Thinking about chasing a Tasmanian fly fishing trophy this season? Here’s five tips to help make it happen:

  1. Big fish need lots of space, and lots of food. In the Tasmanian context this means a lake or river with low fish numbers, and unlimited food. These include Western Lake headwaters with poor gutter connections to other lakes further downstream (Western Lakes headwaters), or rivers with low fish numbers, but consistent summer flows and high levels of structure such as logs, boulders or willow infestations (high summer flows and structure provide permanent habitat year-round which is key for finding big fish).
  2. Fish the hatches! To find a big fish out and about, it’s important to target a large hatch or event where lots of high-protein food brings out the large fish to prowl. Think baitfish events in early spring (baitfish breeding) or the peak of summer (juvenile baitfish), springtime frogs, giant stonefly in the peak fo summer, or terrestrials such as hoppers, cicadas or willow grubs from December onwards.
  3. Choose the right tippet. It’s silly to waste the once-in-a-lifetime shot by using fine tippet. I like to use 5lb to 6lb Maxima, or 3X to 4X on the modern co-polymers. I’ve never had a big-fish refusal from having a tippet that was too thick, but we have lost lots of 8lb+ fish which snapped 6lb Maxima like floss.
  4. Choose the right rod. I like a rod which can muscle big fish, but still provide some surge-buffering to protect the tippet. For this reason i alternate between my Epic glass rods, and my custom modern cane rod when chasing big fish. Glass and cane will bend right through the corks when needed, but at the same time these rods provide enough forgiveness during fish runs to protect tippets from pinging, something that graphite can’t yet match.
  5. And more than any other tip is this: Play big fish hard right from the first second of the hookup. The first few seconds are where big fish are won or lost. Instant bullying pressure is essential to stop any thundering runs back into undercuts or logjams. From the initial quick cinch-down, the angler needs to move into sidestrain, to keep the fish off balance. Once the fish is slowly turned one way, the angler needs to slowly turn the fish the alternate direction. Keeping the fish off-balance and under pressure form the first moment is key to success, and the alternate strategy of playing the fish with a high rod will typically result in disaster.

Happy big fish hunting, Daniel Hackett.