forces with Professor Gary Savage, former Formula One World Team Champion and one of the world’s leading experts in carbon and composites to create what may well be the most advanced fly rod ever made – the FX1 Graphene.

Graphene is a Nobel Prize winning material first discovered at the University of Manchester in 2004.  It is the strongest and stiffest material known to man, up to 300 times stronger than steel, stronger than diamond, and 30 times stronger than Kevlar! Graphene has recently been used by Head for their tennis rackets.  These rackets are now used used by Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.  See the YouTube clip here.

The Science Bit!

Graphene is incorporated in the FX1 rod in the form of multi-walled carbon nanotubes – 1 atom thick sheets of hexagonally bonded carbon formed into tubes and added to a state of the art resin. Being 32 times stiffer than steel per unit mass. The sub-microscopic cylinders of carbon on a weight-for-weight basis are at least 120, and up to 300 times stronger than steel and 30 times stronger than Kevlar!

Single walled Graphene Nanotube                     Multi walled Graphene Nanotube

Approximately 1/50,000th the width of a human hair, Graphene nanotubes can stretch considerably rather like plasticine before breaking, up to 14 percent of their normal length. Their aspect ratio (length/diameter) can be up to 130,000,000:1. To illustrate this, if we think of a carbon nanotube as a piece of spaghetti (typically 2mm in diameter) then, at this scale, the tube would be 66km long!

Unique Manufacturing Process

As well as being the first rod to incorporate Graphene, the blanks are produced using a further unique process where the blanks are cured inside a high pressure autoclave, a machine normally used to make parts for the F1 motor racing and aerospace industries. This extra process removes as much air as possible from between the carbon layers in the blank as it is cured, air that would normally remain trapped during the normal rod making process, creating a much stronger blank.

Quality

Mackenzie FX1 rods are made in the UK, and feature the very best craftsmanship and fitting:

  • Top grade Portuguese cork handles
  • Fuji SiC stripper rings with an ultra hard, ultra smooth, silicon carbide coating that will never wear
  • Titanium recoil snake guides that spring back into shape if knocked or bent
  • Unique custom made ALPS down locking reel seat
  • self healing PTFE silicon coating meaning any scratches can simply be rubbed smooth

Fishing

Incorporating a weave of this new Graphene nanotube material the FX1 rod flexes deeply during the cast and recovers quickly and powerfully. This fast recovery makes it easier to cast further with little effort, yet retains the ‘feel’ that is so important in a Salmon fly rod. The rods have been designed to handle all types of lines, from longer traditional Spey lines to short Scandi and Skagit style shooting-heads.

The new FX1 rods will be available to try at the Ardaire Springs Fishery open day in April (details to be announced soon).

Ireland Angling Expo Review

Last week I was in Dublin for the Angling Ireland Expo.  What a great fishing show this was.  There were lots of trade stands at the show with top quality fly fishing gear.  I was good to meet up with old pals from Funky Flytying, AM Angling, Cleeres, and Southside.  Good bargains were to be had from these boys on all sorts of brands from Simms clothing to Snowbee fly lines.  My very good friend Denis was tying beautiful intruder flies at the show and Paula and Andy were doing their magic on saltwater and pike flies.  I was in awe of some of the craftwork on the Outlaw stand (well done Wolly).

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Outlaw Flyfisher Stand

On Saturday and Sunday mornings I gave talks on Matching the Hatch in the lecture theater with my pal Ken Whelan.  The audience was very interested in all things trout, seatrout and seabass. Speaking of seabass it was good to catch up with Jim Clohessy and Henry Gilbey at the show.  I hope we beat the English in the Rugby tomorrow or I will never hear the end of it from Henry!!

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Ken and I preparing to present

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Presenting at the show

When I wasn’t at the lecture theater or having a look around the show I was based at the Mackenzie/Ballyduff Bridge Salmon Fishery Stand.  I put up a little display of salmon tube flies and some imitative trout flies that was well received by the passers by.  Scott Mackenzie had a great display of his range of single and double handed rods which were available to purchase from Ardaire Springs at the show.  He did a great casting demo and also helping out on the stand was the ever reliable Mackenzie Pro Team Member Maurice Cahill.

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Scott Mackenzie

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Ballyduff Bridge/Mackenzie Banners at the stand

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Happy faces on the Ardaire Springs Stand

Of course Scott wasn’t the only one giving a casting demo.  There were also demos by Mads Pedersen, my good pal Stevie Munn and Glenda Powell.  I particularly liked Glenda’s analogy of the trampoline when explaining the double haul.  The show wasn’t all about fly fishing though.  There was plenty on display for the pike, bass and coarse enthusiast.  It was my first time meeting Jan Porter who I had seen on TV with Matt Hayes and I have to say he is a real gentleman.

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Great fly display by Andy and Paula

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Nice intruder tied by Denis

Of course it is the people who attend a show that help to make it a success and there was plenty of them, especially on Saturday.  It was great to meet lot of new people who were interested in the rods and the fishery and of course some old friends too.  I’m looking forward to seeing the photos on Facebook that the Clonmel lads took of the stands on Sunday!!  Of course our main man for photos Kuba was on hand to take lots of pro photos for us.  This guy is really good at what he does.  So, overall it was possibly the best show yet and great credit goes to the Mara Media Team.  I’m already looking forward to next year!

Mackenzie Pro Team!!!

I am absolutely thrilled to officially announce that I am now the newest member of the Mackenzie Pro Team.  They say a picture says a thousand words and if you ask me the rods in the photo below are all smiling from ear to ear!!

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I met Scott Mackezie some years ago when he visited Ireland and we got on really well.  We stayed in contact through social media etc from then on and I watched closely as he developed his range of DTX rods.  At the same time I was developing my guiding business and expanding on the range of casting clinics and fishing courses I deliver annually.  Towards the end of last year I tried his double handed rods when my good pal and buddy Maurice Cahill was using them.  As expected from a rod designed by a multiple world champion spey caster these rods were top class.  This year I have used the single handed rods several times and they really are exceptional.

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The old adage ‘there’s no I in team’ applies as these guys are real TEAM players which makes everything so much easier.  I am looking forward to working closely with Scott and fellow Pro Team Member Maurice for the future.

Thanks guys!

Taking the Mick!

My pal Mick had heard we had been putting the Mackenzie DTX single handed 10ft 7wt through its paces over at Ardaire Springs recently so he decided to have a go there himself.  Having fished the lower Suir for years Mick was very familiar with the Mackenzie Spey Rods but had not yet tried any of the single handed rods.

The average trout at Ardaore is a very good size and there are plenty rainbow trout in the 4lb to 6lbs range.

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These are broad well finned hard fighting rainbows that can really test your tackle.

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Mick is a very good angler and has a habit of catching decent fish so it came as no surprise to me that he managed one of the even larger rainbows in the fishery although this one just fell short of being a double.

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After a quick photo the trout was safely released.

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When I asked Mick to sum up his trial of the rod he used just two words “top class”!