Skagit Fishing Ireland

Last week was my first time out on the water for 2017, writes Daire Whelan. The salmon season opened on the Blackwater on February 1st and a few days later I had a day booked in for fishing and some instructions on Skagit fishing.

I’d read about its beginnings and development on the Skagit river and read with interest as it flourished and became more and more popular across this side of the Atlantic.

A day for Skagit fishing on the Blackwater

Just as Spey casting became part of fly fishing culture in North America, now it’s our turn to embrace a central part of their salmon fishing armoury. Irish rivers might not have the snow depths, the mountain peaks or the bears in the countryside, but Skagit fishing has as much a home these days for the Irish (and UK) salmon angler.

The first question I had, as I was introduced to the myriad of tips, heads, grains and weights, was: does this mean spinning is no longer necessary? I’ve nothing against spinning — it has its uses and its place — but if one can be using a fly rod to get down to the same depths in high water, what fly angler wouldn’t want to be fishing with a Skagit set up?

As it so happened the day I was on the Blackwater would have traditionally been deemed too high for the fly. Not today though. Skagit fishing was the order of the day.

The short head and stroke suits my style. It’s the same with my golf game, running technique or approach to most things it seems; short bursts of energy is part of my DNA; slow and steady is anathema to me.

Skagit casting is easier to pick up and it feels good to be watching the line shooting out so far with the minimum of fuss. Your fly is down quickly and you know you’re fishing at depth to where the salmon are.

I for one am a fan and have added a Skagit rod, reel and line to my set-up. I’m hoping the spinning reel can be left now in the cupboard and a fly-only philosophy can be continued throughout the season in all kinds of water.

Not a day for the bbq

Whilst I’m not exactly hoping for floods and swollen rivers, I am looking forward to being told it’s ‘too high for the fly’ and taking out the Skagit rod to prove the doubters wrong.

Postscript: I didn’t meet any spring salmon on this day, losing a kelt close in to the bank soon after starting.