How to

Fly on the rocks

A POD of fast moving bullet shapes torpedoed through the water. They’d been doing this all morning, only this time they were well inside casting range. As the fish approached I made a cast, paused momentarily to let the fly settle and commenced a series of long, rapid strips. Three was all that could be managed before the Surf Candy got nailed. The fly line came up tight and within seconds yellow backing was dissolving off the spool. This is what fly-fishing the rocks is all about! After one howler of a run, line started coming back onto the reel. Another short run, followed by more furious winding, saw the tuna arcing back and forth at our feet before a well timed gaff shot had three kilos of glowing stripey being lifted onto the rocks. The 3am start, along with a 1 ½ hour drive to get to the ledge before sun up, didn’t seem as bad now. My first striped tuna on fly, plus the 40-odd bonito and salmon we’d already released, would make any fly angler’s day, let alone doing so off a lonely rock ledge.

While a striped tuna off the rocks on fly tackle is not an everyday occurrence, the many other species that hug the east coast during summer and autumn make having a fly rod in the hand a great alternative to conventional tackle. That stripey capture shows what can happen if you spend time casting a fly from deep-water ledges. Not only is it great fun, the fact is a fly can be more effective than any lure, especially when the fish are hunting the wash at your feet or eating small baitfish. The NSW coastline boasts numerous fly-friendly ledges that can produce a variety of small to medium sized pelagics. The past few seasons have seen fantastic numbers of bonito and salmon on my favourite South Coast ledges. Tailor, silver trevally, frigate mackerel, kingfish, mackerel tuna and striped tuna can all provide action aplenty…

Tom Baxter


This story was first published in the Fishing World January2013 issue.

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