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Thread: Weed eaters?

  1. #1

    Default Weed eaters?

    Lads, this is from another planet okay, and is intended to spark lateral thinking.

    My recollections as a young man snorkeling around gullies and kelp beds in Natal, Transkei and the Cape for crayfish is full of memories of fat weed eaters scuttling around in the aerated washes with every wave surge - hottentots, jan bruin, stinkers, and other species.

    I've been in Sydney for over 20 years and had some, but very patchy, success with weed eaters - using techniques pioneered by others. Recently I've sort of cracked the code - mainly with help of a friend who knows where the fish congregate in numbers at certain times of the year and tides. He's usually a fly fisherman but uses seaweed for bait when targeting these particular fish. (Other species occassionaly fall to the same technique.) After going along with him a few times and catching a couple on fly (he outfished me 10 to 1 ) I have made progress and can now catch them in reasonable numbers - enough to make it a fun outing.

    FWIW these fish are called Luderick (Girella tricuspidata) similar to "Parore" in New Zealand and related to several other species with similar habits:

    But the point of my post is not these fish - it's the fly-technique for weed eaters.


    1) One needs to chum (or berley as it's know on Australia) with some finely chopped seaweed mixed with beach sand to make it sink. A small handfull every five minutes or so. Obviously you need a seaweed that they eat locally - here it is usually "rock cabbage" growing on ocean rocks or otherwise "string weed" which grows well wherever a bit of freshwater meets the salty. Both are bright green weeds that are exposed at low tide. In some areas a brown weed is also used. The point here is to figure out what the weed eaters are actually grazing on at high tide in your area - use that!

    2) The flies are made simply of ice dubbing in the right colour. Olive green or charteuse work well here in most situations. Olive seals fur (pic below) dubbed onto a hook ranging from #8 - 12 works well in calmer estuary waters.

    3) In rougher working water off the rocks the best setup is a floating line with short sinktip attached - anything from 1ft to 4ft depending on the terrain. A leader of 2-4 feet of 10lb attached. Some blokes use two flies - one weighted and the other unweighted. You have to find out what works on the day.

    4) At the moment I'm preferring calmer estuary waters (a bit of tidal flow seems to help). Mainly because I can fish utralight - I suppose anthing 5wt and below is good but I'm loving the 2wt action and am over the moon with using the 00wt on them in open water. The setup here involves floating line and a tiny indicator - about 10ft total tapered flurocarbon leader ending in about 4lb tippet. The flurocarbon helps unweighted flies sink just nicely. Mono would be fine if the fly is weighted.

    The advantage of going light is that they seem to hang onto the fly just that split second longer which gives you time to react. But we have vast estuary waters here and I suspect most of the options in South Africa worth exploring will be off the rocks where heavier gear will be needed.

    As I've said - this post is just a speculator - to find out if anybody has tried anything similar on South African weed eaters and if not, to spark some experimentation and sharing of ideas

    The highest form of existence is play.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Eastern Cape


    Very interesting post William, thanks.
    Handle every situation like a dog.- If you cant hump it, piss on it and walk away. --JASPER.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Richards Bay, Kwazulu Natal
    Blog Entries


    Must say these tactics are worth a shot here in South Africa. Here on our coast in Zululand the the Stone Bream are always teaching me a lesson on the rocks. I have had success with the right colour charlie now and then, but not enough that I can say I have cracked a code.. They do prefer a fly drifted in the current off the rock ledges, but getting the fly on in the right spot and at the right depth is the challenge in a rocky surf zone!! Next time I see a school hanging tight against the ledge I will definitely try some of these tactics (the fly especially)!

    Thanks for sharing!
    Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience - "Ralph Waldo Emerson"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006


    thanks for sharing..very interesting..beautiful fish
    stephen is wishing he was fishing location x right now.......

    Stephen Smith

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Cape Town


    Cool report and interesting reading.
    Korrie Broos

    Don't go knocking on Death's door, ring the bell and run like hell. He hates it. (anon)
    Nymphing, adds depth to your fly fishing.
    Nymphing, is fly fishing in another dimension

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    George , Garden Route, Western Cape


    Great article! I'm gonna try some of those tactics here in South Africa.

    Thanks for some good reading!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Cape Town


    Great stuff William!


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