Playing the pelagic game
  |  First Published: December 2004

I like to use light spin tackle to target these small summer pelagics that are beginning to really hit their straps now.

I have found that 4kg and 6kg spin outfits will handle most of Sydney Summer pelagics. It’s only when odd big king turns up that we need anything heavier. With this tackle you can cast any lure to its maximum distance and can retrieve it as fast as needed to trigger a strike.

A 7’ to 7’6” 4kg to 6kg rod with a 4000 to 6000 size high-speed threadline reel loaded with 8lb to 10lb Fireline or 12lb to 15lb Super Braid makes an outfit that will cast most of the lures needed to tempt salmon, trevally, kingfish, bonito. And such an outfit in good condition will go a good way towards converting a hook-up to a capture.

I have been impressed with a new Strudwick Blue Water Softbodz 7’6” 6kg rod I have been trying out. It casts unweighted soft stickbaits extremely well with a Shimano 4000 Sustain loaded with 10lb mist green Fireline. I like bright line because when I have a number of anglers casting at the same time it helps me keep track of where everyone’s lures are.

Remember to vary the speed of your retrieve and put a pause in as often the pause will trigger the strike


I also like to use lighter fly outfits, such as my Strudwick DBT 8-weight, on most outings but I always have a heavier fly rod in case some larger kings or mackerel tuna turn up.

Fly reels should have a good drag and be large enough to hold 300 metres of braid backing. For lines, I like fast intermediate shooting heads the same weight as the rod. I been using Forty Plus integrated shooting heads and have found that even an inexperienced caster can get this line well out with a bit of instruction

I keep my leaders simple – 6kg to 10kg fluorocarbon about two to 2.5 metres long. Make sure that you have a good range of flies so you can match the size, colour and shape of the bait that the pelagics are chasing.

If the fish are holding in deeper water I use an Airflo 400g fast-sinking line to get the fly down to the fish.


The best way to find fish is to look for birds working or surface activity. This can be easy some days when the fish stay up but at other times you might only see a few baitfish rippling on the surface, so keep your eye trained for any surface movement. Don’t discount any activity as there maybe larger fish under the small baitfish.


This is also one of best months to target the local bass and estuary perch. Some of the best areas to fish at this time are the small creeks and ponds at the heads of the watercourses.

A couple times a month over the Summer I will head down to a little creek close to where I live. I try not to over-fish these small creeks and holes because they hold only small populations of fish which become shy with too much fishing pressure.

Also make sure you put them back so you can catch them again. I must admit that small-water fishing out of a canoe with a lure or a fly is my favourite way to fish. It’s quiet and peaceful – a lot more relaxing than ducking lures and dodging boats on schools of pelagics!

When I fish this small water I tend to use small minnow lures. There is nothing better than a bass striking a diving lure, especially if you’re using braid. Some of the better small crankbaits include small Feralcatts, Taylor Made Tiny Nuggets and Nuggets, and Mann’s 5+ and 10+.

When you don’t know how deep the water is, start off using a lure that will run shallow to avoid snags, then work deeper as you get braver.

Don’t forget to pack some surface lures as these will produce spectacular, heart-stopping topwater strikes. My favourite surface lures are the Taylor Made Basscada, the East Coast Fat Boy and new East Coast Bass ‘n Fizz (a small double-bladed fizzer), Arbogast Jitterbugs and Heddon Torpedoes

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