Posts Tagged ‘Kill Devil Spider’

Fly Fishing in Wicklow: A Blustery Day

Friday, August 28th, 2015

My favourite Wicklow stream has real character, flowing peat stained down what once was at the end of the last ice age an out wash channel for glacial run off, the wide valley floor as a result now composed of rich sand and gravel deposits. Adding to the river’s personality is a series of plateau’s followed by sharp descents, combining all these features one today finds a water that meanders in a mature fashion, falls youthfully then slows and meanders again, a pattern which repeats over a number of stages until the stream exits the valley.

Fly fishing in County Wicklow, Ireland for wild brown trout.

The wide flat valley in conjunction with the glacial soil enables cattle farming alongside the usual sheep, the surrounding land has become quite fertile and this is reflected in the water which is uncharacteristically productive for a Wicklow mountain stream. Today the river glowed, topped up by a few days rain it ran clear and at a nice level. Trout were showing along its length and coming to the fly albeit short, maybe it was the wind, warm but gusting all over the place, one second off your shoulder, the next in your face.

Wicklow trout.

I set up my four weight, initially working three flies a kill devil on point, coachman and a greenwells spider. After a time due to the wind, a tangle and a fly buried beyond the barb into the back of my head, that was fun, I dropped the greenwells and worked a pair. On cue a trout took the coachman followed shortly after by another to the KDS on point. However a pattern had started which became more frequent as lunchtime morphed into early afternoon, trout coming short.

Wicklow river view.

I have to say though the trouts half hearted approach actually added to the fun, pulls, slashes, a weighty lean all very visual. Line darting straight, splashes, head & tail rises, the whole experience quite joyful. Before I knew it the clock was heading towards four pm and I had a dinner to cook. A calm evening on this stretch will definitely throw up a few fish, Sunday is looking good, I’ll be back……….

Fly Fishing in Wicklow: The Timeless Coachman

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

Lichen covered granite boulders deflect pristine peat stained water creating slack pockets, fast runs and glides. Coloured reddish brown yet still crystal clear, beneath the surface gravel banks merge into dark seemingly bottomless holes. Moorland trout love these places, a source of shelter and of food, tasty morsels channeled towards ambush points between rocks where sheltered slow water butts against fast. Placing ones fly to work down that line gives a trout no time to think before it zips by and if the angler is lucky BANG, a sharp tug followed by aerial fireworks will ensue.

Fly fishing in Wicklow, Ireland. Typical moorland stream.

Slipping carefully into the run, gingerly treading on gravel (it has non slip qualities) while also placing my left hand on nearby boulders for support I reach my casting position. Quickly looking around for bank side obstacles, a short steeple cast will have to suffice. Working a longish line towards a seam flowing left to right winkles out a small butter yellow bellied trout, deftly removed and returned. A left facing glance reveals a deep pocket at 90 degrees, false casting downstream to achieve the right length of line then a snap across. Instantaneously as the flies touch down a jarring shudder transmits through the four weight line and a good fish reveals itself jumping skywards in a twisting blur of yellow tinged with white, red and olive green.

Fly fishing in County Wicklow, Ireland for wild brown trout.

Played across the stream the trout chooses to dive deep within the fast water and jump out of the slow. Dip left hand into water then grab, a perfect half pound trout which couldn’t resist a dropper presented size 14 coachman, all peacock herl and white wing. On Wednesday 21st June 1939 Professor of Moral Philosophy at Trinity College and keen fly fisher Arthur Aston Luce employed a coachman while fishing this very same stream to achieve a catch of three and a half dozen “good” trout with as many more returned.

Fly fishing in Ireland: The coachman.

Seventy six years later, almost to the month, a coachman inside four minutes tempts a brace of trout, distant progeny from a bygone era where so much has changed and yet a constant remains. A. A. Luce in his book “Fishing and Thinking” describes this stream and one is transported not backwards in time but into the present. For as one casts a line here it is apparent, any differences between Luce’s stream and this are cosmetic, water gurgles and flows, boulders stand impervious and trout float in their sheltered lairs before snapping into action, attracted by a flash of white…………

See also: Fly Fishing in Wicklow: In the Footsteps of A. A. Luce.

