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Saltwater Fly Fishing – Simone Hackett

A decent salmon from Sydney Harbour

When I knew I was heading to Sydney the first thing that popped into my head was booking a fly fishing tour with Justin Duggan (Sydney Fly Fishing Tours). I’d heard that he was the best in the business on the harbour, and Sydney Harbour is one of my favourite places in the world.

At 7am we arrived on the harbour ready for pick-up, and Justin called. He was running a bit late as a Possum had crawled into his three-day old boat and shat everywhere…I immediately felt for him. He was probably worried that being in the industry we would be analysing his every move. But what Justin didn’t know is that Dan and I are both easy going, we get the ‘possum’s shitting in boats’ thing, and we also lost one of our dearest friends and guide to cancer a few days earlier. This trip was purely headspace.

Off in the distance we see a shiny new boat fanging it across the harbour, it had to be Justin! Here he was with a smile as big as the arch of the harbour bridge. Justin is the kind of fun and enthusiastic guy we wanted to fish with. After deciding the harbour was where we wanted to fish, we travelled under the bridge and passed Luna Park looking for any sea birds bombing the water. We wanted to find a bait-ball as that’s where we’d find the salmon. Sure enough we saw another boat and a couple of kayakers in the next bay. Justin straightened my line, tied on one of my Chris Beech Surf Candies, and I cast my first ever salt water fly. A few casts in and stripping as fast as I could, I had my first hookup. Shocked, not sure what to do, not thinking, kind of scared that I would break the rod (the rod was Justin’s favourite), I was thinking ‘oh shit’! There was ten thousand things running through my mind and I wasn’t enjoying this at all. I was too busy trying to work it all out, listen to Justin, keeping my line managed…arghhh, and to make it worse Dan started photographing me.

All of a sudden I was staring at Justin for some sort of confirmation that yes girl you’re doing ok. He just smiled and gave a little nod as if to say you’re fine. Justin moved closer as if to comfort me and started to talk me through it. Keep the rod tip down, use the butt of the rod to work this fish. Let it run, reel now. I could finally see my first salmon, and he was a ripper at 4lbs. I was finally getting more excited than nervous. Soon we landed the fish, and I could say that I’d caught my first saltwater fish on the fly. Smiling for photos was not a problem now that the fish was in my hands.

After setting the salmon free, I sighed with relief and Dan knew exactly why. And funnily enough Justin also new that catching that fish was really important to me.

‘Alright, get that line back out there’ Justin said. Bang, and a second salmon was on! Strangely this time everything was different. I knew what to expect, and I played the fish with a clear mind. I was smiling, and was just so excited to be out on the water with a great guide, with my best friend, and fishing for salmon in my favourite harbour. The horrid night before with a cranky, teething two year old in our bed all night seemed far away.

Justin knew everyone on the harbour. We stopped and greeted several boats, and chatted to them about what was out that morning. We were keen to know if any kingfish had been spotted yet. Everyone is mates with our guide it seemed, and the recommendations we had about Justin were right. He’s a great guide and I will be booking him again in October – maybe kingfish this time! Get out with Justin if you can www.sydneyflyfishing.com.au

Tasmanian fly fishing report - September

September has featured a lot of rain in Tasmania. All the lakes are full or overflowing, with the exception of Great Lake. Arthurs Lake is at a record high and the young fish of last year are now well-conditioned 1-2lb fatties. Little Pine has been o.k. so far, with a bit too much water for good tailing, but the good news is that the water is clear, and the fish are healthy. Penstock has been the best performer so far, with consistent catches of 3-4lb browns. The frogs are less than a week away from starting, so we are anticipating a great October.

The lowland rivers have been in flood for most of the month, with very few respites in between. It is great to see good weed growth in Brumbys this season, which should lead to more damsel days this summer, and the first mayfly hatches of the season occurred last week on the South Esk, prior to the current flood.

I get the feeling that tailers, frog feeders and river mayflies are going to all happen at once this season, in the next one to two weeks. It’s an exciting time!

April Vokey – Sim catches up with April in Sydney

Hookup in Sydney Harbour

April Vokey is undoubtedly the world’s most recognised female fly fisher, and one of the nicest girls you’ll ever meet. After catching up with April earlier in the week, we are really excited to announce that April (www.flygal.ca) will be joining the RiverFly and FlyShop 1864 team for a fly fishing event in March 2014.

Among the offerings will be women’s and spey casting classes during the two day event, along with a heap of other fly fishing demonstrations and classes. The full list of events will be released in next month’s newsletter.

Registrations for the weekend can only be made through FlyShop 1864, by e-mailing Simone (click here). Spaces are limited so please register now to avoid missing out on this wonderful opportunity. The weekend event is being held in Launceston, Tasmania on Saturday March 1st - Sunday March 2nd 2014.

