Well what a run of good fishing we’ve had as we move out of winter and into spring.
From the start of August and into September the numbers of sailfish and black marlin only a few miles from shore have been truly world class and Exmouth’s billfish on fly fishery is proving to be wide open for exploration. The fantastic thing about the fishing is that all the action happens only a few miles from shore with the average size of the sails being 20 to 30kg and the black marlin ranging from 10 to 120 kg.
The billfish are mainly teased to the back of the boat by running a hookless teaser. When the fish come up to hit the teaser, they are carefully coaxed closer in while the angler prepares to make a cast with the fly, at the right moment once the boat has been taken out of gear.
The ideal gear required to catch these fish on fly is a good 10 – 12 wt outfit. These are big, strong fish and it’s important to make sure the fish are brought to the boat in good time so as not to stress or tire the billfish unnecessarily. Average fight time for the sailfish is around 15 minutes using good angles, the correct application of pressure through the rod and efficient boat driving.
For many years I thought that catching a billfish on fly was the domain of professional and wealthy big game hunters. But with modern techniques, good numbers of fish and a comfortable platform to fish from, these magnificent fish are totally achievable to target on the fly. Exmouth’s billfish population are perfect fly rod size so if you are interested in adding one to your species list or pushing your skills and approach to the next level, please feel free to contact me here
Rods and reels need to be in top form, large arbour reels loaded with at least 350m of backing, double grip rods provide the ability to lift bigger fish.
Some anglers prefer to use single hooks, others prefer a tandem rigged fly which provide a far greater hookup rate. There are many methods to rig tandem hooks, the simplest and most effective method I have seen is to snell two hooks as opposed to using wire and crimps. For snelling, an upturned eye is needed so mainline can pass through the eye of the hook unobscured – the best hooks I have found for this are Gammakatsu Octopus size 6/0. The hooks are joined using 100lb mono with the rear hook tied first, then the front.
The flies that seem to work best for sails are the Cam Sigler popperhead flies in pink. These match the size and colour of the teaser and seem to get the most bites.
Lines that work best fishing these flies are full floaters or intermediate lines because sometimes the angler will be required to make another cast at the fish and lift the fly off the water, or create some surface disturbance by popping the fly to get the fish’s attention. Sinking lines work best when fishing flashy profile flies as they quickly pull the fly down into the water where the fish can see it.
One of the things that truly makes Exmouth such a world class destination is that anglers can spend half a day fishing inshore for species like bones, permit, trevally and queenfish, then head only a few miles from shore and fish for billfish on the fly in the same day. Below is a pic of Tom Gordon who managed this lovely sailfish and a bonefish in the same day – hence the reason for the smile.
Exmouth sailfish on fly – these are perfect fly rod targets.
You never quite know what will come up on the teaser, sometimes it’s a sailfish, other times it’s a black marlin, other times spanish mackerel, dorado or even wahoo.
Here’s a photo of interstate trout fisherman Pete Guy giving the thumbs up early on in the fight as he’s connected to a rather large black marlin that he cast to, little did we know that this amazingly strong fish would tow us almost 7km from where we hooked it, for over 4 hours!
If you’re interested in targeting billfish on fly in Exmouth, or for any other inquiries about guided fishing and available dates, please contact me here