2015 Trip Report


Sad News
For those who haven’t heard, the head guide at the Villages, Neemia, was involved in a vehicle accident and, as a result of his injuries, passed away. I have sent condolences to his family and friends on behalf of the Australian fishermen. I am sure many of you have had the opportunity to avail yourself of his expertise and consequently enjoyed many a good days fishing with him.
Eketi has now assumed the position of head guide and no doubt he will work hard to make sure everyone has a great visit to the island.

The conditions encountered with the prevailing EL Nino system resulted in higher than normal rainfall than in previous years. On the positive side, the Island have been in a period of drought for a number of seasons, so the rain was needed to top up the aquifer that supplies the majority on the water for the island.

In addition to the above, the abnormally high water levels (somewhere between 25 and 30cm) caused by the low pressure system associated with El Nino, has also meant that there is a larger volume of water moving in and out of the lagoon. This has resulted in more sand being stirred up and consequently cloudy water particularly on the run out tides. This is a temporary system that is expected to pass by 2016 however, to give an idea of how high the water has been, the photo below which was taken during the full moon tides shows water covering the beach and approaching the lodge. Not once during the nine weeks did we have to walk out into the water to get on or off the boats. They were parked on the beach each day.

2015_1Scientists who were there doing coral sampling said that this phenomenon has occurred previously. A smaller one happened in the 1990s with the one similar to the current occurred in 1972.

The Fishing
The lack of sunlight in the overcast conditions made the sight casting conditions difficult at times. On the spring tides, many of the lagoon flats normally fished now had a metre of water over them even at low tide. Others could only be fished one hour either side of the low tide. On the high tides, a lot of the shallow water flats fished, were those that are normally dry or very shallow. Consequently these don’t have the food to attract large numbers of fish and, the fish that do venture there, are small. This probably accounts for the large number of small fish reported.
 2015_2This photo was taken at Y Site showing the water well over the hard coral edges. There were a couple of reports of small bonefish being caught swimming along the car tracks that traverse this area.
Where are the larger fish? Most likely still feeding on the flats that are now in deeper water. There lies the problem for sight casting. Deep water made cloudy by a large volume of water movement, throw in cloudy conditions and this probably explains the lower numbers and smaller fish.

A comment was made by one of the guides that overfishing was the cause of very spooky fish that were encountered on occasions. I don’t think that this is a creditable reason but is rather a quick comment on the spur of the moment to justify the situation. If you average out 30 fishermen per week (and that’s being generous) by 50 weeks then that is 1500 per year. The lagoon is very large with massive numbers of fish so it is hard to imagine it being overfished. Maybe places like Paris Flat that can have fifteen to twenty fishermen and 7or 8 boats in close proximity for five of six days in a row during the full moon would have the overfishing problem but it doesn’t appear to be so.

There are many factors that will influence how the fish will react. Bear these points in mind.
Tide time – fish tend to feed more aggressively on the rising tide.
Fly selection – light coloured (pink/tan) for lighter bottoms, dark (orange) for darker bottoms.
Eye Size – check that the fly is heavy enough to hold the bottom in current. Use lightest possible eyes in shallow water.
Travelling fish tend to be more spooky than ones that are stopping and looking for food
Presentation – lead by more if you have difficulty presenting the fly softly. Particularly important if the weather conditions are calm.
Fly Movement – vary the stripping technique to find one that works. With light flies, strip slowly otherwise they will lift off the bottom and spook the fish.
Rod Movement – when fish are close, crouch down and use a lower rod angle to make the cast. A small roll cast is good in these situations.

The wind has been lighter but from unusual directions. Consequently, even though it was often cloudy, sight casting was still possible by choosing shallower water with white sand bottoms. The best fishing was from tidal run half out to half in. Areas at the back of the lagoon on average were the most productive. The exception was that some good fish were caught at Paris Flat on the full moon and a few days after.
Fishing the Korean Wreck was a no go as the high water and breaking waves stirred up the beach sand making fishing impossible.
Despite the sometimes adverse conditions, plenty of fish were caught. Lots of small GT’s and some larger specimens, Bluefin trevally and ladyfish were landed in addition to bonefish. A couple of good sized Goldens were hooked and lost on bonefish flies.

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Trigger fish again proved to be tough adversaries with many tales of broken or straightened hooks and busted leaders. You have to be lucky to land one on 12lb tippet. For a little bit more security, 20lb is a better option.

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Pic on right – a long way to go to catch a Tilapia.

The offshore fishing in early July was spectacular with plenty of tuna, wahoo and a couple of sails were landed.  All on spin gear. We had a try with fly but all we managed to catch was a dozen or so birds. They are so thick over the schools busting up on the surface that they either fly into the line or pick the fly up when it hits the surface. One marlin, believed to be a blue, was hooked and eventually jumped off.

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The fishery for milkfish is becoming more productive as more people get involved. It is still a work in progress developing flies that will work consistently but the improving successes are encouraging. They are definitely a fish of a thousand casts and, even when hooked, many more are lost than are landed. Daniel Ivanoff with a good specimen in the above pic on right.

The normal culprits, crazy charlies in orange and pink with tan wings are still the most productive.
A couple of variations that were tried worked well and are worthwhile taking with you on the trip.

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Left – salmon pink thread overwrapped with clear Tiewell “stretch back”, body coated with clear nail polish, tan wing and no flash. Worked well on white sandy flats.
Centre – tan thread, body of cinnamon UV Straggle, tan wing and no flash.
Right –orange thread, body of orange ice Straggle, tan or orange wing and no flash. Triggers liked it and it proved to be effective on broken coral bottoms and at the back of the lagoon.
Small crab patterns worked well for Trigger fish and they caught the odd bonefish as well.
One of the guys caught a 20lb GT on a bonefish fly but normally large baitfish patterns in tan or tan and white to replicate mullet or white and grey/olive to mimic milkfish. Black flies also worked on a couple of occasions.

Illegal Fishing
Unfortunately the practice of chumming as well as illegal netting is still going on in the lagoon. Any nets have to be tended at all times. This one we found in the Poland Flat area was not. It can be clearly seen it contained bonefish. The other photo is of a canoe that is often seen each afternoon netting in the area close to the villages supposedly targeting milkfish. As well as milkfish, few fish look remarkably like bonefish. These activities has been reported to the fisheries for action.

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A couple of the lodges persist in chumming for GT’s and bonefish. Rarely will they take a fly once they are introduced to chum. The option then is to hook a bit of flesh on the fly. I got off on a flat one day, and as soon as the boat pulled up, 4lb bonefish appeared and were swimming around my legs but none were interested in a fly. When questioned, the boatman informed me that this was one of the flats where the practice occurred. I hope it does not continue to spread as it will ruin the fishery.

Developing Other Options
The option of chasing tuna and sailfish on fly has, in general, been curtailed by lack suitable boats. This will change in the New Year with the arrival of 2 fiberglass longboats fitted with 140hp 4 strokes from Fiji
The boat drivers and guides will be introduced to techniques for approaching schools of tuna to enable shots with fly and the use of teasers to draw sailfish and marlin within range to make a cast.
The Villages now also has its own dive operation with qualified local divers and a clean air compressor for filling tanks. I am told that the diving is spectacular with unspoilt reef, masses of reef fish and 90ft visibility. The following link shows a sample.

