Don’t give up…!

In the last couple of months, I’ve had at least 3 messages from our readers asking advice about catching their first bream on lures. Casting my mind back to when we began, I can completely empathise with the frustration and uncertainty. Questions like “am I doing it right”? “Should I be using a different lure”? “How fast should I retrieve”? “Am I fishing in the right place”?

So many questions, trying so many different things, chopping and changing lures and retrieves, not chopping and changing lures and retrieves often enough are all common processes when you are trying to “get those first runs on the board” so to speak.

My advice has been pretty consistent to all of these questions. Keep persevering! If you keep throwing a lure into likely spots and remain observant to what you are doing, somehow, soon enough, something will click and you’ll catch your first.

My Dad used to say to us if you play enough games [insert relevant sport here] you’ll eventually win one. This is probably pretty good advice when it comes to fishing too.

Well, my own advice hasn’t been lost on me either. My fly fishing journey started a bit over 18 months ago, and the going has been slow – well in terms of my catch rate anyway.

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I’m fortunate that I’ve had some excellent mentors, seasoned fly fishermen and women who have spent time with me on the water helping me to hone my skills. I’ve been fortunate to land some amazing fish from some amazing places under the guidance of these mentors, but when you’re left on your own, it’s very easy for the confidence to wane quickly.

Fishing is a confidence game! You need to have conviction with what you are doing. If it’s wrong, then so be it, but you have to have the conviction to persevere with the decisions you make, and then just as importantly the conviction to change it up when you need to as well.

A couple of weekends ago in the NSW Southern Highlands something just clicked for me. I’ve caught trout before, and I’ve caught them on fly, but something just clicked with my mindset and it all just came together. I made a number of “right” decisions and executed a handful of good casts at critical moments that inevitably saw me catch a trout. It wasn’t a big trout by any means, and it certainly wasn’t my first on fly, but it was the first time that I’ve worked through all the processes with conviction on my own (the pearls of wisdom from my mentors ringing in my ears) and the end game was being rewarded with the fish.

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So what did I take away from this experience that might benefit you if you’re starting out on your own fishing journey?

  1. Slow down. Trout fishing on fly is a hell of a lot different to Trout or Bream fishing on lures and spin gear. On spin gear you can cover a lot of water very quickly. On fly you need to slow down and take your time. In doing so, it’s amazing how much more you notice about the environment, even out of the corner of your eye. I fished a long way behind Justin who was on spin gear and throwing searching lures. Justin covered a lot more water than I did, but ultimately I ended up catching a fish out of a stretch of water that he’d flogged 20 minutes before
  2. Back yourself to make those casts. It’s easy to get deterred from making a tough cast, but remember, if you aren’t putting your lure or fly into the strike zone, you exponentially reduce your chances of catching a fish. I personally baulk when I’ve got a tough back cast to make, and can say with honesty that sometimes I just don’t cast for fear of hanging my fly up in the bushes behind. On a number of occasions this trip I nearly didn’t make a cast in these tight situations, but I forced myself to have a go, and although I didn’t keep a clean sheet whatsoever, they say practice makes perfect, and I’m on the improve.
  3. I went with my gut and conviction with fly selection. I fished a glo-bug with a nymph dropper, I fished a dry fly, and a dry fly with a nymph dropper when there were active fish rising and I persevered with both for as long as I thought necessary. I slowed my retrieve, sped up my retrieve and fished with patience until it became apparently obvious that I wasn’t going to catch a fish. Then I changed it up.

Ultimately by slowing everything down, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, an active fish swimming a beat, feeding under the undercut banks of the narrowing creek. What would I have done if this were a bream? Throw a crankbait to entice a reaction bite. So I tied on a small Woolley bugger, backed myself to make a tight cast a foot from the bank, retrieved the fly parallel past the feeding fish and whooshka, hookup! As I said the fish wasn’t big, but when I took it out of the net and cradled it in the water waiting for it to swim away, I realised it was one of my most satisfying captures in a long time.

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5 responses to “Don’t give up…!

  1. What a lot of fishers new to lure fishing do not realise lure fishing and more so fly fishing is more hunting than fishing.

    Here is an article I wrote for the local daily newspaper about 12 years ago.

    Lure Fishing, Are You Addicted?
    As with all great sports, nothing beats experience and practice. Fishing in particular is one of those sports where you never seem to stop learning something new. There are so many variables such as, tide, sun, moon, barometer, wind, temperature, water quality etc which, constantly change the conditions, we contend with. You must be prepared to stay on that learning curve and change your ideas, tactics, tackle and techniques as experience is gained. Keep an open mind and get out there, relax and enjoy yourself – because these days that’s what fishing is all about.

