What a tough few weeks we’ve experienced in the New England. Many of our waterways are suffering from weedy, low and discoloured water. Adding plummeting air/ water temperatures into the above scenario has now resulted in lots of casting practise on the river.
Current low water levels have exposed thousands of yabby holes along the river banks; perhaps fish were now gorging themselves on these high protein crustaceans. For the most part, over the last few years, our Murray cod flies have started increasing in physical size. Knowing that kids love to constantly eat snacks and sneaky meals, well now we’ve prepared the cod snack.
A fly, that’s a tad under 11cms in length, but packs some serious street credit when dealing with those tough fishing times. Get the tie right and it provides plenty of movement thanks to the use of natural fibres, even though the main ingredient is Arctic fox tail and Senyo’s laser dub head, there’s lots of room to add your own variations.
We have two hook options, both Gamakatsu, either the B10s in 2/0 or a Saltwater SL12s in 4/0. To improve hook up rate we now tend to open up the hook bend slightly.
Tail: short pinch of Buck tail, to prevent tail wrap. Big fly fibre, Arctic fox tail, optional Ostrich feathers/ Peacock hurl/ Silicon skirts. A few strands of Crystal flash mixed in.
Body: Rabbit crosscut, Marabou, Schlappen feathers is another optional.
Lead wire:0.15 gauge
Senyo’s Laser Dub is used to form a simple sturdy head and trimmed into shape. For durability we use Clear Cure 3D Dumbbell eyes in 8mm, to avoid the lost eye syndrome.
Weed guard: 60lb looped mono weed guard. Nick
It’s funny how old favourite flies can fall to the way side, to a point that they’re now totally forgotten. Back in the early days if the river had the slightest hint of colour, it was all about the Rattling Clouser/ Rouser. In particular, rivers such as the Dumaresq river, located on the Qld/ NSW border, the combination of flash and audible rattle wreaked havoc on so many of the resident cod.
Over time we stepped away from the use of rock sensitive rattles, concentrating our time on designing a simple, functional weed guard, with the reliance of natural fibres to create highly effective flies.
Looking back through my old fly boxes, I was drawn to the assortment of 4/0 Rattling Clousers, a fly that had bought me so much success in the past.
Knowing that the fishing in our rivers has been pretty tough going lately, I had my suspicion that this could be the fly to unlock these shut down Murray Cod. And indeed it did. So don’t be afraid to get reacquainted with your old favourite flies because chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Nick
Easter is fast approaching and travelling anglers will find the next few months pretty tough going in the New England. Willow and Honey Locust Trees are beginning to shed their leaves at this time of year, indicating that the nights are starting to cool down and murray cod will become less active.
In order to succeed during these colder months, just remember to slow your fly presentation down and always fish with confidence. On our recent fly fishing trip we gathered enough footage to put together a short clip. Nick
As the sun dips below the river gums, Galahs and Cockatoos take the opportunity to have the last sip of water, many have already settled down for the night in the tree tops.
It’s the time when Murray Cod feel comfortable leaving their snaggy lairs and go on the attack, seeking food from above and below the water line.
The pinnacle of Cod fishing for me is that last magical hour of light, with floating fly lines and large surface flies at the ready. Unfortunately over the years I’ve also been on the receiving end of some monumental wipe outs from big fish during these times. Perhaps the biggest heartache when fishing surface flies has been the amount of hook set failures encountered, particularly when using large foam patterns.
Many of my recent evening sessions, I’ve been trialling new fly/hook concepts in the hope of improving hook up rates.
Articulated flies are nothing new overseas; in fact many steelhead, salmon, pike and trophy brown trout fisherman have been twisting them up for years. Except for pelagic fishing, their use has been nearly none existent here in Australia. Some of the benefits of using tandem flies are:
1) Extra swinging hook for increased hook up rate
2) The ability to create larger profile flies
3) Weighted subsurface flies have increased undulation motion
4) Surface flies inherit a snake like swimming motion
The Big Poppa fly created by James Nicholson in Victoria, is one of my favourite top water flies for Murray Cod. It generates the most seductive sound and it has a real knack of taking fish under many varied conditions.
The Bendy Roller Popper and the Big Poppa both share a similar problem, a dismal hook up rate! Jason pleaded for a total fly reform, starting with a treatment of articulation. So far the mods have exceeded expectations and produced a deadly top water fly for Cod. Mono loop weed guards fitted on both hooks help maintain its snag resistance, which is an invaluable feature for the rivers fished around the New England.
