With the cooler weather upon us, the yearly run of bream will be in full swing. These plucky little fish of the estuaries and inshore reefs are possibly the most abundant bread and butter species available and will readily eat a variety of offerings. Plenty of good flies exist for bream; tried and tested patterns include Crazy Charlies, Bream Bunnies, Gotchas and Mini-Puffs. Several years ago, in an attempt to tie a worm-like pattern that would slowly sink to the bottom, I discovered a pattern that I soon named the Bream Baiter.
With a bead chain eye, the Bream Baiter slowly sinks, which makes it ideal for fishing over shallow flats as well as snags. To make it imitate a worm or yabby, I usually fish the Bream Baiter with a slow retrieve that keeps it in contact with the bottom. A crawl retrieve, similar to that used by trout fishers as they slowly work nymphs and bead-head flies, will produce this action. On the shallow flats, this sees the fly staying close to the bottom with a slow, head-down, shuffling action that creates small puffs of disturbed sediment, mud and sand.
Another enticing retrieve involves small strips and pauses in between, which causes the fly to almost dart across the bottom, similar to a prawn. To bream foraging around for yabbies, worms, baitfish and other morsels, this is an irresistible opportunity for a tasty meal. Flathead and even whiting are also often caught in this situation on the Bream Baiter.
Similarly, most snag dwellers, including bream, trevally, jacks, cod and pike will have a crack at the Bream Baiter when cast into the snags and worked with a short, sharp strip and a 3 to 5 second pause between strips. It is also a great fly for working along the rock walls of the various canal developments.
As I mainly tie this pattern for bream, I like to use a razor-sharp, fine-wire hook like the Mustad Pro Select NPBLN 3261 Aberdeen hook. The longer shank means that the fly takes on the appearance of a small worm or jelly prawn and the sharp, thin gauge hook easily penetrates the mouth of oyster-crushing bream. The fine wire eliminates excess weight, which would make the fly sink faster.
The thread I use is the standard flat-waxed nylon, which is available in a variety of colours. I mainly use brighter colours such as pink, orange, yellow, red or chartreuse for this fly, which look great underneath the clear ribbing. The holographic effect created makes the fly almost transparent, similar to many small baitfish and prawns.
There are several kinds of this ribbing available, most of which come in a few different sizes and colours. Ribbing will either be round and solid, round and tubular, or oval and solid. All of these are okay, but I think the round tubular types such as larva lace are the easiest to use.
The tail is marabou, which is young blood feathers, usually from a turkey. These are very fluffy and waft around in the water enticingly. A huge array of colours are available, however, I generally choose a colour similar to that of the thread I am using to tie the fly. Orange and pink are definite favourites of mine but a lot of combinations will work. When the fly is stripped, the marabou pulses and looks like it is propelling the fly. Only a small amount of marabou is used in this pattern so you should pick the softest you can find for maximum movement.
To give the fly a slow, headfirst, sinking action, bead chain eyes are used. A heavier eye would result in the fly sinking too fast, which always looks unnatural. With the retrieves outlined above, the bead chain eye helps to impart some action into the fly as well as giving it a realistic appearance.
Step 1. After positioning the hook in the vice, attach the thread with a jam knot or similar just behind the eye of the hook. Wrap the thread along the shank of the hook so that all the shank is covered. Stop when you reach the bend of the hook, which is directly opposite the barb of the hook.
Step 2. Take a small length of marabou, approximately 1.5cm, and tie in at this point so that around 1cm protrudes past the end of the hook shank. Use the softest section of the marabou, which may be towards the bottom of the quill on some grades of feather.
Step 3. Take some medium clear Crazy Body and cut the end into a point. Tie it in directly where the marabou starts with the excess facing backwards. Make sure that it is tied in tightly so that it doesn’t pull free when wrapped. Wind the thread forward so that it is 3-4mm behind the eye of the hook.
Step 4. Tie in a medium black bead chain eye at this point. Use a figure of eight crisscross to securely attach them to the back of the hook shank. Leave the thread hanging between the eye of the fly and the eye of the hook.
Step 5. Palmer (wrap) the Crazy Body ribbing towards the eye of the fly. Make each wrap next to the last so the ribbing becomes the body of the fly. When you get up to the eye of the fly, pass the end of the ribbing underneath the eyes and tie off in the section between the fly eye and the hook eye. Build up this section with thread to get a cone shaped nose area. Use a whip finish (or series of half hitches) to finish off the thread. Cut off the remainder. Use some vinyl cement on the tie off point and also a little where the marabou and ribbing were tied in. The Bream Baiter is now ready to catch a few big bream or other species.
HOOK: Mustad Pro-Select NPBLN 3261 No.4
THREAD: Flat-Waxed Nylon Orange
EYE: Medium Black Bead Chain
TAIL: Marabou (orange or salmon)
RIBBING: Medium Clear Crazy Body
FINISH: Vinyl CementReads: 353