Estuary Fishing

When fishing from a boat, use a shorter rod as they are more manageable in confined spaces.


Selecting the right rod and reel combination will improve your success while fishing. A balanced outfit will also make your fishing more comfortable and enjoyable over long periods. To check the balance of your out-fit hold the rod and reel in your left hand where you would normally hold the rod to fish and the rod and reel should lay flat in your hand or the tip of the rod can raise slightly. In most situations, you don’t need to cast long distances when estuary fishing. The length can be anywhere from 2 to 3.3m, depending on the type of fishing. Anglers fishing from the bank prefer a 3m rod or longer, while those fishing from a boat often use shorter rods because they are more manageable in a confined space.

In both cases, the rod should have a light tip action that lets you “feel” the bites. Modern rod building materials and techniques produce this light action in most of the shorter estuary rods.

The butt length is important when using an Alvey reel. The reel seat should be positioned 15 to 20cm from the butt. The first or stripping guide is set about halfway up the rod to help line flow during the cast.


It goes without saying that Alvey reels have featured in the major successes of anglers fishing in local club and interstate angling championships.

The trouble free design and versatility of Alvey reels has been the key to their success.

A majority of estuary anglers prefer the 600 model, particularly on the longer rods, because it gives them perfect balance, quick line recovery and direct winding power. An alternative is the smaller 500 and 55 models, especially if you use a shorter rod.

You don’t need special skills when casting an Alvey reel fishing the estuary. Turn the reel around to the casting position, at the same time holding the line with the fingers of the other hand positioned on the spool. An even, free flowing, smooth cast will allow you to cast small, soft baits with the minimum of effort. You can cast over or underhand, backhand or forehand, even in cramped conditions. You will be quite surprised at the ease with which you can cast with an Alvey reel.


As with all fishing, use as light a line as possible. Platypus line from 2 to 4kg breaking strain is excellent for most situations. When fishing over a rough bottom and near snags or bridge pylons, you may need heavier line, but on sand flats etc. use as light as you can comfortably handle. Wind new line onto your reel firmly and neatly making sure you fill it to the correct level, just below the lip of the spool (light fingertip pressure on the line spool you are winding off is all that is necessary). When rewinding during fishing, make sure you wind it on without loose coils. Doing this will ensure the next cast will be smooth and trouble free.


Estuary fishing does not require an extensive range of tackle. The selection of hooks, sinkers and swivels can be kept to a minimum. A good choice of hook is the French pattern (Mustad 540, Eagle Claw 6045B), a fine sharp hook design that will penetrate with a minimum of effort. A selection of sizes from 4 up to 2/0 will be adequate for most fish you will encounter. A range of round sinkers from 00 up to 3 will cover most situations. Don’t forget to use as light a sinker as you can in the conditions you are fishing. Be prepared to keep changing the size of your sinker as the current changes during different stages of the tide. The addition of a small swivel is important to prevent line twist.


As with all fishing, fresh bait is important. Yabbies are the main bait for estuary anglers and eaten by almost every estuary species. Sand flats exposed at low tide are a great place to collect prime baits like yabbies (pink nippers) and the best way to obtain them is with the Alvey bait pump.

When baiting your hook, leave the point and barb exposed to give it the maximum chance to penetrate. Don’t put too big a bait on your hook, a small bait will attract most size fish, while a large bait will prevent some of the smaller, though still legal size fish from hooking up.

Again, use the “lean and wind” technique when hooking a fish and keep the rod up high as you play the fish, letting the light tip take up the lunges and jerks, but all the time being ready to give line if needed.