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ARTICLE: Blackfishing - a non traditional approach (especially for Newbies)


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Blackfish (Luderick) fishing another (2) way(s). It also works for other weed eating species such as drummer.

When I take a newbie fishing, very often we start with blackfish. They are all around the harbour and can be caught year round consistently. I have some reliable locations for cabbage weed (not sharing but I’ll make suggestions about what to look for). It is a great visual way of fishing as you can watch the float go down and react accordingly. They put up a nice little fight during which I can explain the notion of playing a fish. They are also a beautiful fish with those stripes and light sheen of purple.

Please note that this article is not meant as disrespect to the traditional way of chasing of blackfish with long rods and centerpin reels but more of a way of opening people’s eyes to other ways of doing it. On a side note there are excellent articles on this topic on this site already but I’d like to add to the pool of knowledge. For a more detailed article see:

I sometimes hear about people wanting to give luderick fishing a try but then raise concerns about having to buy new gear for something they may not really get into. The problem is most of what they have probably heard is about the traditional way of doing it. The great thing about the traditionalists in life is they are using methods which through practice and repetition and learning have had most of the kinks worked out of them. They are using a system which has been refined till the point it has been optimised for what it needs to do. The problem with this is that you might miss opportunities that arise due to changing circumstances such as equipment improvements. The other issue is that people who want to dip a toe in the water end up having to buy specialist gear because they are told it is the ONLY way to do it and it can end up being a waste of money or restrictive for those on a budget.

One of the advantages the long rods have is it is a little easier to set the depth as you have a lot of line out to play with. It is also argued that the extra length helps keep the fish away from structure. Another comment I’ve heard is that you can feed line out and bring it back in by winding the centerpin reel backwards or forwards as the fight requires. While they might be fair comments I don’t think I’ve ever felt disadvantaged fishing for this species with spinning gear instead of the traditional outfits. I’ve worked out some ways of fishing for this species with spinning gear or fly rods which allows you to get out there and start catching them with minimal outlay (under $25 if you already have a light spinning outfit). If you get more and more into it then feel free to try the traditional way but if you want to try it to see if you like it then I hope the following helps you.

Before I go into how I do it think about what you are actually trying to do with the gear. At its simplest we are trying to put a bait (usually cabbage weed or green weed) in the strike zone in such a way that firstly it is held at the desired depth. Secondly, the rig needs to be balanced so that when the fish takes the bait it feels minimal resistance and won’t spit the bait. Thirdly, that you have a good indication as to when to strike as generally I find they won’t hook themselves. The depth can be adjusted by using a float stopper and the other two goals can be achieved with a properly weighted blackfish float.

This is my checklist for the gear required assuming you already have a 2-4kg outfit with some monofilament line floating around.
Blackfish float $6-8,
Floatstops (silicon rubber – get the smallest ones you can which won’t pass through the guides on the float but can pass through the rod guides) $3
Sinkers (will take some experimentation to find what combination works best to have the float only slightly positively buoyant) $3
Swivels (optional depending on how you rig your sinkers) $3
Hooks (Gamakatsu Panfish – recommend size #6 but can go size #4 if chasing bigger fish or size #8 as required) $6
Line you should already have. Suggest 8lb for the mainline and maybe 6lb (0.2mm diameter or less) for a leader if the fish are bite shy.

This is how we set it up.


I have a spool filled with 8lb clear mono for my fishing but if you only have braid on your rod then you could put 4m to 8m of 8lb mono as a leader (depending on the depth you are fishing) and then the rest of the rig is the same. The lovely thing about this approach is that if you decide down the track to get the traditional long rod and centerpin reel you already have most of the terminal tackle you will need rather than starting again. The reason I use mono at the working end is that the silicone float stops grab quite nicely on the mono and usually stay where you put them.

The float stop is what allows us to use a spinning outfit. Ideally the float stop can pass through the guides. This is how we put a float stop on the line. As I have a dedicated spool I leave my float stop permanently on the line.

A couple of additional notes to this rig. One of my friends likes to use something called a waggler float which is fixed to the line at one end only. The advantage with this is that it is less prone to having the line wrap around the float when casting. Personally I'm not a big fan of crimp on splitshot sinkers as they can potentially damage the line when being crimped on. The advantage of these sinkers is they allow you to make minor adjustments to the buoyancy of the outfit. In my case I've taken the time to find sinkers which match almost perfectly to the floats I use to give me that slightly positive floatation. The swivel rig has the advantage in that you can downsize the leader diameter if the fish are getting spooked. @wazatherfisherman through years of trial and error worked out the sweetspot was a line diameter of 0.2mm or less. If you find yourself busted off you will generally only have to re-tie from the swivel down to the hook. Gets you fishing quicker.