See also: Wild Trout Fishing in Co. Wicklow.

Fly Fishing in Ireland: Off the Beaten Track

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

Standing at the ford I surveyed the scene, downstream a cloud of black gnat, sheltered by a line of trees, danced above a fast narrow run, while upstream the river meandered through more open pastoral country, fields of horses delineated with post and rail fencing and well tended hedgerows. Here the banks were clear of willow and alder, yes there were trees providing cover for shy trout but there was also space to cast a line. I chose to continue upstream finding a starting point where the stream took a dog leg right, bouncing off the left bank then rushing hard into the pool below.

Fly fishing in Ireland for wild brown trout.

Again fishing a four weight rod to a team of three spiders (Kill Devil, Greenwell’s and Iron Blue) I cast across at a 45 degree angle into the fast water and let the flies swing round into the seam. Now on the hang, twitching induced a take from a six inch brown who proceeded to swim down into the gut. BANG, over went the rod further as a three quarter pounder nailed the point fly. Two fish on my first cast, who would have thought.

Wild brown trout.

The monarch of the pool and its understudy gave a good account of themselves swimming into and out of the fast water, diving deep then cavorting on the surface before eventually being brought to the net. Usually a start such as this signals a poor session but not this time, working the riffles and pools downstream toward the ford produced a succession of trout averaging 7 inches with the odd one bigger. On this occasion all flies tempted fish with the greenwell’s shading it by about two to one.

Stream view, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Rain in the morning had freshened the river and it tumbled over and between boulders creating slack pockets where trout holed up waiting for tasty morsels to enter their field of vision. Using the broken water as cover a succession of trout were winkled out as the afternoon progressed. By five bells the trout had lost their enthusiasm and to be quite honest I was glad of the break. As they say, make hay when the sun shines, I most certainly did……..

Fly Fishing in Wicklow: Moorland Spiders

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

Is there anything stirring”, asked the farmer who on a break from tending to his sheep had spied me setting up and walked over for a chat. “With luck a few wild brownies”, I replied which sparked a historical conversation on the farmers experience of fishing the river as a young lad. How along with plenty of trout he also caught small perch no less, that the trout rarely topped half a pound and all but disappeared for a number of years when construction works on the ESB facility at Turlough Hill turned the water black with suspended silt.

Fly fishing in County Wicklow, Ireland.

Sourced in the blanket bog high up on the dome shaped Wicklow granite, I assured the gentleman that the stream based on my recent experience was pristine, had clearly recovered from the silt contamination of forty years ago and today was home to a good head of trout averaging 6/7 inches with an occasional larger fish topping half a pound. Now well past midday and with the river beckoning I bade farewell to the farmer, picked up my four weight rod, hopped over a gate and strode purposefully towards a favourite pool.

West County Wicklow, Ireland.

A strong warm breeze channeled down the valley dictated the order of play as downstream wet fly. Having set up with a team of spiders, kill devil on point, greenwell’s in the middle and an iron blue on the top dropper I proceeded to cast into likely runs, seams and guts. At session end ten lively trout to 6/7 inches had come to my rod with an equal number visibly slashing at the flies topped by a head and tailing half pound fish, his lie marked for another day. With evening drawing in I headed tired but refreshed towards the car marveling that such solitude and beauty exists within one hour of Ireland’s capital city, wonderful………

Spring Chill on a Favourite Stream

Monday, March 18th, 2013

This morning she has the look of an English chalk stream, running clear, the first vestiges of ranunculus (a curse later in the season) waving in the current. A sharp, cold south easterly breeze blows upstream, not a rise to be seen, the trout are keeping their neb’s down and who would blame them. In the distance snow lies on Lugnaquilla, Leinster’s highest mountain, like a dome shaped Mount Fuji, standing sentinel over the surrounding countryside.

A rain fed trout stream flowing off the Wicklow mountains, Ireland.

Making my way down to a get in point below the bridge I slip into the water, cold seeping through my waders, fishing just might be slow. Set up with a four weight rig, kill devil spider on point, greenwells spider covering center, with a partridge and orange taking up the rear, I cast at a 45 degree angle towards the far bank, throwing a mend before letting the flies swing around. Lengthening the line, third cast a pull, splash, and hop, diving and skittering towards my hand, a beautifully spotted 10 inch trout.