For bookings and additional information on diving contact Howard McKinney –  howard@fishabout.com

Huff Dam Area
The Villages has been allocated Friday and Saturday to visit the dam area. If you go onto the land on the dam side you must have a fisheries representative with you as is a National Park. Any other part of the area away from the milkfish area can be fished at any time without a representative.
At times, some guides catch milkfish and throw them over the wall to excite the GTs. This is against the local laws for the area. To avoid the possibility of being banned from the area (remember there is a fisheries rep close by) this activity should be discouraged.

Weight to Length
In an endeavor to take the guess work out of the estimation process, a couple of nets with scales and some measuring half pipes were taken over. Over a period of six weeks I hoped to get enough data to compile a weight to length table.
Unfortunately, not sufficient numbers of fish were measured to establish a margin of error. For example, some fish measuring 35cm weighed in at 1lb while others that were 34cm weighed 1.25 lbs. A similar inconsistency was found in larger fish where a 49cm fish weighed 3.5 lb while one weighed 4 lb was 49.5cm long. Oh hell, I’ll have to go back next year and catch more to get the information required.

Trip Notes
The notes now read like “Gone with the Wind” but for anyone going to the island for the first time they contain a wealth of information to make it a trip to remember as well as hassle free as possible. If you are going and for some reason we have overlooked sending you a set, give us a call and we’ll get one away to you.

There have been a number of cases this year when, because of weight issues, luggage has been offloaded in Nadi. While not trip destroying, it certainly puts a damper on it when your personal gear does not arrive and you are relegated to using borrowed gear.
In an attempt to help overcome this eventuality, we have had stickers printed that identify fishermen’s luggage and should not be unloaded. We are hopeful this will help baggage handlers identify priority baggage when they are selecting bags to unload. The stickers were used for the first time in late September and all baggage arrived safely. They may have worked or it was just good luck……time will tell.
We suggest that all fishermen, carry a set of fishing clothes, wading boots, socks and essential medications in carryon bags. Do not include reels, lines or rods as they will probably be confiscated.
As from next year there will be 2 x 7wt outfits available at the lodge for anyone to use if their gear does not arrive. Their use will be on the basis, you break – you pay. We ask that, if you find yourself in the position of having to use a loan rod, you treat it as if it was your own, wash it down, dry it and pack it up before returning to the head guide.  We want the gear to remain in serviceable order for others.
A reminder for those travelling to CXI about baggage security. Cable ties are not sufficient security as they can be easily cut. Aviation approved locks are the best deterrent. While they do not give absolute security as they can be broken off or the bag can be cut, they are still the best option. If bags are opened for legitimate security checks, a sticker will be affixed to the bag.
On the all legs of the trip, check your baggage out as soon as you collect it, and if you suspect it has been tampered with illegally, report the incident to Air Fiji security at the airport. Send me an email detailing items missing so that I can follow it up.

Remember, a tip is gratuity for good service. Within reason, if you feel that you had really bad service and the guide did a poor job, withhold the tip and explain that you will speak to the head guide about the matter in question. Make sure you do this immediately you return to the lodge.
It is important that the matter be sorted out as quickly as possible so all parties know where they stand. Under no circumstances, get involved with discussions with the guide in person apart from telling him you are withholding his tip. It is best to let the head guide manage guiding matters.

A total of about 800 pairs of reading glasses and a bag full of medical supplies were given to the resident doctor. They were all gratefully accepted and distributed to the folks who were in need. Thanks to all who went to the effort to collect them. Your efforts have made life a bit more enjoyable for a lot or islanders.
Carlton Smith through his voluntary organization, PIMA (Pacific Island Medical Aid) pacificmedaid@aol.com does some amazing work by organizing groups of volunteer doctors to visit the island 3 or 4 times a year to carry out medical procedures.  He arranges for those who can’t be treated in the local hospital to be transported to Honolulu or the US for the required treatment. While I was there a group of doctors performed 80 odd cataract surgeries in 5 days. One story they told was about this old guy who hadn’t seen for years. His wife was there when they took the bandages off his eyes and the first words he said to his wife were “I didn’t think you were that old”. This cracked the room up but I’m not sure how well his wife took it.

Building Activities
Construction goes on at pace. The new meeting house and bar are all but completed while the gift shop is due for completion by December. The old meeting house will be demolished and rebuilt as it is starting to lean owing to the fact that the PVC pipes that support the building are not filled with concrete. Consequently, it is beginning to become unsafe.
An Australian Company has been give the contract to construct 3 new power supply stations with NZ aide money and the manager of the project will be staying at the Villages on and off for 2 years. He is shipping a Hilux over and kindly offered us some space in the back of the 4×4. Consequently, we purchased over $7000 of much needed tools to make the work of construction and maintenance a bit easier and quicker.

Gifts for Children
There is a recently formed preschool next to the lodge. Some of you would have had the pleasure of seeing them do some local dances. They run the school on a shoe string and are grateful for any donations. The Ballarat Fly Club who visited the Island in September brought over a stack of colouring pencils, crayons, colouring books and readers. The teacher was very thankful as it will enrich the lives of the kids who basically have little. For those who would like to help, taking more of similar supplies will be a worthy cause for visiting groups next year.
A note of caution, giving gifts directly to children should be avoided as it will encourage a begging behavour. This is already evident in London where you are harassed by children wanting gifts. It is preferable to give any gifts you have to ad adult for distribution.

Activity Board
The daily activities that are written up on the whiteboard after the nightly meeting with the head guide are merely a starting point. They have been selected by taking into account tide times, weather conditions and what you have indicated you wish to do. There are just a couple of words written on the board and these can be open to interpretation. To prevent confusion, don’t assume the guide knows what you want to do during the day. It is important to brief him when you get on the boat.
Conditions on the day may change so plans need to be flexible. You are not restricted to the area that was discussed if conditions are not suitable and the fishing poor. Discuss options with your guide (he wants you to catch fish) but bear in mind travelling time involved with a long move and the locations of other fishermen who will be using the boat. When you get back on the boat during the day, find out where you are going and why. This will help overcome the perception of time wasting when the boat repositions you from one location to another.

On the Lighter Side
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Left – Boat driver – All he needs is a uniform with lots of “salad” on it. Not surprisingly his new nickname is Edi Amin
Centre – Probably the most confronting buff you have ever seen.
Right – Now, where did I park that elephant?

Rates for 2016
As you are no doubt aware, the island trades in two currencies both $AU and $US. The majority of local trade in done in the former however a lot of the purchases such as food are imported from Honolulu or Hawaii. Consequently, with the fall in the Aussie Dollar against the US dollar, the cost to the lodge has risen sharply and there has been no other option but to adjust the weekly price slightly to help cover these costs. 
Nevertheless, the cost still represents good value for those going to the Island from Australia for six and a half days on what is arguably some of the best flats fishing for bonefish in the world.

