LUDERICK ON THE FLYA Guide To Getting Started
Brett Clarke first picked up a rod at an early age, during summer holidays with his family on the Mid North Coast of NSW. During his teens, bait fishing turned into throwing lures which progressed into fishing the fly.
Fly tying seemed a natural progression in his growing angling obsession, so his father hand-made his first tying vice and the rest (as they say) is history.
After years of mentoring by some of Australia’s leading tiers, Brett himself began tying commercially.
Now, with over 30 years of commercial fly tying experience, Brett and wife, Cherie, are stalwarts of the Australian fly fishing scene, specialising in a range of flies to suit Australian Freshwater Natives and Light Saltwater Estuary game species.
If you’d like to know more, or want access to quality and creative Australian-tied flies, or perhaps need your own tying materials, click the image above to visit BWC Flies website.
I am going to start by stating that we are not experts in targeting luderick on the fly. Whilst I have had some success in varying situations and locations, the information contained is provided to help you form the foundations to working out your own locations and styles. I know that I have had to ask the questions along the way to put the puzzle together, and to those who have taken the time to answer and share their knowledge, I am eternally grateful.
Here’s what we’ve found, so far…
There have been many fishless outings along the way, so take what you can from our experiences and apply/modify and tweak them to suit your own locations. Learn from each trip to the water, learn from other anglers, learn from local anglers and piece it together until the formula for success is consistent. Essentially it’s what makes the fly community tick – learn, share and succeed.
Luderick are a very accessible species for most of the estuary anglers along the East Coast of Australia, ranging in distribution from southern Queensland through to Tasmania. During the cooler months, large schools of luderick form up and occupy most estuary systems, with a strong following of anglers who are dedicated to targeting the species.
To begin your search for luderick, start looking around rock walls, jetty pylons, ocean platforms and weed beds. Concentrations of available food in the area will help you out, so look for the bright green weed and cabbage often found attached to rocks. Fish need to eat and their primary source of food will not be far away.
Other areas to search are through the tidal current eddies and pockets of slack water just off the main flow.
During the cooler months, you’ll find large schools of luderick in most estuary systems, from southern Queensland through to Tasmania.
A fly outfit in the 4 weight to 6 weight class will be sufficient for most estuary situations, and the fish will put up a nice account for themselves on those outfits matched with a floating weight forward fly line, purposely built for Saltwater use, with a moderate aggressive head for turning over and repositioning flies with ease.
Floating lines are my preference as the line can be managed / mended easily from the surface film. It results in a cleaner fly presentation during the drift and a reduced amount of belly in the line and allows for a quick hook set.
The water depth most often determines the leader length. We use around 9 foot as a starting point and will either chop or add depending on what is needed.
Remember, the above is the type of set up that I am using and I have confidence using it in the local luderick locations. There is a whole range of options available in the area of lines and leaders that may suit you better; full intermediate lines, sink tip lines, sinking lines, just to name a few.
Let the water depth determine your leader length. Start with approximately 9 foot and then chop or add, depending on what the circumstances on the day.
You will need weed flies, with a few variations in your kit to be prepared to present the fly in varying water depths.
Let’s start with the colours – Bright Green, Olive, Blended and Brown Weed flies, in the hook sizes 6 through 14, with sizes 8 and 10 delivering most of the success from my experience. It pays to carry an array of sizes and colours in your kit, so you can change to suit the mood of the fish or conditions that you are fishing in.
An important consideration is the weight requirements of the fly. A correctly weighted fly will allow for the ideal depth presentation into the active feeding zone. This element is critical to your success and consequently there is a good range of options to choose from, from zero weight, brass bead, lead wrap through to the heaviest, being tungsten bead. The choice of weight will have a significant impact on your fly presentation — essentially, the choice needs to be based on the sink rate required and depth you want to present the fly to the fish.
If you are into tying your own weed flies, look no further than the range of Tiewell Weed Dub. The product leads the way by a tidal mile when it comes to simplicity of use, durability and is super effective. Three colours that are currently available are Green, Olive and Dark Brown. All representing types of stringy weed found in the estuary system.
Carry a range of sizes, weights and colours in your weed fly kit, so you can change to suit the mood of the fish or conditions that you are fishing in.
When targeting luderick in shallow water, the set up has a minimalist approach; tapered leader made of fluorocarbon, 9 foot in length, with a two fly rig. Depending on the tidal strength, a brass bead fly, weighted lead fly or a tungsten bead fly will be used at the end of your main leader, with an unweighted weed fly trailing 30cm behind.
In the deeper water, an indicator set up is employed, much like setting up an indicator rig for trout nymphing. Whilst still maintaining the 9-foot leader, a Thingamabobber indicator is attached and set to the depth that you want to fish the flies. The Thingamabobbers create little resistance and are easily adjusted so you can make a depth change whenever necessary. They are also available in a few sizes depending on the buoyancy requirements of your location. In the calm water estuaries and along the protected edges of rock walls, the small size seems fine. In the stronger currents, heavy washes or windblown rock walls, the next size is required. It is wise and strongly recommended to have a few indicator options in your kit. There are plenty of options out there to choose from. Find an indicator that you are confident with and run with it.
In both set ups, run a 10 to 12 pound leader as the main line. On the trailing flies, on rock walls, 10 – 12 pound is maintained, however in shallow water situations, we will drop down to around 6 or 8 pound breaking strain.
There is, of course, sight-fishing opportunities available to really get you into chasing down these little striped battlers, and in these scenarios you will be ditching the indicators as quick as you can. Straight through tension to the fly is required. The eats vary from a timid chew to a smash and grab of the drifting weed fly. One of my most memorable sessions comes from sight fishing on the flats. Upon arrival at the chosen destination, a quick wade across the flats and there they were; backs out of the water, sitting high in the water column scoffing down weed that had been dislodged from heavy seas the day prior.
Carry a few indicator options in your kit. There are plenty of options to choose from. Find an indicator that you are confident with and run with it.
In almost all situations, I will set up the two fly rig. This is done by attaching the weighted weed fly at the end of your tapered leader and then an unweighted weed fly tied directly from the head fly hook bend with a 15cm to 30cm length of fluorocarbon.
Take a look at the image hereabouts… the tungsten bead is the lead fly, with the unweighted weed fly trailing behind. In most cases, but not all, the eat comes from the trailing fly. The 15-30cm separation from leading fly to the trailing fly seems to provide good success.
The presentation of the fly is up and across the current, allowing the rig to drift with the tidal flow and swing until the drift on your fly becomes unnatural. Mend the line as you go to keep in relative contact with the fly. Large bellies of fly line floating around in the current will result in a lot of missed opportunities.
Most importantly, don’t forget to set the hook! Traditionally, an upward lifting of the rod was used which is derived from the float fisherman driving home the hook. We find a solid strip set without lifting the fly rod will see good results, when proper management of line and leader is in place.
Stay in contact with your fly. Large bellies of fly line floating around in the current will result in a lot of missed opportunities.
I hope this helps you out with your pursuit of luderick on the fly. They are a fun, challenging and rewarding species to pursue in your local estuary system.