Targeting Dart on Fixed Line Fishing Rods
Saltwater Fixed-Line Essay by Dean Price
The surf of Australia’s east coast has many species of fish that surf beach fisherman catch on a regular basis. These include the common tailor (bluefish) and Australian salmon. With the nature of fixed line fishing being a short distance cast compared to that of a regular weighted surf casting rod, the main catch close to shore are the mini sport fish named dart.
Dart are a small type of trevally that can often be seen cruising inside waves, hunting in schools.
Recently I have found myself at an isolated surfbeach called Wooyung before I move inland to go and live off-grid before society becomes even weirder. At the time of writing I have been at the Wooyung surfbeach for over two months and have been casting a few different fixed line rods into the surf, often wading up to my chest. I used the Daiwa 43MF and Daiwa 53MF keiryu rods, and am now using my Zen Tenkara Taka.
The Taka is a nice rod for this type of fishing, durable and light enough to detect bites. One big rule for using fixed line rods is don’t put these rods on the sand! If this happens don’t fold up (collapse) the rod until you can get to fresh water. If you fold it up after being on the sand you will have to take the rod apart and wash all the grit and salt off each piece in freshwater.
Although dart are small fish, I have been busted off a few times after initial strikes. Once a knot failure between the tippet and level line, another time a knot failure to the fly, and then a ripped off lillian on the Daiwa 53MF.
Interestingly, when using the Daiwa 53MF the bite detection was very limited compared to the Daiwa 43MF which is just a shorter version of the same rod. The difference in bite detection was significant enough to notice, and the 43MF was the rod that produced quite a few more fish.
Common dart aren’t always easy to find. It took a while to learn how to read the beach and search for pools with rips and gullies that are most open from the open ocean. Often, I find a likely spot and don’t get a hit so I just move on to another spot along the beach and keep trying to locate a school. At times the tide and swell size make it too hard for the fish to come close to shore. You catch twenty fish in one session, while other times just one or two.
Surf fisherman would probably think it a crazy prospect targeting dart. They don’t know anything about the limitations of fixed line fishing, distance of cast being the obvious. On fixed line these small silver bullets put up a nice fight and use the waves to try to pull the line free. These fish tire more quickly from the weight that the heavy surf sinkers present on regular tackle. So one can really have a nice time from these little fighters just with unweighted level line, tippet and fly.
Many days when the tides and swell make it hard for these small fish to reach shore I find it hard to even get a bite.
While getting skunked some days is a little disappointing the exercise factor is amazing; walking, wading, and benefiting from the saltwater.
I have begun eating some of the fish I catch. It’s also very good for my dog. Dart when cooked correctly are nice to eat and being a well oiled flesh are extremely delicious. When the tides and conditions are right, an angler can see schools of fish feeding. It is then sight fishing definitely becomes an option. I hope to come back every winter for a holiday to catch these little silver wonders. Targeting these small fish is very satisfying, they’ll take any small fly fish profile and are great sport.
Dean Price is an Australian fixed line fisherman in both fresh and saltwaters. Dean has a passion for the outdoors, fishing and herb farming.
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