Dances With Sea Trout

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                          DANCES WITH SEATROUT.

‘Rising ghost like from dark shadows a hungry seatrout homes in on a crane fly dancing on the breeze.Unable to hold it’s own against the wind the unfortunate creature is blown onto the water’s surface.With a powerful tail thrust the trout begins his final run coming at the fly hard and fast from below.The gleaming whiteness of his gaping mouth shining like a beacon.Moments later his dark snout breaks surface and in an instant the trout rolls onto and engulfs the fly in a flurry of spray.Diving deep and fast to the security of his lye far below pulling the hook deep and true’.

The fight is on !

                            Welcome to the exiting world of dapping.

Dapping originated on the great Irish loughs over a century ago and successfuly adapted by Scottish loch style anglers  in pursuit of quality of seatrout and ‘big brownies’.

In the early days dapping was correctly described as blowline fishing.An ingenious method of presenting flies and other natural insect life in their natural state.

Heavy bamboo and greenheart rods upto twenty feet long were in common use combined with simple centrepin reels loaded with silk lines.

Dispensing with the need to cast dapping is simplicity itselve.With the rod held high line pulled from the reel carries easily on the wind billowing out over the water some distance from the boat.Allowing the fly to settle naturaly on the surface.The fly lifts with each gust of wind and flutters back down onto the surface as each gust dies away.

Fooled by the fly’s realistic mannerisms most trout cannot resist the temtation of such an easy meal,rising with confidence and hitting hard !

Many Irish anglers still prefer to fish ‘live’.When in season mayflies and daddy longlegs are hunted and harvested from lochside vegetation.To be secured on special lightweight hooks that allow natural insects and flies to fished on the ‘dapp’ until spent.

Grasshoppers and other like insects are regularly dapped with great success during those times when mayflies and ‘daddies’ are unobtainable.

Scottish loch style anglers fish a variety of artificials such as Loch Ordie,black pennell,claret and black,blue and silver and ‘the rat faced MacDougall’.

Heavily dressed with long hackles for a bushy effect popular sizes lean toward longshank 2’s smaller 6’s and 8’s have their place too dependant on conditions.Others are dressed on plastic tubes or lightweight waddington shanks loaded with small treble hooks.

With the exception of daddy longlegs dapping flies are not tied to represent natural life but as big bushy attractors that offer a good silhouette against the sky as seen from below.

The fly must sit on and not in the surface film or it will take in water lying static and unnatractive.Too heavy to lift on the breeze.Regulardressing with a quality floatant ensures good performance and presentation.

Today’s dapping tackle consists of glass or carbon fibre rods with a minimum length of fourteen feet.A wide arbour reel loaded with monofilament backing onto which is tied a twenty foot length of nylon floss.Which in turn is tied to a three foot mono leader.A selection of flies compliments the outfit.

Dapping is most successful afloat,broadside drifts are ideal.One angler fishing from the bows,the other over the stern.

It is best to allow the floss to billow out in a great convex arc away from the boat for better control of both line and fly.

Seatrout lye in depths rarely deeper than twenty five feet and are often slow to rise.Dapping flies as seen by trout as distinct silhouettes againdt dark skies offer a good target to home in on.With natural bounce and fly like actions many trout are drawn to the fly out of curiosity.

Seatrout take dapped flies with great confidence  in one of several ways depending on their mood and conditions on any given day.


Occurs when trout prefer to take flies sub surface.A powerful tail slap on the drowns the fly forcing it just under the surface.The trout turns to face the fly and takes it ‘wet’.Don’t be fooled into assuming that the trout has missed the fly altogether.Give it time to turn onto the fly before striking.


Taken from below and simply sucked below the surface.Once again allow time for the trout to yurn down with the fly before striking.


Taken hard and fast from below the trout launches itselve at the fly pulling the hook into the scissors as it does so.


Head and tail takes are exiting and common .There is no finer sight than watching a quality trout mouth agape porpoise at the fly roll over and take it firmly in it’s mouth.Once the fly has been taken the trout must be given time to turn back down into the depths before striking or the fly will simply pull free from the fish’s grasp.

On each occassion allow the fish to take line from the reel and time the strike by slowly counting to five before lifting the rod into your shoulder or better still strike only when the nylon floss is drawn underwater.A degree of self restraint is required !

In a moderate wind an anchor fly may be required to hold the dapping fly down.Simply thread a small free running treble hook onto the leader prior to tying your chosen fly on.

As an alternative run a dropper off the top of the leader tied to a small teal blue and silver,black pennell or silver butcher.Any standard seatrout pattern or small salmon single will do.

Fishing a dropper greatly increases the odds of hooking a bonus salmon or two ! 

Very often trout rise hard and fast at the fly missing the target altogether ! or a gust of wind blows the fly away at the crucial moment.Feeling bewildered the trout remains static for a few moments.Offering a wet fly immediately can often induce a take.

Seatrout are notorious for ‘coming short’ at the best of times just nipping the fly’s tail or plucking at the hackles.Drop down a size for a confident take or fish specially adapted flies armed with a small flying treble.

Seatrout tend to lye up in small shoals and do not appear to intigrate with salmon or brown trout.There are traditional lyes which produce quality fish consistantly and these should be fished out with care.Drifting between holding lyes often produces a good fish or two as dapping entices travelling trout to the fly.In general terms dapping brings the best of the shoalto the surface over the water the fly covers.Salmon parr and finnock love a big bushy fly and persist in their attack ! Consistant rises from small immature fish generally signifies that better quality fish are not present.Time to move on and fish another drift.

Controlling the fly is not easy and difficult to place over rising fish.Let the wind do the work for you and the fish will find the fly.Using stiff leaders can help too,select mono with a dull finish if at all possible to reduce of ‘line flash’.Bearing in mind that only the fly should be on the water.

Some flies are easier to control than others fishing with eye catching actions.

Tube flies roll over the waves rocking back and forth when the wind catchestheir hackles.Others skate across the surface as true wake flies.Whilst the ‘rat faced MacDougal’ sits high and proud skating across the wind.Lifting the rod high pulls the rat’s head up catching the breeze.Dipping the rod tip lowers the rat,s head in a curious nodding motion.

There are no hard and fast rules as such.Experiment !As with all disciplines of angling presentation is the key to success.

Modern telescopic rods can be carried as a second rod or as an alternative to traditional loch style methods.Fishing on the calmest of days when other more conventional methods are doomed to fail.

Dapping is surely the most natural form of presenting artificial flies and will take quality brown,rainbow and seatrout throughout the season with the added bonus of an occassional salmon.


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