2016 Dates
For those who like to plan ahead, these are the dates block booked for 2016 season. If these don’t suit, email me with your preferred dates and I’ll check availability. Bear in mind that the first 6 months of the year are usually fairly heavily booked by fishermen from the US and, as a consequence, vacancies during that period may be limited.
6 – 13 July – New Moon 4 July
13 – 20 July – First Quarter 12 July
20 – 27 July – Full Moon 20 July
27 July – 3 August -Third Quarter 27 July
3 – 10 August – New Moon 3 August
10 – 17 August – First Quarter 11 August (Fully Booked)
17 – 24 August – Full Moon 18 August


Fly – Saratoga Fly


Hook:  #4 or #2 Gamakatsu B10S or Mustad Stinger
Thread:  black flat waxed
Tail – black rabbit fur
Bodywrap – min peacock coloured estaz chenille
Head/Wing  – black deer body hair

Tying Steps:
1. Lay down a base of thread from the hook eye to the bend and finish with the thread over the hook point.

2. Select a piece of tail material equal to the length of the hook.  Tie in over the hook point and over-wrap back to the hook- bend.

3. Tie in body wrap at the hook bend and transfer thread back to hook eye.

4. Using close wraps but not overlapping, wrap body material around shank back up to 5mm behind the eye, tie off and trim excess.

5. Select a small clump of deer hair, use a hair stacker to even the tips and trim the butts even.

6. With the tips facing forward, attach the butts about 5mm behind the hook eye and over wrap up to the hook eye. Move the thread back to about at least 5mm behind the hook eye.

7. To form the bullet head and the wing, fold the hair back over the tied in butts and secure with six wraps of thread. whip finish and apply a small amount of head cement.


Making a One Cast Presentation

 by Nial Logan

Many of the species in the saltwater are not static in their habits and move constantly in their environment to seek food or to avoid predators. Consequently, having the ability to make quick long presentations is a must learn skill to take maximum advantage of the sometimes fleeting opportunities.

One of the most crucial parts of this ability to make a one cast presentation, or any cast for that matter, is the pickup action

The first consideration is understanding what happens at the tip of the rod during the casting stroke. After the stop is executed with the rod butt, the inertia of the rod tip causes it to go past the rod straight position, further flexing the rod tip briefly in the direction it was moving before the stop. After this counterflex, it rebounds to the rod straighten position again.  All this happens in a fraction of a second. (See Figure 2)


Studies have shown that the rod tip is actually moving fastest after the rod straight position for a split second during the start of counterflex.

This is one of the reasons why many find that it’s harder to form a tight loop with a soft rod where there is a greater amount of counterflex. On the other hand, stiffer rods have less counterflex and are not as prone to this effect.

 How does this effect the casting stroke?
At some stage during the initial pickup, many casters tend to rotate the hand and forearm from the elbow. This action causes a slight semi-circular motion that might not seem so great at the hand level however, at the rod tip nine feet away, the effect is magnified. The result is usually a large loop because the fly line will follow the path traced by the rod tip.

onecast_3This larger loop generated by the semi-circular hand action is then exaggerated by the counterflex that projects the flyline downward rather than back. The typical indication is the flyline dipping down immediately after the rod tip (Figure 3). The effect of this is to cause an even larger loop that lacks power to penetrate wind and the end of the flyline will, on many occasions, hit the water or be caught on the vegetation.



In this situation, apart from the loop lacking power to act against wind and in some cases even to straighten out completely, it also causes problems with the forward cast.
To maximize the rod loading (bending), the fly line must be straight behind the rod tip. When there is slack caused by virtue of the large loop, a portion of the forward casting stroke movement is wasted taking up the slack before
the rod tip will load. (Figure 4)

The shortened casting stroke means that not as much effective power is applied therefore the cast distance will not be optimized. The application of power over a shortened casting stroke may also lead to tailing loops

 How can the pickup be improved?
The trick to improving this aspect is to learn how to use the counterflex to your advantage.


Move your hand in a straight line from the pickup position to the stop position. This means that rod movement tends to be upward so that after the stop, the counterflex throws the line upwards rather than down (Figure 6). Combining a short haul just before the stop with the action as described will result in a small loop that will easily punch into the wind and unroll in the air to fully extend with little or no slack to cause wasted movement during the forward cast motion.

Learning the Sequence

The main prerequisite for making a one cast presentation is having the ability to shoot line on the backcast. This ability does a couple of things.

Firstly – Combined with perfect timing at the start of the forward stroke, it yields an additional early load on the rod.  This is sometimes referred to as “pre-load”. Put simply, the weight of the fly line pulls the rod tip slightly to the rear as the loop straightens and this provides extra resistance as the forward cast begins and this contributes to more effective loading of the rod.

Secondly – It delays the turnover of the head. This combined with line/loop speed allows more line to be carried behind the caster which in turn facilitates the previous.

To effectively shoot line on the backcast, you must first establish:-

  •  that the casting loop on the initial backcast has the power to shoot line.
  •  what length of line can be comfortably picked up off the water; and
  •  how much line to shoot. This will vary depending on a number of factors:

               1. The distance sought,
               2. The casting conditions. (wind, etc.)
               3. Type of line (long head floating line, shooting head etc.)
               4. Type of fly (large or small has an effect on wind resistance) and
               5. The ability of the caster.

 Easy Steps to Learning the Skill

  •  Develop smaller more powerful loops. Firstly, before you can progress any further, you must be able to produce a tight loop on the pickup back cast that is capable of allowing you to shoot line (about 10 to 15 feet) easily. 
  • Establish the amount of line that can be comfortably picked up off the water. Mark the line at the optimum length with a waterproof marker. The longer length you can pickup off the water means less you have to shoot on the backcast. If you can pick up 20 feet, then you will need to shoot a minimum of about 10 to 15 feet of line to get the head of the line clear of the tip
  • Determine the length of line that you can shoot. Hold the line at the pick-up mark point, make the backcast (at this stage don’t shoot any line), make the forward cast and present the fly. Take note of the distance achieved.
  • Now repeat the process and this time shoot a few feet on the backcast to see if that helps increase the cast distance.  If it does, next time shoot a few more feet.  So long as the addition of more shot line helps, continue. 
  • Once you get to the point of diminishing returns, back off a little at a time until the your performance and sense of “feel right” is reached.  So that you can easily recognize this point while casting, nail knot a piece of 4-6lb test monofilament onto the fly line.
  • Once you have mastered the basics, introduce a haul. You can either perform a single haul just before the stop on the forward cast or use a haul on both the back cast and the forward cast.

From this point on it is just a matter of practice. If you have difficulties, it has been found that it is best to break up the sequence and practice each increment individually rather than the whole action. With experience, further refinements to make adjustments for wind conditions and other variables such as fly size, type of line, etc. will become automatic.

The development of this skill, apart from allowing you to make quicker casts, will also help you to make more effective casts off your backhand. An essential for saltwater applications when casting from boats and overcoming the problems caused by wind on the casting arm side.

 During your practice sessions, momentarily turn your head to watch the backcast. This allows you to quickly identify if there is a problem. An added benefit is that it will also help you to develop a sense of timing to judge the length of pause to avoid the ‘whip crack’ as well as the slack caused by not pausing long enough to allow the line to straighten.

Over 90% of the people who have attended coaching to correct the problem of a poor backcast, do not watch their backcast. In many instances, they easily identify and correct this type of casting problem when they turn their head to watch what is happening on the backcast.