Early season fly fishing on a rain fed Irish trout stream.

Spring regularly finds me on this river, flowing off Wicklow granite she first runs across bleak  moorland before dropping quickly onto a rich agricultural hinterland where she meanders gently, eventually linking with her parent River Slaney. With a river bed comprising coarse sand and gravel ideally suited for constructing redds, this stream enjoys a run of salmon and it is not unheard of for early season trout fishers to unexpectedly connect with the king of fish. My five minutes in the sun occuring a few years ago while fishing a 1/0 copper Mepps with trout in mind, four pound b/s line being no match for a spring salmon when it decides to get its head down.

Early season wild brownie from a rain fed Irish stream.

Back to the present, after my initial success things went quite, a couple more pulls signaled interest but nothing definite ensued. Flattering to deceive the day looked glorious, blue skies and fluffy clouds creating an impression of spring warmth when in reality it was Baltic. Time to go down, replacing the kill devil with a weighted nymph, instant success, of a similar 10 inch size, the trout shook itself free after thirty seconds.

Wet flies for a favourite stream.

Persevering down stream with no more joy I changed over to a dry fly set up tying on a dark olive klinkhammer, working a few runs on my way back towards the car seemed like a plan. With still not a rise in sight and fishing water more in hope then design I signed off, it being well past the witching mid day hours so important to fly fishing in early March. Tomorrow is another day with the Liffey, Mr Irish Fly Fisher Liam Stenson, and a master class in fishing the dry fly beckoning, bring it on…….

Kayak Fishing in Ireland, Craic on a Yak

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

West Cork has to be a kayak anglers paradise, what with all the bays, inlets, and little slip ways dotted around the place, sure you would be able to go fishing weather permitting whatever quarter the wind was blowing from. Also there are locations where rock hopping is completely out of the question due to sheer cliffs, so these marks would now become accessible. When one considers that depths can reach 100+ feet in places just yards from the shore, big deep water species like ling now become a real possibility.

Kayak angler Gary Robinson aboard his well kitted out yak.

Gary Robinson is a superb “thinking” angler who looked at the kayaks fishing capability about two years ago and subsequently has put together a formidable outfit kitted out with fish finder/echo sounder, anchor, rod holders, storage facilities, and all necessary safety features, an impressive piece of kit and no mistake. Our trip down to the south west¬†offered Gary the first real opportunity to test his boat handling and angling skills over fishing grounds that are far from depleted. His first day on the water not only blew his mind but this seasoned anglers’ too.

Gary Robinson with two kayak caught West Cork pollack.

That day I was fishing for wrasse far out on a headland and could observe Gary, about a mile further into the bay, paddling and fishing away. At days end we met up and you just knew by his face and of course the two large pollack, one of which weighed 9.lb plus, that his day had been a success. “Ridiculous” is how Gary described it, just fish after fish until his arms got sore. Initially using hokais searching for mackerel which were scarce, he did boat numerous big launce though, every time Gary hit bottom strings of three/four pound pollack would come up. Changing to a single 30 gram jig head he targeted larger stuff and boated pollack into double figures, all bar the two fish above being released. Gary said that he lost count of how many fish landed, now that is some day. Ground fishing at anchor with large fish fillets is the next logical step, I can’t wait to see the results of that exercise. Bugger it, I’m off to buy a kayak too…..

Read Gary Robinson’s account of the above trip in his excellent article titled; Pollack Perfection in South West Ireland.

Fly Fishing In Wicklow, Blustery Day on the Derreen

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Wind angled off my left shoulder as the weight forward number four line snaked out at a forty five degree angle to the current. Fishing a long line the twelve foot leader uncoiled depositing the kill devil point fly and its spidery team mates in the still water beyond the gut close under the far bank. Feeding a foot of line to sink the flies, entering the seam a boil followed by a heavy tug and a tight line, the fish bored deep and my reel screeched, zzzzzzzzzzz a good trout.

