All posts by: Tiernan Brothers

About Tiernan Brothers

Angling experts located on the banks of the famous River Moy, Foxford.

Friday 14/02/2020 Stormy Weather


I said last Friday that the weather over the weekend would knock the river out of action and I wasn’t wrong . We had a serious flood. Not as big as a few years ago but not far off. On Sunday morning the water was touching the road at Ballylahan bridge. The road upstream of the bridge was closed due to flooding as were several others. Lough Cullin was flowing back into Lough Conn at an amazing speed  Another storm, Dennis is on the way this weekend!, We live in interesting times. There’s not much to report on the Salmon angling front so here’s a little piece on yet another alternative to river Salmon angling. Sea trout from the Coast.


Sea trout fishing from the coast is something that is taking off in this area. Not that many years ago it was almost unheard of but now we see lots of anglers venturing out on the beaches in search of sea trout and the occasional bass. For your average traditional salmon angler this is a venture into the unknown. It can be daunting and there’s a lot to take into consideration, tide times and heights, location, bait among others. I would say don’t panic. Go with an attitude that it’s a day out trying something different while Salmon angling is not at its best, nothing to be lost. The best evening I ever had was when P.J and I finished work one evening and said we would throw two rods in the car and head to a beach. It was a beautiful summer evening and we were happy just to go for a walk. With minimum gear and very little preparation we arrived at the beach. Within 10 minutes we had our first trout. We fished until near midnight catching trout after trout. Despite returning to the same beach many times since, it has not happened again. We were lucky and the point is you don’t need to be an expert to try something different out.

There’s a lot of debate as to the best stage of tide to fish. Personally I like the last two hours of the going tide and the first two of the coming tide. I have spoken to anglers, some far more accomplished than me and from what I can gather it’s possible to take a fish at any stage of tide. Location and the ground your fishing over is probably more important. Not many anglers are willing to share information on their favorite places. A friend of mine was telling me one day that he and another guy had some great sport and caught some really large sea trout. I innocently asked where, he smiled and said ill take you some evening. I said great, to which he replied “yeah no problem but I’ll have to blind fold you and put you in the boot” that ended that conversation.  I suppose we can’t really blame anyone for not wanting to give away the location of their special spot. It took a lot of time, trial and error to find it. Its time well spent though and it is rewarding when you finally come across a place where some top quality sea trout are milling about.

Regarding baits to use. Natural baits like sand eel and mackerel strip are popular but lures are certainly becoming more popular. Some of the better and more popular lures come from Scandinavia and why not. They have been catching record breaking sea trout from the shores for decades and are light-years ahead of us in this type of angling Fly fishing works as well but Do Not bring your best outfit. Salt water is very un-kind to equipment and even with care it still gets inside reels and eats through rod rings.

From a safety point of view. The Atlantic Ocean can be dangerous. Take appropriate care, wear a life jacket and just don’t take stupid and unnecessary risks.

Regarding License’s and season. Yes you must have a license to target Sea trout. I have only targeted them in the summer months. I’m not exactly sure of the “open season” in various regions or districts. I have asked IFI for some clarification and will post this when I get it. For now check with them yourself before heading out.

River Moy Updates

Friday 07/02/2020 Reels

A cool windy morning in Foxford, Its dry at the moment but the forecast is for heavy rain. The river is coming into reasonable order, it is now at 0.85m at Ballylahan bridge and has cleared a lot. The rain will most likely knock it out of action over the weekend. We are busy getting new stock in which brought me to look at reels, spinning reels in particular. There’s a serious amount of them on the market and we have a serious mish mash. The following is a little bit about Reels 🙂

My first reel was a cheap Olympic followed some years later by a DAM prince, they got me started and I managed to catch a few trout.  However I grew up in the era of the Mitchell 300. It was the reel to have. The Mitchell was for real fishermen! In the end I got one and as time moved on I started to build a collection of 300s, most hand me downs donated by older anglers who had given up fixing them and had bought new reels. I learned how to change gears, springs, heads, bail arms and just about anything. This was the great thing about these reels; they were all the same and didn’t change. Parts were interchangeable and readily available. It’s true to say that the Mitchell 300 was a reel for a lifetime. I still have some of the ones I had as a young lad and they still work. Other popular makes and models were the ABU Cardinal and the DAM Quick. All built with pride in their respective homelands, France, Sweden and Germany. Occasionally I put one on a rod and go for a cast, if just to remind myself of what it was like.  It doesn’t take long to recognize that things have come a long way. Agreeably today’s reel are not built to last a life time but in comparison to the old ones they are a pleasure to use. Tangle free, smooth winding, lightweight and packed with features.

