Tackle and flies
If going afloat it is a legal requirement to wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid and for safety (particularly if fly fishing) a hat and glasses.
Trout in the loughs feed hard on hog louse and shrimp early in the year but will rise for the early hatches of duck fly. The Irish loughs are famous for their mayfly hatches that start as early as April and go through to July. Warm summer evenings herald the arrival of sedges and toward the end of the season, the trout may be given a final feast of daddy long legs and olives that can produce excellent top of the water sport. Certain trout can get totally preoccupied with shoals of fry.
In general for fly-fishing from a boat on loughs, a rod of 10 or 11 feet (rated AFTM 6–7) will cover most eventualities. On rivers an 8 or 9 ft AFTM 5 – 6 rod is required.
It is important to bear in mind that trout fishermen may come across sea trout, pike or salmon when fishing for trout. They will all readily take a trout fly, lure or bait. As such it may be worth considering the level of tackle being used.
For spinning, a light spinning rod of about 8-10ft with 8–10lb line on a fixed spool reel will suffice for most conditions.
Most towns have tackle shops, where equipment and flies may be bought or hired and advice sought. Fishing tackle shops can be excellent centres for local information.
Please note the law requires that a suitable Personal Flotation Device must be worn in the following situations:
*By anyone on board an open craft that is under 7 meters in length.
*By anyone on deck on a craft that is under 7 meters length.
*By anyone under the age of 16 on board an open craft or on deck of any other type of craft.
Anglers should wear suitable protective waterproof clothing whether fishing from shore or boat. Suitable and appropriate footwear should be worn at all times. When fly fishing, the angler should wear a protective set of sunglasses as eye protection and a hat. Midge repellent is essential for fishing on many of the small lakes & streams in the summer months.
The classic way to fish for salmon is with the fly. Double handed rods are not always essential and generally the Irish angler favours single handed rods.
On most Irish rivers one would need nothing larger than a 11’6 ft rod (rated AFTM 7 / 8) with a floating line – there are the odd exceptions such as the Cork Blackwater or the Moy where the double handed rod comes into it’s own for use with sinking lines in cold water.
Reels (dependant on river size) should hold at least 100m of backing. Leaders should use at least 12lb monofilament and are usually for single fly, particularly on rocky rivers. The IFI site states "Traditionally the river current imparts the movement to the fly. As such, the slower areas of river are usually not favoured by the salmon fly fisher. However, to get past this problem, it is not uncommon on rivers such as the Moy or Mourne for anglers to use bubble and fly. This is usually fished using spinning tackle."
Fly-fishing for salmon on loughs is an Irish specialty. Most loughs, like lies and lochs everywhere, fish best when there is a good ripple or wave over the water rather than in calm. Rods to 11ft 6in (rated AFTM 7 / 8) are used and salmon are fished for in much the same way as one fishes for trout, using floating lines. Tapered casts down to 10lbs would be recommended. The point fly is often a shrimp fly, with the droppers consisting of standard trout/sea trout flies size 10 or 12.
Ireland is the birthplace of many famous salmon flies such as the Thunder and Lightening, Black Doctor, Connemara Black or a Red Shrimp. When opened, the predominant colour of an Irish fly box holding shrimp patterns is a rich orange hue the same colour as a good whiskey. Though everyone has their favourites, you would never go too far wrong with patterns such as the Apache Shrimp, Bann Special Shrimp, Delphi Badger, Wilkinson Shrimp, Curry’s Red Shrimp or Foxford Shrimp. Irish flies tend to start on the small side; Size 8 being used in the cold/ early spring, then as the water warms, the flies being scaled down to 12’s and 14’s. Other salmon flies such as the Tosh, Ally’s Shrimp, Cascade, Willie Gunn, Hairy Mary, Silver Stoat, Green Highlander and the Collie Dog all work and account for fish every year.
Spinning for salmon can be a very effective method when conditions suit. In heavy water it may also be the only realistic option to take a fish. An 8 to 10 ft rod will be able to cope with most conditions. Fixed spool reels should hold at least 100 – 150m of 10 to 15lb monofilament / braid.
In the early season one might use 3in Devon Minnow or large Toby’s, these being fished slow and deep to get to where the fish are lying. As the water warms up, lure size should be reduced and the speed of retrieve increased. On some loughs, such as Melvin and Currane, trolling is a favoured method early in the year.
When used properly, the trotted worm with or without a float is a skilful form of fishing as well as being very effective. The normal way to fish a worm is to use a bunch of three on a single hook; however a single worm can also produce results.