Posts Tagged ‘River Liffey’

A Masterclass in Dry Fly Fishing

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Sometimes you just have to step back and admire, a skill honed over many years can, when presented by a master, look easy. I’ve gotten to know Liam Stenson, like many other fly anglers, through his blog Irish Fly With a shared interest in both fly fishing and blogging our paths were bound to cross at some stage. A friendship has developed over the last few years, and not having met since last season it was nice to catch up while casting a St Patrick’s Day line on the River Liffey downstream of Ballymore Eustace.

A well conditioned River Liffey brownie taken on an Olive Klinkhammer.

Enjoying a fine day on the Liffey commencing around eleven thirty am, finishing around three thirty pm, a stand out few moments of the session has to be retold. Even colder than the day before, I found myself upstream of Liam fish less until a good trout took in a back eddy close to the far bank. Head shaking and sullen it sat in the current thrashing before cutting loose. Well that was it, cold and pissed off I walked down towards Liam who, as I approached, looked up from perusing his various fly boxes.

Irish Fly Fisher Liam Stenson nets a nice River Liffey Brownie.

“I’ve had a few trout Ash to a particular dark olive pattern that I tie for this section of river, unfortunately I appear to have none left”. Liam had given me a few flies before setting out, and not having used them all, maybe he could be lucky. “Here, look in the box you gave me this morning”. On cue the particular tying called out to Liam before quickly becoming attached to his 1.7 lb b/s tippet. That’s when proceedings got interesting.

Playing a half pound River Liffey brownie.

A narrow gut ran fast into a dog leg pool deflecting off a high bank so creating a back eddy on the inside. The current then flowed off fast under some low lying branches where most of the trout were resident. Occasional dark olives, swept into this run were being picked off by these fish who were sitting either side of the fast water, a heavy boil and plop signaling a particular trout’s presence on cue as I looked across. Liam dipped his fly in floatant then placed it in the water so removing any excess oil which could create a trout scaring slick. Wading through the pool he took up position ready to cast towards the rising fish.

A well conditioned Liffey half pounder for Liam Stenson.

Lengthening his cast Liam delicately placed his fly in the flow just upstream of the low branches. Feeding a half yard of line to prevent the klinkhammer skating he moved his rod tip in unison with the visible imitation. Ker plop, Liam’s left hand pulls line down in conjunction with right hand sharply raising rod top, the trout bores left and deep out of the current. A few dashes here and there and it’s in the net, a plump, yellow bellied Liffey half pounder in great nick for the time of year. Congratulations proffered, we discussed the years of passion and interest that went into developing the skills I had just witnessed. “It all boils down to being regularly on the water Ash”, I couldn’t disagree while equally admiring Liam’s humility, one of fishing’s gentlemen…….


Dry Fly Fishing the River Liffey, Lessons from Liam

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

The River Liffey is a prolific trout fishery its source high up in the Wicklow Mountains above Sally Gap, it flows down youthful past the Coronation Forest and Manor Kilbride whence it meets the vast expanse of Blessington Reservoir, before re-emerging as a young adult and entering the rich agricultural plains of Kildare, where she sweeps in a great arc through villages and towns such as Ballymore Eustace, Kilcullen, Newbridge, and Clane, then in her maturity pushes on for suburbia, Dublin city, and the sea. Providing a wealth of fly fishing opportunities from rushing mountain stream to glassy flats, north country spiders to a delicately placed dry black gnat, Co. Kildare holds the cream and June is a great month to taste it.

Liam Stenson lives for fly fishing and his home patch is the river Liffey, however his passion takes him to various waters around the country from the River Suir to the great western lakes and numerous fisheries in between. This love of fly fishing is documented in a fantastic website, which Liam updates regularly. June bank holiday Monday was shaping up to be a belter of a day and with the river calling I gave Liam a quick tinkle and we arranged to meet around eleven. On arrival the Liffey looked in superb condition running clear with that peaty tinge, the bank side vegetation now in full summer bloom. The sun shone down from a blue sky and although a light warm north westerly breeze kept temperatures down a notch, it was still shirt sleeve weather.