We stock a lot of different brands and models but when asked to make a recommendation I nearly always go for either Shimano or Okuma. These two brands have for us as retailers been the most hassle free and dependable over the past number of years. That is not to criticise other brands or manufacturers. All I would say is that Shimano and Okuma have kept their eyes on the ball and have led the way in developing some fantastic products. Others have rested on their former reputations and have been left behind. The most popular style of reel in this part of the world is the fixed spool. The various manufacturers produce a range of these which fall into different price brackets. Obviously enough, the more you are willing to pay the more “Reel” you will get. Shimano offer many different features including  G-Free Body, Hagane Gear, Cross Carbon Drag, Waterproof Drag, X-Ship, Aero Wrap II, S A-RB, CI4+,Hagane Body, MGL Rotor, One-Piece Bail, Rigid Support Drag, X-Protect, Quickfire II, CoreProtect, MicroModule Gear II, Silent Drive, Dyna-Balance, Fightin Drag, IPX8 Waterproof BodyLong Str Spool, MicroModule Gear, Platinum Premier Service Plan, Rapid Fire Drag, Varispeed.  (Note to self; memorise this list and become a Good salesman ).

Now, like me you will not know what most of these features are or do but they are what make the difference between a 30 euro reel and an 800 euro reel. Worth looking into if you are considering a larger purchase. The only reason I put this list in is to show the way things have moved on. In the old days anything more that 5 ball bearing was considered top of the range, nowadays the most basic of reel has more features. For the average Salmon angler a less expensive to mid priced reel is going to do most of what’s required of it. The top end of things is really for the Angler who enjoys the extras and for whatever reason can afford it. Regarding size of reel, nearly all the manufacturers follow similar sizing patterns, a size 40 Okuma and a 4000 size Shimano will be similar and will hold similar amounts of line.  2,500 size is nice for trout and in most cases a 4000 size Shimano is ideal for Salmon fishing. Some larger models like the 5000 and 6000 are also fine for Salmon but are getting large, perhaps more suited to dead baiting for Pike or Light saltwater work. Modern reels are not designed with the large spools of the older reels. This is largely due to the fact that lines have become thinner and a lot of anglers are now using braided line which is very fine.

Whatever reel you choose one very import thing to remember is that they all need a little bit of care and attention. Every season I get reels in the shop that are neglected and abused. These reels would have lasted for many years with a little more care. Avoid dropping and banging them, don’t let sand and grit get into them, try to keep them out of the water and definitely keep them away from salt water. The occasional drop of oil on the moving parts also helps.

Between Feb 1st and March 30th anyone who leaves a reel into us for re spooling can avail of a free service (oil and grease)  If you have a reel at home that you would like us to look at, we are more than happy to advise as to whether or not its repairable. This again is something that should be done in the early part of the season as when the shop gets busy getting time to strip down reels can be difficult.

River Moy Updates

Sat 01/02/2020

A wild, wet and windy morning in Foxford. The river is at 1.2m at Ballylahan bridge and will rise more throughout the day. It is big and brown in Foxford . For anyone that is brave enough to face it, the best chance of a fish would either be above the traps in Ballina or Pontoon bridge. I’ve the shop open for a couple of hours and that will be enough punishment for me :).

Here’s a short video clip from the bridge in Foxford 20 minutes ago.

