Fishing estuaries more effectively: lighten up

Fishing estuaries more effectively: grow a beard. Graz with a nice little flattie
Fishing estuaries more effectively part 4: grow a beard. Graz with a nice little flattie

Part 1: tides

Part 2: structure

When fishing an estuary what would you think about 6lb leader? Light? Heavy? All rounder? Well, obviously it depends on what you are fishing for. For average flathead its probably a pretty good choice. Flatheads abrasive little teeth can go through lighter leaders pretty quickly. If you are chasing bigger models you may even want to use leaders as heavy as 12 lbs. That said, I’ve seen some very impressive flathead up to 92cm landed on 2lb leader (the story of how that fish was landed is epic, but thats for another day), it can be done and on some days, fishing light leaders for flathead (3-4lbs) can makes all the difference. Despite their reputation, at times flathead can be quite leader shy. For bream 6lb is “heavy”. Not out of this world heavy, but using 6lb leaders will hurt your chances. For bream, 2-4lb leaders are the order of the day. Start with 4lb, its a good all round bream leader, but if you can see fish and you aren’t catching them lighten up. If you keep getting dusted on 4lb, then you can move to 6lb. Obviously thats a general rule so use your judgement and adjust to the conditions.

Liam with a nice little bream.
Liam with a nice little bream.

You may not think that downsizing your leader by a couple of pounds could make much of a difference. You’d be wrong (at least some of the time). Its amazing the difference downsizing your leaders makes on some days. The difference between say 2 and 4lbs can mean the difference between lots of fish and a donut. If you know that there are fish but you just cant catch them, lightening your leader is always a good chance on connecting to a couple of fish. Whether you are chasing bream or tailor, lightening your leaders is one of the most effective ways to fool finicky fish that are giving you a beating. When the fish are chewing their heads off, it doesn’t matter, but most of the time, lighter leaders equal more fish* (hooked that is, there is a trade off here between “hooking” and “landing”), its that simple. The same rule applies to jig heads and lures (e.g small, clear more natural). Finesse, especially in heavily pressured estuaries if your friend. So get comfortable fishing finesse leaders, jig heads and lures. On some days it can make all the difference. I strongly suggest next time you are struggling on the water you give it a go.

Sometimes though, no matter how light you go, you are just not good enough- Hamish blanking on ideas to tempt Aitutakis bonefish...
Sometimes though, no matter how light you go, you are just not good enough- Hamish blanking on ideas to tempt Aitutakis bonefish…

I’d also suggest you try fishing 2-3lb flourocarbon all the way through at some point in your estuary fishing evolution. No more tricky leader knots and you still get long casts and pinpoint finesse presentations. Fishing light flourocarbons requires a little more care, but the results can be great. Its definitely worth trying.

Until next time

Flick and Fly

*lighter leaders = more fish hooked, not necessarily more fish landed.

flickandflyjournal.com

Hamish Webb, Dan Firth, Graham Fifield and Lee Georgeson have been fishing the south-east Australian region since 1987. Since then they’ve become avid sportfishermen who are constantly looking for new ways to challenge themselves. They are all scientists and conservationists who are passionate about the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem in which they live. They promote understanding and appreciation of the complex socio-political, economic and environmental issues surrounding fish, fishing and fisheries, while never losing sight of the various motivations that keep them coming back. In English, that means they love all things fishing and have a damn good time on the water, and that’s all that really counts in the end!

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