High time to try the fly
  |  First Published: October 2006

We have been catching plenty of salmon around the headlands in Sydney Harbour and Broken Bay, mostly on 4”and 6” soft plastics and small poppers worked very slowly through the schools.

I have seen most other boats using small metals with out much success. Slug-gos, Mojos and Twitches can be hard to find but some of the stores that stock them include Australian Bass Angler, Compleat Angler, Anglers World and Windsor Bait and Tackle. If you’re not sure how to rig them, ask the boys in the shops to show you.

October is the time when saltwater fly will outfish most other methods if the pelagics are feeding on small baitfish. Why? Because you can cast a tiny fly that is the same size, shape and colour as the bait the fish are feeding on.

You can also work a fly a lot slower than most lures or you can let the fly just sit in the middle of a feeding school .

One of the most important skills of saltwater flyfishing is getting the fly to the feeding fish as fast you can. So get out on the lawn and practise your pick-up, haul and shoot in one motion. If you are new to flycasting or can’t double-haul, spend a few dollars and get some lessons. It will give you the advantage when you are working the feeding schools of pelagics.

The kingfish have also started to turn up around Bluefish Point and the closer reefs. I have been picking them on small trolled skirts and 9” soft stickbaits tossed around the washes. I also heard of a good catch of kings in the Harbour near the channel markers.

The best way to target the kings around the markers is trolling live bait or use weighted soft sticks cast close to the markers. Let them sink down and work them back up with a stop-go retrieve .

There have been plenty of bream in the Harbour around the moored boats with small soft sticks cast close to the keels. Let the lure sink and watch the line for any sudden movement. Most of the pontoons are also holding fish.

Flathead have been caught up around Middle Harbour drop-offs on larger soft plastics.


Up in the Hawkesbury, some of the locals have been catching plenty of bass and EPs fishing from the shore around the Lower Portland using soft plastics and small poppers and fizzers in the late afternoon and evening.

I like to fly-fish for the estuary perch and bass if the tides are big and running out hard, when the fish will hold in the quiet water or an eddy. On the inside of a corner that has a drop-off, the perch will wait to ambush any bait that swims past. Any area that you can find that has quiet water with current running past is a good area for EPs.

I use an extra-fast-sink line with a sink rate of at least 100mm per second, preferably 150mm. We use the fastest-sinking line to quickly get down to the depth where the fish are holding. It is also important to know the sink rate of your line so you can count down so your fly to the strike depth.

I prefer dark-coloured Clousers made out of rabbit strips, which have a life-like action when retrieved. The leader is nothing fancy, just 8kg mono about 1.5m to 2m, with the fly tied with a loop knot to allow it to move more freely.

When you find an area with fish showing on your sounder, cast count down your line to the depth the fish are holding and strip back and cast again, varying your retrieve. I like short, sharp strips with a pause every two or three strips and a long slow strip in the middle.


Fly will outfish most other methods in Spring when the predators are keyed in on tiny baitfish.


The results of the fly battle – a quality salmon.


The author with a bream caught on a plastic. There have been plenty caught in the Harbour and the Hawkesbury.

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