River Moy Updates

Friday 31/01/2020 A New Season

A beautiful mild morning in Foxford and the eve of a new season on the Moy. On paper at least, in reality it will be the middle of March before it really kicks off. It is nice to see the evenings starting to lengthen and now we will have the opportunity to go for a cast. A nice time of year to nip out for a quick hour to hone our skills for the sport that will come later. It’s my personal belief that the season opens to early and it would be better leave it until March to open and perhaps extend the season into October. Runs appear to be getting later and spawning is taking place later. Just last Monday P.J and I visited the source of the Moy. A short distance from the source we spotted two Salmon that appeared to be still spawning. Maybe they had finished but were certainly going through the motions; we did not want to disturb them so moved on. As I said that’s My belief, I certainly would like to see some of the more intelligent well paid people do some studies and see if what I am saying is correct, Anyway…..

For anyone that is going to “Wet a line” tomorrow, Good Luck. Water levels will be slightly high (1.15m at Ballylahan bridge now) but it will be fishable. Please remember there will be lots of Kelts heading downstream. Try to give them a chance. For anyone new to Spring fishing i’m going to attach a little piece I done last year regarding the differences between Fresh run Springers and Kelts. It’s no harm to have a quick read of it and if you like please share it.

Kelt v Fresh Run

Kelts/Slats: Are salmon which have spawned and are making their way back to the ocean. If this Journey is successful the Kelt which is worn out and emaciated after several hard months in fresh water can once again feed, regain strength and condition and perhaps make a second return to its river, only this time as a Larger Salmon. Identified by the thin shape, distended vent and presence of “gill maggots” on the gill filaments, Kelts are frequently encountered by anglers in spring when they regain a silvery appearance and can be mistaken for fresh run Springers. On the Moy it is not uncommon to hook a Kelt as late as the end of April. It’s easy to get excited when we catch a Salmon but let’s not get too excited before we first determine that it is a fresh run Springer. By Law Kelts must be returned unharmed to the water.

Spot the Difference

Top: Springer. Bottom: Kelt

Fresh-Run Salmon: Recognised by the pristine condition, bright silver flanks and thick girth. A Salmon straight from the Ocean will have loose, easily detached scales and many carry sea lice which drop off within a few days. Spring Salmon rarely “show” themselves, on most occasions they make a boil in the water without jumping. Kelts on the other hand jump frequently and Tail walk across the surface. During the Spring period if you see a fish jumping several times or splashing on the surface its most likely a Kelt, move on and leave it alone. When hooked a Spring Salmon Fights hard, will make several runs and will stay deep in the water. A kelt may attempt to fight but after a few minutes and a couple of half-hearted runs will come to the surface.

                                                                                                                                                                           Fresh Springer



Look Out For

Salmon that has Spawned “Kelt”

Erratic Jumping (Tail walking)

Frequently follows Bait/spinner to the bank.

Short Fight, loses strength easily

Can be Silver

Normally thin with a flat belly

Fins and tail are ragged

Often scared or marked

Gills are pale colour with maggots


 Fresh Spring Salmon “Springer”

Rarely Jumps or “Shows”

Solid take

Hard Fight with long runs

Deep Girth

Bright Red Gills                                                                                                                                                          Sea Lice

Loose scales

May have sea Lice attached



Above information with Help from Tiernan Brothers Foxford


River Moy Updates

Friday 24/01/2020 Tackle Review, Sharpes Landing net

This is probably the most difficult period of the year for a Fishing tackle business. Not much happens in the way of sales and as new stock starts to arrive it’s all one way traffic, money going out and nothing coming in. It is a good time to take a look around the shop and see what needs attention. What products are selling and which ones are not, try to figure out why!

As a tackle dealers we have to try to sell a variety of items to our customers. Many items on the market are what I would describe as unnecessary and many more are simply not worth the money being asked for them. You are probably saying “he’s not a good salesman” and that is very true, I’m not. Your average “Good salesman” can waffle on about any item and convince the customer its brilliant and necessary, we can’t.