The Big Poppa
Hook – Gamakatsu B10s 1/0 rear, Owner 5/0 spinnerbait front
35lb plastic coated wire trace, 2 plastic beads, thread wrapped and glued
Body – Large Krystal Hackle rear hook, rabbit zonker front
2mm sheet foam – 15mm width rear, 20mm width front
Tail – arctic fox tail
Flash – blended Sparkleflash
Weed guard – 60lb Rio heavy mono shock tippet rear, 80lb front.
3D eyes – apply clear cure goo, then coated with head cement
With a wet and boring Australia Day long weekend, I thought I’d put together a short headcam clip from one of our earlier trips.
Filmed during late December last year, the object of the day was to find deep pockets of hidden water along the river. It’s in these pools you’ll find the resident Murray Cod very willing to take a well presented fly.
Upon reaching the river, we split up and scurried off on our separate ways. Weaving and dodging under the bottlebrush choked river bank at a frantic pace, trying to find any windows in the undergrowth. The object was to look for any potential water that we could explore with the aid of our float boats.
Meeting back at the Ute sometime later, we set about a game plan that would involve having to deflate the boats several times throughout the day. With no other way, but to portage past the shallow, fish devoid sections.
Our expectations were high as we worked the first run with enthusiasm, an overgrown area that I’m sure no fisherman could ever fish successfully from the bank. Even though the water looked to have potential, Jason could only manage one cod that was hiding deep under an overhanging limb. Somewhat disappointed, we both headed downstream to the next pool. One that we both knew would hold a good population of fish. But beyond our expectations, the next thirty metres of river was an absolute mine field of hungry cod and every few metres of river was action packed. It was one of those spots were every few casts something exciting was happening. At one stage Jason found himself connected to a big cod, one that he had no control over, but once again had a thirty pound tippet fail under the pressure from these strong native fish. Slowly the bite tapered off as the river started to become shallow and weedy.
Reaching the end of the hole, the river started to become just a series of large granite rock pools. The cod in these sections were incredibly hungry and it wasn’t uncommon to have several little cod fighting to eat our flies
When you can land three cod in four casts, proves we had found a mother load of silly fish. As the sun dipped low we started to find better quality fish hiding amongst the babies.
Unfortunately we failed to capture a lot of good footage using the head cam, due to card failures. But as the rain continues to fall over the long weekend, I know these areas will fish even better next time. Nick
It’s great to watch your kids grow up, developing their own interests and hobbies. My youngest daughter Leah has a real passion for photography and fly tying, she now has the wackiest collection of fly’s out there, bold, bright colours with pink featured in most of her favoured ones.
On my latest voyage, Leah tagged along to see what all the fuss was about. Surprisingly the river was still affected by weed, even though we had received good rain last month.
With slightly turbid water, I fished the reliable pink/black mega Dobson knowing it would work. Tied on a 3/0 Gamakatsu Siwash, I reduced the usual eye weight from 3/16 real eyes, opting instead for large bead chain eyes. Hoping the combination of an intermediate sink tip flyline and slow sink fly would do the trick.
Watching the footage, you’ll notice that most of the time fish preferred the fly if it was dead drifted under the structure. At times Murray Cod can be quite finicky on fly/lure presentation, so it pays to be adaptable.
We both shared a great day on the water, landing 11 Murray Cod on fly and dropping several others. Leah was disappointed at losing her first Cod, but I suspect she won’t have to wait long for the next opportunity. Nick
I always get nervous when people join me for a fishing session, knowing that unstable weather can wreak havoc on our native fish. John Everett would be arriving today just as the condition where forecasted to turn ugly, afternoon storms could make this trip difficult.
With very little flat camping ground on offer, we selected an area that would be easier for us to drive out of if it decided to rain.
Inflating our water striders we ventured upstream into the “Bronx” area, so overgrown with bottlebrush its bloody dangerous for rod tips and a real nightmare for casting. Usually it’s a productive area, except for one cod that smashed a bendy roller popper, it was extremely quiet. I had my suspicions the low river levels may contributed to our steady progress. Working back downstream, we searched for deeper water with hopefully a little less weed to contend with.
