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Tackle, Rigs & Bait › Flies

A lot has been written about the best lure or fly for the job and it is obviously a very personal thing. It has also been said that lures catch fisherman and not necessarily fish.

Fly Fishing To work properly, an angler must be confident in using a particular fly, but the true skill in fly fishing is to know exactly:

  • Where to place your fly
  • How to work it attractively to entice a strike
  • What your quarry is likely to feed on
  • The action and speed required to entice a strike

I have seen too many anglers come to Tropical North Queensland and think that by just chucking any old thing out in the water they are going to catch that trophy fish of a lifetime.

River And Estuary Flies
River & Estuary Flies: Clouser minnows, streamer flies, pink thing & crab pattern (barra, jacks, GT's, trevally, cod, barracuda, flathead)
It's not that simple, but if you use common sense then it's not that hard either. Sure there are times when fish will almost jump into the boat, but that is not the norm and the thinking angler will always come out on top due to one important fact - our tidal estuary and river fish are basically lazy.

Look at their shape. Big fat fish, broad thick tail, designed for a powerful burst from cover to ambush their prey. They are not designed to be out in the middle of nowhere just cruising around waiting for you to show up with your little bit of plastic.

The fly must be placed within a foot of their ambush point, or swum past their holding "structure" to be successful.

The first thing that becomes obvious when targeting tropical fish on the long wand is that our species do not target insects, but instead hunt baitfish, shrimps, and prawns.

River And Estuary Flies
Pink Thing: The proven barra taker and one of the most popular tropical flies
Obviously the fly then must imitate their preferred food and be presented in a manner that the target fish will find irresistible. Accuracy with casting is still of the utmost importance, twitching the fly second and choosing the right fly for the job possibly third. Many "experts" will spend hours tying that perfect fly when in some conditions a piece of tinsel on a small hook will do even a better job.

This is not meant to lessen the art of fly tying, but to open up the anglers eyes to the potential of catching fish on fly using very basic techniques:

  • Casting the fly to structure, allowing it to settle or drift downwards
  • Twitch the fly forward with a deadly stick action
  • Hold on!

River And Estuary Flies
Fresh Water: Poppers, dahlberg divers

It's a great thrill to actually see a prime silver barra materialize from the gloom, suspend beneath that "Pink Thing" for a fraction of a second before BOOF!! In an instant it has charged off and the line is burning your fingers.

Never heard of a Pink Thing? Click here to find out why it's the best for not just barra, but many other species as well.

Selecting The Right Fly

Any fish that can be taken on lure can be taken on fly. Upstream in the fresh water our quarry consists of smaller jungle perch, jacks, sooty grunter and juvenile barra. A small streamer type fly, dahlberg or clouser is ideal and the Pink Thing mentioned before is a proven barra taker.

Weight forward sinking lines are preferred, 7/8 weight upstream while an 8/9 outfit is better suited to the salt water environment where slightly larger flies to 8 cm is preferable. Colors include pink, gold, brown, black, green, blue.

Dinky light tippets are also a no-no as tropical fish hit hard and a minimum 20lb leader tied straight from fly line to fly is OK. Fish to 20lb+ are commonly encountered, and when they are this size barramundi, GT's, and queenfish will sure give you a workout. Jacks, cod, flathead and tarpon will also readily inhale a well presented fly.

Popper flies also work very well, from sooty up in the fresh, to GT's in the salt or out on the reef. There is no better sight than a fired up fish repeatedly crashing a surface popper. Once hooked however it's a whole new ball game. Hang on and do your best to not get scalded fingers.

Plenty of backing is also required in the salt, you just don't know what you might encounter. Don't say we didn't warn you.

More information on fly fishing opportunities in North Queensland can be found in our Fishing Styles section.

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