The sport is defined by fly-casting, not by any species.
I grew up in Fiji (born 1954) where from an early age we fished from the family boat trolling handlines for mackerel, trevally, tuna and coral trout. My father and my grandfather were fly fishermen and I’ve been fly fished since the early ‘70s in freshwater and in saltwater. I was first introduced to Sage rods by Lefty Kreh when he came to Australia in 1997. The Wildfish television in 2005 series was a big break and since then I’ve appeared in many other productions, some for television and most for DVD. I’ve written extensively on the sport since 1981, for newspapers, magazines, and have written three books; The Fundamentals of Saltwater Fly Fishing, The Wildfish Book and A Few Great Flies and How To Fish Them. I teach fly-casting all over the country, (Australia), from novice level through to training other potential instructors. Although I do enjoy sight fishing more than most other branches of the sport, I’m far from averse to dredging flies as deep as they’ll go for the mystery bag of things that live in those depths. I have only fly-fished for many years but within the restrictions of the sport, I’ll do what ever it takes to bend a rod. I love the challenge of catching new species and of catching creatures that are normally not considered to be fly fishing targets.
The town of Leura, in the Blue Mountains, Australia.
Turon River to the west, great summer time sight fishing for carp. Sydney Harbor. I moved to the mountains in 1979 for the trout fishing west of here but that has declined and New Zealand is only 3 hours away. It’s a great place to base myself for the extensive travelling I do.
Too many to mention, I love them all. These however are my top 10. 1. Barramundi. 2. Bonefish. 3. Trout. 4. Permit. 5. Billfish. 6. Saratoga. 7. Trevally (golden trevally and GT’s in particular). 8. Queenfish (but they need to be over a meter long). 9. Tuna (all). 10.Narrow barred mackerel.
I have no single Perfect Setup, but the one that gives me the most pleasure to use at the moment is the 11’6” 4-weight ONE, with a 325 grain Switch Chucker, on a SPECTRUM LT 6/7 reel - that is a very, very, sweet combo.
Gaining my casting instructors Master Certification (MCI) with Fly Fishers International. World record yellowfin tuna (93lbs) in 2002 (since broken). Wildfish television series, shown in 40 countries, was on prime time free to air television in Australia. Thanks to the support of JM Gillies, agents for Sage in Australia and to Sage themselves for supporting the series. Visiting Bainbridge Island and Florida and then fishing the Florida Keys with Marc Bale and Raz Reid in 2005.
Promoting catch and release and good fish handling. Promoting fishing responsibly.
philosophy on fly fishing
There’s no such thing as a bad fish. The sport is defined by fly-casting, not by any species. There is no disadvantage to becoming the best caster you possibly can. Teach kids how to fly fish, they’re the future.
one tip to improve one's fishing
Spend the time to become the best caster you can be so you can make that first cast count every time, and so you can put the fly in the right place under the wrong conditions. There’s far too much emphasis on “the fly”. The “wrong” fly in the “right” place will get eaten for more often than the “right” fly in the “wrong” place. Becoming a much better caster is the best investment you can make in your fly fishing.
Northern New Caledonia, October, blue sky, low tide at 11am, 5 -10 knots of wind, and it’s donkey time. Very rare day in that part of the world, you usually have to work very hard against wind and cloud, its rarely an easy fishery - #9 SALT HD, RIO Flats Pro StealthTip, SPECTRUM MAX 9/10 reel and 16 lb tippet. Or, mid-March on a New Zealand lowland South Island river, soft mild day, mayflies coming off, spent spinners accumulating in back waters, some residual summer insects making the feeding more interesting with a 590 MOD, 4/5/6 CLICK and RIO Single Handed Spey line. Or, early April, neap tides on a Northern Territory tidal river around the mouth area with a low tide at midday with a 1090 SALT HD, RIO Tropical I/I and Sage SPECTRUM reel. Or, anywhere on a boat in billfish waters with good friends with a SALT HD 1386, SPECTRUM MAX 11/12 reel and either a 600 grain Leviathan for sinking flies, or a 550 grain RIO GT line for poppers.
a good fishing story
I caught my first Aussie (Anak) permit while guiding. I’d found a school of them holed up in a deep gutter among the sand bars at the mouth of a Cape York river. For an hour I poled the boat up and down that gutter for my two clients and we chopped and changed flies and leaders as we followed this school of about 20 fish. They were in water around 4-5 feet deep and we were on the bottom of the tide and they were waiting for the turn so they could move up onto the flats via the shallow channels. Three things happen in that part of the world when the tide changes at that time of the year: the permit move onto the flats, the wind always doubles in strength, and the wind brings the clouds. The tide turned and the fish knew exactly which channel they wanted, but the wind was right up and they were moving into it. The clients could not make the cast and one of them said, “You take the shot”. I did. It was a desperate last shot into the wind and it was a good cast right over the backs of the fish in front of the school. The line snapped up tight instantly and the drinks were on me that night. The value of becoming the best caster you can be was evident and I’ve always sought to improve on that.