Fly – Polarfibre Minnow

 Original pattern by Paul van Reenan

polafibre3  polafibre2

Hook: Any short shank hook from #10 to 3/0
Thread:  Monofilament
Body – white Polafibre
Gill – Fluorofire in pink or orange
Lateral Line – Comes Alive in silver or pearl
Wing – Polafibre (green and grey are popular colours)
Eyes – 3D silver/black, red/black or gold/black
Head – Softex or Epoxy

Tying Steps:
 1   Polafibre consists of a number of different length fibres. After the required size bunch is cut from the backing (cut it as close as possible) you can adjust the length by the drawing the longer fibres out. You can also vary the fullness of the body by removing the short butt fibres with a comb.

2   Once the material is adjusted to the desired size, trim the butt square and tie in above hook barb. Make sure that the material is directly on top of the hook shank and don’t overdo the tying – just catch the end so that it is secure.

3   Add a small amount of Fluorofibre – optional but recommended. polafibre5

4   Add lateral line of Comes Alive, silver or pearl flash in front of Flourofibre towards hook eye.

5   The color toppings are tied progressively towards hook eye. Do not over wrap with thread. Make sure of the symmetry and that the material is barely caught on the final tie. This leaves a sloping head ALL the way to the hook eye.

6   Place 3D eyes above hook point or where they look best.

7   A head finish of epoxy or Softex will make it bullet proof. Apply to the entire head in a crescent shape back to where the gills would be.

8   Add highlights with marker pen if you like. To add bars – Cut the nib off a waterproof marker with a sharp blade. You want a chisel point i.e. not a round point. Now with the fly in the vice, hold the materials close to the head & start dabbing on the marks with a ZIGZAG motion. As you go slide your hand back to the tail of the fly. This keeps the fibres taught for you to mark. .


Fly – Estaz Crab


Hook:  #2 to 6 Gamakatsu SL45 or #2 – 1/0 SL12s
Thread:  salmon flat waxed
Tail – tan marabou
Bodywrap – rootbeer estaz chenille
Legs – tan spinnerbait shirt
Head – Built up thread
Eyes – gold barbell

Tying Steps
 1. Lay down a base of thread from the hook eye to the bend and finish with the thread behind the eye.

2. Attach the barbell eyes behind hook eye and wrap thread back to the hook bend.

3. Tie in the marabou over the hook point and bind slightly around the hook bend. (When sitting on the bottom, the marabou needs to be pointing upwards. This not only ensures that the fly turns over so that it is hook point up but also it allows the marabou to wave around enticingly in the water movement.)

4. Tie in body wrap at the hook bend and transfer thread back to half way along the hook shank.

5. Attach three rubber legs using figure of eight wraps and move thread to behind the hook eye.

6. Using close wraps but not overlapping, wrap body material around shank back up to barbell eyes, tie off and trim excess chenille. Whip finish thread in front of barbell eyes.

7. Remove from vice, hold the legs out of the way and trim the sides of the body to a “crab shape”.

8. Trim the bottom of the crab flat. Spread the legs and apply a small dollop of silicone and work it into the materials on the bottom of the fly.

Fly – The Sly Butcher

Hook:  #2 to 2/0 Gamakatsu SL12S for saltwater, #2 B10s for freshwater
Thread:  flouro pink flat waxed
Bodywrap – hot pink UV estaz chenille
Wing – pink bucktail
Highlight – red krystalflash or sparkleflash
Overwing – chartreuse rabbit fur
Eyes – chartreuse recessed barbell with glow in the dark pupils

Tying Steps:

1. With the hook the right way up, lay down a base of thread for the full length of the hook shank and finish with the thread just behind the hook eye.

2. Attach the barbell eyes one and a half hook eyes widths back from the hook eye using figure of eight wraps.

3. Tie in body wrap at the hook bend and transfer thread back to hook eye.

4. Using close wraps but not overlapping, wrap body material around shank back up to the eyes, hold between the eyes, tie off and trim excess.

5. Turn the hook over.

6. Select a small clump of buckrail, hand stack to even the tips, trim the butt end so overall length is twice that of the hook. Attach behind the hook eye.

7. Double three strands of flash around thread and attach on top of the bucktail.

8. Attach a small clump of rabbit fur, build up a small head with the thread and whip finish.

9. Apply head cement sparingly to head area only. Take care not to allow it to leech back into the wing material.

Roll Casting

by Nial Logan

Mastering the roll cast is a skill that many fly fishermen ignore.  Executed correctly it is an invaluable addition to your arsenal of casting techniques to put the fly in front of your quarry.
These are a few applications – there are probably many more:

  • Remove slack prior to the pickup.
  • Use it as a presentation cast when a strong wind from behind collapses any back cast  made. Roll the loop high and let the wind carry the line to the target.
  • The roll cast is useful when obstacles behind the angler prevent the normal back cast.
  • When there is limited room, use it to roll a fly under a snag.
  • Allows a length line to be kept at the ready when changing positions eg when sight casting.
  • It is also used to lift sinking lines to the surface allowing the angler to make a normal cast.
  • Reposition the line on the surface to enable a change of direction for an overhead cast.

There are a couple of things to bear in mind before making a roll cast.

  • Firstly – If you want to make long casts, it is preferable to use a fly line with a longer belly – in the order of 40-50 feet.
  • Secondly – Forget all other actions you use or were taught and use the same action as you do for a normal forward overhead cast.

Basic Roll Cast Action
Begin with the rod tip low to the water with no slack in the line.
Angle the rod to the side and move the rod arm slowly rearward so that the line slides across the water surface. Stop the motion when your arm is fully extended to the rear with the rod parallel to the ground at about shoulder height with the line hanging in a loop by your side. You will need a least 6 to 10ft of line in the water to provide sufficient resistance to make the cast.

Once the line has stopped sliding towards you, with your hand at the start point reaching back as far as you can, bring your hand forward leading with the heel of your hand while still maintaining the rod pointing to the rear (this starts the line moving). Hold this position until you reach a point where it starts to become uncomfortable, then rotate your wrist forward and fully extend your arm in one movement. This has the effect of loading the rod tip because the movement of the wrist and the movement of the rod must conclude at the same time. The wrist only moves a short distance however the rod tip which is 9 feet away has to accelerate to complete moving  at the same time. This translates to the additional power required to overcome the hold on the line by the surface tension on the water.

Remember, that on your casting arm side, the roll can only be made to the left (right for left handers) of the line in the water otherwise the line will catch on itself. To make a cast to the right of the line in the water, it is necessary to tilt your rod tip over the opposite shoulder and perform the action on the backhand side of your body.

If the rod tip is stopped high, the line will unroll in the air. Stop the tip lower and the majority of the line will unroll on the water. Shooting line is similar to a normal cast where line is shot immediately after the rod has stopped. It will be easier to shoot line if the rod tip is stopped high at the completion of the cast. A haul can also be employed to greatly improve distance. As with the normal cast, the haul is done during the power part of the stroke and completed at the same time as the stop.

Long Roll Casts
Tom White, one time noted Florida guide and FFF Master Casting Instructor (now deceased) was a great exponent of the full line roll cast. His method consists of three essentials for making the longer roll cast or for that matter, any cast.

