I’m away at the Aurora Kakadu Klash where the fishing is tough but some good ones are getting caught. In my absence, I asked old mate Roger Sinclair to shed some light on the Top End salt water fly fishing scene. I doubt anyone has a better handle on the history and scope of fly fishing in the Territory than Roger, aka the Silver Fox. Over to Roger: Fly fishing has been around for a long time and has had a following in the Top End well before my arrival in Darwin some 30 odd years ago. Whilst the popularity of this facet of angling ranks in the lower echelon of overall angler numbers, those who do participate do so with great enthusiasm. Those unfamiliar with fly fishing should be aware that it is no longer just restricted to those who delicately angle for freshwater trout, as fly fishing techniques can be applied to all manner of salt water and freshwater sportfish. Explained simply, the art of fly fishing employs a specially-weighted line to provide the necessary momentum to take the fly to the fish because a fly in itself has little weight to enable it to be cast using conventional tackle. Modern fly lines vary greatly from a line that floats to a line that sinks like a brick and also includes many variables of line in between. Think also that flies used to target northern species are just like lures and are designed to resemble a baitfish, prawn, tadpole, frog or another aquatic food source, and not just an insect that has landed on the water. Flies can range from one that might be very small that imitates a jelly prawn to one that might resemble a 30cm mullet. Accordingly, the fly rod and reel will be similarly rated according to size of fly fished and fish targeted. To delve into the issue of differences in rods, reels and lines is well out of the depth of this discussion and better looked at as its own issue. For someone who is interested in fly fishing our northern waters but doesn’t really know where to start, there are a number of avenues that can be investigated. The online world can yield an endless array of instructional content via websites and YouTube etc; plus there are plenty of good books around that also cover everything: rods, reels, lines and flies and how to match these components together. Another great way is to meet with like-minded anglers who can demonstrate firsthand the skills necessary to catch that first fish on fly. The Darwin Flyrodders club is a good avenue to meet local fly fisher men and women and kick-start the process. The Darwin Flyrodders welcomes both beginners and experienced fly fishers to attend its monthly meetings and participate in activities that include fly tying, casting lessons, outings to local fishing spots and social events. The Darwin Flyrodders also conducts two fly fishing tournaments each year: the Territory Freshwater Fly Fishing Open which is held at Corroboree Billabong and the Saltwater Fly Fishing Challenge which is held at Bynoe Harbour. These competitions are keenly contested; they are a great way to elevate your skill level and also enjoy the social atmosphere. Non-members are more than welcome to attend one of its monthly meetings which are held on the last Wednesday of each month at the Palmerston Game Fishing Club at 28 Catalina Road Marlow Lagoon; or for more details on the club and its activities, visit its website www.darwinflyrodders.org.au. My own view on fly fishing is that I find that it compliments my other conventional fishing techniques. Some anglers are totally focused on fly fishing and well that’s okay too but I like to explore many various ways to catch fish on lures and flies. Most anglers, myself included, recognise that using fly fishing tackle is not always the best or easiest way to fish. In many cases, a good way to locate fish may be by casting lures and then, once the target quarry has been located, swap to the appropriate fly outfit to see if a well-presented fly can invoke a response. There have also been plenty of occasions over the years that a fly will out-fish lures, so I see fly fishing as just another skill to employ to catch more fish. Other fly anglers often say to me that catching one fish on fly is like catching 10 by other methods. To me, this means that they have a sense of achievement by catching that fish in a way that is more challenging to them. On that score I tend to agree, but it is also heaps of fun!
Adam Stephenson with his PB 122cm barra caught on the Daly River with Mousie’s Barra & Bluewater Fishing Charters. The lure was a Reidy’s Big Ass B52.
Roger Sinclair with a longtail tuna landed on 10 weight fly outfit using a small baitfish profile fly.
Barra are a legitimate target for flyrodders; pictured is Darwin Flyrodder member Glenn Hubble with a Runoff barra.