Dapping is traditionally associated with the big
Irish loughs [lakes] in the spring when the mayflies
are up. Boats drift with the wind across comparatively
shallow, rocky ground where the mayflies proliferate.
Long rods are used, along with silk lines that catch
the breeze. At the end of the leader, live mayflies
are commonly attached to a hook, or failing that,
imitative patterns are used.
Rods are traditionally 14 to 16 feet long, and
telescopic models are favored so that they can be
extended or shortened according to conditions.
However, a long trout or light salmon rod can be
Lines are generally made of dapping floss because
they catch the wind better. Attach this to 100
yards or so of nylon backing in readiness for a
really big fish taking off. The length of the
dapping floss varies according to the state of the
wind and the length of rod, but 6 feet is generally
considered about right. Use a short leader and don't
go too fine, if big fish are expected. You can catch
the mayflies yourself or, in Ireland, buy them from
local boys. Thread anything between one and six
mayflies on a hook sized 8 to 12.
This is really a boat-fishing method, although
it can occasionally be done from the bank. Let
the boat drift, sometimes miles on larger waters,
hold the rod vertically, pay out the dapping line
until it clears the tip ring, and then lower the
rod so that the mayflies are skipping on the surface
of the wave. Don't drag them about unnaturally.
The aim is to make them appear as lively and
unsuspicious as possible, and the same applies with
the artificial. Try twitching the rod tip from
time to time so that the fly skits from one side
to the other.
When you get a take, don't be in too much of a hurry
to strike. Sometimes the trout will submerge the
flies before sipping them in. (Sometimes they will
merely splash at the mayflies - real or imitation - in
an attempt to drown them before taking them, in which
case do nothing, because they will probably return.)
Delay your strike until the line goes out and tightenes,
and then merely lift into the hooked fish.
This isn't simply a method for the mayfly season.
You can dap with any large naturals, such as
grasshoppers, sedges [caddis] and crane flies.
Equally, try the method with the imitations of
these. Don't go thinking that this is a method
restricted to Ireland alone. It's of use on all
large stillwaters where regulations allow.
A decent breeze is generally considered important
for dapping, as you do need a bit of a wave, and
you can even dap in really strong wind conditions,
but don't go out if you sense danger.
Credits: This article is an excerpt from British
author John Bailey's Fly Fishing, The Fish, The Tackle
& The Techniques, published by Creative
Outdoors, Upper Saddle River, NJ.