Sunday, January 21, 2018

Wet fly & spider fishing: A productive approach that should always be considered.

Over the last number of seasons through coaching and meeting anglers on the water, I am discovering more and more anglers young and old who have a limited or forgotten knowledge of effective wet fly and spider fishing on rivers. I have even encountered some top competition anglers that would not even consider the option of swinging a wet fly or spider across a stream during a session. 
For me growing this was our bread and butter fly fishing method, nymphing didn't come into our arsenal till I was into my twenties. So up on till then it was craftily swinging wet through the riffles and pools of the Avonmore River in Co Wicklow that won most of our club competitions and Leinster Championships held by the
club. Even though, today I too tend to lean towards the nymphs and dries time and time again, there are days when the wet fly's and spiders fished correctly will catch more fish than any other method. In order to be a complete competition angler you must be able to fish all methods and more importantly know when each one will be more effective than the others. 

Over the last decade or so I do try and spend some time on the wet when the conditions are favorable for this approach. Ideally a Spring or Autumn day with a nice breeze blowing up the flats creating a wave is what you are looking for perfect wet fly fishing. A extra drop of fresh in the river or a dropping colour in the water can put the trout feeding right in the zone where the wet flies are swimming. 
But admittedly I am not a wet fly angler, I can do it, but am no means an expert on it. However a good friend of mine has spent countless weeks, months and years practicing and learning to understand this fly fishing approach and in my opinion one of the best river wet fly fisherman I have ever encountered. 
David O Donovan is a renowned and accomplished competition angler through Ireland and Europe. Fishing Munster rivers all his life and especially the famous Blackwater River, where wet fly fishing is the go to method to catch large number of fish; also in this region there is some of the best wet fly anglers in the Country. During our practice sessions over the years, David will always spend half a day on the spiders and wets to test them out to see if they will be wort setting up. In most cases we end up setting up at least one rod with the wets. They can pick off a few fish any time and can cover the stretch of water a lot quicker than nymphs if you need to find pods of fish. 
So recently in a conversation with Dave I asked him for his top five tips to good wet fly fishing to share with you here and hopefully get anglers to start thinking of this approach for the coming season. 
No.1 Scan the surface for any fish activity or movement.
Being able to identify when is a good time to fish and put some of your session time into the wets or spiders is a key. Some times there giveaways when the breeze is blowing up stream and there is a hatch on. You will be able to see fish breaking the surface and a good team of wets here would be devastating. Looking at the way fish are moving and breaking the water surface will give you a clue if they are taking off the top or under the surface where the wet would be fishing. 
No.2 Keep on the move, cover as much water as possible. Two or three casts then a few steps. 
Wet fly fishing will allow you to cove a lot more water than any other method. This can help if you have long beats and you need to find where the fish are. 
No.3 Change your casting angles 
This is one I often hear Dave mentioning "its all about the angles". So by changing  your casting angle you will change the presentation of the fly to the fish and in turn could be the factor to entice the fish to take. Some times you can change the angle by you changing your casting position or by the movement of the rod during the swing of the cast. Changing the angles can allow your flies to swim deeper or higher in the water, faster or slower on the swing; by practicing this aspect you will gain valuable knowledge to what works best in different types of water on different days. 
No.4 Large flies can catch small fish. Vary your fly patterns. 
Larger winged fly's can represent fry and large winged olives that are plenty to be found on most rivers. Trout can be opportunistic creatures and a larger fly sometimes can be too good to be resisted by a hungry trout.  By changing the patterns and understanding the reason for changing can be the difference to catching or not catching. Changing to a wet fly that looks nice in your fly box dose not necessarily mean the fish will like it, make sure they are tried and tested and you know when to fish them.  
No.5 Fish the Glides, margins and light riffles in the spring, then fish the heavier water as the temperature rises through out the season. 
A lot of the time anglers forget or tend to ignore the lighter water or margins as there nymph get stuck all the time so why bother, even though this water holds fish. Fishing light wets or spiders can be very effective on this type of water and produce great sport that others are missing. As the fish fall back in the warmer months then the heavier water will be come more productive. 

Dave recommends a 10 foot rod, 3 to 4 weight with an intermediate fly line. He normally uses 3-4lb mono and 3 fly's that are usually 4 feet apart. 
It is amazing that there is anglers out there that not only don't consider wets as an option but because they are so reliant on nymphs they cant even cast the flies if they had to. This is also a problem for our youths, they are being taught that nymphing is the be all and end all and once the nymphs fail to catch then they are done and have no other options. I would recommend to any angler out there is if you want to raise your game then get to understand effective wet fly fishing, and get them fly's back in you boxes. 
Here is a couple good patterns that can produce some good fishing on the swing: 

 The Black and Sliver 
A great wet fly for me over the years, always worked a treat when a shower of rain was failing.

Hook: 303 Dohiku 12-18
Thread: Fine silk  
Body: Flat Sliver 
Rib: Sliver wire 
Hackle: Black Hen 

The Partridge and Orange 
Another classic, but this one has a twist in its tying that I find very productive indeed. 

Hook: 303 Dohiku 12-18
Thread: Fine silk  
Body: Orange holographic  
Rib: Gold wire 
Hackle: Natural Partridge 

Partridge and Gold 
One of the great point flies, ideal when you want the cast of flies to sink that little deeper. Tied large and makes a great streamer. 
Hook: 303 Dohiku 12-18
Head: 2mm tungsten bead 
Thread: Fine silk  
Tail: Natural Partridge 
Body: Flat Gold  
Rib: Gold wire 
Hackle:Natural Partridge

The Greenwells 
What a fly, simple as simple gets but irresistible to fish, this fly will take fish all year around. 

Hook: 303 Dohiku 12-18
Thread: Fine silk  
Body: Olive tying thread   
Rib: Gold wire 
Hackle: Greenwells hen or red game which ever you prefer.  

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog and trying out some of these fly's and enjoy catching fish with it even more. 
Here is a link to a very interesting guide on fly-fishing that's worth looking up its by www.tackle.org https://www.tackle.org/ultimate-guide-to-fly-fishing/ Check it out.

If you have any questions please feel free to give me a shout on my contact details and if you are interested in Dohiku hooks, top quality tungsten beads, or Syndicate competition Fly Rods drop me a line or check them out on my website. Thanks for reading.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thank you for tips for fly fishing !!!!. we are leading fishing store located @ http://casaibrahim.com/

  3. Great article. I too grew up fishing teams of wets and spiders down and across and always caught fish. I’ve moved away from the method over the years as nymphs and dries have taken over but you’ve inspired me to get back to swinging spiders come spring!

  4. A great read,very educational

  5. Wow!!!!! Lot of information which showcased in a better way about the topic charter fishing. The author explains it in a way that also give other's a boost for their plan of action. Thank you and obviously waiting for more.