Liam Stenson, Irish Fly Fisher, on the River Liffey, Co. Kildare.

On the water clouds of black gnat danced and resident trout were making hay, not everywhere but certainly in pockets right along the stretch that we intended to fish. Alongside the gnats were various olives and an occasional mayfly, but it was the little black fellas that were to provide the key to a wonderful afternoons fishing or should I say fishing lesson. They say that opportunity comes from adversity, and when you leave your dry fly fishing clobber behind when making a trip to the Liffey you are most definitely on the back foot. However being in the company of not only a top notch fly angler but a gentleman to boot, I not only got to cast a fly or two but came away a wiser angler courtesy of a true craftsman.

Liam Stenson playing a lively River Liffey brownie which came to a dry black gnat.

Using flies of his own creation Liam worked the runs and flats predominantly with a polystyrene foam based black gnat design. Casting upstream with an eight foot four weight set up, using a relatively short line and a longish leader to a two pound tippet, Liam controlled the fly beautifully as it drifted back towards him regularly connecting with hard fighting black and red spotted brownies in the 6 – 8 ounce bracket. They weren’t giving themselves up and being lightening fast many got one up on Mr. Irish Fly Fisher himself, but even so at days end Liam had a tally of eleven up to well over a pound in weight.

A beautifully spotted River Liffey brownie.

Having fished wets with not much success in the faster runs and contented myself with taking photos and learning, in the mid afternoon Liam set me up with a light leader and a black gnat which enabled me to fish the back end of the hatch whereupon I tempted two trout and rose another before everything went quite. Walking back to the cars we reflected on what a great fishery the Liffey is and also the wonderful afternoon we shared. A trout rose close to the bank and we marked its spot, next time Mr trout as dinner calls and I’ve a long drive home, thank you Liam again for a great day……

Fly Fishing in Ireland, River Liffey, Co. Kildare

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Enjoyed a great first day of the season fly fishing with Mr Irish Fly Fisher himself Liam Stenson and his good friend Ray Bradley on the River Liffey somewhere in Co. Kildare. The sun shone, however a stiff south east breeze put a chill in the air keeping fly hatches to a minimum, that said a few dark olives did show and trout were rising in the more sheltered runs.

Liam Stenson (Irish Fly Fisher) fishing down stream wet on the River Liffey, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

Fishing a team of wets to include a kill devil spider on the point, a greenwells spider on the middle dropper, and a partridge and orange on the top I proceeded to fish a likely run endorsed by Liam, “he hooked and lost a fish estimated at 5.lbs in it last season, the hook straightened”. The upstream breeze made fishing wet difficult so I quickly reverted to dry and put up a small olive klinkhammer pattern. With no trout showing I fished likely seams to little effect.

Second of the season, a nice half pounder.

Liam on the other hand found a sheltered back water with a nice streamy run pushing close to a half sunk tree. Placing his fly in the suds he winkled out a 10 inch trout to break his duck for the year. Two more fish rose but were too quick for him, these Liffey brownies are lightening fast.

A nice dry fly stretch on the River Liffey, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

Moving upstream I found a run sheltered from the wind by a high bank. Heavily lined with willow trees, there were enough gaps to enable fishing if one used unorthodox casting methods. Switching over to wets my luck changed and I rose a number of trout landing three to close on half a pound. Beautifully spotted but a little lean, in a few weeks they will be plump and full of fight.

A Liffey brownie takes a partridge and orange.

By now the sun was waning and a chill started to fill the air, we had forgotten but it was only March 3rd. Close on four bells three tired but happy anglers walked back to the cars, the Liffey had been good to us Liam also netting a few nice trout and the day most certainly augured well for the season to come….