Facts about finesse
  |  First Published: September 2015

Light tackle has become popular over the last few years as the quality of the big brand products has gotten better in every possible way, further boosting anglers’ chances of landing trophy fish on super light gear. These advancements have led to many anglers swapping the big 8000 sized reels loaded with 50lb braid and a 24kg glass rod to a 2500-4000 sized reel loaded with 10-15lb braid and a 6-10kg rod. The excitement and adrenalin that rushes through your body when you hook a good fish and it takes its first screaming run is always a great experience. The feeling is even better once it’s in the net!


Most anglers fishing the local estuary systems today would rather use a lighter rod and reel combination then a heavy rod and reel combination. This is because using a lighter outfit means less strain your arm and wrist, and gives you a big advantage to throw those lighter lures for bread and butter species.

Before you can use the term ‘finesse’ you need to get yourself a nice light rod and reel combo from your favourite tackle shop. You want to look for a rod with a nice tip action and taper throughout the rod, and a weight rating of 1-3kg or 2-4kg. There are thousands of rods to choose from, but a few of my favourites are the Shimano 3Zero, Catana and Samurai Inflict series; the Nitro range and the Nordic Stage Areal Pro series. All these rods are made for quality and are reasonably priced well.

You need the right sized reel to match and balance your rod perfectly, and the most popular sizes are 1000 and 2500. Reels are like rods in that there’s a huge range to choose from. My personal preference is for the Shimano range, specifically the Sustain, Biomaster, Rarenium, Stella and Stradic, which cover a range of price points. All of these reels will match the above rods perfectly, and have you fishing all day without sore arms or wrist strain.


Buying a finesse outfit means fishing super light and super thin diameter braids. When using finesse outfits, the lighter and thinner the braid the further you can cast and the more sensitivity you’ll have. These braids also create less resistance through the water, which will give you maximum lure action and less hurt on the fish, which will have you landing more fish and not pulling or straightening hooks.

When it comes to choosing braid, quality is important; you want it to have a thin diameter for its strength. I like to run 4lb, 6lb and 8lb braid on my finesse outfits, and a few of my favourites are Sunline Super 5, Toray Radius and Powerpro. They’re all good quality and well priced.

Leader selection is also very important, because finesse fishing involves fishing the lightest leader possible for the area being fished and the species being targeted. Fluorocarbon has become a big advantage for many finesse and even heavy tackle anglers, because when the leader has it the water it becomes almost 100% invisible to fish. This means more bends in the rod and more fish being landed. Also fluorocarbon is a lot thinner than the traditional monofilament and allows more stretch meaning less chance at pulling hooks and at times can be a stronger material fishing different structures. Light tackle fishing sees me using only 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and10lb leaders depending on the fish I’m targeting and the area I’m fishing. When choosing leader you want it to be near invisible, durable, thin, supple and abrasion-resistant and tie nice knots. Working at Davo’s Tackle World Noosa I see and use many leaders, but my favourites are Nitlon DFC Leader, Shimano Ocea Leader and FC Rock Leader. Using a good quality leader means you can have trust in your knots and have trust in your leader not snapping.


Lure selection is another important factor when it comes to successful finesse fishing. The old saying is “big plastics mean big fish” but that’s not always true, especially when you’re using extremely fine diameter lines and light rod and reel combos. Pelagic species like trevally, tailor and queenfish, as well as more general species like flathead, bream, mangrove jack and whiting, don’t always feed on big bait. Small bait like whitebait, prawns and froggies may be the only bait available in that particular estuary for some time, and the predators need to feed. For this reason, using a small soft plastic or small hardbody can give you great advantages.

Lately a couple of my favourite plastics to use when fishing the estuaries are Squidgy 70mm WhipBaits and Gladiator Prawns, although there tons of other plastics that are effective as well. And although soft plastics do work a treat, it’s also worthwhile to have some good hardbodies on hand, such as the Ecogear SX60, Ecogear SX40, Atomic Easy Shiners and C’ultiva Savoy Shads.

When it comes to choosing colours, the basic consideration is the water quality at the time (natural colours in clear water and brighter colours in dirty water). Where possible, most of the time I like to fish with natural coloured soft plastics and hardbodies.

So there you have it – the lowdown on finesse fishing. The term ‘finesse’ has grown over the years, and if you have any questions feel free to drop into Davo’s TackleWorld Noosa or Davo’s Northshore Bait and Tackle and have a chat to me or one of the other staff. We’re always happy to help.

I hope this article has inspired you to try this addictive form of fishing, and I also hope to see you start using lighter gear! As always, tight lines and bent spines.

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