Living in a small coastal town, it is on the rare occasion that I get the opportunity to visit specialist fishing tackle stores, which means I am often deprived of seeing first hand a lot of the new innovative gear that hits the shelves.
However, late last month I found myself in Brisbane and heading to the tackle stores like a kid in a candy store.
In the usual manner, I stocked up on several varieties of plastics, hardbodied lures and flies, and during my shopping frenzy I came across one particular bit of gear that really caught my eye. It was from a company called PE Tackle and could best be described as large saltwater flies on some pretty heavy-duty hooks.
Now being an avid fly fishermen and a big believer that a well presented fly will out fish any hardbody or soft plastic imitation, I didn’t need much convincing that these beauties were going to work a treat on the big deep water red species like nannygai and red emperor in my home town waters. It wasn’t until a few days later when I researched PE Tackle further that I realised that these large saltwater fly imitations have actually been custom-designed for big red fishing.
Most anglers would give their right arm to pull a big red brute from the depths. However, catching these fish can be very tricky business. More often than not fishers find themselves in red territory but not able to get one to jump on a hook.
There is certainly a knack to catching big red fish and to be successful you really need to customise your tackle and bait to target them. This is where PE Tackle come up trumps as their range of big saltwater flies and jigs fit the bill perfectly.
PE tackle is an Australian run company out of Brisbane by dedicated fishermen who after years of experience chasing iconic fish like red emperor, snapper, coral trout and various pelagic species have brought together some of the hardest wearing tackle and fishing techniques from Japan, New Zealand, USA and Australia.
This gear is specifically customised to target big offshore fish, like red emperor, so you won’t find any poor quality hooks or gear in their range. One of the first things that caught my eye and convinced me this tackle was the genuine article for chasing big reds was the quality of all materials used.
In the past I have targeted reds with soft plastics with some success but even the best quality jigheads can sometimes fail under the pressure of a 10kg+ red emperor, especially around reef areas where big lines and heavy drags are essential. This is why the boys from PE have used some of the strongest hooks on the market, like Recurve Circle hooks from Japan and Deep V Reef Master Mustard Hooks for their range of artificial baits; these hooks can take some serious punishment and are ideal for chasing hard fighting stubborn reds. These hooks also come in 8/0 and 10/0 sizes that are suitable for targeting these big bucket mouth fish.
PE Tackle have a huge selection of tried and tested tackle, with their main signature product being their custom range of weighted and unweighted saltwater flies. These flies are serious big artificial baits of around 10-15cm long and are extremely robust. Even after being mauled by numerous fish, they do not disintegrate or fall apart and maintain their original stature. The tying off fly material is of extremely high quality and is exceptionally strong. These are certainly not a one fish one lure product.
These large saltwater flies rely on the same logical thinking behind normal fly fishing flies. They are designed to imitate and resemble key bait species, such as fusiliers, hussars, pilchards, gar and yakka, that deep dwelling reef fish feed upon. A live hussar is ideal for catching big red emperor, however catching live bait can sometimes be a difficult job when chasing deep water reds so having a large fly that resembles one is the next best thing.
The team at PE Tackle have put a lot of time and effort into the study of baitfish colours, characteristics and patterns that has seen some remarkable imitations; no wonder they are so successful at snaring such trophy-sized fish.
The big bait custom fly that really caught my attention was the Hussar Big Bait Fly with the 10/0 circle hook. PE have developed a fly that perfectly matches the pink, yellow and red body colours of the hussar. When the fine tensile colourful hairs waft in the current it provides an exceptional imitation of a lone lost hussar that big reds and trout find absolutely irresistible. I have found this pattern to be a real standout in the range and it has accounted for some trophy-sized saddle-tail snapper, before it was stolen by a small car-sized cobia.
The range of saltwater flies also includes the ever popular fusilier, pilchard, slimy mackerel, gar, and even tailor style flies. The entire range of flies have an uncanny resemblance to their identified species so anglers can customise the fly to their target species.
The range also caters for deep or night fishing with an added bonus of glow in the dark models. The colourful strands of the fly have a luminous glow when fished down deep, which adds that bit of extra attraction for the fish.
An addition option for fishers is to use the weighted bucktail jighead range with the saltwater flies. It combines all the characteristics of the unweighted flies with a luminous jighead weight that works well in areas of current. These are available up to 10oz and are built with strong mustard hooks. The weighted versions can be fished with the same technique as most bucktail jigs and are especially successful on snapper in southern waters.
The most effective way to fish the unweighted fly range, especially in shoal style country, is with a running ball sinker around a size 10 to a heavy-duty swivel and then 2m of quality fluorocarbon leader to the saltwater fly. Current can be a problem with this rig so tailoring your weight to the run of the current is very important. Once the fly is on the bottom the mainline is then taken up so the fly can work its magic just off the bottom.
These big flies are very effective while drift fishing, which is important as a lot of big red territory is either difficult or too deep to anchor up on.
Unlike a soft plastic, there is no need to work the fly as the colourful hairlike tensile strands float around in the current below creating all the necessary action. However, on the drift in deepwater country it is always a good idea to give the rod tip a lift now and then as it works the fly through the water column. Work the tackle a little more in shallower water, as the sight of the fly darting off the bottom can have a wounded baitfish effect.
If you are fishing over coral bommies style country for species like coral trout, then a paternoster rig is definitely recommended to avoid snagging up on the bottom.
Adding bait to the fly can also boast your success rate as it works like a berley trail. It does pay to spend some time getting the bait and fly presentation to work together to ensure that the bait profile imitation is not lost under a big chunk of bait. Like all fishing presentation, the key is to check the presentation of the fly and bait combo before dropping it to the depths.
These saltwater flies are simple to use and all flies are sold hand tied to the hooks so there is definitely no fly tying to be done. The team at PE also sell them pre rigged on 8/0 or 10/0 hooks and 100/120lb leader for reds and 70lb fluorocarbon for trout.
Custom Big Bait Saltwater Flies can be purchased in bulk packs that have been specifically selected by the PE team to target various species. Custom bulk packs include a range of flies designed for red emperor, coral trout, and snapper and provide a range of different patterns, colours and imitations.
The other great thing about this gear is that for the quality of the product the price is relatively inexpensive. Big Bait Flies start from less than $5 and range up to around $10 a fly. When you consider its durability and robust build, it is certainly worth the money.
If you are serious about your bottom bashing then the PE Tackle range is one product you will need to check out and test for yourself. Customising your tackle, especially when targeting specific fish, is essential and this tackle is perfect for the job. PE tackles range of custom flies are an excellent alternative to live bait and bring a whole new dimension to deep water lure fishing.
The PE Tackle range can be purchase from the Tackle Warehouse at Camp Hill or if you are an isolated fisher like myself you can get them online at www.petackle.com.au .Reads: 6335