Freshwater Fly Fishing


Whether you are an experienced saltwater fisho looking to branch out into unknown waters or looking to start out in the freshwater applications, freshwater fly fishing is accessible to all levels with a little basic know how. We are spoilt for freshwater locations her in Oz and species like Bass, Barra and Saratoga are always keen to take flies.


Doing a little bit of research on the habitat of your freshwater species pays dividends at the water’s edge. Look for lily pads, fallen trees and roots or deep-water drop-offs where Bass and Barra might be hiding. If you inspect the banks a bit beforehand you might find some cut away parts of the shore where a tree may once have stood and be lying under the water’s surface.

The location you are fishing will influence what fly you use. You might need to consider using surface flies if the fish are using lily pads near the surface for cover, or if they are likely to be hiding in the depths, something which can sink to their hidey holes will reap more success.


All freshwater fishos have their preferred fly fishing rod and fly reel setup, but anything between the 6-8kg range is suitable for most freshwater species. If you are really targeting the largest fish Australia’s rivers have to offer, a 10kg setup is the absolute largest that you could need.

There are two different lines you may need for the freshwater fly application. A floating line for lily pad fishing in the shallows and an intermediate or sinking line to reach the depths around structures. I keep my spare reel spooled with whatever I am not using to easily transition between the two.

For Saratoga and Barramundi, you want to be fishing with surface flies like Popper or Gurglers and targeting lily pads and weed beds in the shallows. You can also use jig hooks with the point facing upwards to ensure it doesn’t get snagged on weeds during the retrieve.

If the fish are hiding a little deeper, Gusto’s and Things give you a bit more depth. I would recommend investing in a weed guard when fishing structures or you will be haemorrhaging money in lost flies. To hit the deep-water drop-offs, Clousers, Zonkabou Minnows, Pink Things and Deceivers are the way to go.

If you are chasing Bass, use surface flies in the dusk or dawn twilight. They will attack anything skimming across the water, making them an exciting species to chase. In deeper water go for the Bass Vampires or a Shrimp or Squid pattern.

Most importantly enjoy your fishing and be patient. If something isn’t working, mix it up. If you are using surface flies and aren’t getting any action, see what is lurking under the surface with your other pre-spooled line. Change locations and mix it up. Success is just around the corner and with plenty of patience, it will come.


What do you think? What works best for you? Share your thoughts and experiences with other fishos through the comments section below.

Robert M Davies
Robert M Davies

Robert passed the "Obsessed With Fishing Test" with flying colours. Instead of talking, Robert has turned his hand to writing about his experience in fishing all around Australia.