Rule 1– The tip must travel in a straight line from the starting point at the rear to the stop point at the front. Imagine a  line between these two points and follow that line with your hand. Straying from this line will result in a semi-circular tip path which translates to a large loop .

Rule 2 –  To make a longer cast, make a longer stroke. Put simply, the longer stroke allows the application of more power.

Rule 3 – It is of little use to make a longer stroke if you don’t have an adequate amount of line beyond the rod tip. The more line there is beyond the tip, the more “weight” there is to load the rod tip.

To perform the cast you will need about 20-30 feet of clear area behind you. Lay the about 50’ of line out straight on the water. Start with the rod tip at water level. This will give you maximum water load for the next part of the stroke. If the tip isn’t in the water from the start, you will have a problem lifting the line.

Lift the fly line off the water, similar to picking up for a normal overhead cast. Use only  enough speed to throw the belly of the line behind you and to bring the end to within 6 to 10 feet in front of you (this is the anchor). If you lift too hard, you will shoot the end of the line behind you, not hard enough, and the end of the line will be too far from you and you won’t be able to make the cast.

After the stop on your back cast, allow the loop of line to fall on the ground behind you. At the same time, allow your casting hand to lower down to shoulder height at the same speed as the line falls to the ground. This is the position to start the forward cast.

In summary the position is:

  • The end of the fly line is now about 6 to 10 feet in the water in front you – or the bank (anchor).
  • There is a loop lying on the ground behind you. (D-Loop)
  • Your rod tip is almost horizontal with the ground (2 o’clock) with your arm extended straight back. You will have to open your stance to allow your shoulders to turn to accomplish this.

Now, simply make a stroke as described for the basic roll cast and always remember to maintain a straight tip path. The other ingredient you can use to cast further is to add a haul at the end of the cast just before the stop. You will notice that the rolled loop now has the power to pick the line off the water and shoot it.

 Troubleshooting the Roll Cast
Generally, there are four common problems that cause difficulties:-
Problem 1 – Lack of power
Cause and Solution – Failing to  take the rod far enough behind the caster before making the forward stroke.  The solution is obvious – reach back as far as you can.

Problem 2 – Making a big high loop that doesn’t travel very far and is hard to aim.
Cause and Solution – This is caused by doming of the rod tip path on the forward stroke.  The solution is to make a standard overhead forward cast ensuring a straight line path of the rod tip. The stroke length should also be proportionate for the amount of line being thrown.  If done correctly, this should yield a much smaller egg-shaped loop that is relatively flat on the top.

Problem 3 – Not being able to get increased distance.
Cause and Solution – This can be a combination of the preceding two problems.  It can also be due to failure to get enough line behind the caster before making the forward stroke.

Problem 4 – The line lands in a pile well short of the target.
Cause and Solution – This is usually caused by sweeping the rod tip out and down at the end of the forward stroke.  The solution is to have the rod tip traveling straight toward the target at the conclusion of the stroke.

If you don’t live close to water, practicing the roll cast can be near impossible if you don’t have a few tricks you can fall back on.
One method is to have about a 5 inch piece of tube or dowel about ½” to ¾” in diameter, fixed to a 8 inch square base plate. Tie a 2 inch loop in the end of the leader and that loop is placed over the tube.  This acts like the surface tension of the water and when you make the roll cast, the loop slips off the tube. The problem is that the caster or someone else has to take the time to replace the loop over the tube for each practice cast.
Al Buhr’s ‘Grass Leader” is another way to do it.  This consists of some stiff leader material with multiple blood knots tied every 4 to 6 inches with the tag ends left protruding about a ¼ inch long.  These catch on the grass and simulate the effect of the water surface tension.
The best way to simply practice various size loops as well as high and low placement of tight loops on the roll cast is to catch the end of the leader on a clip board so it won’t pull loose and place a rolled up bath towel on the leader next to the clip. The towel prevents the tippet breaking on the edge of the clip after casting for a while. Step back varying distances, and practice loop after loop.  This allows you to get lots of practice in a short time interval with instant feedback. 

Of course, nothing is the same as using water however practicing loop control using on these methods will go a long way to enable you to effortlessly employ both long and short applications  of the roll cast to broaden your fishing opportunities.

CXI Guides Trip to Tasmania

   by Nial Logan

Summary of 2012 Team Kiritimati -aka “Cool Team” trip to participate
in the Commonwealth Fly Fishing Championships –

After frantic last minute preparations (passports and visas arrived the morning we departed CXI) the team commenced their big adventure.
Guide Trip_1
All were excited but nervous about flying for the first time. I’m sure the seat arms on the Air Pacific flight will have some finger marks in them for a time to come. As normal, there was the usual drama getting through transit at Nadi due to the manual check-in at CXI. Hence the computer system does not recognise that we have travelled to Nadi and the counter staff have to find out how to override the system and process the transit. As a result of this, we barely had time for a toilet break before boarding the flight to Brisbane.
Customs and immigration were fantastic and were more interested in the team’s story than anything else. Even the pandanus traditional fishing hats, that form part of the team’s official uniform, received only brief inspection.
The trip to our overnight quarters proved was an early eye opener and a hint at things to come. By about 1230, some very tired travellers were quickly asleep. The excitement level however was still running high and a number of guys were up and roaming around the garden at 5.30 in the morning.

 Guide trip_2  Guide trip_3

 Alfie Kither, in his usual form, whipped up a great BBQ breakfast before we headed off to make some gear purchases and back to the airport by 10am for the next leg of the trip. The number of houses, roads and traffic prompted a lot of conversation.
Funny how we take things for granted……access from the Jetstar check-in to the departure lounge on the second floor is via escalator. Something, of course, they have never seen let alone used. Alfie and I nearly died of laughter at the antics getting on and off this “weird contraption”. One of the guys leapt about 6foot in the air from the third top stair to get off it. He had so much momentum that he crashed into the wall opposite the top. Even the other guides were killing themselves laughing.
Upon arrival at Launceston they were greeted by a news team from the local paper and acquitted themselves well in the interviews. The hats were a curiosity item and were in high demand for photographs.

 Guide trip_4  Guide trip_5

After  picking up a hire car, an hour and a half drive saw us located at Malcolm and Kaylene Crosse’s house on Penstock Lagoon in the Tasmanian Central Highlands. When told the size of some of the resident browns in the waters, the guys were keen to start fishing even though it was 5 in the afternoon.
Guide Trip_8
Most of the morning was taken up with fitting and sorting out the gear that they would need. All of which has been kindly donated/loaned by the local flyfishers. This has also been accompanied by donations of food staples such as vegetables and rice. In addition, the fly tiers have been busy and produced a huge selection of flies for the guys to use.
Malcolm gave the all important entomology lesson in the morning and the afternoon provided glassy conditions and had the guys out on the lake and walking the shore getting their first taste of trout fishing. 

Guide trip_6  Guide trip_7

 Plenty of surface activity, perfect for dry fly fishing saw all the guys open their account in  Tasmania.

After and early breakfast they left for Lake Fergus to fish from boat (kindly operated by David O’Brien) and sight cast from shore. A number of fish resulted and, after Alfie’s special preparation, were quickly devoured at the evening meal.