Casting a long line while keeping low, River Derreen, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Twisting and turning the brownie gave a good account of itself, running towards a bed of ranunculus I applied side strain, the fish turned, a few hops more and it was in the net. Between a half and three quarters, a fine fish for the Derreen, two plump trout in three casts from the same deep run, the God’s are smiling. Ten minutes earlier a riffle further upstream had delivered three fish, all flies had scored from the kill devil to the greenwells but the partridge and orange had its nose in front and was to keep it there.

A River Derreen trout fooled by a partridge and orange.

Although bright and sunny a stiff north east breeze blew and with snow lying on Lugnaquilla, the highest mountain in Leinster, it was chilly to say the least. Gusts ruffled the surface and although a few terrestrials were flying about there was no hatch as such, that said a few trout were rising. The Derreen flows down off Lug’ crossing the border into Co. Carlow then flowing past Hacketstown before meandering through rich farmland towards Tullow. The river bed is gravely well suited to spawning salmon which run up from its parent River Slaney. Today however the target was trout and although not giving themselves up they were on occasions obliging.

A plump River Derreen trout.

My tactics given the strong downstream wind were to keep low and cast a long line down and across keeping false casts to a minimum. The wind helped in this matter by ruffling the surface so breaking up the trouts field of vision. By combining the broken riffled water, where the trout would be positioned along the seams with the disturbed still water while keeping low I could get close and cover potential fishy lies. The system worked, it’s great when it does, with at least a half dozen wild brownies to the rod for a short two hour session. Later in the month as the weather warms up evening dry fly, in particular to the black gnat, should come into its own. I’ll be back…..

Click on: Guided Fly Fishing for Wild Trout.

Fly Fishing in Wicklow, Trout Under Fire.

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

The rumble of artillery rolled across the hills as shell after shell thudded into the boggy landscape, interspersed with heavy machine gun fire I now have an idea what the poor unfortunates dug into their trenches in Flanders fields had to endure close on 100 years ago. Carried by a south east wind from nearby Glen of Imaal where the army were on manouvers, the noise on occasions was very loud and the air shook, God knows what it was like for those living in the vicinity. A weak sun shone through the haze and it was bloody cold, my chosen stream was decidedly low now due to the current dry spell, in short fishing was tough.

Casting for Wicklow mountain trout in drought conditions.

On the other hand it couldn’t escape me that I was out and about in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains, glaciated dome shaped granite covered by a green, russet, and purple blanket. Coconut scented gorse flowering, lambs everywhere, farmers going about their business, the river snaking through, and me, 20 miles from O’Connell St alone with the trout. Walking upstream to fish wets back down, it being fruitless to dry fly due to the sharp east wind blowing in my face, I chose a run flowing out of a boulder field into a long flat and commenced.

Flies for a mountain stream, kill devil spider, greenwells spider, and a coachman.

Immediately a head and tail rise followed by a tug, instinctively setting I missed but continued the movement recasting to the same spot. The trout came again and this time took the kill devil on the point, diving and darting in the swift current, silver with black and red spots it could have been a sea trout, unusual. Returned, I connected with another standard coloured fish from this lie before moving on.

A yellow bellied Wicklow mountain trout averaging six ounces.

Shrunk due to the lack of rain, clear with that reddish tinge, if I was a trout the deep holes and flats is where I would be. The strong wind made upstream fishing practically impossible so I persevered on down. At days end my rod took five wild fish averaging six ounces, with a number of rises and tugs to keep interest. The kill devil, coachman, and greenwells all scored, and other than a couple of stone flies and a lone sedge I saw no fly life. Happy with my lot and heading for the car I considered the different personalities of the stream, all connected with one unifying strand, rain…

Fly Fishing in Co. Wicklow, In the Footsteps of A.A.Luce

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

There are day’s when you are reminded why you chose to go fishing, spring starts to show its face, the air is warm with just a little zephyr of a breeze, a hazy brightness fills the landscape, and trout dance with your flies, pulling and cavorting as you work down the runs. Low,almost to the bones my chosen stream diverted and sluiced between the boulders, trout sat in the back eddies waiting for morsels to drift by, and my spiders twitched irresistibly enough to lure a fish at regular intervals, a man couldn’t wish for more.

