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Ronan's report

Sunday February 25th, 2007

The best boat I've ever fly fished from, on a stillwater at any rate, is the 19 foot Irish lough boat of the western lakes. This is a specialist hull that has no other purpose. It was designed for fly fishing for trout and is about perfect in every way for that application. First built as rowing boats, these elegant craft are a pleasure to work with the oars, but they are great motor boats too. The slip along with very little disturbance under oar-power, and positively glide with an outboard. They take a big wave nicely too, with a clean entry and have lots of stability in a beam sea. This is important for drifting downwind in the classic loch style. The rules usually say to fish from a seated position, but these boats are a stable platform for casting from your hind legs as well.

The Irish lough boat is as specialised a vessel as the modified dory that evolved into the Mackenzie style drift boat of the western North American rivers. Ireland is full of good boats. On a western trout lake you don't get the cheap, nasty rubbish you find on most Scottish lochs, where, for all the talk of the Scottish loch style, the fishing boat is in a pretty sorry state. There are a few exceptions, of course, that are worth mentioning if only because we should acknowledge people who give a shit. Hugo Ross supplies excellent boats on Loch Watten, for example - but that's a serious fishing venue. This isn't just carping about style either. The crap boats you get on most Scottish lochs are not only uncomfortable, they're dangerous. Most of the solid wooden clinker-built estate boats have been replaced by plastic and polyprop junk that skate in a wind and don't even have a decent pair of oarlocks in case your motor dies. Something to contemplate when adrift in the middle of Loch Assynt in a rising gale.

The Irish boats have been replaced by fibreglass as well, but have been moulded on the old hulls so they have nearly the same handling properties of the old wooden darlings. The lough boats are as Irish as Guinness, and good for you too, and they just feel right for the water. A feckin' trout boat.


P.S. I looked for an image of a Leven boat, as a rare example of a real Scottish trout boat. Pity about them gone, but maybe they'll show up on some Scottish lochs.

late edit: "Leven had about 40 for sale" ~Magnus

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