Dawn revealed a bleak overcast day with some rain and a cold 20km/hr wind……sorry now 30km……no, now more like 50. They are off fishing Arthur’s Lake in boats today and they will have no problem casting in the wind but I suspect the cold will really knock them around as the previous two days have been very mild. No doubt the fireplace will be very popular tonight.

Huge Thanks
The generosity of the Tasmanian flyfishing community in giving their time to assist is something to behold. On behalf of the team I would like to thank all who have donated and assisted to make this all happen. I can assure you all this assistance is greatly appreciated by all the team.

Days 4-9
Everyone is settling into a routine to make the most of the opportunity and sample as much of the varied fishing locations that Tasmania has to offer.
The routine usually involves a cooked breakfast, prepared by the Chef Alfie and his “toast man”, packing lunches, loading vehicles with gear and on the road by 8am to the location selected for the days activities. With the selection of food that they are having, I’m sure we will send them home to their families having gained some weight during their stay. We feel that it is important that they have plenty to assist them to combat the cooler temperatures.

Guide Trip_9  Guide trip_10

Day 4
We have been very fortunate with the weather as the daily temperatures have been very mild by Tassie standards. One exception was the day we travelled to Howes Lagoon on the edge of the Western Lakes area to have some tuition on wading a lake. It was overcast, with passing scuds of light rain and a bitterly cold wind. All the team took it on the chin and fished hard even though their fingers were numb. To quote one of the guys, “I couldn’t feel my fingers and they were hurting but I enjoyed the fishing”. The result was 20 odd fish of which a number were kept for the evening meal. They were more that pleased to have the comfort of air conditioning on the trip home.

 Guide trip_11  Guide trip_12

When we arrived back, the South African mens team called in after a day on Penstock Lagoon to introduce themselves and meet the “Kool Team”

Guide trip_13

Day 5
Today saw us on the road to Deloraine area to check out a river recommended by one of the fisheries inspectors. This proved to be unsuitable for what we wanted so we moved around looking for a location more suitable for the tuition we wanted to give. The highlight of the day was a visit to a local dairy owned by an acquaintance of  Malcolm Crosse. Milking cows, 400 to be exact, and tasting fresh milk was a real novelty. We did manage a sneak preview of one of the closed rivers where the competition will be held.                                               

Guide trip_14  Guide trip_15

 Day 6
A friend of Charlie Thompson, one of our Tasmanian hosts, kindly gave us access to a section of the Mersey River that runs through his property. A perfect location to hone up the skills on river fishing with dry fly and nymph. This is more like the fishing they are used to at home and took to it like ducks to water. All managed to net some fish, both browns and rainbows.

 Guide trip_17  Guide trip_16

Days 7 and 8
A reporter and cameraman from The Australian called in to do an article on the CXI team. If no one saw the great article in the Weekend Australian, it’s a worthwhile read……nearly half a page on page three.
The training was aimed at lake fishing for these two days. Fishing was tough with a lot of boats on Arthurs and Woods Lakes, however our team managed to get some fish while some of the other teams more familiar with trout fishing techniques drew a blank.

Day 9
We had a lay day and visited Hobart. This gave our members a change to have some retail therapy and purchase some gifts for family and friends. The Saturday markets are huge with a wide variety of trinkets however the Salvo store proved to be a real hit for quality cheap clothing. John Horsey from UK Sky TV, here to film the Commonwealth Championships, came to speak to the guys before heading off to the competition area. 

 Guide trip_18  Guide trip_21

After a counter lunch close to Constitution Dock, they were keen to see some of the local wildlife up close and personal. A visit to Bonorong Park fulfilled this wish.

 Guide trip_20  Guide trip_19

The team headed off to Little Pine Lake as did a number of other competing teams. This is one of the competition lakes and all were keen to get some practice before the competition proper. For some reason, on this occasion, the fish were not co-operative and everyone had a no fish day.
An organised BBQ for all competing teams at a local community centre gave the team an opportunity to meet a lot of the other competitors.

Day 11
An ABC film crew will arrive at Penstock today to film the boys and after that they will have a fish on the lagoon. A beautiful clear day with hardly a cloud in the sky should have fish on the move later in the day.
Tonight we pack up and more to Launceston first thing tomorrow ready for the opening ceremony and the start of the competition.
Thanks to all those who responded to the first update and all your well wishes have been passed onto the team.
Good luck to Nareau, Iobu, and Ekeuea friom Captain Cook Hotel and Eketi and Neemia from The Villages Lodge.
Lets hope all the preparation has done the job and the guys do well. They are keen and I know they will put their heart into the effort to do themselves proud.

Day 13
After an hour and half drive down from the central highlands we arrived at the competition accommodation located at the Country Club Villas at Prospect just outside Launceston. It is a great facility with very comfortable two and three bedroom self contained villas that back onto the golf course. There are conference rooms and a couple of restaurants within the complex so we don’t have to walk too far after the days fishing. The cost is very reasonable and it is worthwhile considering as a place to base if you are planning a trip to Tassie as it is only an hour or so drive to the highland lakes and there are many great river fishing locations within a short drive.

Guide trip_22

All the Captains met to ratify some of the finer points of the competition rules and conduct the draw for the sequence of the fishing locations.
The event comprises of five three hour sessions, two out of boats on Arthurs and Woods Lakes, one wading a lake edge at Little Pine and two river sessions on the Meander and South Esk Rivers.
For those unfamiliar with the conduct of the event, there are five teams of sixteen anglers comprising of a representative from each competing country. Competitors names are drawn out of a hat to determine the beat they will fish on the rivers and the boat number for the lakes.

The opening ceremony comprised of a short parade of all competing teams down the main street of Deloraine followed by buffet meal hosted by the Governor of Tasmania. They looked smart in their white embroidered shirts.

 Guide trip_23  Guide trip_24

 Guide trip_25

The uniforms and the local fishing hats have drawn a lot of attention and it was like a media frenzy at the start of the parade with everybody wanting a photo of them. They have been in high demand for interviews and photographs. Besides the Australian, they have been on ABC radio, ABC 7.30 report and numerous articles in the local Tassie print media. This has been great exposure for CXI. Let’s hope that some good will come from the exercise.

The Competition
Transport for the 90 anglers was by 12 seater min-buses driven by volunteers. Some had to travel for about an hour and a half to Arthurs and Woods Lakes meaning that the teams had to be up, have breakfast, pack gear and be on the buses by 6.45 to be at the nominated locations for the start of the three hour fishing session by 9am.
At the completion of the session, packed lunches were provided and the teams moved to the next location for the afternoon session. In addition to the bus drivers, there were 16 boats with drivers for the lakes, and one controller for each beat.
As you can imagine, this has been a mammoth administrative and logistic exercise undertaken by Malcolm Crosse, his organising team and the many volunteers. All credit must go to them for the smooth running of the event.
Not forgetting Kaylene Crosse and her assistants who kept the paperwork in order and often worked late into the night producing the programmes and posting the results from the previous day.
On the fishing side it has been a mixed bag for the Kirbati Team. There have been tales of tough fishing and bad luck with lost fish. On many a session the guys had lost 3-4 fish. Very frustrating for them but they are hanging in there and trying their hardest. It is all a matter of experience and they are improving every day. If they had landed all the fish they had hooked they would be doing very well.