I’m not sorry that I’m not a “good” salesman. Yes in the short term they sell loads and it looks great but in the long term people see through the sales pitch and cop on to been taken in.  We much prefer when a customer wants to purchase an item and we can provide them with something that we know is going to work the way it should and offer value for money, Everyone wins. You could say its Tiernan Brothers policy not to Bullshit about products. We sell it as it is and don’t make false statements, promises or claims. On many occasions we miss the sale but we would always prefer to miss the sale and Keep the customer. We spend a considerable amount of time choosing our stock and we always keep an eye on how the items we choose perform. We test items and always look for and take heed of the valuable feedback our customers give us. Over the next few weeks i’m going to look at a few products that i feel are necessary for an angler to have and offer some suggestions on the best to purchase. This week it’s the Landing net

I think most of us have experienced the situation where the lightly hooked salmon on the end of our line is just not playing ball, the very simple tailing procedure we have read so much about is not proving simple, our fellow angler up river who has a net is choosing to ignore our difficulty. Just as we touch the salmon it gives one splash and a lunge, flicks a forked tail in our direction and swims away, Premature C&R 🙂 The landing net is one of those items that we all would probably like to go fishing without. They can be cumbersome and are often unnecessary but on the occasion when it’s needed it’s nice to have it. They come in many shapes and sizes, long handle, short handle, folding, non-folding, square, round , triangular. Like most other things there’s positives and minuses to all of them and we all have our own opinions on what’s best.

In my experience the most popular and best landing net for salmon fishing is the Gye net. The design is basic and has been around for a lifetime. The head of the net slides along the handle making it possible to carry the net easily, the addition of a peel strap makes a one handed netting operation fairly simple. Over the years I have sold and used several Gye nets made by different manufacturers from different parts of the world. The best i have ever had has been from Sharpes of Aberdeen. Sharpes nets are of the highest quality both in materials used and workmanship. Quite simply they do what they should, no sticking, no warping, no bits flying off and the knot-less net bag is replaceable Price wise they are fairly reasonable and if you consider the lifespan of the product they are very inexpensive. They come in a range of sizes and two shapes, Round or Tear drop. Its personal choice really but the 24 inch round is by far our biggest seller. In 2019 we worked with Sharpes on having a special batch of nets made for us with the Tiernan Brothers Logo. Something we feel was well worth the time and money investing in. We can offer a product with confidence and to date we have not had one single return. I would advise anyone wishing to own a genuine Sharpes net made in the UK to do it soon. It cannot be easy for them to keep going in this very competitive business and sadly like other products I fear we will see the end of the genuine article, replaced by a similar product of lesser quality. I hope I’m wrong.

River Moy Updates

Friday 17/01/2020 Something Different

Christmas break is now over and we are into the New Year. Since my last blog on 03/01/2020 I took a short holiday in the winter sun of Gran Canaria. Nice to recharge the batteries but some shock to the system coming back to 3 degrees, hail and wind. No mercy from the boss it is straight back into work and preparation for the coming season. In fairness to him he did attend a couple of trade shows that were on while I was away. He seems pretty upbeat about all the new products available and assures me he hasn’t ordered excessively, we will see as the boxes arrive.  The reason I mention the holiday is that I made it a bus-man’s holiday and did some fishing. I knew from previous experience that a week of sunbathing was not for me.  In the past while on holiday I have tried for tuna and can’t really say I enjoyed it. I found it very “touristy”.  Before setting of I googled fishing in Gran Canaria and surely enough I found something of interest. Carp Gran Canaria,  Something a little different and why not. Carp is a species that I have heard lots about but never really had the opportunity to try for.  I booked a day.


On the chosen day I was picked up by David (The Guide and guy who runs the operation) who introduced me to Kieran an English man who was also having a day out, not his first though. Both David and Kieran were what we could call true Carp Anglers and Mike was in at the deep end. We had an hour to drive to the lake and most of it as uphill and we’ll into the mountains over 1000m above sea level. The conversation on the way to the lake was Carp, bivies, bolies and long sessions. To be honest when I heard we would be finishing at 3 pm I was relieved.  These lads were talking about days and nights and as much as I wanted to try for a Carp I wasn’t prepared for that. We got to the lake, beautifully remote and scenic. David has a good setup in place, a bivey, some seats, a boat to set baits at long distance and generally everything necessary. Without boring you with details of set up, bites, runs, lull periods and catches, the day was interesting. We caught a total of 5 carp, the largest just shy of 20lb. All fish were carefully handled and released. The two lads were very pleased with our success. Average too good for the lake and above average for UK standards. For me it was something new and it was fishing and as I always say there’s more to fishing than catching fish.


