The Fishing Guide's Guide to Better Fishing

As a guide on the Noosa River I get to see anglers of all abilities from first time beginners right through to the very experienced. When you get to sit back and observe you do see the same technique faults day in and day out and I have to check these problems on a daily basis to give my clients their best chance of catching a fish. These glitches in style and technique are in no particular order but they do occur on a daily basis so here we go...


A calm happy angler will catch more fish. I see so many people so intent on trying to catch a fish they grip the rod so tightly they will pull the hooks on every fish they come into contact with. Like cricket or golf fishing is a dexterous sport that’s why some people are really good at it and some are not. Soft hands are needed to feel every pulsation of the lure and to present it in a palatable way. Fishing is fun take the time to look around you it is the whole environment that adds to the fishing experience. You may also see a big boil on the surface and a cast in that direction may result in a hook up.


This is where the angler has his rod perpendicular or past 90 degrees and it is the quickest way to lose a fish. The high stick gives so much slack line to the fish and if they don’t have the jig head right down will throw the hook more often than not. This is because many people have fished with really long rods maybe off the beach or with rods in excess of 8 foot from boats for tailor whiting and bream. The materials used say 10-15 years ago were quite different and the style of fishing certainly has changed due to the introduction of graphite and now nano-technology. Graphite rods can break very easily in this high stick position particularly right on the tip. Unlike hollow or solid glass rods if the tip breaks off a graphite rod below the tip runner it is usually cactus and should be replaced as it will change the action of the rod for the worse. The best way to retrieve or fight a fish is about 30-60 degrees with these styles of rod.


Retrieving a soft plastic as fast as a slug or hard bodied lure will catch pelagic fish but the old flattie, barra and bream is waiting for an easy feed and this speed will take it out of their strike zone. The soft plastic will not work at these high speeds as it inhibits the action of the tail. Of course it depends on the plastic you are presenting. Fast retrieves will entice a strike from a tailor, kingy, trevally or tuna but tends to stay in the first ¼ of the water column giving no chance for the other species down deeper.


Many of my clients are so keen to retrieve they don’t allow the jig to drop to the bottom as it is common knowledge that many fish are taken on the drop. A 1/8th jig head drops at about a foot a second so if you are in 2 metres of water you need to let it drop for at least 7 seconds.. longer in heavy current. Watch your braid as it will indicate if the jig is still sinking. You will usually lift the jig about a rod length on a large retrieve so once again you need to count to 7 or so for it to get back down to the bottom. I catch a lot of big flathead because I am usually still in the water when my customers are making another cast. Try and let the jig just sit for a while as it will attract a lot of attention when it finally moves again. Many flatties will be on the jig with the plastic in their mouth while it is sitting on the bottom. It is not uncommon to feel nothing but a weight on the line as the flattie sleeps on the jig so be aware that there may be a big fish looking at your jig while it is on the bottom not moving.


This is an old school bait technique and is not recommended as a big jack or trevally will hit you so hard it may cut you to the bone. I try to have my winding hand on the reel most of the time so I can lock up and get a solid hook up.


I teach my clients to hold the rod in between the second and third finger with the thumb along the grip. This gives you perfect balance of the rod and when you get a strike you simply lock the thumb down and you are on. I have worked and developed this style based on an old fly casting teacher of mine Chris Elemor.


When you get a strike and don’t hook up put it straight back in the fish's face. Free spool if you have to but try and make this instinctive and you will find on many occasions the fish will have another crack at the plastic. They think they have disabled it and when it comes back at them and then starts to wiggle they can’t resist it. I have had fish have up to 8 goes at the plastic before I finally hook it up. This is why a well presented plastic will out fish bait as the bait is usually destroyed after the first or second hit.


If the fishing is a bit tough and you have to work hard for a strike I constantly see clients hitting the fish so hard they pull the hooks and spook the fish. I think this goes back to fishing with high stretch mono for many years. Braid has no stretch and even though I fish with a long fluro carbon leader and light tip rods over exuberance always comes into play. The chemically sharpened hooks will penetrate easily… just wait till you get one in your finger… so the softly softly approach is needed and you will boat more fish. The grip I use means you only have to lean back on the fish gently to ensure a solid hook up.


Try to gain local knowledge of the area you are going to fish. So many anglers just turn up and go home disappointed due to poor preparation. Check the moon phase and the tides and general fishing conditions or hire a guide. A good guide relies heavily on word of mouth recommendations so they will give you their very best every day of the week as their livelihood depends on it. Finally no one catches a lot of fish every time they go out. There are always days when no matter what you throw at them they won’t respond. This is natures way of protecting the fishery so just enjoy and learn from the experience. That’s why it is called fishing and not catching.