Towadi – a tantalising topwater treat
  |  First Published: July 2006

The small surface lure landed tight up against the rock wall. I let it sit for a few seconds and then started a walk-the-dog retrieve which got the lure swaying enticingly from side to side.

The little lure had moved about 30cm from the bank when a large bow wave appeared behind it. A second later, there was a sipping sound and the Smith Towadi disappeared.

I kept the retrieve going and once the line started to come up tight, I lifted the rod and it loaded up to the weight of a solid fish. The bream gave a few thumping headshakes and took off.

The 4lb leader I was using didn’t allow me to put too much pressure on the fish, so I let it have its head and thankfully it moved away from the rock wall into deep water. A few tense minutes followed with the fish slogging it out using the strong current to its advantage.

Steve eventually slipped the net under a beautiful 37cm bream. It was the biggest fish out of an early morning session in which Steve Blainey and I caught more than 30 bream on surface lures in the Tweed River.

Casting surface lures has to be one of the most exciting forms of fishing, no matter what the species is.

In my home waters of the Tweed I spend a lot of time chasing bream through the Winter. Soft plastics and hardbodies have always accounted for the majority of these wily fish – that is until the past few months.

I have recently started to target bream as much as possible on surface and have been amazed at the distance these fish will rise to take a lure off the top when they reject conventional offerings. I have chased them on surface lures off and on using small poppers and Smak Skywalkers.

The hook-up rate on these lures put me off a bit because I was getting a lot of fish hitting the lure but not staying connected. I gave the pink grubbing technique a go and it seemed to be the most consistent producer but I still hadn’t found a lure that could achieve the walk-the-dog action that I found deadly with the larger stickbait-type lures.


All the lures I used did catch fish and were extremely entertaining to use but it wasn’t until I went for a fish with Gold Coast bream fanatic Kelvin Williams that I was introduced to the lure I had been looking for.

We were fishing Kelvin’s favourite stomping grounds on the Nerang River and had just entered a canal, quietly using the electric to minimise noise.

Kelvin had a lure tied on his rod that I had not seen before. It was made by Smith Lures and is called a Towadi. They were originally made for targeting trout in Japan and designed to be used in heavily fished waterways.

He had mentioned its effectiveness to me over the phone in excited accounts of fishing trips. It looked awesome but so do many lures out there in the market place that don’t produce the goods, so I was pretty keen to see it in action on the water.

He flicked it out across a sandy point and as soon as he started working it back to the boat, I knew that I needed one very soon. The lure had an awesome side-to-side action that looked exactly like the walk-the-dog action of the Zara Spook and Tango Dancer.

Three bream materialised out of nowhere and made a mad dash to intercept the little surface walker. The largest of the fish won the race and the little Towadi was engulfed off the surface.

Kelvin yelped ‘Yup, I’m on’. Like I needed him to tell me! The bream had smashed the lure off the surface!

Several bream later, I gingerly asked Kel if he had any more Towadis and in two ticks I had tied one on. We continued to catch bream throughout the day on the surface and had a very enjoyable session.

The fish were not huge but there were enough keepers amongst them to have built up a respectable bag if it were a competition. I had found my new favourite surface lure.

I have since caught a substantial number of bream on these little lures and am amazed at their durability. I still have the first Towadi I purchased and other than the occasional hook change, it has not lost any of its original action.

Bream fishing with lures has always been popular and as with anything, the tackle keeps evolving and getting better. The fish seem to get wiser and every time a new lure comes on the market, it is the next big thing – until it is replaced by something else.


Chasing bream on the surface is obviously not all about the lure you tie on; there are a few tricks that help you to gain the upper hand.

The first and most important one of these is patience.

I have caught a heap of fish off the surface without having moved the lure at all. Once I cast the lure to a spot, I let it sit there for as long as I can.

On numerous occasions I have seen fish spook away from a lure that has landed close to them. Their curiosity normally gets the better of them and they return to see what it is. So I try to assume that this happens every time my lure lands on the water.

If there are no takers then I initiate a stop-start retrieve. I fish the little Towadi with a walk-the-dog retrieve, which gets the lure zigzagging from side to side. I give it a few flicks and then pause it, let it sit for a few seconds, and then repeat.

It is very important to try to suss out a retrieve on the day that is bringing the best results. Some days the fish will prefer a constant retrieve. Other days they might want a stop-start retrieve or even only want to eat the lure while it is standing still.

A good quality pair of polarised sunglasses is a must so that you can actually see how the fish are reacting to the lure. This helps you to play around with your techniques to get the fish to strike.

Sunnies also help you to see bream patrolling the flats, allowing you to make your cast ahead of the fish instead of right in the middle of them. Plonking down your lure on top of a pack of fish will most definitely send the bream scurrying off in all directions.


The fluorocarbon lines have been a welcome upgrade to our fishing arsenal but unfortunately they sink. I still use them with my surface lures but if the fish are on a bite with a lot of pauses in the retrieve, then I will change my leader to monofilament, which is more buoyant than the fluorocarbons and doesn’t pull the lure below the surface.

Small changes like this have often been the difference between impressive surface strikes and converted hook-ups.

Fishing these little lures is definitely not limited to the shallow flats. I have used them in water as deep as 6m and have seen bream rise up and gently sip them off the surface. The water generally has to be fairly clear for this to happen, but it has been a way of changing a timid soft-plastic bite into an exciting surface session.

Always try to be aware of what is happening on the river as well. I have been crossing parts of the Tweed to move to another spot and come across fish harassing prawns on the surface. I have stopped the main motor immediately and started working Towadis through the feeding fish, which have often turned out to be good-sized bream.

The little Towadis imitate a skipping prawn better than anything I have seen and can be fished fairly fast in these scenarios. There is nothing better than competition between other fish to stimulate them into striking.

When tying these lures on I try to use as light a leader as possible, opting for 4lb in most instances. I also use a loop knot to give the lure a bit more freedom of movement to help with the side-to-side cadence.


Unfortunately, because of the lure’s close similarities to a fleeing prawn, jacks and trevs love them, too. They normally become fairly attached to them around structure and very seldom let you have them back! I have left a few Towadis around pontoons and jetties on the Tweed and the Nerang while chasing bream.

Since I have started fishing with these little lures all my other favourites have taken a back seat and have ended up in the bottom of my tackle box. If I see any form of surface activity, I always have a rod rigged up with one on and it is the first one I grab..

The Towadi is definitely an awesome little lure that is a deadly weapon to add to one’s fishing arsenal.

It is quite often that a lure designed to target a certain fish is just as deadly on others and this is very much the case with this one. I am sure the fishos chasing trout will get hooked on them as well.


Light braid, long casts

Braided lines have helped us to be able to target fish with smaller lures and still to make long casts. This is a very important factor when chasing bream on surface lures.

I always try to make the longest cast I can so that the fish aren’t spooked by the presence of the boat. Bream also often like to follow a lure before taking it and the longer the cast you make, the more time they have to follow the lure before close proximity of the boat becomes a factor.

My favourite line for this is 2lb Platypus Super Braid, which I use it for all my surface luring as well as for casting small minnows. It is ultra-thin and I can cast a mile with it.

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