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Fly Fishing

Chasing Golden Trevalley on the Magnetic Island flats.


Enjoying one of the many beautiful beaches of Magnetic Island.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Barramundi - My Picks

Lure Selection

DOA Prawn - A great soft plastic for slow moving clear water. I prefer the 3in size, but also available in a 4in. Best fished on lighter lines for a more natural presentation. Prone to snagging, so care is needed when allowing the lure to sink into structure. Relatively inexpensive. Can be used with the standard hook or upgraded if needed.

Jelly Prawn Lures - A really good locally made alternative to the DOA. These prawn imitation lures have been produced from a cast of a REAL Townsville prawn! Now available in a range of sizes and styles, the original Jelly Prawn lure is a backward swimming lure with a realistic tail-flick action. Designed to resemble a real life fleeing prawn, these are great attractants to Barramundi. Available from Ben's Tight Line Lures website. Follow Tight Line Lures on Facebook. 

Atomic Prongs - A great little soft plastic prawn imitation lure. Available in a 3in and 4in size and in a variety of colours. These are a scented plastic that will not dry out like Gulp baits. Fairly cheep and disposable, especially when manually rigged texas style on a worm hook and small ball sinker. This rigging technique makes then very snag resistant and effective amongst the timber.

Gulp Shrimp - A fantastic soft plastic. The 3in Shrimp rigs well on a 2/0 TT-lures HeadlockZ. Can be fished deep on 1/4 or 1/6th oz heads. Or can be rigged on a worm hook and small ball sinker for a weedless combination in the snags. The Mantis Shrimp offer a Atomic Prong like tail and jointed body that presents a good action.

Threadybuster - An innovative Aussie made soft plastic vibe. At about 16grams and 95mm these are good for working deep holes and outside banks. Throw the lure up-current of the boat and allow it to sink to the bottom. Slowly twitch and work the lure back to the boat, keeping the lure in contact with the bottom. Gentle lifts of the rod are all that is required to insight vibration in the lure. Two sets of trebles make them quite prone to snagging, and in deep water this can get expensive. Removing the rear treble considerably reduces snagging.

Also just released from the Smoking Drags stable is the 60mm Mini-Threadybuster. Since the release of these lures I have used them very successfully chasing Grunter. But they have already accounted for numerous incidental Barramundi over 60cm. Although they are tiny, they are well worth a shot. Follow Threadybuster on Facebook.

Quickcatch - Quickcatch Lures are importing a range of cheaper alternatives to the Aussie made Threadybuster. Available directly from the Quickcatch Facebook page, these lures are about half the price of a Threadybuster and do work. However, I don't find the vibration to be as intense and the plastic seems to suffer more easily from sun and heat damage. They need to be worked harder than the Threadybuster to achieve the same action. 

G.I.M.P. - A much larger and heavier alternative to the Threadybuster. While probably considered more at home in deeper waters chasing Fingermark, they are really making a name for themselves as a big Barramundi taker. Fished in a similar manner to the Threadybuster, these will attract big fish! G.I.M.P. lures are made in locally in Townsville and only available through select stores. 

Flatz Rat - A great all round hard bodied Barramundi lure. Very snag resistant and can be worked slowly over sunken timber. Iced Tea seems to be the favoured colour. Upgrade the front treble for a more neutrally buoyant presentation. Throw the lure into the timber and pull firmly so the lure swims deep. Then pause for a good 3 seconds before twitching the lure back toward the boat. Stop regularly with 3 second pauses. Can also be trolled reasonably deep.

Interceptor 115 - Described by Ben Weston as having the potential to replace the Gold Bomber at the 'go to' lure for keen Barra fishers. These relatively new shallow diving hard bodied lures are produced by Smoking Drags Co, the same Australian company producing the Threadybuster. The Interceptor 115 has a very neutrally buoyant configuration right from the box and is fitted with good quality strong Owner trebles. As they are a shallow running lure, the Interceptor 115 is fantastic in drains and on the flats.

Line Choice
Most Barramundi are targeted by local lure fishers on either 20 or 30lb braided fishing lines. Heavier lines than this are not required, and it should always be remembered that lighter lines present lures better. 20lb is my preferred breaking strain when fishing Hard Bodied lures and the more expensive soft vibes.

