3Ts: Advice covering lures, billfish, tides, spooling reels + more.

Always be ready

There are situations where lures are struck as they sink. This can occur in the following scenarios – When casting to pelagic fish where there’s competition amongst a surface feeding school such as fishing for tuna or Queenfish. Casting sinking lures towards cover that may hold implosion feeders such as Murray cod, barramundi and bass. Vibes and blades are often ‘hit on the drop’, to quote the vernacular, as are spinnerbaits as they ‘helicopter down’. In these circumstances, and whenever the reel is not engaged, it is wise to maintain at least some spool control otherwise a hookup becomes extremely unlikely. Opportunity missed is opportunity lost.  

Flyfishing for billfish

The right place at the right time – that’s the key to this challenging style of fishing. Casting a fly toward hard-fisghting and erratic swimming billfish is a teamwork activity totally dependent upon presenting the right shots for the angler. Juvenile black marlin and sailfish offer the best opportunities for this tough but rewarding angling pursuit. Australia is blessed with a variety of locations to target billfish – some of the more reliable places and best times to fish them follow – Cape Bowling Green, Townsville – famed for 15-40kg blacks from May through to September. Rooney Point, Hervey Bay – small Blacks from December through to February. Cape Moreton – sails and blacks between January and April. South West Rocks – blacks up to 50kgs from January through to April. Broome – sailfish – August through to October. Exmouth – all billfish species frequent the region between May and November.  

Understanding tides

Flood tides carry predatory fish to their food sources. Conversely, ebb tides bring food to where those fish are patiently laying in wait. The larger volumes of spring tides provide difficult conditions due to flows and brief feeding windows. Spring tides coincide with full and new moons whereas neap tides are characterised by a lower high high water mark and a higher low tide. This means a lesser overall flow, a dribble ebb rather than a rush of fast flowing water. The impact of tides differs with locations. When fishing offshore ‘no run, no fun is a time-proven adage. Estuarine flows offer the best fishing conditions when they are slow. The happy hours are always those either side of low tide. Tide charts are handy but these days are giving way to phone apps that include a myriad of other features including weather.  

Bait on braids

Despite the hype surrounding them braids are not fishing’s be all and end all. There are still situations where monofilament lines offer better hookups and less overall trouble. These include surf fishing with sidecast reels and trolling for Spanish mackerel where the inherent stretch of monofilaments means more striking fish boated. Conversely, for offshore bottom fishing with bait, monofilaments lose out to thinner and feel of braids.  

Filling reels with braid

Specialist tackle shops offer a machine driven reel filling service. The DIY approach is time consuming and labour intensive. Traps for young players include loosely wound line where the entire plug rotates under pressure on the spool arbour. Add to that the hassles that go with overfilled reels. If you follow this simple routine you will only need to do the job once. After securing the braid to the spool with a drop of superglue fill it to capacity using normal hand-pressure. Next step is to run the lot out behind the boat where theres no danger of tangling with other craft. Adjust your boat speed until line retrieval involves some effort. This beds the line in the spools deep core thereby eliminating any possibility of the upper layers digging in and binding. Make sure the braid is laid evenly with cross hatches every fifty or so turns. Iyt must also sit evenly into the spool flanges. Ideally the increased tension will result in a spool that might seem slightly under filled however this is not a matter for concern. A couple of millimetres below the top of the spool is far better than more when it comes to line management.  

Engage on the downstroke

An occasional quirk with spinning reels results in braid snarls that may seem inexplicable to many users. A good way to eliminate a large percentage of these bug-a-boos is to prepare the reel for casting with the bail arm line roller immediately opposite the rod so that it is on the downwards part of the cycle when engaged. Another handy tip is this – spin reels stay tighter and last longer when the bail is engaged manually rather than left to the internal workings.
Rod Harrison

About Rod Harrison

Rod Harrison is a sportfishing ‘lifer’. At the cutting edge of the sport since the 1970s, he remains at the top of his game and continues to spend the amount of time on the water that the rest of us only dream about. A former shearer and street cop, he has since guided fisherfolk extensively in both fresh and saltwater, his most recent venture being at Queensland’s world renowned big barra paradise,Lake Awoonga.

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