When John opted for a modified Dobson fly, things started to happen for him. The fish where beautifully conditioned and very fit, problem was they were never really ‘on the bite’ it was a case of being patient and keep casts in the zone.
There were a lot of slow patches during the day, for an hour or so things would go quiet. Concentrating through these patches was tough, often our casting mojo would be lost and end up firing casts into overhanging foliage.
By 4:30pm clouds started to roll in, signalling things could get rough very soon. The faint sound of thunder confirmed what was about to head our way, what happened during the next hour was crazy fishing. All of a sudden we were both busy into fish. When John found himself connected to an absolute animal, I finned over and watched the battle unfold. The fish forced the Largemouth Bass rod into ridiculous bends with every powerful surge. Netting the fish wasn’t easy considering its bulk at 87cms it was totally out of proportion to its length, unfortunately for John It regurgitated most of its stomach and bowel contents over his new boat, what a horrendous smell. I quickly snapped some photos and left John with it.
Flashes of lightening indicated this incredible late session may come to an abrupt end, simply for life preservation. Out of curiosity we changed to floating fly lines and surface poppers.
John could do no wrong and next cast he witnesses the most aggressive surface strike imaginable. The big cods head breached clear out of the water, even from the other side of the river the strike sounded impressive. The fight was a letdown, but who’s complaining when an 85cm cod takes a surface fly like that. Unfortunately Johns luck ran out minutes later when a cod decided to steal his only articulated popper. The bad run continued when the storm finally caught up with us, producing a very sudden downpour. Forced back to camp, we prepared for the barrage of storms that was heading our way. The sudden temperature drop indicated that hail wasn’t too far away.
In the morning the cooler water temps really put a dampener on things. John worked his surface fly incredibly slow and managed to find an aggressive cod on duty. I found a cod hiding deep in the undergrowth, which abruptly stole my popper. By lunch things warmed up and we continued to add to the tally of the fish. John lucky streak continued when I found his missing popper, floating amongst a cluster of floating weed.
Arriving at a very reliable snag, I encouraged John to put a fly deep into the centre of the mallee. As if on cue the snag produced a fish, unfortunately it quickly managed to stitch him up within seconds, very funny stuff.
Once again, cloud and strong wind rolled in early, this time it looked we were about to receive some really bad news. The decision was made to head home early.
John really honed his skills over the weekend and between us we landed 16 Murray cod on fly, in pretty ordinary conditions. Nick
I often forget how effective surface fishing for Murray Cod can be, our rivers in the New England has some of the most consistent top water fishing available. When conditions turned cloudy on one of our latest trips, I took the gamble and chose to fish the surface. (Check out some of the highlights from the day’s effort we captured using a Vio headcam). Jason typically played it safe and stuck with his lovingly constructed sub surface patterns, which contained very minimal flash material. Fishing together, our game plan involved peppering casts under blossoming callistemon trees. This would give the fish the option of taking either of our flies, but I prefer to view the strike from a Cod. During the day many of the surface strikes failed to connect, on many occasions they’d managed to somehow to doge that ultra sharp hook point. By around midday the sun broke through the clouds and revealed the true clarity of the river. From this point on things quietened down, we had to rely on throwing subsurface flies in order to get the bite. Jason was tallying up a steady number of fish on a 6/0 olive emu huntsman fly, while I flavoured a lightly weighted rust brown/black coloured Mega Dobson. We discovered many of the Cod were laid up under the midstream boulders/rock bars, due to the super clear water the best option was to nymph fish our flies along the most promising areas. Most times they’d attack the helpless dead drifted fly; otherwise it was a case of imparting a few small twitches to encourage a strike. It was truly remarkable day with an estimated 20-25 cod on fly.
Jason flavoured a Scott s4s 8ft 10wt fly rod, while I used a Hard Core Elements 10wt, 8ft custom native specs flyrod. Both rods were kitted out with RIO Outbound Short floating/inter sink tip flylines. Nick
Don’t let anyone tell you cod fishing is glamorous, it’s far from it! Usually it involves a lot of sweat, fatigue and plain hard work. Our latest overnight trip was one of the most gruelling adventures we’ve experienced.
Typically, trekkers plan their trips down to every intricate detail; I’m not one of them. If Jason only knew that I was still deciding which direction we’d be heading to in the morning, he’d probably take over as trip co-ordinator.
