Part One of this series covered where and when to find bream on the Derwent flats, this part reveals the best tackle and lures for the job.
Long but light high-modulus graphite rods in the 6’8” to 7’6” (1-4kg) length range are well suited for flats breaming.
The more lengthy rods assist with extra casting distance and the softness in the upper section helps to reduce stress on the mainline, as bream make savage runs once hooked in skinny water. Light main line of 2-4lb gelspun or 4-6lb braided PE are a good choice.
Extended 3-6m leaders lessen the chance of spooking bream and aid the natural movement of hardbodied lures. Fine 3-4lb fluorocarbon leader materials are considered to be the best choice in this finesse situation.
Many bream anglers also have a straight through fluorocarbon rig on hand for shallow water applications these days. These fluorocarbon set-ups really do excel when bright, clear or still conditions occur.
Fighting bream on softer, more elastic mainline is also a lot of fun, but try to use reels with quality drag systems. You definitely won’t feel like you’re in control at times but a steady pressure and high rod will win out in most circumstances.
These no need for loop knots when fishing straight through fluorocarbon as there is enough bounce in the main line to provide good lure action. Just tie the lure off with a Uni knot, as this is a stronger terminal connection than most loop type knots.
It’s also very important to regularly check the line near the lure for scuffs and nicks when fishing shallow rocky areas with such light lines. A quick re-tie is much easier to deal with than a lost lure or worse still, a burly bream swimming off with your lure in its mouth.
I can highly recommend using Yamatoyo Famell Spinning Flouro in 3lb or 4lb breaking strain.
Soft plastics will of course catch bream on the flats and are at times the only effective way of running lures through heavily weeded areas.
Paddle-tail patterns like Ecogear 2.5” Grass Minnows and Berkley 2.5” T-tails work well when rigged on a 1/16th jig and rolled over weed beds.
My favoured plastics for amongst the weed are lightly weighted worms. A 1/24th or 1/20th 1/0 jig rigged with a 4-6” worm can work very well at times. A standard slow lift and drop retrieve in and around weed clumps is always worth a try.
Thick mats of accumulated weed often accommodate packs of bream but are very hard to fish. Casting a lightly weighed worm straight over and working it back at speed using a high rod tip to keep the lure right in the surface film will get the attention of the bream.
Pause the lure as it clears the edge of the weed clump, then let it sink, as this is when you will get hit. This ‘burn and kill’ retrieve can be a very visual method, and it’s therefore best to set up with the sun behind you to allow the full benefit of your polarised glasses.
Hardbodied lures allow you to cover a lot of ground very quickly and also make it make easier to target a desired depth once fish are found. Slim shallow running suspending minnows are by far the most effective lures for the majority of flats work.
Small jerkbaits are also useful for raking out a few more fish on the deeper fringes and around the mid water reefs.
Selecting exactly which lure to use on a given section of flat can be all about the depth capability of differing lures. For example, there is no point in fishing a two-foot runner in six feet of water.
Similarly, in near to the edges you may only need a 1-2ft running lure, not a deeper version that constantly picks up debris when hitting the bottom. Try and have a selection of lures on hand to cover the small but important variations in depth.
Ripping the lure a little deeper using a low stab of the rod tip or high sticking a lure away from edges allows the angler to slightly adjust the depth of any lure.
Getting to know your lure operating depths and how to work them a little deeper or shallower is an important flats fishing skill that’s well worth learning.
Natural or imitative baitfish like lure colours are very popular with the bream. Metallic finishes are also a great signal to marauding fish that seem to hone in on flashes indicating the presence of small baitfish. Orange and yellow are also good attractor colours when combined with other more natural tones.
Adjusting the buoyancy of suspending lures can be a very worthwhile trick when fishing undulating flats. Lighter trebles and split rings can create a very slow floater, which can be gently worked up and over slight rises. Using lead tape along the belly of a suspending lure produces a sinking version.
These modified lures can be worked down any depth change fringing the shallows or cast into deeper holes to be swum up and onto the surrounding flat.
Tuning up a few variants to have at the ready is an excellent idea for anyone heading out for a flats session. Adhesive lead tape can be purchased from most good tackle stores.
Popular Lure Patterns
|Ecogear MW62f||Ecogear SX43|
|Nories Laydown Minnow 57mm||Ecogear SX 40 LC|
|Daiwa Presso 6f||Megabass Live X Smolt 48mm|
|Ecogear MX48f||Bassday Kangoku Shad 45|
|Lake Police/Jackall Flat Fly 50mm||Bushy’s Stiffy 60mm Minnow Deep|
|Daiwa Dr Minnow 70mm||Daiwa TD Shiner 54mm|
|Bushy’s Stiffy 60mm Minnow||Nories Kuwase Feint Bait 67mm|
|Atomic Shad 50 Med||SilentJackall Chubby 48DF|
It may seem obvious, but an electric motor for holding position is the number one most important tool for this type of breaming. I think I’d prefer to be fishing from the shore rather than freely drifting without control.
Another vital aspect on the flats is to work with the wind and not to battle against it. Long wind-assisted casts are a fantastic way to stay hidden while fishing. Work your way in and don’t rush onto the shallows in haste.
If you find fish at any particular depth then work parallel to the bank or try to keep in that depth range, as there are usually more bream to be had close by.
Use good quality polarised glasses such as Spotters. As with any gear you will need to spend some dollars to get real quality in eyewear. Spend time looking into the water and around about where you think your lure is.
You will be surprised how many bream you will start seeing.
When fighting bream in shallow water make sure you let them run. Use a high rod tip to keep their head up but let them make that first run or two. Stay tight but don’t panic and try to rush the fight. Keep a firm wrist and bow to the fish with your extended arm and rod as one.
Be sure to take some replacement trebles as you will need them if you get amongst some of the big bony-mouthed Derwent bream.
Lastly and most important of all! If you don’t use long pauses in your retrieves you won’t catch too many flats bream. It goes something like this.
Cast. Wind down to depth. Twitch, twitch, pause. Short draw. Twitch. Long pause. And then you’re on!