Swedish version


The Homer Roach Travels To Ireland: HUH?
By Bob Kenly

The original Homer Roach, the saltwater version for Alaska is the upper fly, The lower one is the freshwater version that Arthur used in Ireland

  My friend, Arthur, is Irish (Northern) not pseudo Irish like so many of us in the Colonies but the real thing, living and working his entire life there. He is also an Irish humorist and chronicler of life in the "Wild North". So when he fishes the Irish loughs (the Gaelic word for lake) for salmon and Sea trout its only natural that he fishes in a proper Irish manner. You sure as hell don't roar around the lake in a high powered boat scaring the crap out of the wildlife (which includes the local folk), nope, Irish lake fishing is a sedate affair meant to enjoy the day and the meaning of why you fish in the first place. Americans for the most part look at this sort of activity as something humorous that people “over there” do, certainly not the American way.

Kylemore Abbey, it looks so quiet
you almost hear yourself breathe

  So, in July Arthur and his friend Mark, dressed in their proper Irish attire (lots of warm clothes and rain gear, rain falls sideways in Ireland), head out to the Kylemore Fishery. That’s located in far western Republic of Ireland (so far west the next Irish town to the west is Boston, Massachusetts). They opt to stay at Kylemore House built in the 1780's with all the amenities one would expect at a fine Irish fishing establishment (except a bar, hard to believe). The house, owned by the Naughton family also own part of the lake which has the best fishing, the other part is owned by the Benedictine Order of nuns which owns the other part of the lake (again more confusion on our part as we never heard of such things as paying to fish). The area itself is what anyone would expect of rural Ireland, in fact the 1950's movie "The Quiet Man' starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara was filmed nearby (Arthur's father playing a bit part in that production), an almost a too perfect setting to fish in.

Our two heroes stopping for lunch

  The two of them rent a proper Irish boat from the owners of Kylemore House (a 19 foot classic wood clinker built with a 6hp motor and Minn Kota for drift control) and head up wind to start their drift down wind till they run out of lough, start their little motor to do the whole thing again, and again and again, THAT’S fishing the Irish way. A 15 to 20 MPH (24 to 32 KM/H) wind is desirable to keep the boat moving at a steady pace with a fisherman at each end of the boat casting downwind, about 25 feet is par for the course. Using an 11 foot rod and bushy Irish flies with names such as: Bibo, Dabbler, Goat's Toe, Clan Chief, Daddy, Zulu, and Green Peter, Arthur and Mark drift along the shore catching 1 to 3 pound Sea trout, although considered small Sea trout run like missiles and just won't quit.

Arthur's friend Mark with his salmon

  However, no matter how much they tried neither could seem to entice a salmon using the traditional methods so in absolute desperation and true to his Irish rebellious nature Arthur ties on an Alaskan fly I gave him many years ago, a silver tinsel fly with a red hackle collar, red weighted epoxy head and bulging eyes. That's a fly from 4280 miles away meant for Pacific salmon, no stretch of the imagination could place such a fly in Ireland in fact I don't even remember why or when I sent him these flies but if Arthur said I did I guess I did. I don't know what Mark said when he saw Arthur with this strange creation but I'm sure both looked warily at the sky to make sure they weren't offending the Irish ancient gods or various saints that cover two guys in a small boat (Ireland being a Catholic country is bound to have somebody who covers situations like this). Arthur casts, letting the fly sink about 18 inches below the surface and catches a 5 pound salmon. The next day Mark tries the same fly and repeats Arthur's success with a 4 pound fresher salmon, while Mark goes ashore for a rest stop Arthur immediately cuts off the fly from Mark's line for another day and time. I guess it might be better to name this fly "The Kylemore Roach" when it's used in Ireland.

My friend Arthur with his salmon.
That's Kylemore House in the background

  Retrospect: In Alaska tinsel flies are very popular especially the "Flash Fly" which has an upright silver tinsel wing and red collar. Other variations include purple, pink, orange and even black which I've caught numerous Pacific salmon on. It may not be as odd as anyone might think that Arthur found success with a tinsel fly, albeit Alaska fly, since tinsel flies seem to be gaining in popularity with Atlantic salmon fishermen especially in Scandinavia and Russia.

  I don't know of many countries that have such close ties than America and Ireland, just think about the fact that we celebrate a holiday from another country (St Patrick's Day). On that one day of the year we celebrate our "Irishness" whether we are Irish or not, people change their names to something like O' Schultz, O'Bromski or even O'Goldbloom (same here since I come from British stock who opened Maryland in 1639 due to the fact Catholic mercenaries had a hard time finding employment). Just to be able to claim on that day in March anyone can join in the festivities and claim they too are Irish. So maybe a fly from Alaska being used in Ireland just may reinforce our mutual reverences for life and fine fishing, plus a wee dram (or a bucket full) of Bushmills in front of a peat fire after a successful day on the water.

The Homer Roach or Kylemore Roach

Tying the Homer (or Kylemore) Roach

Tube: plastic (I use HMH 3/32 dia.).
Thread: You can use any color thread since all the windings will be under the head.
Tinsel: Silver tinsel but again you can use any color if you so choose.
Collar: I prefer a soft webby hackle.
Head: Lead wire covered with epoxy.
Eyes: Small stick on (optional but I put eyes on just about everything).
Epoxy: fast drying and slow drying (I uses Devcon 5-minute and 2-Ton in the premix tubes exclusively in all my tying).
Color Medium: Acrylic artists paint (comes in many colors, readily available, cheap, non stinky, the only thing I color with).

  Tying this fly isn’t “rocket science” basically its taking a bunch of tinsel and wrapping it around a tube and tying it off. Next wind on the hackle collar and tie off (so far very simple). The head is another problem, not so much in actual construction but coloring the head. After I establish just were the head will be I wrap the area with lead wire. I then cover the lead with quick drying epoxy to shape the head and let dry. When thoroughly dry I rough up the head with fine sandpaper, which allows me to paint an undercoat before I put a coat of colored epoxy over the head. After the undercoat is dry I mix some long drying epoxy with Acrylic and apply it to the head, placing it on my turner I let it dry and cure, usually over night. Next stick on the eyes and cover the head with a clear coat of long drying epoxy, turn and let cure. That’s it in a nutshell.

The fly is started by establishing where the hackle will will start

The head is started by wrapping the area with lead wire and covering with quick drying epoxy to form the shape

After the head is lightly sanded, paint is applied (Don't worry if it
looks gloppy like this, in fact thats better for the next epoxy coat to adhere to.

The epoxy coat mixed with paint applied and cured

The final result


Text and photos by Bob Kenly 2007 ©
Bob's website


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