Fly Tying and Expo
As part of the event, one member of each team is nominated to compete in fly tying for the Commonwealth Title. The rules are fairly simple, tie two nominated flies and one of own choice. Neemia represented CXI and he made a determined effort at tying a Red Tag and Mrs Simpson and CI special. He was up against some formidable opposition and did not get the top prize.

Presentations and Closing Ceremony
 Presentation dinner was held on the evening of Saturday 19th. It was held in the well appointed conference room at the Casino. In the wash up the Australian Team blitzed the field to claim the Commonwealth Championship with England second and Northern Ireland taking third place.

Although the team did not feature in the prizes they did receive a more treasured prize. As part of the event a Friendship Trophy is given to the team that is voted the friendliest by all the competitors. With a majority of more than half the votes cast, the CXI team, to their great delight, received this prize. They took it home with them to no doubt, proudly show it around the island. Hopefully it will eventually be housed safely at the Captain Cook Lodge.

 Guide trip_26  Guide trip_27  Guide trip_29  Guide trip_28

We left Tassie on Monday the 20th and stayed overnight at our place in Brisbane. After a quick bit of last minute retail therapy in Brisbane and loaded up with gifts for family and friends, they departed Brisbane for Fiji and home to CXI at about 11am on the 21st. 

Wow!!!! What a whirlwind journey it has been over the last four weeks. Even with a few ups and downs I know they had a wonderful time and enjoyed not only Australia’s sights and sounds but also the unbounded hospitality they have received during their travels and the friendships they have made along the way.
In closing, on behalf of the team, I would like to thank the following people without whom this journey could not have been made.
First and foremost all those who have donated funds to make it all happen. You all will be receiving a special letter of thanks in the near future.
The Captain Cook Hotel and The Villages Lodge for their foresight to recognise the opportunity to promote the island and provide the airfares for their team members.
To all the Tasmanians in particular Charlie Thompson, Bruce Jordon and John Smith who gave their time, transport and boats with no questions asked to assist the guys with their training. Malcolm and Kaylene Crosse for the use of their house on Penstock, assisting with training and maximising the media attention. Not forgetting the Tassie Fly Fishing Clubs and fly tiers who supplied equipment and flies for the guys to use. To Mark Aspinall and the many others who helped with advice on techniques and fly selection for the conditions.
Janet Holmes a Court, patron of Fly Fish Australia for organising the Weekend Australian to fly down to the central highlands of Tasmania to do the half page article that appeared a couple of weeks ago. A real coup for the team that had others green with envy.
Last but not least, Alfie Kither, who, behind the scenes, worked tirelessly to make sure that everyone was well fed and for helping with the transport to and from the airport. Your assistance was invaluable. I’m sure most of the guys went home having gained some weight. Thanks Alfie, I owe you one, even though you took great delight in blowing my budget on food.

 Nial Logan 26/2/2012

Weipa Checklist

by Nial Logan

This checklist is designed to be of assistance to those who are planning a trip to this great fishing location for the first time. It is not intended to be the “end all to be all”.

Airfares and Transfers
 Qantas has one flight daily in and out of Weipa. Because of the limited availability of seats, it is wise to book well  in advance to avoid disappointment. A taxi service is available from the airport to your accommodation. If you are booked on one of the motherships or with a guide they will normally be at the airport to transport you to your destination.

Flight Restrictions
 The flight into Weipa has the following restrictions:
 One bag with maximum weight of 20 kilos (They have become very strict on weight and number of pieces of luggage) plus 1 piece of hand luggage of not more than 4 kilos in weight.
 Normal flight restrictions apply to your carry on luggage – make sure that there are no sharp items such as pliers, flies, pocket knives etc otherwise they will be confiscated. You are not allowed to carry rod tubes on as hand luggage. The best option is to take four piece rods and pack them in your luggage.

Boat/Fishing Licences
 If you planning a self-guided expedition, hire boats and 4×4’s are available for hire. You will require a current Queensland recreational boat licence.

 No fishing licence is required however there are a number of restricted native communities. It would be prudent to do some research prior to the trip and ascertain what restrictions apply if you are not with a charter operation.

A wide range of accommodation including Caravan Parks, Houseboats, Motel, Resort and Budget accommodation is available. Check out   http://www.weipa.biz/section/69.html for more details.

  • The Anchorage – Phone (07)4069 7535; Mobile 0427 697 535; Email: info@anchorageweipa.com
  • Heritage Resort – Phone (07)4069 8000; Fax (07)4069 8011; Email: heritage.resort@bigpond.com
  • Weipa Camping Ground – Phone (07)40697871; Fax (07)40698211; Web: www.campweipa.com
  • Weipa Palms –  Phone (07)54724100;Fax (07)54724111; Mobile 0409061097; Email:  reservations@ashpalms.com.au
  • Weipa Houseboats – Phone (07)40697469; Fax (07)4069 7305; Email: info@weipahouseboats.com

Set of clothes to wear up and back
2 or 3 sets of fishing clothes. Long sleeve shirts and at least one set of long pants is recommended.
Towels are usually provided by the accommodation.
Wide brimmed hat or sun protective cap
If you wear sandals an old pair of light coloured socks to prevent sunburn.
It doesn’t get cold however a wet weather jacket is useful when travelling.
A pair of thongs or sandals for use in shower.

All the necessary supplies can be purchased at Woolworths Shopping Centre in Weipa.
As well as other refreshments a can of sports drink powder is recommended.

Good medical facilities are available in Weipa itself however they are non-existent once you leave the town. A well stocked first aid kit is essential. If you need special supplies make sure that an you have an ample supply before arriving in Weipa.
Ensure that you are conversant with the treatment for some of the nasties such as stingers and stonefish. Prevention is better than cure…..stay out of the water and if you do venture into the water wear protective footwear and long trousers.
Take a good supply of 25+ sun screen and lip protectant.
If you have any special dietary requirements, take them with you. The supply in Weipa is limited.

Suggested Equipment
 Take at least 2 rods. 8/9 weight will handle most fishing conditions. Don’t exclude at 6 wt if you have one – there is some great sports fishing off the beach. A 11/12 weight should be included if you have one – Boyds Bay is renowned for big fish that include 40lb plus GT’s and Cobia.
If possible, consider 4 or 5 piece rods – they can be packed in your baggage so that it lessens the trip destroying eventuality of the rods being lost or damaged on the flight in.

Take at least 2 good quality reels that carry a minimum of 200 metres of backing. Make sure that they are serviced and in good working order.

Fly Lines:
Essential (minimum) – an intermediate line for the majority of the fishing and a floating line for popper use. Lines should be suitable for tropical use and can be either full length or shooting heads.
Additional (optional) – fast sink tip, full length fast sink or T14 shooting head for fishing deeper reefs.

