I can see all the purists cringe just at the heading of this post, but let’s face it, fly fishing is all about fooling fish with artificial “lures”. Yep I said it – lures – cos at the end of the day that’s what a fly is. Something that is tied to attract a fish to eat. I guess the only difference between a normal fly like a clouser and a bread or weed fly is that you also tend to use berley with the latter. O.k. controversial statements over now on with the post.
Bread flies are so versatile and often save the day when things are a bit quiet. I have caught so many species on them over the years.. Bass, golden perch, bream, mullet, drummer, luderick, herring, butterfish and the list goes on. So never restrict yourself to not trying them at least once in your fly fishing life. Bread fly patterns and materials also vary quite a bit. There are floating bread flies, primarily tied out of spun deer hair or foam and dubbing, sinking bread flies made from chenille or egg yarn and I have even seen them made from rabbit fur.
Sizes also vary depending on what you are targeting. For the estuary where the main target is mullet I go down to a size 12 sinking bread fly suspended under a size 10 deer hair fly, which acts like an indicator but will also catch it’s fair share of fish. If there are bream on the chew I might up the size of the hook a tad, but you’ll still handle most bream on the size 12s. Then there is the upper end of the scale. For drummer and off the rocks I go for a size 2 fly, tied on a strong Tiemco 800s hook. These hooks are super strong and won’t straighten easily. We first started using Mustad 34007s in the early days of our drummer fly fishing only to find that they straightened on any decent fish – so we tried a few styles of hook and settled on the Tiemco.
The other thing to consider when tying or choosing a fly is whether it needs to be weighted. For the estuary most flies need no weight unless you are fishing in a decent tidal current and you need to get it down that little bit faster. Off the rocks you will definitely need weight when fishing the washes. I use a colour code for my bread flies to show how many wraps of lead it has and therefore how fast it will sink. Red, Blue, Green and Black 4 – 12 wraps respectively of .030 lead wire on he shank. So when there is a bit of swell pushing in I go black and when the conditions are a bit lighter down to the red. The idea is to make the fly look natural but still being able to get into the danger zone.
Fishing them is relatively easy – For the estuary I use a 2 fly rig. Top fly is the floating deer hair fly with between 12 and 18 inches of mono down to the sinking size 12. I usually go for 6 lb leader on a 4 weight rod for mullet and bream. You will occasionally get done over by tailor, but them’s the brakes.
Off the rocks we have a simple saying when it comes to the leader – “20lb all the way down”. Yep a 4- 5ft length of 20lb flurocarbon from the fly line to the fly. Why so heavy? Because drummer or more commonly named pigs, ill drag you to the reef in seconds, so you need to be able to apply the brakes fast. Give no line is the call on pigs…… you give them any line and you are likely to find yourself well connected to the rocks and reef that lie below your feet. it’s hard on your gear for sure, so I wouldn’t suggest you take your best rod! I tend to use a 10 weight for this style of fishing and sometimes that get’s doubled over.
Now down to berleying. In the estuary it’s a simple matter of breaking a piece of bread in small pieces that are close to the size of the flies you are fishing (a new way to look at match the hatch). The fish will soon start hitting it if they are interested in feeding. Then just cast to the boils and watch the floating fly or your line and strike when you see it move. You need to keep in contact with the fly so slow strips can be useful for this. The fish are fast and will realise very very quickly that the fly is not bread and will spit it faster than they hit it, so you need to be on your game!
On the stones you mix your loaves of bread with water in a bucket and mulch it up. The main reason for this is you want the bread wet before it goes in so it sinks rather than sits up on the surface. If it;s dry and sits on the surface t will just get pulled away from the rocks before the fish get a chance to get it. You won’t see any movement on the bread but just blind cast to the edges of shelves and into the holes and hold on!
That’s pretty much it for bread fly fishing – pretty basic, but so much fun. Not always easy, but that’s what makes it fun. remember if you are fishing off the rocks make sure you have all the necessary safety gear and don’t go alone. No fish is worth dying for, not even a drummer!
If you want more information on tying the bread flies check out the video I did on the Central Coast Fly Rodders page by clicking here. If you aren’t a tier and want to purchase some flies then head over to BWC Flies and stock up – http://www.bwcflies.com.au/pages/saltwater.php