“If I only had one fly” Denis O’Toole

In 2011 the largest Irish Sea Trout ever caught on a fly was landed on the East Coast of Ireland from an un-named river. The fish weighed over 16lbs and was returned unharmed, minus some scales. Analysis of those scales revealed the fish to be 7 years old and it had spawned 5 times. A local bylaw prevented it being claimed as the official record, a fact that doesn’t seem to worry its captor, Denis O’Toole, at all.

Denis lives close to the River Slaney, a wonderful improving fishery, and when he’s not keeping fit boxing, he fishes there for Salmon and many smaller rivers nearby where he chases Sea Trout. His chosen fly however, was designed for the River Drowes, in the North.

From early experiments in fly tying in the 90’s he has progressed from tying flies using a pair of pliers held between his knees as a vice – to a very skilled and creative tier, comfortable with many styles and techniques. I always look forward to seeing the latest O’Toole creation.

His influences are far and wide but he holds Falkus in highest regard –  “if you can sit down and watch Salmo The Leaper and not want to go fishing, you shouldn’t be holding a fly rod”.

The fly is Denis’ own pattern it works particularly well for salmon when the water is carrying a little colour and although it was conceived with the Drowes river in mind the colour combination works well on the Slaney. I’m sure it would work well just about anywhere……..

The Drowes Dawn Shrimp

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The fly can be tied on either hook or tube as follows:-

Thread – 8/0 Hot Orange
Tag – Medium Silver Oval
Tail – Golden Pheasant wound
Rib – Medium Silver Oval
Rear Body – Silver Holographic Tinsel
Middle Hackle – Yellow Cock
Front Body – Claret Floss
Rib – Medium Silver Oval
Front Hackle – Claret Cock Hackle
Cheeks – Jungle Cock

Like many tiers Im talking to, Denis considers fly tying a major part of his life and if he had any advise for novice tiers it would be this – “Practise and buy the best quality materials you can afford, I know that’s 2 pieces of advice, but if you follow them you wont go far wrong“.

And what about that Sea Trout? Well here it is……….


Many thanks Denis thats a stunning fish!

Paul Slaney

I should give this up, wrapping bits of fluff around a hook for fun just cant be normal