How to

Beach Basics

Knots & Rigs

I CAN’T think of a more pleasant way to spend a few hours this time of year than soaking a bait down on a local beach. It’s one of those all too rare scenarios where catching a fish actually is a bonus. Surf fishing is such a traditional Australian thing to do, and the beach is a great environment to spend time pursuing popular species such as tailor, Australian salmon, bream, mulloway, whiting and flathead. Over the years I’ve been something of a beach fishing purist, preferring to use the tried and tested Alvey sidecast/long beach rod combo, but in recent times I’ve changed over to using threadline reels for their versatility and ease of use. I’ve been using a Quantum Cabo PT 50 threadline this season and it’s proven to be an ideal light to medium beach fishing all-rounder.

The main advantage of the threadline has to do with versatility. A decent spin reel is equally suited to both bait and lure fishing whereas the good old Alveys are primarily bait fishing tools. With my Cabo spinner I can throw slugs at schools of sambos or jig soft plastics for flatties as well as fish baits for bream or jewies. I suppose it’s all about developing a more flexible approach to my fishing and being able to have a crack at whatever’s on offer.

The following is a rundown of some proven rigs you’ll be able to use to chase those popular beach species over the warmer months.

Tailor & Salmon
Basic rigs work best on the beach, particularly if you’re fishing in low light conditions or at night. Ganged hook rigs work wonderfully well when chasing tailor or sambos using pilchard or garfish baits. Mustad 4202 hooks in sizes 4/0 or 5/0 make up ideal gang hook rigs for these ever popular beach favourites. A running ball sinker rig with a 40 to 60cm trace of 30kg hard monofilament such as Rovex Mono Leader will provide a degree of protection if you have the good fortune to hook a big mulloway. Remember to always employ at least one swivel in the rig when using sidecast or threadline reels to minimise line twist. A main line of six to 10kg is ideal for chasing these fantastic sportfish.

A big jewie is undoubtedly the most prized catch for most dedicated beach fishos. Keen jewie specialists employ the heavy gear when chasing big jewfish with outfits loaded up with 10 to 12kg mainline proving popular. A running ball sinker rig with a 40 to 60cm trace of 30-40kg hard monofilament will provide abrasion resistance. For slab baits such as mullet or tailor use a Mustad 4206D hook pattern in size 10/0. For live baits employ a suicide or Gamakatsu Octopus pattern in sizes between 6/0 and 10/0, depending on the size of the bait. Always use the minimum size ball sinker that will suit the prevailing conditions.

A wide variety of baits can be utilised when chasing this most popular of recreational species. When using live nippers I’d recommend a Mustad 540 hook pattern in size 4. For flesh baits such as chicken gut, pipis and prawns use a Gamakatsu Baitkeeper size 4. A running ball sinker rig using 4-6kg mainline will be ideal when chasing the wily surf bream. A minimum 60cm trace should be connected to the mainline with a size eight or 10 swivel. Many anglers are using fluorocarbon leader material when chasing easily spooked species. I’ve been using 3kg Rovex Fluorocarbon Leader material for all my bream fishing in recent times and I’m very happy with its durability and the results I’ve been getting.

Sand or silver whiting are a firm favourite with beach anglers over the warmer months. Beach worms are the preferred bait for this prized catch, although I’ve heard of anglers having some success using soft plastics such as Gulp Sandworms. The preferred hook pattern for worm baits is the Gamakatsu Oceania long shank in size 4 or 6. Red coloured hook patterns match the bait and many anglers place a piece of red plastic tubing on their leader above the hook as an added attractant. The piece of tubing also provides a degree of protection to the light leader if a dusky flathead is hooked. A light 3-4kg mainline and running ball sinker rig is the go for this shy species. A minimum trace length of about 60cm is recommended. Once again it may be worth using fluorocarbon leader on this notoriously wary species.

Flatties are one of my all time favourite species for the dinner plate and are a common catch off our beaches. For prawns or live baits use a Mustad Wide Gape hook pattern in sizes 1/0 to 3/0. For whitebait try using a two or three ganged hook rig made up of Mustad Needle Tarpon hooks in size 1 or 2. A 4-6kg mainline and running ball sinker rig is recommended for chasing lizards, although a hard monofilament leader of a minimum 60cm length is preferred to cope with their abrasive dentures. A size 8 or 10 swivel will assist n minimising any line twist issues.

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