All this has brought me to think of what the alternatives are to salmon angling in our own area. For the guy who’s on holiday and either is not a salmon angler or just wants to try something different. I’m going to start with Lough fishing for wild brown.


Loughs Conn and Cullin are situated approximately 5km from Foxford. Both offer excellent brown trout fishing with the chance of taking a salmon as well. Fishing on both loughs is free but if fishing for salmon or seatrout a license is required. While in some locations it is possible to fish from the shore boat angling is by far the best. Boats can be hired locally and Gerry Murphy at Murphy boat hire is a good man to talk to If it’s your first time trying these Loughs I would recommend hiring the service of an experienced boat man. This is not solely from a Safety point of view but for the best chances of success. No matter how keen a trout angler you are nothing beats a bit of local knowledge. The boat man will be keyed into what’s happening, where trout are located and what they are taking. With regards to safety, Lough Conn is well marked with orange markers on most of the rocks and shallow areas. Lough Cullin while marked is still pretty treacherous especially on a windy day. A lot of the Lough is very shallow and there are numerous un marked rocks. On the plus side for Lough Cullin, due to the shallow waters and abundance of rocks, trout can be caught almost anywhere. On Lough Conn the drifts are more specific and again this is where the experience of a local boat man comes into play. Notable periods on both Loughs generally coincide with fly hatches. Lough Cullin gets a big hatch of duck fly early in the season, around March. Followed by olives in April. The Mayfly normally hatches pretty early in Cullin as well, depending on weather it can start in April and is normally coming to an end by the third week in May. With the exception of some of the shallower bays the Mayfly hatch on Conn is later, starting early to mid-May and ending in early June.  My favorite time of the season on Lough Conn is from Mid-August to the end of September. Fishing at this time can be exceptional and the Lough is normally deserted. It’s no exaggeration to say you could be the only boat on the water. Neither of the Loughs are noted for large trout, plenty in the 10 to 12 inch bracket and the occasional larger fish. Good sport on wet and dry fly’s and in general a nice day out.

A less well known Lough is even closer to Foxford, Callow Lough. Situated on the N26 between Foxford and Swinford. Callow can be an excellent early season Lough. Noted for small free rising, hard fighting brownies. Callow comes into its own from March through to May. It continues to fish throughout the summer months but primarily in the late evening. A very under fished Lough it is certainly a good place for some fast action. One thing that I really like about Callow is that on a really windy day when boats are blown of the bigger loughs callow is sheltered and can still be fished.

River Moy Updates

Friday 03/01/2020 Happy New Year

Good morning and Happy New year from Foxford. I hope you have all had a nice Christmas and that the New year has started of well. We have been out and about over the Christmas watching a few streams. Water level have been high and its difficult to see much. On Tuesday we were in a spot where the levels were falling and there was good activity. I had hoped to get some video but unfortunately it rained heavily yesterday so levels are rising again. In this one spot we did see a good number of fish and one was particularly large, well into double figures. The season opened on some rivers on January 1st but no reports of fish been taken yet. The shop is closed at the moment and we are having a break. I will resume the blog properly in the next few weeks, for now I will continue to store energy for the coming season.

River Moy Updates

Friday 20/12/2019 Happy Christmas

A dry morning in Foxford,thankfully. We have had some pretty crappy weather in the past week and a lot of rain has fallen, water levels are very high. We are closing for the Christmas holidays on Monday and had hoped to visit a few spawning streams to see whats happening, this could be difficult due to the high levels. For today we would like to thank you all for your continued support. Feed back to our blog has been good and we have had a few orders via the website. We have already been at a lot of trade shows and orders for the new season have been placed, lots of new stock to arrive in 2020. We will continue with the blog on Fridays, even if its just to keep in touch. For anyone wanting last minute gifts, its not to late to order a gift voucher and we will do our best to see you have it in time for Christmas Have a Happy and Peaceful Christmas, Michael and P.J

River Moy Updates

Friday 13/12/2019 Balance

Its been a wet and windy week in Foxford and it continues, no shortage of water. We took delivery of the 2020 Salmon Licences this morning which signals the New season is just around the corner. Its been a busy week for us. As most of you know we sell fresh fish as well as fishing tackle. We decided to buy a new stainless steel serve over. A bit like the Governments new printer we got the measurements wrong. Unlike the Government we couldn’t increase the budget and have someone fix the problem, nope we had to get the angel grinder out!. Hence I did not get a chance to prepare anything about angling methods or the river in general.