The rest of the gear to consider bringing along for your blackfish expedition

  • Ziplock bag or container for cabbage/green weed when you go to your weed location.
  • Cutting board and knife to cut weed into small pieces - big enough to get the smell into the water but small enough that it is a struggle to eat it so your bait becomes the focus point.
  • Bucket for sand/burley and slightly moist sand - mix the cut weed into this.
  • Recommend large spoon or similar for flinging sand - saves getting your hands sandy and having to wash them each time you throw out some burley.
  • Recommend a second larger bucket to keep your odds and ends in and for water to wash hands

As to where to find the weed:

Cabbage weed is found at inter-tidal zones or the waterline of floating structures. Seems to need to be close to both air and salt water so where the ocean swells wash over rocks is a great place to start looking. You will also find it growing in shallow pools in these areas. To use it I get a piece of say 3cm x 1cm then either roll it up or fold it up into a small bundle which I then ease onto the hook. Blackfish have small mouths so I want them to be able to eat it in one bite. Here are some examples of what it looks like:



Green/string weed is often found at points where there is nutrient rich run off such as drain outlets. I ease it into long strands and then put the hook halfway along and then weave each half over the hook. Here is what it looks like:


Fly rod outfit and artificial flies.

It turns out that blackfish will take a well made fly. I have several fly rods and with a bit of trial and error worked out how to do pretty well at this.

My go to outfit is a 7 weight 9 foot flyrod with a floating fly line. I found that an intermediate fly line would drag down my strike indicator. You can pretty well use any weight fly rod (e.g. 5 to 9 weight) with a floating line as all the critical adjustments are made at the working end (leader, tippet, fly and strike indicator) to suit the conditions.

I like a tapered leader as I need the thicker part of the line on which to fasten the strike indicator.

I prefer weighted flies as the unweighted ones take a little too long to get into the strike zone. A very small split shot could be used near the fly in lieu of a weighted fly.

The first challenge I had was to solve the strike indicator issue. There are foam ones you can stick on the line but the glue diminishes as you slide it up and down the line to suit the depths. There are commercially made ones (the green/red/orange/yellow ones in photo below) but I found the thick O-rings had a tendency to kink the line. My solution was to hop on ebay and find o-rings with a 5mm inner diameter and an 8mm outer diameter. I then get about 4 to 5cm of strike indicator yarn and feed it halfway through the O-ring and then lash it it with 50lb braid. The finished product can be seen in the photo below along with the wet and dry versions of the fly I'm using. To fasten them to the fly line I double the leader and push the loop through the o-ring and then over the strike yarn and pull both ends of the mono. This will kink the o-ring instead of the line. The friction between the O-ring rubber and the line locks it into place.


The strike indicator will get soaked after a while so every now and then I dry it out with some false casts and then apply a floatant. I like Loon Outdoors Lochsa in the black bottle. A drop or two worked into the indicator with your fingers will do the job.

I can put on a tippet of several feet to suit the location I'm at. I join it to the leader with a uni to uni knot. I usually have a spool of 8lb and 10lb fluorocarbon in the tackle bag to use as leader depending on the location.

The result of a successful session with the fly rod. Please note that while burley helps it is not critical. This means you can head out and start catching with minimal preparation. If you can find the blackfish then they will take the fly without burley. I've had sessions of close to 10 blackfish caught without burley and many were legal. My biggest blackfish to date was 44cm on fly without burley and I'm aware of others doing even better using the fly rod approach.


On a cheeky side note: I realised that I wasn't quite practicing what I preach. I say you don't need a super long rod and centerpin reel to chase blackfish but technically that is what I am doing with my fly outfit. :mfr_lol:


Edited by DerekD
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  • DerekD changed the title to ARTICLE: Blackfishing - a non traditional approach (especially for Newbies)

Great, informative write up @DerekD.

For those of us that enjoy luderick on fly, Dizzy Scent is now selling a weed scent. I’ve been trialling it for a while now and firmly believe its improving my catch rate. I’m not getting more “downs”, but find with the scent added, fish don’t reject the fly as quick.

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