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Saltwater Fly Fishing.

Steve Cooper's MAKO on the Fly

The new frontier - saltwater fly fishing for sharks in the turbulent tides of Bass Strait.

The waters between southern Australia & Tasmania are broad and shallow and it’s even odds on what’s more dangerous, the lethally unpredictable seas or the hoards of sharks that cruise up and down this immense sandbar.

Blue sharks up to four metres take the fly but it’s the spectacular fight from the 40kg mako that makes this fishing trip memorable.This is swoffing history as it happened! Game fishing with saltwater flies.

This is fifty minutes of constant fishing action as Steve Cooper and his mates swoff their way into the record books.

An exciting new sportfishery has opened in Bass Strait: sharks on the fly. For southern-based swoffers this is a serious big fish option, one that tests both their skill and stamina.

For many years anglers have been taking advantage of the quantity of sharks, particularly the oceanic blues, makos, threshers and bronze whalers that follow the annual migratory schools of barracouta, squid, salmon and pilchards into this rugged stretch of water.

Up until last year game tackle was the order of the day.

But all that’s changed. A couple of dozen blues along with two makos taken on the fly in early 1998 changed the scene forever. It is now a serious salt water fly shark fishery that runs from late spring through to late autumn.

Taking sharks on the fly can produce explosive takes, line-burning runs and spectacular action, particularly when makos are involved. Even blue sharks come to life on a fly rod.


Blue sharks are prolific from the 70 metre line out while the makos start around the 35 metre line. Thresher sharks and bronze whalersprefer the closer inshore reefs.

A berley slick is a prerequisite for attracting them up to a boat and in that regard any sort of fish crunched up in a berley pot combined with a tiny, steady drip of tuna oil will work a treat.

Outfits in the 13 to 15 weight size are best, and the reel needs to be in the yellowfin/marlin class. Successful flies include an over-sized Pink Thing, about 20 cm long, and wide bodied flies in white, black or red colour tones.

If you want to stay attached to the shark use a short length of piano wire where the leader attaches to the fly. Regardless of hook type, take out the stone and work the point as setting the hook firmly home isn’t easy on tackle that can only load up to about 3 kg.


Saltwater fly tying
Mako sharks
Mako on the fly title

Fourteen kilometres out from land and surrounded by a school of Blues when a Mako comes in for look ...

Join Steve Cooper & his fishing mates Rod Harrison & Richard Carr for three days on board the Queenscliff charter boat BIG RED as they head into Bass Strait armed with fly rods and hunting Blue Dynamite ... The Mako.


The Pink Thing.
See Mick Hall's Saltwater Fly Tying Methods


Steve Cooper ...
Steve is well known to many readers for his prolific writings on sport fishing and for his award winning work as an investigative newspaper journalist.

Steve cut his teeth on snapper, he was a pioneer in the land-based game fishing field and turned to saltwater fly fishing in the early 1980’s.

Steve now lives from writing, editing and publishing fishing articles ... but he lives for fishing.


Snapper Fishing in Port Philip
Mako shark fishing

Steve Cooper's Snapper Secrets

Link to Snapper Secrets

Mako on the Fly $9.95
Digitally recorded & Mastered.
Stereo. 55 minutes of action

Mako on the fly orders


All material on this site is the copyright of Australian Bushcraft Library. 2012.