  Recently I read a copy of a generally well drafted letter which carefully outlined a lot of problems facing our sport and in particular the river Moy. The letter was to be addressed to Government ministers, C.E.Os and lots of people in power. It had several suggestions as to the causes and how to remedy these problems. One issue I had with the letter was that in my opinion it lacked Balance. It was written from one man’s view of the situation and outlined his points of view without regard for the thoughts, ideas and indeed consequence for others.  While I did agree with parts of the letter it certainly was not going to get my support or indeed the support of the majority of anglers in this area. This led me reflect on not only the problems facing our sport but on how we as Anglers view and deal with these issues. In most cases it appears to me that we as anglers who enjoy the sport of angling in its many forms, share a love and respect for our quarry, nature, environment and future of our sport, have different points of view. Rather than have rational debate with sensible reasoning to find a Balance for the good of all, we tend to go on the “Solo Run”, the results of which, if we are honest, are unsuccessful.

One platform where this has become very obvious is Facebook. Here we see and hear the differing and unbalanced opinions on all subjects. The keyboard warriors let fly with all the ammo at their disposal to Air their opinions. In many cases without thought, annihilating innocent people. Earlier this season I had opportunity to take a picture of a Lady with one of the few salmon she kills in a season. She wanted the picture posted on our Facebook page so that a relative living far away could see it and perhaps share in her Joy. We both agreed it would also be a little bit of badly needed publicity for the locality. Within minutes of the picture appearing so did the comments, some very positive and congratulating, others were to say the least unbalanced. Among them “Catch and release” and “why kill”.  Neither of these comments were balanced, they were one sided opinions been expressed in the wrong place. Neither comment took the facts of the situation into account nor did neither comment achieve anything for conservation.  “Catch and release”, Yes if you want to catch and release, that’s fine. “Why kill”, well for a start, it’s not against the law, it’s where our sport evolved from and some people actually like to take a fish home to eat! The people who wrote these comments could achieve a lot more for conservation by acting in a more balanced manner. The Lady in question killed two salmon for the season. On a regular basis I see Flocks of Cormorants flying over my house, these same Cormorants have come from the Loughs and tributaries of the Moy catchment where they have spent their day “Fishing”. Now I’m no scientist but I think any Cormorant is responsible for the deaths of more than two salmonids in a season. The Moy estuary is full of seals, the amount of seal damaged fish turning up in the river is alarming and these are the fish that escape! How many are killed? This is not to mention, water quality, farming practices, Poaching, sea survival and probably ten other major factors which affect salmon. It’s very easy to hop on the “in fashion” popular trend and preach it to the multitudes in a holier than thou manner while ignoring the not so popular facts. The Lady who killed the two salmon is easier to attack that the seal that killed 100 salmon in the same period.

I’m not saying that we get together tomorrow and kill every seal in the estuary or every cormorant on Lough Conn. I am saying that we should have respect for each other and work together. Let’s not forget where our sport comes from and let’s teach future generations how to enjoy and care for it in a balanced manner.

