Angling guide and instructor Dan O’Neill reflects on the Irish Fly Fair 2023:

For quite some time now anglers have been looking forward to the Irish Fly Fair. Following the lineups on social media built so much excitement and drew many enthusiasts from far and wide. I have been to the Irish Fly Fair many times and always came away feeling like I could conquer the world. Something else that I found special was that all the people who made the event were never afraid to give information and have a certain way of putting it across. Casters from all over the world demonstrating casts, fly tiers from every corner, producing art. This event is very special and the people who are there want to be there to pass on their information and what they learned at such events; what a wonderful community we have.

This year it was to Killyhevlin Hotel in Enniskillen. Arriving with Marta at 8am Saturday morning I met up with my fellow APGAI colleagues and Cadence team members. Brilliant to meet them all again and see that they have kept safe since our last meetings. When in organisations like this, the people that make them up become family. Most guide and travel in Ireland and abroad so seeing them safe and happy is always special.

Suited and booted for a day’s casting instruction

After the meeting and greeting, it was time to get the rods out and set up our locations for the free tuition slots provided by APGAI. I was lucky enough to be working with Pauline McClenaghan, Chris Bryant, Martin Barrera Ora and Ian Gamble. What a wonderful group of people, so willing to help. Listening to their stories and of course, tips really made my weekend. Just watching the way they were with people and how they got their point across when teaching was superb and a huge learning curve for me, as is most of my angling journey.

A good crowd watching and listening

Cadence had a stand to ‘try before you buy’, which was a great opportunity to test the rods and see what suits best. I fell in love with the 9ft 9 8wt as most of you will see on my Facebook page. Working with James Robbins, Glenda Powell, Ian Gordon, and Pascal Grillot was also a learning curve for me. Seeing their attention to detail, knowledge, and passion inspired me in many ways.

The fair for me was very special as I was giving a casting demo which, like all, I was nervous about. Slight nerves are always good as it keeps me focused. Watching the casters on before me also helped me a bit as they were just doing what they loved, which is what I was there to do. As my audience approached, I went into the “zone”, and everything after that was a blur. I truly enjoyed the Irish Fly Fair and came away feeling a little sad it was over, but with many many new plans for 2024 to work on to improve myself as an angler, guide and caster.

The kid’s casting was great and the layout was fantastic, Ray McKeeman led a great team to make the kids casting fun and informative, I even saw Stevie Munn give it a whirl at one point.

In the “zone”

My wife Marta joined me for the fair and helped Dani at the front door. It was great as Marta got to meet and see the people and things I do. I may even convince her to go for a cast with me during the coming season. The fair gave her an understanding and insight into the angling world, and I think she saw what attracts me to casting, angling and guiding.

Finally, I would like to thank Stevie Munn for the invitation to give a demonstration. Stevie’s invite helped me in many ways and showed me there are many levels to casting and angling. No matter where you think you are in your angling journey, keep moving because the levels are endless; there is no final level.

Roll on the Irish Fly Fair 2024