International Nymphing: The Irish Dibbler

by Kirk Deeter _ _Not all nymph (or wet-fly) fishing should be confined to rivers. Using subsurface patterns for trout … Continued

by Kirk Deeter

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_Not all nymph (or wet-fly) fishing should be confined to rivers. Using subsurface patterns for trout on lakes can be deadly. Fourth-generation ghillie (guide) Neil O’Shea recently explained to me why the traditional “dibbling” technique works well in places like Lough Currane in County Kerry. “The peat-rich soil makes these lakes acidic and less hospitable for mayflies,” he said. “So the migratory trout and salmon are window-shopping more than they are keyed in on a specific food source, like an insect hatch. Showing the trout and salmon bright, attractor wet flies with a slow, methodical retrieve will elicit a reaction strike. This is a technique for hooking curious, rather than hungry or aggressive, fish.”
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The Rig:** Use a 9- or 10-foot 5- to 7-weight rod with a weight-­forward floating line–or a sink tip for targeting trout 8 feet or deeper. From the fly line tie a 6-foot 3X leader. This rig pre­sents three flies–two are on dropper tags. From the leader, tie a 3-foot section of 6- to 8-pound mono tippet, leaving a 6-inch dropper tag. Attach another 3-foot section of tippet, again leaving a 6-inch dropper tag. The leader length is roughly 12 feet.

The Flies: Traditionalists will insist on staples like the Red Arse Green Peter, Bibio, and Silver Stoat, but good luck finding those at your local fly shop. Stick with proven patterns: a size 10 Damselfly nymph, followed by a size 14 Prince nymph, and a size 16 Mercer’s Poxyback PMD as the point pattern.
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Where It Works:** Dibbling is best suited for flat water–preferably in light wind-driven chop on overcast days when the trout are not dialed in on a specific hatch. Work it over structure, off points, in current lines, and especially near weed mats. Try this technique from a belly boat.
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How It Works:** Make a long, delicate cast and let the flies sink for a few seconds before starting your retrieve. You want to make long, slow, consistent strips (1). Near the end of the strips, lift your rod tip toward the sky so the flies “emerge” to the surface (2). The trout, which will likely have trailed the rig out of curiosity, will grab a bug–just as it reaches the surface–often within short reach of the boat or shoreline. Not all nymph (or wet-fly) fishing should be confined to rivers. Using subsurface patterns for trout on lakes can be deadly.

Fourth-generation ghillie (guide) Neil O’Shea recently explained to me why the traditional “dibbling” technique works well in places like Lough Currane in County Kerry. “The peat-rich soil makes these lakes acidic and less hospitable for mayflies,” he said. “So the migratory trout and salmon are window-shopping more than they are keyed in on a specific food source, like an insect hatch. Showing the trout and salmon bright, attractor wet flies with a slow, methodical retrieve will elicit a reaction strike. This is a technique for hooking curious, rather than hungry or aggressive, fish.”

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From the April 2012 issue of Field & Stream magazine.