    Lure fishing has been around for thousands of years. Fifty-five odd years ago when I lived in North Queensland I remember asking a very old aboriginal women how long she had been using lures and she told me her granny had taught her the art when she was very young. In those days the preferred aboriginal Barra lure was shaped like a Smiths Jig and made from the giant clamshell. At some time the old hook was replaced with a 5/0 O’Shaughnessy so the hookup rate was better and few were lost once hooked. The lure was cast with a cord line and retrieved with a hand to hand stripping motion, which is still successful today. Although Barra lures had advanced a long way by the 1940s there were still those who still preferred a “frog” made from red bicycle inner tube with a 5/0 O’Shaughnessy. In Townsville around that time it was the preferred lure on a Kelly Pole during the wet. Stand close to the bottom of the spillway of the bottom weir, flick the lure, strike the Barra and get it out of the water before the crocs took it. It was easier at the top two weirs as crocs were rare and they were mainly Johnstonis. So plastics are not new.

    As your fishing evolves and is shaped by chasing many different species you will find lure fishing and in particular lure casting can be as well as productive, very addictive. It is more like hunting than fishing. With bait, you know the four letter word which makes your hands smelly and the boat dirty, you can just sit there, have a snooze or a tinny and wait for a fish to swim by and hopefully take your bait. Whereas when lure fishing, you are actively hunting the fish in its domain by endeavouring to place the lure where the fish are waiting in ambush. There are those who believe more often than not, a good lure fisherman will out fish the bait fisherman. They would be able to give many reasons why fish will take lures. These could include repelling an intruder from their territory, the lure imitates a food source, the lure creates vibrations which, agitate the fish and creates an instinctive strike reaction, the lure imitates a wounded baitfish and suggests an easy feed and anything which moves abnormally or looks different is usually singled out and attacked. Of course if the lures aren’t working there is always live bait. A good lure fisherman usually slots into the top 5% of bait fishermen.

    It is a generally accepted fact 10% of fishers catch 90% of the fish. Research indicates the “top guns” of the luring world have the abilities to:
    – locate fish either by instinct and/or knowledge gained through years of practice;
    – impart the appropriate speed and action to their lures when they are in the fishes strike zone;
    – work the lure within structure without constantly snagging up;
    – vary the retrieval speed of the lure as necessary; and
    – vary the operating depth of the lure with lure changes as often as required.

    They will often have hundreds of lures with them and usually three or more outfits so that they can swap lures and their actions through the water.

    If you do become addicted to lure fishing remember lures are made to catch fishermen so try to curb the urge to buy every lure, which catches your eye. Eventhough you may cast a lure more than three hundred times in an outing you also have to spend a lot of time in the backyard placing a plug into a small bucket at distances from three to twelve metres or more so that when you are out there on the water chasing Bass, Cod, Barra, Jacks, Bream, etc you can get the lure into the exact spot. Good luck and tight lines.

    For the past 5+ years I have only fly fished and have learnt a lot and have honed my skills a bit further. However there is a long way to go before I will get close to perfection. Cheers, Bruce M

  2. Very well said, Greg. I started bream luring on hardbodies a month ago after stumbling onto lureandfly. I read every post on bream luring on this blog, armed myself with a handful of lures, then headed out at the crack of dawn to catch a bream. I started casting at 5am but by noon, I had hit every snag and pylon I could find. I could almost have sworn that there were no fish in the system except that I had pulled countless fish from this system throughout this winter on soft plastics.

    I decided to take a step back, slow down, and reread some key entries on this blog and decided to make “better decisions”. I kept persisting and after 9 hours on the water, something clicked and I finally landed my first bream on a Double Clutch. After that, I landed six more within an hour. And since then, I’ve been spanking them every outing. Two things I’ve learnt from bream luring: 1) be persistent and fish with confidence; 2) did it say “be persistent” already?

    Thank you and the rest of the lureandfly team for this blog, I am enjoying bream luring so much more on hardbodies than I ever did on soft plastics! Keep up the good work!

    Oh, and as per a previous post… Hi, my name is Kelvin and I’m a lure junkie…

    • Sounds like a new “addiction” or maybe “affliction” is looming Kelvin. Read Chris’ posts about his lure collections… In fact maybe you two should catch up to swap stories sometime … and compare lure collections! Cheers, Greg

  3. Greg, I suspect that Chris and I would have very similar lure collections except that I throw more Atomic Hardz Bream Shad 40s and Daiwa Double Clutch 60SPs while he throws more Atomic Cranks and Daiwa Baby Cranks. I don’t really like the finish on the Baby Cranks, the paint job tends to look a bit sloppy.

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