Downstream wet fly fishing in County Wicklow, Ireland.

In his 1959 published treatise on angling “Fishing and Thinking” Dr. A. A. Luce, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin wrote of his best day on the river. Casting a line on the same stream almost 73 years to the day I couldn’t but feel a sense of deja vu. Commencing fishing around noon after having walked a step upstream I felt confident as my initial cast snaked across the stream, throwing a mend the flies worked along a seam whence simultaneously a boil and a tug signaled my first trout of the afternoon.

A six ounce Wicklow mountain trout taken on a Greenwells spider.

A little six ounce brownie, perfectly formed, yellow bellied, and brightly spotted, taken on a Greenwells spider it tricked and darted in the swift current not out gunned by my four weight wand, a nice start. Carefully wading down stream I placed my flies in runs between rocks, into back eddies, and through likely pockets searching out ambush points where a wily trout might lie up, the pool head runs being very productive.

Trout heaven in Co. Wicklow.

Newly born lambs suckled and gamboled in the fields and the smell of coconut drifted from gorse bushes high up on the bank, other than the chatter of the stream there was complete silence. An hour or two had flown by and noticeably rises to my flies had slowed down. Taking advice from Dr.Luce I switched the point fly for a Coachman his successful pattern from 63 years ago and bingo a gut produced three trout on the bounce.

A half pound Wicklow trout as the sun was setting.

Making my way around a long meander I came across a nice riffle with a constant depth, casting my flies towards the far bank at a forty five degree angle, as they swung around BANG my best trout of the session took the coachman. At half a pound and in great condition the cake had been well and truly iced, time to call it a day. Eleven trout all returned along with numerous rises, a busy afternoon for sure. County Wicklow has some wonderful trout fishing in beautiful locations, the best of it found in the most out of the way places. You have to work for what you catch, but the rewards, a picture paints a thousand words….

Click on: Guided Fly Fishing for Wild Trout.

Record Fly Caught Sea Trout Graces The Avoca.

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Ace fly dresser and passionate salmon angler Denis O’Toole couldn’t believe his eyes at the end of a twenty minute battle with one of the Avoca Rivers migratory visitors. On reaching into the landing net to cradle his prize, incredulity took over on recognition of the heavy set head and broad shovel like convex tail, a sea trout of lifetime proportions, Denis was in dreamland. Experiencing all of the emotions, both Denis and his fishing partner Dean Kennedy (who netted the great fish) were shaking as they carefully removed the hook with a view to weighing and returning the superb specimen.

Game angler and top fly dresser Denis O'Toole cradles a 16.lb Avoca Sea Trout tempted by one of his own creations, the "Lava Tail".

The needle bounced down to 16.75 lbs, taking into account the weigh net, officially the sea trout weighed in at 16.lb, the largest recorded Irish fly caught sea trout and one which will be very hard to better. Denis has to be commended for releasing the fish, the action being a reflection of his passion and love for the sport, “Respect”. His fishing partner Dean Kennedy has to get special mention also, for it was he that netted the bruiser and did the photographic honours, for which I and many others who read this post are very grateful, “good job Dean”.

The very fly which tempted the record sea trout, the Lava tail tube, designed and created by Denis O'Toole.

For the record Denis’s 16.lb sea trout of a lifetime was tempted by a 1.5 inch Lava tail aluminium tube fly designed and created by himself. He used an eight weight Partridge Switch rod, a large arbour Orvis Battenkill reel, and a weight forward 8 line.

This wonderful angling feat highlights the potential of the Avoca river as a game fishing location and hopefully will spur the decision makers, clubs , and stakeholders with an interest in the system to fast forward action plans regarding its restoration and future management. In the meantime lets celebrate Denis’s great feat, sea trout of this calibre usually only enter our lives in dreams. Denis O’Toole will dream happily for the rest of his life.

Click on: Salmo Spero Elite Salmon and Sea Trout Flies.

Footnote: Denis O’Toole is a professional fly dresser specialising in tying top quality salmon and sea trout flies. For advice and information email Denis at , otooledenis96@yahoo.com.