River Moy Updates

Friday 06/12/2019 Bubble and Fly

A nasty dark winters morning in Foxford and the forecast is for more of the same. Had planned to go fishing on Saturday but that has changed, might get the Christmas shopping out of the way :). This weeks article is a little bit on the Bubble and Fly. I hope you find something of use in it, if you do please share it with your friends. If you could also give our Facebook page a Like and share (it all helps)

The Bubble and Fly

 Generally two flies and a weighted bubble float cast across the river and retrieved slowly, it’s simple. So simple that most people don’t believe it can possibly work. So simple that for a lot of people it’s “to easy”. Well it does work but it’s not that simple and it doesn’t work on its own. It needs an Angler to make it work and there’s good anglers and not so good anglers. One thing for certain is that it’s a visual and exciting method, not boring.Old Foxford Bridge

It’s extremely difficult to find out where or how this method originated. I have spoken to a few of the older Local anglers here on the Moy and none of them seem to know. However, from speaking to them i have come to the conclusion that it arrived on the Moy in Foxford sometime around the time of the drainage, mid 60s. Prior to this the common local practice for fly fishing and in particular for trout was dapping with the “Wall fly”. The Wall fly is a type of sedge which got its local name (I’m quite sure it has a Latin one as well) due to the fact it hides in crevices on stone walls and in particular could be found in the stonework of the bridge in Foxford. A common local theory on the origin of the fly itself is that it came to Foxford in Wool which was imported to the Foxford woolen mills. These wall flies were attached to a hook and using a long rod were skillfully dapped along the surface of the water. This was done from stone perches in the river or from the bridge. It’s still possible to witness some of the older locals practicing the method from the bridge in Foxford during the summer months.Butcher

 By the time I started fishing in the early 70s Bubble and Fly was a standard method. The reason for its popularity on the Moy I think is largely due to the fact that a lot of the river is not suitable for the conventional fly rod. Steep banks, slow flow and vegetation, It’s just easier to use the Bubble and Fly.  On summer evenings the “Back of the Town” i.e. the stretch of river from Cualass to the Blackrocks, would be lined with locals, mostly youths using the method during the “Rise”. Bags of trout, both brown and sea would be caught each evening and the occasional Grilse would fall for butcher or Black Pennell. In those earlier days the range of Salmon flies available was not great. Primarily large single hook, feather wing and the occasional hair wing. Silver doctor, Thunder and Lightning, Hairy Mary, blue charm and Gosshawk would have been standards.
Foxford Shrimp Fl

There was always a lot of visiting anglers in the Foxford and Ballina areas and with these anglers came new Fly patterns and styles. Shrimp Flies, hair wings, double and treble hooks. By the mid-80s Irish Shrimp flies had become the order of the day. A variety of patterns emerged and many of them are still favorites today, The Foxford shrimp and Ballina Grey been two of the most notable. I’m not going to get to deep into actual patterns here as it alone is a big topic, many books have been written on the subject. For now it’s safe enough to say that the method works and we know enough fly patterns to cover most situations successfully throughout the season.



I think the first lesson in bubble and fly fishing comes from the past.  I mentioned already that as young lads fishing the bubble and fly we took the occasional Grilse. It wouldn’t have been that common and most of these Grilse were taken late in the evening just before dark. Yet today this method accounts for probably 20% of the catch on several fisheries every season. So what has changed? Well let’s look at the equipment, system and the materials and compare the differences.

The actual system or set up has not changed. A weighted bubble float or similar, One or two flies, normally two. The bubble can be above or below the flies but on the Moy the most popular is to have the bubble bellow the flies, i.e. on the very end of the leader/cast.

On the Moy in the 70s and 80s the standard rod used for spinning, worm, bubble and fly and everything else was 9 or 10 foot long made of fiberglass. The standard fishing line was Maxima chameleon in 15 to 20lbs breaking strain (0.35 to 0.40mm) and a Mitchell 300 or D.A.M Quick were the standard reels. Salmon Flies as I said were generally large single hooks, feather wing with the occasional hair wing pattern. Now for anyone who has tried the method you are already starting to get a picture. if I were to suggest to an angler today to set up for fishing with the bubble and fly using a 9 foot rod with 18lb brown mono as a leader and two size 6 feather wing flies, I’d be as well to retire. The equipment and materials have changed, as also has our knowledge and understanding and this is the difference.

Today the standard rod for Bubble and fly is 3.3 m graphite with good quality guides, Reels are smooth winding with ultra-sensitive drag systems, Lines are strong with fine diameter 0.25 to 0.30mm and are virtually invisible in the water, flies from size 8 to 16 in a range of styles and colours and anglers in general have more “Finesse”.

