By Leif Stävmo – Guideline Product Manager
Last week I went for a quick, social road trip in Ireland with my son. Looking back on the days there, I am almost in shock that I haven’t visited this lovely country and its friendly people before. Half a day of flyfishing with a visit to the very competent and professional guys at Clonanav Flyfishing, was a good trade-off for multiple distillery- and brewery tours as well as some great nights filled with music and good laughs. Never could I have anticipated the quality of the fishing I experienced in only few hours of fishing, sampling the Rivers Nire and Suir.
Brilliantly hosted by Andrew Ryan, the owner of Clonanav Flyfishing and in great company, guided by Kevin Shone, I hit a jackpot in only a few hours fishing.
With Kevin, knowing these rivers like the back of his hand, we hit the Nire with some very fishy looking water and a few careful rising trout sipping tiny Iron Blue Duns off the surface, only minutes away from the shop and our B&B.
The days prior to my visit had seen the river high and it was now on it’s way down, clearing and with the odd Hawthorn Fly also present. We opted for an imitation of that fly and added a small bead head dropper nymph tied to the hook shank of the dry on a 30 cm tippet. Small water and shy fish requires some fine tackle, so I choose to fish the LPs 9’9 #3 rod with a Presentation WF3F. A 12’ 4x leader was completed with a tippet of 6X for both the dry and the nymph.
Wading upstream under a canopy of green trees and high river banks, among lush green weed beds on the soft gravel bed, looking for tiny rises was an experience that will stick with me for a long time. Nice and challenging casting, fish that required good presentations and a drag free drift in the slow, clear water accompanied by my fun and knowledgeable local guide, made the morning session one to remember.
We were lucky to hook and release a few good size fish with stunning proportions and colors as well. Could have stayed and explored miles of this water for days…. But reality caught up with us and knowing I had very limited time today, we decided to grab a quick lunch on the go and headed off to the Suir for a short afternoon session hunting for some of its large elusive browns.
This is Ireland’s second longest river and world famous for its dry fly fishing. It is a wide (30m/100ft) limestone river/spring creek flowing for 114 miles to the sea at Waterford port. This river also holds some very large fish and the stretch Kevin had picked had perfect water for swinging some big, weighted streamers to these trophies that predominantly feed on small baitfish. Being part Salmon- and part Trout angler, I felt very much at home in this environment and decided to set up a ULS 14gr rig on my Fario NT8 9’ #6 rod.
As the current was quite powerful with the river still being up a bit and the stretch had some deep water with good seams in addition, I decided to go for a ULS 3D+ in Sink246. I added about 2 meters of 0X Fluorocarbon tippet and tied on one of the “Metal Helmet Zonkers” I was offered by Kevin. A brief introduction to the method of retrieve and presentation for these fish and I was ready for action.
We started fishing off the high bank, throwing long overhead casts towards the far side of the 25 meters wide river and the deeper water there. I sure didn’t take long before a good fish slammed my fly on a fast retrieve and a few minutes later I could happily release my first Brown Trout from the Suir.
When landing the fish, we entered the water through a steep ladder and being down there, I decided to continue down the pool wading and throwing Spey casts as there was limited (none at all actually..) room for back casts. The very heavy fly was a bit tricky to cast on the light rig, but I must say the ULS rig managed very well… About half way down the pool I suddenly had a solid, very heavy take from a fish that was of totally different proportions from the earlier one.
Kevin and I looked at each other and back on to the rod that just remained bent in a deep steady curve without any shakes and jerks. The Suir holds some serious Salmon in addition to the Brown Trout population and this could very well be one of those, we thought. After a long deep fight, the fish finally turned on the surface, showing a big yellow side and the voice from Andrew who had just turned up on the bank confirmed it was a good fish.. “God All Mighty” …
Kevin did a solid job and managed to squeeze the fish into a net that was just a bit too small for a fish that size. High Fives and cheers later, we could safely release one of the largest stationary river Browns I’ve ever landed.
This scenic and quiet, part of the country has some seriously interesting fishing, the guys at Clonanav has access to over 20 miles of well managed private fishing where C&R is practiced. They sure can put you on some magnificent water as well as organize a package with both accomodation, guiding and catering.
The Shop is set in lovely surroundings, stocks all the premium brands, including Guideline and hosts a nice casting pond for testing rods and lines before buying. A super impressive set up, indeed. Easiest way to contact them is through their website: www.flyfishingireland.com I know I’ll be back for more of this soon, for sure….