Expect to damage or loose plenty. Use this list as a guide:
Clousers – 15 x white in 1/0, 10 x chartreuse/white in 1/0
Flats Fly – 10 x tan estaz body, gold flash, tan wing, black or gold barbell eyes in #1
Poppers –  10 Gurglers in white with pearl estaz body in 2/0
Pink Thing –  10 x 2/0
Flashy Profile – 5 x4/0 and 6/0 Bendbacks (Assassin Style) – 10 x white or white/ tan Flashfibre with weight in 3/0
Crab Patterns – 5 x #1 in tan
It is also suggested that if you are going as a group, at least one member of the group takes some tying gear just in case that “hot bite” gets a bit out of hand.

A supply of 8 to 10 kg tapered leaders with a supply of 40 – 60lb abrasion resistant shock tippet.
If you are chasing some of the toothy critters such as mackerel, some 40lbTyger wire.
Some 15 and 20lb fluorocarbon tippett material to lengthen the leader as it gets shorter.
Twisted style leaders in 20 – 30lb work well for turning over big flies and have a degree of stretch to absorb shock.

Other Equipment:
Good quality polaroid sunglasses – if possible take ones with amber glass and yellow glass as well as a lens cleaning kit. Many prefer amber for general use for spotting. The yellow photochromatic lens are ideal in low light early and late in the day and when conditions are overcast. (take two in case of accidents)
Pliers; Fishing Gloves;  Sun gloves; Line trimmers; Sandals or wading boots; Small hand towel
Reel lube, screw drivers and a small adjustable spanner may also be handy to enable reel servicing if required.   Leatherman type tools have many of these items as attachments.
Small bag to carry gear when walking the beach.
Camera and charger.
Take some material for replacing loops and mending broken fly lines.
A large box to store the bulk of your flies plus a pocket sized fly box to take with you when walking on the beach.
Flyline cleaner and conditioner.
A GPS is useful if you wish to keep track of where you have been on the trip.
Stripping basket -They will make life a lot easier in hire boats that are not set up specifically for fly and when walking the beach to allow quick presentations to fast moving fish. Whatever design you use, the prerequisite is that it allows you to make long strips. See article Customising a Stripping Basket to make one that is suitable.

 Safety Information
If you are self guiding, check with the point of hire about the communication procedures in case of accident or breakdown. This is a remote area and assistance will take time to get to you so in many cases you will be on your own.
Many common sense precautions apply – do not wade in water or fish close to the waters edge where you cannot see the bottom. This is definite no-no around estuary areas. Many are under the false impression that crocs only inhabit the rivers and estuaries. In truth they can be found all along the coast of northern regions and sometimes some distance out to sea.
Be careful putting your hands in the water over the side of the boat for extended periods for photo opportunities or when releasing a fish. This is particularly applicable if the fish is bleeding. Many sizeable sharks and groper inhabit the the open water and the estuaries.
A personal epirb would be an extra safety precaution.


by Nial Logan

Many believe that sight casting or polaroiding as it is more commonly called, is the ultimate in fly fishing. The sheer excitement of spotting fish before casting to them is hard to equal. Once experienced, blind casting into a body of water and hoping that some fish will commit suicide will have little attraction for most anglers.

Maybe it’s a resurgence of our primeval hunting instincts or the anticipation of the coming event that gets the adrenalin running. Seeing the fish tends to make the mouth dry and the palms of the casting hand sweaty. At this point, the novice anglers tend to find that this temporary state causes them to forget all those casting and fishing techniques they have tried so hard to master. Disturbing as this may seem, it doesn’t matter what level of experience, everybody can affected. This state is why we all enjoy sight casting.

Irrelevant of whether you are stalking a wily trout in a small mountain stream, a spooky giant herring in a foot of water off some remote Cape York beach or a nearly invisible bonefish in some tropical paradise, the same techniques will apply. The first thing to be aware of is that fish in shallow water are very wary of predators and will spook at the slightest opportunity. It is a matter of spotting the fish before they see you.

Due to design of its eyes and their positioning on the head, a fish’s ability to see objects with both eyes is limited to a narrow field in front of it. The refraction of light at the water surface has two effects on the fish’s ability to see out of the water. Objects above the water appear to be higher up than they really are. Secondly, they are seen in an inverted cone shaped field with the apex at the fish and at an angle of approximately 97 degrees. Outside this angle, the fish simply gets a blurred and distorted image and reflections of the underwater world. This explains the belief that there is a “dead angle” near the surface preventing the fish seeing a fisherman who is low on the shore or water.

A thorough understanding of where the fish are likely to be and of their feeding behaviour is a basic essential that allows the identification of likely places where fish are to be found. This is particularly applicable in saltwater where their location is directly related to the stage of the tide. Good water clarity obviously helps in this sort of fishing. However with practice you should be able to spot fish in most situations.

Polaroid lenses are used because of their effectiveness in reducing reflected surface glare and this enables you to see beneath the water surface. There are many different manufacturers offering a huge variety of styles and lens colours. This is definitely an area where the little extra you pay for quality is well worth it. Many believe that, from an optical point of view, glass lenses are best however the newer polycarbonate lenses now available have nearly the same properties. Colour seems to be a matter of personal choice. As a rough guideline, in low light situations the lighter “amber” type colours seem to be best while “smoke” or “reflective” colours are best for bright middle of the day use. Glasses that fit close to your face and wraparound the sides prevent light entering and reducing their effectiveness.

Spotting with the sun behind or directly above you is usually preferable to give the best spotting conditions. With the sun shining directly into your eyes or if you are facing the water at an unusual angle (sideways out of a boat for example) you may discover that it is very difficult to observe below the water surface. To overcome this, change your location so that the sun angle is more favourable. Another piece of equipment that is necessary is a cap or hat to assist to reduce light entering from above the glasses.

For those who have had some military service the words shape, shine, shadow, silhouette, spacing and movement will rekindle the content of those long forgotten camouflage lessons. Basically these words reflect the situations that indicate or betray the presence of our quarry. Probably the most important “pointers” we utilise when spotting fish are shape, shine, shadow and movement.

When searching for fish, the important thing to remember is not to actually look for the fish themselves. Most fish are first spotted because of shadow as it is usually much easier to see than the fish itself. This is particularly applicable with some of the saltwater fish that are so well adapted to their environment that the shadow is the only thing you will see until they are at very close range. Fins are also a give-away, especially the pectorals or tail fin that often contrast to the bottom background and they are the portions of the fish’s anatomy that are moving. Every once in a while a feeding fish will flash its flank, revealing itself. Surface, or near-surface feeding fish are often obvious by the water they displace with their feeding movements. In saltwater, this may or may not include baitfish breaking the surface in order to escape.

When polaroiding, concentrate on looking through the water as opposed to at it. Focus on looking at the bottom itself and scan from side to side working in bands starting at a close range and gradually moving out. Many find it difficult to spot if there are waves. In this case, the trick is to change your search pattern and use the waves as a type of magnifying glass and look through the face of the wave as it moves toward you. There are two other techniques that are useful in certain circumstances. Try moving your head up and down or side to side or glasses about your face to change your viewing perspective slightly.

Take your time and give the fish a chance to move and reveal itself. Remember shape, shadow, shine and movement are the best indicators. Once you have spotted the fish, remember that it may be able to see you, so take yourself out of its sight angle. Be careful not to spook the fish with sudden movement, your shadow or that of your flyline when you make the cast.

With practice you will quickly go from making a cast to that rock or shadow you think maybe a fish to “knowing it is a fish”.