Next morning we reached the river, instantly we were blown away by the rugged, brutal landscape and water clarity. Spotting cruising cod was kind of fun, but boy they were spooky! We had to have a total rethink of tactics to fish this water; it was a case of dredging fly’s in the deep gorge channels.
By three o’clock we reached the end of the longest pool, deep water was replaced with more familiar banks. Callistemon trees and snags lined the water’s edge, cicadas droned noisily from the overhanging she oaks. Better still the sun was setting behind the hills and it was getting quite dark. This was the time to see if they’d respond to a surface fly. Respond they did! The 50 metre tail section of the pool, was a surface smashing arena. I landed 7 cod and had so many failed hook ups I stopped counting. Meanwhile Jason had worked his way downstream, into classic nursery water, baby cod smashed his 4/0 big poppa well into the darkness. With the aid of headlamps we made it back to our Hilton Hotel bush accommodation.
Camping and sleeping don’t really mix to well for me; I suspect I might have some sort of sleeping disorder and at 3am the sounds of cod smashing surface, lured me back onto the water. Surface fishing at night is something I haven’t trialled many times in the past. Having a ¾ moon overhead, visibility was okay and most casts somehow landed on the water. From now on, that’s all going to change after that mad surface bite. The cod ranged from small to very small, but what a session!
Packing the Floatboats we progressed through a heavily timbered and beautiful deep gorge, fishing was a patience game using slow inter sink tip flylines. Possibly express sink flylines may have helped the situation, we’ll find out next time! Jason opted for smaller subtle flys. This seemed to be the key for these timid granite gorge cod.
With time getting away, the river dropped abruptly into a steep rock lined gorge, we parked the boats and climbed high up on the rocks to get a better view of the surroundings. Things turned hectic when we spotted a 1mtr+ cod cruising the water’s edge, we could see multiple cod in this pool as well as numerous catfish guarding their nests. Jason slid frantically down the rocky bank with flyrod in hand, while I called the shots from high above. Unfortunately our mythical big cod disappeared into the depths, undeterred we spent several hours sight casting and catching these cruising cod. Leaving this special place was very difficult; managing this while hauling heavy backpacks up so many steep hills was a chore. Doing it during the blazing midday heat was painful. It doesn’t matter how much hardship we endure on these trips, we’ll always go back! Nick
With Murray Cod season opening still another 4 weeks away, I predict things may get tough this summer. Once again Mother Nature refuses to deliver rain; if things don’t improve we may be facing lower than acceptable water levels. When the natural river flow ceases, we can be assured the dreaded weed will return. Without flow the river will become ultra clear, causing the fish to become very cautious and timid. Sunrise and sunset will always be considered peak times to fish, avoiding the bright day light hours as much as possible. “Work” and “Time Constraints” are two words that often leaves us fishing the midday runs.
The first obvious signs to look for are 1) fish following, and then turning away 2) fish, flash/ rolling 3) fish, tail nipping flys.
Let’s look at several tactics and equipment that increases the chance of success.
· For starters always use quality polarising sunglasses in conjunction with a wide brim hat. These two items will help identify fish holding structure, such as boulder/ rock bars and submerged logs.
· Switch to an intermediate sink tip fly line, which will give a very slow subtle fly sink rate.
· Do nothing retrieve (nymphing), this is a very effective method to utilize. Just cast along submerged boulders/ rock bar drop offs and let it sink deep, maintain flyline contact (ready for the strike), then apply the very occasional twitch. In the clear water, most times you’ll spot the inquisitive fish cruise out from under their cover and inhale the fly. If not, I’ll excite the fish into striking by employing a short darting action to the fly. Number one rule is to maintain line tension, slack lines and weed guards are a sure way to lose fish.
· Avoid bright colours and excessive flash materials, pink/ black Mega Dobson were great during the early high water season, now I prefer to use natural colours such as black/ rust browns with a splattering of bronze Gliss n Glow. I’ve reduced the weighted eyes to 3/16 to increase fly action and stepped up the mono weed/ snag guard to 80lb Rio Heavy Tippet material, full confidence is guaranteed with this set up.
