An Irish Anglers World

Salmo Spero Elite Fishing Flies.

The Avoca River on its way to meet the tide runs past Woodenbridge in Co. Wicklow, here close to its confluence with the Aughrim River I met Denis O’Toole for the first time. His passion for sea trout and salmon fishing was self evident, in equal proportion to his love of fly tying, you couldn’t but be drawn into his conversation. The River’s Avoca and Drowse are Denis’s home and away grounds and boy is he successful, one only has to look at the “wall of fame” in his fly tying room to realise that. A dozen or more images of beautiful, silver, fresh run salmon and sea trout adorn the space, most of them surprisingly taken from the Avoca.

A Drowse salmon tempted by a Denis O'Toole cascade variant.

Graced by the superb “fish of a lifetime” Avoca sea trout lured by a tube fly creation Denis invented christened “The Lava Tail“, the images sure are an impressive sight. Fly fishing since his early teens and fly tying this last fourteen years, Denis has perfected his art and now specialises in producing top class game fishing flies many of which are his own design or variations on a theme. Marketed under the banner, Salmo Spero Elite Fishing Flies, Denis is open to enquiries, email:

Cascade Variant.When Denis gets in front of the vice attention to detail is paramount, it’s not good enough that the flies look right, they have to swim right too. Materials, balance, resilience, and the finished products ability to tempt a fish are all considerations Denis builds into his flies. His tying room is a veritable game fishing Aladdin’s cave, fur, capes, feathers, tinsel, threads, hooks, photographs, books, and DVD’s fill the space, an enthusiast could while away a couple of hours here and not get bored. Obvious sea trout¬† influences are Faulkus and Kingsmill Moore, but make no mistake Denis is an innovator who thinks about his fishing, new designs such as his “Lava tail” or variations like the Kill Devil and Cascade (illustrated left) testament to this approach.


A Avoca River Salmon taken on a Park Shrimp fly.

As they say the proof is in the catching, and there is no better example then the image above to highlight the pulling power of a well tied salmon fly presented properly. Taken one evening last June, 2011, at 12.lbs the fresh run fish is testament to a salmon angler on a roll, for not a fortnight later Denis (pictured above) hooked and landed that magnificent sea trout. On this instance the beautiful fish was tricked by a Park Shrimp Variant, the original designed by Ross McDonald and named after the “Park Fishery on the Aberdeenshire Dee”.

Delphi Blue.Denis loves his sea trout fishing and living in south east Ireland has plenty of opportunity to tackle these elusive summer visitors. White trout, a colloquial Irish term, in south eastern counties such as Wicklow and Wexford begin to run around mid June and depending on the fishery can be caught right up to closing day. Based on my experience sea trout fishers on Ireland’s east coast tend to pack up and head home soon after midnight, most fish caught being three quarter pound finnock. Denis on the other hand has experimented successfully, moving away from the traditional approach and employing sunk line tactics with bigger fish in mind,¬† using large tandem lures, and latterly the surface lure (after mid night).

Black surface lure with secret weapon attached.With a string of large sea trout and numerous east coast salmon to his credit Denis has proven that a little thought and innovation can improve your fishing no end. His flies have caught lunker sea trout from here to Patagonia and in my book there is no greater endorsement then that. Be they traditional patterns such as the kingsmill and delphi blue, or variations such as Denis’s snake fly the quality, passion, and skill embedded in their creation inspires confidence. With the season rapidly approaching I ‘ve placed my order, I’d advise you to do likewise. Email Denis at:


Kingsmill Moore's Golden Olive Bumble.Black and Silver Tandem Sunk Lure.The Kingsmill.


For further reading click on: Record Fly Caught Sea Trout Graces The Avoca.

For further reading click on: A Ray of Light on the Avoca.