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Gold Coast Fly Fishing

Gold Coast Fly Fishing

People move into saltwater flyfishing (swoffing) as it is challenging, fascinating and effective it opens new horizons and a depth of new learnings. For some reason you will find flyfishermen are more keen to share information and assistance than their traditional cousins. When considering an entry into saltwater flyfishing you should first establish a sound background in bait or lure fishing, without an understanding of fish, their habits and locations you will find success difficult to achieve.

Any introduction to flyfishing should start at the beginning. The earliest historical reference was by Claudius Aelianus in 200 AD. Aelianus found fishermen in Macedonia employing a strange method of taking fish. It was noticed that flies would, when laying their eggs on the river surface frequently be taken by fish, however, when fishermen used dead flies as bait they were ignored. Tying artificials on bronze hooks crafted from red wool and wings made of feathers from a local bird, they produced a close imitation. This was tied to a length of plaited horse hair attached to the end of a slender cane and cast across the water lifting and representing in the manner of a natural fly proved successful.

The next big step was the publishing of Izaak Walton’s classic, The Complete Angler in 1653 it dealt largely with fishing lore, philosophy, ethics and adventures, aspects of the sport that remain largely unchanged today. The past 400 years have seen it re-edited and reprinted 167 times and it is still available.

The next breakthrough occurred when American anglers faced with huge rivers developed more robust rods and lines. In the early 20th century pioneers discovered that this new tackle was suitable for flyfishing in salt water.

Over the past century vast changes have developed in technique and equipment. Let’s start with tackle.

Lines are the most important ingredient as it is they that deliver the fly, lines must be of high standard and reliable. They come in a variety of styles, sizes and weights with #2 being the lightest in common use and can be great fun on sand flats chasing mullet or whiting. #17 is at the other end of the scale and used for large tuna, marlin, sharks etc.

Lines are also available in a variety of “shapes”, Level, double taper, weight-forward and shooting head. They are made to taper much as a bullock driver’s whip allowing it ,when cast, to roll forward There are also types of function, floating would be used on shallow flats, intermediate for tuna, mulloway, trevally ,tailor, and mackerel. The sinking line is for the bottom dwellers, flathead, bream, etc. or for deep reefs and structures.

For our purposes on the Gold Coast, a weight forward intermediate line #6 or#7 will cover most applications. Expect to pay $60 to $80. To the front of the line is attached a “leader” this can be a manufactured tapered leader or a 2.5 m length of 10to15 kg. Monofilament or fluorocarbon. To this is attached a “tippet”, a 1m length of lighter 3 to 5 kg monofilament or fluorocarbon (do not mix) finally add the fly. This system extends the taper of the line allowing turn over and a smooth delivery.

Flyrods are the next consideration and these carry the same denomination as lines, #2, #3 etc. And generally matched to the line however many will use a line one size up to give an improved “feel” when casting. There is a wide variety of styles and qualities costing between $200 and as much as $1800 with a choice of slow, medium and fast actions. For our purposes on the Gold Coast a mid-cost of around $300 with a medium action will generally serve as a start-up outfit but do not buy a rod without first casting it to ensure it suits.

Fly reels. Basically the reel merely stores line, when fishing the line is normally retrieved through the hands and dropped at your feet ready for your next cast, fish are played and landed in the same way, and a reel around $80 will handle this adequately. Larger active fish will quickly take line and it is then that the reel starts to perform its other function via the drag demanding reliable, sophisticated manufacture. This is where the dollar value is determined, if you choose to seek fast aggressive sportfish then you will need to buy a quality reel with a price of $300 upwards.

The attractor is called a “fly”, simply a transfer from trout fishing nomenclature where the principle diet consists of aquatic insects which are copied in the creation of a fly. Saltwater flys imitate baitfish, squid, crabs, prawns and other marine creatures. All of the flys used, of course have names, and there is a wide variety. You could start with the two most popular, the surf candy or streamer and the clouser. The streamer and candy imitate baitfish, made from natural or synthetic (mylar) materials or a combination of both. The materials are tapered and tied on the top of the hook with stick on eyes attached, and a coating of epoxy glue around the head keeps everything in place. Surf candies are fully coated with clear epoxy to the end of the hook allowing the remaining length of material loose to act as the tail. Size is generally around 30mm to 60mm.

Clousers are constructed from natural and synthetic material tied under the hook with weighted dumbbell eyes tied on top. This causes the fly to swim upside down avoiding snagging in weed etc. on the bottom. The clouser is normally 70 to 120 mm long.

The fly is cast to the selected area, allowed to sink if required and with the rod tip pointed down to the water’s surface stripped back through the hands with both long and short strips at varying speeds to imitate a fleeing or injured quarry. When a fish grabs your fly you should leave the rod pointed at the water and strike through the length of the rod a couple of times to ensure penetration of the hook. During the fight do not lift the rod above 45 %, applying pressure through this stronger butt section, the tip has little strength and if held high a sudden lunge could leave you with a broken rod. This applies whether you are retrieving through the hands or onto the reel. Always crush the barb of the hook to allow an easy release.

The tying of flys is another aspect of our sport and an attraction in its own right. An interesting, creative hobby that will fill those times when winter’s bitter wind bites or storms flog our coast.

Getting started will require advice and assistance, firstly contact the SEQ Flyfishers and attend one of our casting or fly tying sessions to determine its appeal to you. There you will find people willing to help with the selection of tackle, flycasting and tying lessons with practical fishing advice.

The Gold Coast boasts a massive waterway from Jumpinpin to Nerang and all of the canals and lakes in between and they carry a large fish population of many species. Here both northern and southern species overlap and offer a wide variety of targets to the flyfisherman.

There are a number of land based opportunities, sand flats appear in various locations from Labrador to the Sundale Bridge and offer opportunities for wading whilst seeking flathead, bream, whiting, mullet and garfish. When wading a stripping basket to hold the retrieved line off the water is a great advantage.

Our manmade lakes carry some exciting opportunities for the land based angler, best fished near the lake’s entrance and when there is a strong flooding tide. This new water carries oxygen, nutrients and bait species, you will find that fish gather at such times near these entrances and can provide excellent sport. Species such as trevally, giant herring and tarpon are among those that can be regularly taken on fly.

Boat fishermen have, of course, a much greater variety of options from the offshore reefs and structures to all the sea walls, islands and flats. The Seaway and Broadwater enjoy the frequent visits of schools of tuna, kingfish, giant trevally and tailor sometimes in visual large numbers.

These matters are always the subject of discussion at our club meetings through guest speakers or our member’s recent experiences and visitors are always welcomed. Regular monthly fishing outings are also arranged.


By Tom Boylan,

Interview with Andy Kancachian

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