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Tuesday, 2022-08-09

Top Ten Flies for Ireland

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The Jungle and Gold

A big streamer-like thing, of Scandinavian origin, called Jungle and Silver, was what I used in the late seventies, early eighties to catch winter Zander in Northern German rivers.
After moving to Donegal in 1986 and using Jungle Cock more or less exclusively for salmon flies, I found myself left with lots of small feathers of that bird, thinking on how to use them up.


The result of this contemplating is the Jungle and Gold, which accounted for numerous mountain- lake and river brown trouts in the earlier months of the season; but actually it is a sea trout fly. Unfortunately the great decline of that splendid species came before the fly's full capability of getting them could be really explored.
Due to the size of the Leftover-Feathers, the hooks should be small; 12 to 16 is what I use.

Thread - black
Tag - oval gold
Tail - golden pheasant tippets
Body - flat gold
Ribbing - oval gold
Hackle - black cock or hen, two turns
Wing -one jungle cock feather tied flat on top

The Jungle and Gold

Above Things

Walking for hours to catch quarter pound brown trout is not everyone's thing; it definitely wasn't mine; until I met Ray Robinson, the very well known angler and artist of the region. He taught me that fishing for these wee fellers has a certain attraction: succulent, they taste just succulent, he said with a big smile on his face, better than salmon anyway. Actually almost everything tastes better than salmon, to think of it.
We spent hours brooding over our maps, looking for those magic places: as far away as possible from habitation, dotted with many lakes. Contours showed what might be the easiest way to get up to these wild places.

Wonderful days; roaming with map and compass the hills and mountains of Donegal, searching for lakes, sometimes only bog holes; were amazed where trout can survive; walked five hours through a bog-landscape to find one certain lake. There are no paths or roads or tracks, you climb and walk to find finally a lake with trout of a quarter pound in it, or smaller. In another one, just a few hundred meters on, they are bigger for no apparent reason. And there are those lakes where they grow up to a pound, or even two; then there are some, just a couple and well spread, where they get heavy, by our standards.
Some waters have no fish at all, like an unlucky incident. Everything seems to be right; deep enough with water-plants and the water surely not more acid than the next one, a hundred meters on, which is teeming with fish.
Rock formations decide plant growth, therefore the availability and amounts of insects and other fish-foodstuff. There is basalt, granite, slate or gneiss: they don't allow much growth; the water is black, water-plants almost none-exist. Then, in the next lake, just a couple of minutes walk away: an abundance of growth, reeds and weeds are plentiful, water colour
has only a hue of brown; and great for us: there are bigger fish. Chalk- or sandstone formations, which often border granite rock stratum, show their influence here.
There are lakes with only a part of its trout population being pink fleshed; they obviously have different diets. In other lakes they are all of the same size, and when you come back there the next year, the entire population seems to have grown uniformly.
These unique and intact mountain landscapes leave deep impressions Nectar the very well known angler of the region uses to say. We sit on a rock, eat our sandwiches, enjoy the view from high up over the Atlantic, get compass and map out again: which direction now?

Should be over there, north-north-east, we should make it in half an hour or so. Every day spent up here is unforgettable; after years they come back, fresh into the memory: simple pictures first, fragments, until puzzle like the entire day presents itself anew: how the ocean below came into view; the far lake shore, visible just for a few seconds as the fog lifts temporarily; how the lake appears suddenly, while still climbing, on eye level as a sort of climax, the reflections almost blinding; when high up on a ridge the perfectly round sheet of water appears way down in the kettle like a mirror, you are above the things; fishing on top that is the day we spent in the clouds, from morning to evening just drifting clouds, the fly line disappears with every cast; there is the joy when a lake, after being just a speck on the map, lies actually in front of you after hours of walking, rings of rising trout everywhere; and it is the joy about the three or four fish you bring down with you; we saw falcons gliding above, carried by upcurrants, buzzards, kingfisher, mallard, grouse, heron, wild geese, snipe and this vegetation, seeming so uniform, has different orchids and crocus, water lilies, cress, bog bean, marsh violets, bilberry and heather of course , beautiful mountain pines spread themselves over rock, refusing any form of a target to the wind, moss and ferns, lakes appear and disappear, some are grown over, countless streams and rivulets, some underground, only audible beneath the feet, where the water sees daylight again it forms a pool, one meter by one meter, you drop a fly down: take, they are almost everywhere; remains of big tree stems and roots, conserved in the bog, give evidence of a total different vegetation in the past: here must have been entire forests, not like today's occasional tree: isolated, rugged, sparse, willow and ash, growth poor, moor land now, granite formations with deep grooves carved out by rain water; everybody should walk and see it once: you either love this landscape or reject it absolutely, indifference is hardly possible.

Three flies at the cast, depending on wind, month and lake, in sizes 10 to 14, never without a Bibio. Big insects are scarce up here, something small and black or brown it is mostly: various midge forms ( God save us ), Chironomidae or Simulidae. Whirligig beetles ( Gyrinus ) almost everywhere; if they are scooting around freely, away from the banks, you have an indication: the lake in question has no fish; confined to the edges, not to many of them and you should definitely give it a try.
There are days when hundred or more fish rise to the fly, but don't take really; very interesting days, and so hard to get a fish; lakes, so shallow, reeds and rushes grow all through them; you fish the few free patches of water and get your fish; trout, almost black, sturdy, small heads.

Loughs Shivnagh and Nadeal, Blue Stack Mountains, Co. Donegal, Ireland