I’ve never been really big on fly-fishing, but over the past couple of years I’ve really enjoyed the time when the fly rods have been brought out. I’m an absolute amateur when it comes to casting, so I tend to stick to species that don’t require too much distance.
I use a 7wt outfit for most of my general salt water work, and this year I’ve been fishing exclusively with a Shimano Biocraft XT reel on a Loomis GLX rod. I find the 7wt to be extremely versatile, and it suits most of what I do perfectly.
Before buying the Biocraft reel I’d done a bit of research on several others that I considered pretty reasonable. Some were cheaper and others were more expensive than the Shimano, so I was interested to give the Biocraft a crack to see where it would sit in the overall scheme of things.
The Biocraft XT is made of cold forged, anodised aluminium, providing minimum weight and optimum strength. The drag is silky smooth, which is essential when chasing things like mulloway and salmon, and the spool certainly accommodates plenty of gel spun backing line.
I had used a couple of mid-priced #7 fly rods before eventually biting the bullet and acquiring the G. Loomis GLX. Once again, I had done quite a bit of research before settling on the GLX, and it has proven to be an excellent choice. Immediately obvious was its superior casting qualities. I was blown away as soon as I picked up the Loomis and I found that I could cast further with less effort; and any rod that improves my ‘average’ casting simply has to be a winner.
My favourite target species for fly-fishing are southern black bream and Australian salmon. Both are great sportfish and both are easily accessible without the need for a boat. When chasing finicky bream in shallow water I tie a rod length of 6lb leader to my floating line and more often than not I’ll tie on a Crazy Charlie fly in brown or green. With the Australian salmon I use 20lb leader, again about a rod length, attached to my floating line. I normally use deceivers when targeting salmon, as they’re about as close to a baitfish profile that I can find, and in natural pilchard style colours the salmon simply can’t resist them.
Fly fishing for species like bream has its advantages. I love the fact that I can keep a fly at a certain depth, and using a lure that is very slowly sinking once it lands is a real bonus. Bream love slowly sinking lures and often the little strips followed by a lengthy pause result in a super aggressive strike. I’ve caught a few bream around the 40-45cm mark now and when you hook one on the fly tackle, I believe they fight much better than they do on spin tackle. The initial strike gives you a real buzz.
Salmon are a little more predictable than bream. I’m often casting into schools along surf beaches when the weather permits and the swell is down, so it’s not really a surprise when you lock horns with one. They are a spectacular fish to fight on the fly rod though. Salmon are renowned for jumping and when they take a fly, they seem to spend a lot more time in the air than they do on conventional spinning tackle. They tear line off and launch completely out of the water in most cases, and it’s this part that drives me to carry the fly rod every time I search the beaches.
I’ve managed to score a few small mulloway in recent years. They are a great by-catch and absolutely love a baitfish fly imitation. Garfish fly patterns about 10cm long seem to be irresistible, but any fly that matches the surrounding baitfish will do the trick. Jewies are a tough fish to target at the best of times, but using the fly in shallow water seems to be the most successful option, even more so than an unweighted soft plastic. Slow retrieves and long pauses, similar to the bream method, have proven to be dynamite in fooling school sized fish right up to 30 and 40 pounders. You’ll know about it when you hook one of these guys on fly!
If you’re interested in taking up fly-fishing, pop into a specialist tackle shop that deals with fly-fishing equipment. You’ll need someone with good experience to point you in the right direction for tackle and to advise how to best set yourself up. Once you are sorted, however, it will really open up your options, especially when it comes to inshore fishing locations.
There’s no doubt that fly-fishing is a real challenge, but it’s certainly something that I enjoy working hard towards. Time and effort are the keys.