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Thinking about giving flyfishing for Murray Cod a go? Winter is the perfect time to get all your tackle together and build up the fly collection. Perhaps you could work on getting some casting tuition, working it all out on the battle field can cause a lot of unnecessary frustration. Although it’s still possible to successfully target Cod during the colder months, I’ve found that there tends to be a lot of casting in between fish and I’ve also developed a bad habit of accidently falling in the river. Knowing that our fishing adventure opportunities will dwindle over the next few months, Jason and I hit the rivers with a vengeance. As usual we start the day with a bit of bantering, leading to a debate on who’s going to nail that elusive one metre fish. How obsessed are we? We’ve even worked on camera poses and photo angles for when it does eventuate. Nearing the end of the day, Jason had his chance with one of the mystical river monsters. There was none of the usual hollering or yelling that happens when fighting smaller fish, Jason knew he was connected to something special. We were both gutted when the barbless hook pulled on that big horse. Nick
Snag dwellers such as the Murray Cod, benefit from the use of a specialised weedguard. Over the years we have tried many styles; for the most part they have all worked. It’s a fine line in creating the perfect weedguard, to developing the ultimate fish guard. Below is an example of our simple front mono loop weed guard that will be found on most of our successful fly patterns. We have found this style of guard to be durable and provide the most consistent hook ups. Gamakatsu’s SL12s in size 6/0 is a hook that we base many of our Cod patterns on. It has taken a fair bit of experimenting to find the optimum size mono to meet our requirements. Finally we settled on RIO’s 60lb Heavy Shock Tippet, it fills the balance between fish/snag guard. It can be tied in at the beginning of the fly tying procedure or half way, on some patterns such as the Fatboy, it’s easier to finish off with the loop. Nick
1.Lay thread base2. Form loop in mono so it clears hook point by 2-3mm, crimp mono at tie in area with pliers. Add Super Glue to provide extra security 3. Build up with thread in front and behind until in the satisfactory position. 4. weed guard construction completed. 5.weed guard construction completed. (Front view)
For me, targeting fish in skinny water is as good as it gets, It’s always rapid fire stuff with only one or two casts into the better looking snags. These fish are cranky little buggers and will snatch a fly like there’s no tomorrow. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t pin them on the first go, skinny water fish love to come back for seconds. You can be forgiven for thinking these narrow water sections are full of stupid little Cod. Near the end of the video you’ll change your mind, as I pulled the hooks on a thumpin’ Cod in the high 80′s. Finally it was time to give the Scott S4S 8ft 10wt flyrod a go, finding it preferred the 9wt 375gr Outbound Short line to the heavier 10wt flyline. I’ll hold back my opinion on this potential Murray Cod rod, until Jason gets a chance to help share his views. Another lesson learnt, if you’re going to cast to a log mid stream it’s best to turn the camera on first or you’ll miss footage of an 85cm fish striking, at least you get to see the release. Nick.
I’m excited to introduce my newest flyrod from the custom rod developers HCE (Hard Core Element), based on their specialised 8ft 6” 10wt, Native Spec propriety blank. My request for an even shorter version measuring 8ft rod was met with enthusiasm. Designing a shorter rod blank without destroying the original Native Spec’s casting action was the challenge, through the help of their rod blank supplier New Zealand company CTS they produced a totally new mandrel. The completed rod oozed quality with every fitting picked for performance and function.
One of the criteria I wanted from the Native Spec rod was it to be able to handle Rio’s 10wt Outbound Short tropical flyline. I was really surprised to find how easy the rod / line worked in conjunction with each other, throwing tight loops using one of my 8/0 Bendy Roller Poppers is a pretty big test. And after a late evening trip, all the hard work that Tony and Peter put into the rod’s development payed off. The Severn River produced an above average Murray Cod. I dropped another two fish, which often happens when using this style of popper. Nick
During the month of April the temperature begins to change, from here it won’t be long before the Winter chill sets in. The Willow trees begin to drop their leaves, signifying that the water and air temperatures are falling. Fishing can often be unpredictable during the colder months, but I’ve found this is the month that the big boys come out to play. If your willing to put up with a little discomfort and the shorter daylight hours, this could be the month that you could land your P.B fish. Since we’re dealing with colder climates, I’d recommend the use of Coldwater flylines from April on, in either a full intermediate or floating/inter sink tip. Over the past few months Jason and I have upgraded on tippet stength, it’s 30lb Shneider tippet for us from now on. What we found was happening was that we had so much confidence in our improved snag/weedgaurds, we were starting to fray our standard 20lb tippets from constant casting into vegetation. Have a look at my latest POV video ”Big Fish” for what what you could experience during the change of the season. Nick
It amazing how much gear we think is required for an overnight trip. We both looked like a pair of Himalayan Sherpas loaded up with all the essential gear, such as cameras, camping and fishing gear. We both new the extra effort would be well worth it, the thought of being able to fish well into the evening and early mornings had us very excited. Soon after inflating our boats and securing our packs, it wasn’t long before we found a bunch of Cod willing to smash our Mega sized Dobson flys. In fact my first four Murray Cod all measured above 70cm’s. During the evening, I concentrated on fishing topwater. I was using big foam 5/0 poppers and although I couldn’t match the amount of fish Jason was tallying up using subsurface, It was still exceptional fishing. And as the sun set we were having fun catching juvenile Cod, that somehow could manage to eat our big surface flys. Next morning we still found plenty of fish keen to eat our flys, but we were keen to explore and traverse futher downstream. The rapids started to grow in size, flowing past large granite boulders. Considering we had landed 20 fish for the trip, we were content to roll up the boats and start the long hike back to the vehicle. Nick
It’s been awhile since we’ve put in the effort to reach “sweet water”. To get there it involves a backache, sweat and socks full of burrs. We really wouldn’t have it any other way, knowing when the river is reached we’re going to have a good day.
