Wednesday, 27 April 2011


I took the decision a few days ago to replenish my declining stock of dabbler wet flies. The Dabbler series of flies are now 'part and parcel' of lough fishing in Ireland. Fishing on the big Irish loughs without a dabbler or a bumble is similar to going fishing the Dales rivers in Yorkshire without a Partridge and Orange or a Snipe and Purple in the box. You just don't do it! The original dabbler - the Golden Olive, was invented by Mr Donald Mclearn of Dromore, County Down, Northern Ireland in the mid 1990s. He's nicknamed 'dabbler' As far as I know, and I may be wrong, the dabbler began life as an accident. He was tying some Goslings for a competition in Lough Melvin and discovered he ran out of grey mallard  flank. He replaced the grey mallard with bronze mallard and a deadly pattern was born. It is known to take fish anywhere on the cast - although the top dropper is a favourite position. As with many Irish patterns, the impressionistic nature of the pattern accounts for its success and its range of variants. It is further recognised how the cloak style mallard wing offers an impression of an emerging insect.  I always remembered the former 'Trout and Salmon' writer Rod Tye remarking that the main reason why the Dabbler works well is due to the gosling-type wing that encircles the body (Trout and Salmon 2000, May, p.13). Moreover, the cloak style mallard wing causes multiple strands of mallard to split and enclose the fly. This engenders considerable movement and vitality to the fly when pulled through the water. Yet, this appears to be have already considered by dressers before the arrival of the dabbler. Malone remarked how Michael Rogan and fly tiers of Rogan's generation tended to seperate a few strands of the finished wing with a needle - 'believing that individual fibre movement was so important that he combed the whole wing to seperate each fibre' (p.12). Anyway, it is a great fly for the Irish loughs.           

Golden Olive Dabbler
Hook: Ken Sawada Summer Sproat wet fly size 10
Tail: Pheasant tail fibres
Body: golden olive seals fur
Rib: gold oval (fine)
Body hackle: red game
Wing: bronze mallard - tied cloak style

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