April Vokey is a global Ambassador for Patagonia fly fishing gear. FlyShop 1864 is Australia’s only stockist of the complete Patagonia Fly Fishing range. Check out the awesome waders and outdoor gear here.

RiverFly Wilderness Huts – single / double angler vacancies

Following on from the mild and record wet winter, we are really looking forward to our Western Lakes huts trips this year. The mayfly will be on by November, and with the availability of a raft at the huts this year, we are anticipating some great dry fly fishing on the nearby lakes.

The trips themselves typically consist of four like-minded customers, and two guides, but from time to time we are able to match a group of single anglers, or pairs of anglers, to fill a trip. This season we have two dates with availabilities for anglers to join on to an existing trip, E-mail us and we can fill in the details.

Current available dates are as follows: December 16th-18th 2013, and January 9th-11th 2014.

How to choose the fly rod that is best for you

Buying a really good fly rod is probably the most expensive purchase you can make on fly fishing gear. There are some great fly rods available for under $300, but the best fly rods are typically in the $900-$1000 price range. So if you are going to invest in a top end fly rod that will stand the test of time, it’s important to get what you are after.

The first question to ask is what are you going to use the rod for? If you’re planning on trout fishing with the rod, then a freshwater rod will do. If you might also dabble in saltwater, then you’ll want a fly rod with saltwater safe fittings. The size of the flies you will be using, along with the typical weather conditions will also dictate the rod parameters, so have a think about what you are going to use it for.

What weight and length will suit your fishing? There are plenty of gear-freaks that will argue over the best weights and lengths of rods, but in my mind there are three basic options for trout fishing:

  1. The small stream rod, which is typically a 3-4 weight, in 7-8 foot length. These rods excel at sheltered creeks and streams, and fly fishing with a single fly. My preference is for a 4 weight in the longer of the length range, perhaps 7’10’’.
  2. The river rod, which is a 5 weight in the 8’6’’ to 9’ range. The 5 weight rod is the most versatile trout rod on the market: they can handle a strong wind, multiple fly rigs, and both short and long casts. If you are a sight-fisher, or dry fly fisher by choice, this is the rod to focus on. The shorter 5 weights are great for shorter ‘off the tip’ casting, whilst the nine footer is the ideal all-rounder for rivers and lakes, and sight-fishing applications.
  3. The lake / light saltwater rod, which is a 6 weight 9’ to 9’6’’ rod. I prefer owning 6 weight rods that are fitted with saltwater fittings. The reasons are two-fold: firstly, it means that your rod is suitable for use on not only trout, but also bonefish, trevally, salmon, flathead, and just about any other small to medium saltwater fish. Secondly, I like the saltwater fit out rods as I find that the small fighting butts are more comfortable when fishing long casts all day. In terms of length a 9 foot rod is the most common and ideal for wade fishing, but if you plan on boat fishing and / or streamer fishing a lot, the 9’ 6’’ rods are a better rod for the job. The extra 6 inches helps for longer casts, and working the fly on retrieves.

What Taper should I buy? Rods in general are a lot faster in action than 15 years ago. By ‘faster’ I mean that they unload very quickly in the cast, and feel ‘stiffer’. Faster action rods are easier for a beginner to cast, but they aren’t always suited for the short-cast fishing that most of us invariably do as our bread and butter. For this reason I’d recommend trying a range of tapers when considering your next fly rod, and make sure that you try some medium-fast rods. The Orvis Helios range has the great feature of offering two tapers in their range, both fast and medium. My favourite is the medium and Simone’s is the fast actioned, which goes to show that some of this choice is personal preferences, more than anything else.

What’s your budget? The final important question is how much can you spend. The good news is that there are a lot of good fly rods for around the $300 mark these days. But as with most things, the more you spend, the more you get. A top-end rod such as the Orvis Helios will cost in the $900-$1000 price range, but you won’t regret it. Apart from cosmetics and construction quality, the main differences between an entry-level fly rod, and a top-end fly rod is the versatility of the rod, as well as the warranty. A top end rod will effectively cast a larger range of flies and sizes than a cheap rod, which is worth considering if you only want to buy once, rather than paying twice. A top of the range rod will also carry some form of breakage guarantee, meaning that if you break it, it only costs you between $50 and $100 for a new replacement part or rod.

If you are thinking about buying a new fly rod, then feel free to give us a call (03) 6334 8386 and we can help you out with any questions that you have.

That's all for now, keep up with the current fishing reports on our RiverFly blog, the latest in gear on our FlyShop1864 blog, and of course you can follow us on Facebook.


Happy fishing, Dan and Simone