What a day we had, with an estimated 15 Murray Cod. Once again the fly that produced was a pink/black combination Mega Dobson, tied on a 5/0 Owner spinner bait hook. I also put the new Kaos 10wt Extreme Fly reel to the test. The reel easily handled the knocks and bumps that invariably happen when thundering down rapids.
We found the submerged granite boulders to be the prime areas to target during the bright daylight hours. We would have loved to fish top water poppers on sweet water but unfortunately time restraints restricted us to fish sub surface flies only. If you’re serious about your cod fishing, why not lace up your hiking boots and go find your very own sweet water. Nick
What a difference a week can make when Cod fishing. A rising barometer and stable weather conditons can bring Native Murray Cod to the boil, from the first moment I hit the water, things looked good. It was amazing to see how narrow water can hold such good fish, ones that were also super eager to smash a well presented popper. This coupled to the fact I had put in the hard yards to reach the river at first light, it would ensure the highest chance of success. The fly of choice was an upgraded 8/0 Bendy Roller Popper. The fly was designed to be thrown and skip cast into the most overgrown sections of the rivers. When it quietened down on the surface I then switched to sub surface, the fly was a mega Dobson fly tied on a super sharp Owner 5/0 hook. I’ll be covering the tying instruction of both these flies plus weedgaurd construction very soon. Nick.
This year the opportunity to fish the rivers in the New England have been very limited, Mother Nature insists on flooding all our major waterways at every opportunity.
Our planned overnight fishing trip would coincide with the worst conditions imaginable. We would be enduring dirty water, low water temps, strong easterly winds and the high probability of rain.
Jason and I both had a mixed variety of flies equipped with heavy weedguards, which was the one thing in our favour. We expected the fishing to be slow, but after countless hours of nothing we agreed they were more likely in the positively “lock jawed” category.
After a long day on what is usually very productive water, Jason at his best, could only manage a couple of gentle nudges. I eventually hooked up to a feisty Murray Cod of 60 cm’s, just as the evening light started to fade. The fish had taken a liking to one of my prototype 6/0 Huntsman flies.
Between the mozzies and the light drizzle we soon retreated to our tents for protection and a good night sleep. We were definitely hoping for better things tomorrow.
Over breakfast we discussed a game plan, the decision was made to move further downstream. The morning sun finally broke through the low clouds, even the dreaded easterly breeze slowly faded.
Encouragingly the fish started to co operate and Jason began to draw interest from several aggressive cod. I opted to upgrade fly size, tying on a weighted 140mm pink/black Dobson fly featuring a huge Arctic fox collar. The fly change soon paid off and I landed a chunky 72cm Cod, this was from under a previously worked snag.
Excitedly, we began to take risks, casting deep under the Bottlebrush limbs. This is why we’ve now chosen to upgrade to 60lb mono for the weedguard. Jason worked the opposite bank, using his signature 4/0 Fatboy fly. At one stage, all I could hear was his load cursing with fish constantly short striking and hooks pulling. I landed another 66cm cod from under the edge of a submerged Bottlebrush, I was now convinced they were starting to hunt on the fringes of the snags.
