How to

Bream Luring Basics

Estuary Sportfishing

The humble bream is a perfect target for neophyte anglers wanting to get into the exciting world of lure fishing. KRIS SWERES details the basics needed to hook up on your first lure-caught bream.

BREAM fishing’s profile has shot through the roof, due mainly to the continuing surge in soft plastics, dedicated bream tournaments with big prizes and even TV shows with super flash boats, motors and anglers. Luring for bream has been, and still is, a hot fishing trend as more people give it a go, nail their first and get addicted.

Lure brands like Squidgy, Gulp, Jackall and Ecogear have replaced many of the ramp side words like “block of pillies” and “chicken gut”. Just walk into any tackle store these days and witness the down-sized bait freezer areas that have been replaced with walls of coloured, wriggling artificial offerings and Japanese hard candy and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Once the quintessential bread & butter fishery, breaming is now a “glamour” sport. All the bells and whistles aside, however, catching bream boils down to being just plain great fun. It can be extremely satisfying to see that silvery flash coming up through the murky depths and then slide a lure-caught bream into the net.

Many of us have given lure fishing a crack but how many fishos, especially those new to the game, would leave home chasing bream without a scrap of bait on board? Even now, it’s probably not all that many. While chasing bream on bait is all well and good, most keen fishos reckon lures offer more fun and challenges. This article is aimed at helping you maximize your success chasing bream on lures.

Fishing is a confidence game and as you’ll see as you read on that by following a few patterns anglers can successfully leave the bait behind, grab a handful of lures and go hunting bream!

Bread & Butter

Regardless of where you live, Australia is basically one big estuary system. With the exception of a few tropical “cross-overs”, we can all get a look in at many species of fish. Flathead, mulloway, tailor, trevally, whiting and snapper are a few names that spring to mind and are fairly regular catches for the majority of Aussie anglers. The various species of bream seem to be an angler’s staple diet. Kids can catch them, they fight well for their size, they taste pretty good and will readily whack a range of artificial lures.

When I was growing up on Sydney Harbour, bream could always be relied on as a fall-back species if it was too windy or choppy to head offshore or if other fish just wouldn’t co-operate. Little orange Rapalas did all the damage back then. These days there are so many lures to choose from your head will spin!

Bream seem to be getting easier to catch, maybe because of the knowledge and specialized tackle we have nowadays. For some fishos, however, nailing that first bream on a lure remains a significant challenge. Believe me, the first is the trickiest. Once you get that fish in the net the next hundred will follow!


A good place to start when going out for a day in your local estuary system is to target fish near their favourite hangouts. These will often be places that food is located on or around. I often look for crusty old wharves, barnacle-covered pylons and rock walls studded with oysters as a first point of call. Coupled with an early start (some old timers swear by this) you can really increase your chances at a fish. If you’re lucky enough to find some structure that backs onto a sand flat you’re laughing. I like to start on the up-side of the current and flick either a very lightly weighted soft plastic or floating diver style hardbody close to the base of structure, and slowly work it back to the boat. Concentrate on current in conjunction with structure as this is how food like small fish, prawns, weed and crabs get washed to the active hunters. Look for the swirls of a moving tide. Bream (and most larger predators) will be sitting somewhere in that water column picking off any food getting washed around. And, hopefully, your lure as well.


On light, balanced gear, the average lure-caught bream will put up a decent scrap.

The backwater eddies that form behind prominent rocks, wooden pylons and fallen trees are a bang on favourite for bream. Nine times out of 10, fish will be sitting here, so fire in a cast. In my opinion, the run-out tide produces best results. The fish will be actively feeding on top of submerged structure, be it oyster racks or weed-dotted sand flats, and as the tide drops down the fish will sit in next to where the food is concentrated by tidal movement. This can sometimes be in gutters as little as 1-2 foot so don’t ignore the skinny water. Another great spot to look out for, particularly during the sunnier daytime hours, is under wharves in the shade. Bream love shade! The sun-blocked side of a moored boat, the long line of dark water behind a pylon and especially under wharves are all good spots. Sneak up slowly and often you’ll see them gently rolling on their olive flanks, pecking at barnacles and invertebrates living in the old wood. Get a cast in there!

Decisions, decisions

Tackle can be crucial when targeting bream on lures and with so many choices these days, where do you start? Well, for bream I believe the lighter, the better. This said, I don’t enjoy losing expensive lures either so a sensible balance is needed. A good quality, 7 foot or longer (for throwing light lures into head winds) spin rod is a good start. I use an Ian Miller Bream Buster Finesse “XF” but this is a top class rod and yours certainly doesn’t need to be that flash. All reputable rod manufacturers are making quality gear these days at very reasonable prices. A fast action/ longer style spin rod is where you would start your search. Matched to a 1000-2500 size spin reel spooled up with 4 lb braid (I like FireLine) and you’re ready to start. By the way, some anglers say that 4lb braid is way too light to fish but, believe me, the stuff breaks way over this and the damage will really come on your leader so quality 4lb braid is a perfect strength to begin with.

Leaders also play an important part in bagging that first fish so when fishing around structure I start with 10lb and move upwards to sometimes 15lb. Go for quality fluorocarbon from a proven brand.

Even with the best line, you sometimes just can’t stop them. You’ll usually find that the second a good fish realizes it’s hooked it will zip into whatever cover it can find. One rub against the side of a sharp rock or boat hull and the fight will be over. Quality fluoro will provide the maximum abrasion resistance.

For open flats work I go real light with 4lb fluorocarbon being my line of choice.  


Where do you start? There are so many bream style lures now that you can get very confused. Again, I would, like rods, buy lures that represent fish catching history coupled with value for money.
A few soft plastics and some surface, shallow and deep hardbody plugs will cover most breamin’ scenarios. A good place to start would be the Squidgy Flick Bait range in 70mm (Flash Prawn) matched to suitable TT jig heads. Berkley Bass Minnows in Watermelon and Bloodworm are another proven producer.

Hardbody style lures come in all sizes and prices but long-time fish catchers like the Rebel Deep Wee Crawdads and Halco Scorpions are outstanding. Japanese lures, for me, are the “go to” lures, however, but at a price tag of over $20 a piece losing one to either fish, oysters or snags makes me cry!

Jackall Chubbys are simply amazing for bream, in my view. The floating models are very handy as there is a 50/50 chance that they will float back up to the surface if you have a bust-off. Another fantastic new hardbody is the Atomic Hardz. They clock in at a good price and catch fish. The Ghost Green Shad 38 is a really, really awesome colour.

Poppers are a great lure to throw around the sand flats and under hanging trees in summer. Models like the Bushy’s Stiffy in red/stripe works wonders in imitating a fleeing prawn.

At the end of the day all lures will catch bream if they’re in the mood. Small and light with “sticky” sharp hooks will always be a good place to start when hunting up and down the tackle aisles.

For many anglers the humble bream was the first fish they caught as kids but for the growing masses the bream is fast becoming a lure fishos’ dream. Next time you’re out fishing, throw a lure in the likely zones and get ready to nail a bream!


Although collecting bream lures can become addictive, you don’t need a truckload for success. Invest in quality brands and make sure you use ultra sharp hooks.

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