Assuming you have your 3.3m Tiernan Brothers “River Moy All-round”  rod :), top quality reel and line, a few bubbles, perhaps a new modern bait controller (vive la difference), A few dozen different flies and a good landing net, You’re ready!.  Well you’re ready to learn how to tie up a cast or leader as it’s more commonly called today.

Most good Bubble and Fly anglers will use the same line for their main line and Leader. A well filled reel (it’s a lot easier to cast with a well filled reel) of 0.25 to 0.30mm clear/translucent monofilament. The lighter and finer line been used in very low water conditions ( July, August) the heavier been used in Spring time. A German brand “Stroft” is very popular on the Moy and Stroft ABR is our biggest selling line for Bubble and Fly. The bubble float or bait controller goes on the very end of the line, it is best to attach it to the line using a snap swivel. At a distance of approx. 1.5m away from the bubble (Towards the rod) we make a “Dropper” of approx. 15cm. There are many suitable knots for making a dropper.

I personally use a blood knot as I have always found it to be reliable and I’m a believer in the “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” theory. Mess around with a few knots until you find one that you have faith in. A second dropper is added at another 1.5m from the first. This give a combined leader length of 3m which is long enough and when using the 3.3m rod is still easy to cast. If the leader is longer than the rod casting becomes more difficult. If the rod you’re using is short it is probably best to use only one fly and give a greater distance between the bubble and it.

 If using a bubble float you will need to put water in it to give the necessary casting weight, approx. two thirds full is good. If using a bait controller, the weight is already built in (C’est merveilleux). The choice of fly pattern and size is dependent on conditions in general. I would say that if in doubt, ask someone for a suggestion. Anglers are normally happy to help each other and we are always available at the shop to give advice. A good rule of thumb is in early season or higher water conditions use larger patterns, size 8 or 10, as the season progresses and levels drop a little, drop down to 12 and 14s and in very low conditions 14s and 16s. Brighter colours earlier in the season and for fresh run fish, duller colours as the season progresses. On the Moy you can’t really go wrong with Orange, Gold, Silver, Blue, Yellow and black.

Rod set up, you are now ready to fish. Like everything else it’s possible to catch a fish in any conditions but for success it’s always better to pick the right time or conditions to use the Bubble and fly. Ideally from once the water temperatures have come up a little in late spring, a nice breezy day and a medium to low level of water is best. I would never fish the Bubble and fly in water any deeper than 3m, with 1 to 2m been my preferred depths. The water does not need to be fast flowing but the ripple or wave on the surface is an important factor. A dull day is always better than a bright sunny one but in Sunny weather early morning and late evening can be very good times to fish the bubble and fly. My preference would be the late evening. One of the nice things about Bubble and fly is that even in unfamiliar territory one can be successful. You can quite easily cast all the way across the river and cover all the water. A slow retrieve is all that’s needed but the fly Must “work” in the water. To cast a fly out and let it hang dead in the water been carried by the current is useless. I like to twitch my rod tip as I retrieve thus giving a pulsating action to the fly, some anglers raise and lower the rod tip as they retrieve. Do whatever you feels is giving “Life” to the fly. When a fish takes it is best not to make any big strikes. Normally the fish will leave its Lie, turn on the fly and return to its lie. While the fish is turning and heading back down, all that is necessary is for the angler to tighten into the fish. In a lot of cases the fish is hooked before the angler realises anything is happening at all.  On other occasions the fish may come for the fly several times before been hooked. If this does happen to you, try different sizes of flies or try resting the fish for a little while. I’ve often turned a fish early in the day and went back later in the evening and caught it. Remember when playing a fish that it will most likely be lightly hooked, you are using fine line and there is a bubble and another fly trailing about after the fish as it runs, try to move the fish away from areas with rocks and bushes if possible. To avoid loosing fish change the Leader regularly as it can become weak at the knots or kinked where the droppers twist around the main line. I’m sure there’s lots I’ve missed and I’m also very sure there’s many out there who could add lots to this. We have come a long way from the 18lb maxima though and the Bubble and fly is “simple”.

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