Lighter lines are more than capable of capturing big Barramundi. There are quite a few locals that have caught big 1m+ fish on 4lb braid. The lightest I fish is 8lb, its a good compromise between having a great deal of fun fishing, and putting too much stress on a fish during a long fight. Its also well known that braided lines break well above the marked breaking strain anyway.

Most people see to agree that the Power Pro range of line from Shimano is one of the best quality lines on the market. And Shimano have not long introduced a 'Bite Motion' and 8-carrier 'Super Slick' variety to their range. There are plenty of other good brands on the market too, but Power Pro represents great value for money.

Leader should be a class heavier than the braided main-line. 40/60lb leader for 20/30lb braid, and I like to use 20lb leader on my 8lb braid. Yes, Barramundi do have a rough mouth and sharp gill plates, but I am yet to be rubbed off with a 20lb leader when fishing light lines. Truth is, if you are fishing only 4 or 8lb main line, then you are putting very little drag pressure on the line most of the time. Probably only 1kg or so. Therefore a fish will have to wear a fair way through the 20lb leader before the pressure you are applying is going to pop it. Obviously as you increase main-line, you increase drag pressure and thus need heavier leaders. I simply use Schnieder line for my leader material. Its cheap and effective. I have moved away from expensive fluro-carbon leaders as they are stiff and difficult to cast. They just don't go through the runners in the same way. The Schnieder is a beautiful soft subtle line. But for anyone interested in a good quality pre-made twisted leader, local angler Phil Lawlor has been producing his own range of custom leaders for quite some time. These are a great option, especially when fishing heavier lines for big fish. 

Spin tackle has become increasingly popular over the last few years. This is at least partly due to the vast improvements in quality and technology. Companies like Shimano have made spin reels smoother, lighter and more robust than ever before. And braided lines like Power Pro make capacity issues a thing of the past. Spin reels are my preference when fishing light lines and soft plastic lures. Spin reels may lack a little 'accuracy' in casting, but they allow an angler to impart a better action on a soft plastic lure. And presentation is a big part of success when fishing for Barramundi.

Shimano make a whole range of spin reels to fit any anglers budget. For quality and a fair price the Stradic Ci4+ range of reels are a great starting point. But the Sustain and Stella range offer little more 'precision' and quality for their higher price tag. 2500 size reels are a good starting point, especially for fishing in the 8-10lb line class. But a 4000 size might be better suited for 20-30lb lines.

Baitcasters are still my top pick for throwing and working hard bodied lures. These have accuracy, strength and comfort for a full days casting. Stick to a low profile reel for the best level of comfort, and to avoid wrists becoming tired. The Shimano Curado series of reels has been very popular in Townsville, and with good reason. These reels are excellent value for money. But a step up in price will get you the much better quality Chronarch. Either of these reels can easily handle 20 or 30lb Power Pro braided lines.

Any rod that is going to be used for lure casting and braided lines, I believe, should be graphite in construction. Graphite is much lighter to hold and cast all day, and has a much 'snappier' action for twitching lures. Again, Shimano offer a good range at various price points. But for my money, I don't think you can beat the T-curve range. Rods for spin reels will be longer at about 6'6" to 7', while baitcasters are best kept at 5'6" max.

Very few people will give away their favourite Barramundi haunt! But all the major systems around Townsville hold good numbers of fish. The best thing you can do is to pick a river system and get to know it well. Spend the time looking at the snags from the mouth to the upper reaches. Get to know which areas fish best at different tides and different times of the year. There is no substitute for time spent on the water. The Bohle river, for example, is probably one of the most heavily fished systems close to town, and yet those that know it well can still pull good 1m+ fish fairly consistently. The Haughton and Morriseys to the south are also good options. And during the warmer times of the year, don't discount the headlands around Cape Cleveland and Maggie Island. Think about the conditions; wind, tide, rain, etc. Consider the effect these will have on factors that effect fishabilty and fish activity; flow rate and water quality for example. Then try to pick a system or area that is going to best suit those conditions offered. You can't change the conditions presented, but you can make the most of them. For example, last year Andrew and I put in the Haughton after heavy rain. It was running very hard and dirty with big logs floating throughout. We pulled the boat out and moved over to Cocoa Creek. Only a 15min drive away, the water was running clean and clear. We had a fantastic day on Rat Barra! Cocoa creek does not have a huge catchment area like the Haughton and was relatively unaffected by the heavy rains.