You can sometimes forget that these rivers also hold big fish, I was soon reminded when a big fish flashed from under the rising fly. Another valuable lesson was learnt that barbless hooks can sometimes cost fish if tension isn’t maintained, note to myself “concentrate”.
By late evening we had released 4 Murray Cod, in very unfavourable weather and river conditions. We had learnt a lot over the weekend, things like fly sink rate, fly presentation and future fly developments. Nick
After much consultation and field testing, Jason and I have been piecing together proven materials to construct a simple but effective Murray Cod Fly.
Over the years we’ve trialled many fly patterns and have caught fish on just about every weird fly design. We have discovered that certain materials and patterns have started to emerge as constant fish producers.
Cod are one of those species that for the most part tend to be a frustrating species to pursue. Very rarely do find “them on the chew”. Being like most Aussie native fish, they’re very sensitive to barometer levels, water temp and turbidity.
CONDITIONS Inactive Fish
Falling barometer, low water temp, super clear water, easterly and southerly winds.
Stick to subtle approach forget spinster blades, rattles and reduce flash material. Add weed guards and use flys with a slower sink rate. Use slow, do nothing retrieves.
|CONDITIONS Active Fish
Constant stable conditions, ideal water temp, high barometer. Ideally high barometer before impending low change. Low visibility.
Use reaction and pushing style flys, consider the use of rattles and extra flash materials. Impart faster fly retrieves
Any one of the unfavourable listed variables will send them sulking deep under the comfort of their favourite snag. We have learnt that the most consistent fish producing patterns have had inbuilt movement and pulse without being threatening. We found that one of the most effective fishing methods is to simply let the fly pulse and sink seductively under snags. The technique is similar to nymph fishing on a flowing Trout stream. But the one difference is the mandatory installation of heavy duty snag guards. Although, I do like the durability and water shedding qualities of synthetic materials, we’ve found natural furs and feathers to be more effective. Here’s a list of materials needed to tie up an ideal and successful, New England Cod Fly.
Hook – 3/0 Gamakatsu Siwash, very strong, large gape and super sharp. With longer and select grade marabou feathers, then look to upgrade to a 4/0 Siwash.
Weighted Eyes – X large bead chain, or alternate with the use of 3/16 I-Balz. Have a selection of varied weighted eyes, depending on water depth and current flow.
Tail – Strung marabou. Look for quality marabou in the longer lengths, better still go for UV enhanced feathers.
Flash – Gliss ‘N Glow and UV Sparkle flash. Tie in a small amount of Gliss ‘N Glow, then add Ultraviolet Sparkle Flash. We’ve had very positive results using UV flash materials in low visibility conditions.
Body – Rabbit fur crosscut
Collar – Arctic fox fur crosscut.
Snag guard – 60lb plastic coated multi strand steel trace. Alternative is a hard mono leader material 55lb – 60lb. In a sprig or front loop configuration.
Lay thread base down, then smear super glue along thread wraps. Add super glue around weighted eyes, I then mix epoxy with superfine glitter. Cover between eyes and over weed guard.
After our last successful expedition pursuing the local Cod, Jason was keen to see if our fish were still in the mood. With a repaired boat and a bunch of prototype fly’s requiring testing, it wouldn’t take long before his questions would be answered. From the first shallow hole, we started to accumulate a tally of eager fish, small fish at first, but Jason managed to find a 70cm specimen. His reward for a high risk cast deep into a snag.
After another eleven fish, I’m confident to say that we’re starting to work out the tactics and fly’s required to succeed when targeting Murray Cod on Fly.
Fly choice is the key component and often the fly will draw a response before any movement is applied. We will be working on fly design, materials and weed guard construction in the upcoming posts. Nick
Out of desperation, Jason and I organised a floatboat trip onto my local waters. The rivers are currently in a transition period and starting to slowly recover from constant flooding, it had been a long time since we had both held a flyrod and we were keen to gather video footage of our fishing adventures.
It was soon discovered that Jason’s floatboat had somehow developed a hole; still this wouldn’t be enough to deter us. We quickly discovered that our flybox of synthetic fatboys and rattling flys would be of no use today. It was time for the subtle approach, drifting a black zonic under snags had worked before and once again provided success for us.
By having various styles of flys, such as reaction, flashy, subtle and surface, you can turn a quiet day into something special. A tally of 15 healthy cod proves that it pays to adapt to the situation at hand. I hope you enjoy the video clip. Nick