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A social group of dedicated fly fishers who are passionate about fly fishing in the tropical north of Australia and equally as passionate about the close camaraderie this sport brings. This passion and dedication led to the creation of the NT Fly Fishers (Social Mob) blog site; an interactive and creative outlet where everyone can share our wonderful fly fishing adventures and link into the “after fishing” social events we enjoy in this incredible part of the world.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Epic Bandit rod build and test run

When I first started fly fishing I didn’t really understand why some people had so many rods. Surely a 4wt and 8wt would do. Well maybe a 6wt and 10wt would be handy too. Then I bought a 9wt in Broome, because I 'needed' it. Two years ago I won another 9wt and needed a better 8wt too. I wanted to upgrade my 4wt and for a while had two. Eventually I had become one of those people that initially I hadn't understood.

Since arriving back in the Top End I had felt a need for a relatively short, strong rod for fighting barra and saratoga in close quarters. There was a small selection of rods from Sage, TFO and Redington that fit the bill. But what really piqued my interest was the Epic Bandit from Swift Fly Fishing. I already own an Epic 480 that I built while living down south for chasing trout in the New England highlands. The 8' 4wt Epic is a rod that I really enjoy casting, it is surprisingly light for fibreglass and the relatively slower action suits me. The truth is I’ve caught more tarpon on the 4wt than I’m ever likely to catch trout. But back to the Bandit.

What attracted me to the Bandit the most were the reports that it comfortably handles lines from 8 – 10wt and can even throw a 6wt or 12wt line. But most of all I really like the idea of fishing something I’ve built myself. With my decision made I placed an order with Jeanie and Carl at Swift Fly Fishing. Their ready to wrap kits are really fantastic and come with everything you need, except a rod turning motor.

The box even turns into a very useful rod wrapping stand.

Taking inspiration from the internet I built a rod drying ‘lathe’ from some MDF and a Bunnings BBQ rotisserie motor. It is a little rough, but it does the job. I'll call it a prototype and one day I might build something a bit more flash from some nice timber, maybe...

Before the kit arrived I had told myself I’d take this build slowly and not rush anything. But I could barley contain my enthusiasm to try the Bandit out on some fish, and spent a few late nights building the rod. Honestly if you can tie a fly you can build a rod with one of the Swift Fly Fishing kits. The instruction book that comes with the kit is exceptionally well written and guides the builder through every step of the process with ample photographs. 

The Epic Bandit rod blank has been finished in a colour advertised as ‘metallic gold green’, it is a really nice shade of green with small metallic flecks throughout. I decided to put a small green trim band on each ferrule and spent some time on YouTube researching the best method for doing this.

I wrapped the guides and ferrules with natural silk, provided in the kit, which turns transparent once coated with epoxy. In my view the transparent wraps allows the metallic green finish on the blank to be the star of the show.

It probably took me eight hours to fit the reel seat, grip and wrap the guides, but I was pretty pedantic about the guides. I wasn’t happy with the first few wraps, so cut them off and started over. One advantage of building a 7’9” rod was that I had enough space to put it together and spin the whole thing in the rod ‘lathe’ at the same time. This meant I could do the epoxy work in two sessions, once for the first coat and once for second, rather than needing to epoxy the rod in two separate sections. While my wrapping and epoxy work certainly isn’t to the same standard as Trevor from Swift Fly Fishing studio I think it’s better than on any of my mass produced rods. But how pretty the rod may or may not be is of little relevance if it doesn’t cast well.

I fitted my Bandit with a Redington Behemoth spooled with a 9wt intermediate weight forward and headed for Corroboree Billabong. I really wasn’t too sure what to expect on my first cast with a 7’9” rod, what I found was a rod that loaded up smoothly and easily for short casts but also had the power for long casts with a big fly. Pretty quickly I was casting a Meade’s gutless frog just as far, if not farther than I can with any of my 9’ graphite rods. I hadn’t been fishing long when a saratoga took the opportunity to hit the fly as I retrieved it through the gaps in the lilies. Alas the hook didn’t set.

A few casts later and with me concentrating more intently another saratoga attacked the fly, this time I set the hook with a sharp strip-strike before lifting the rod tip. And this is when the Bandit really performed.  While the Bandit is an absolute pleasure to cast it is bloody fantastic for fighting a fish on. I’m really looking forward to stopping a big fish on this rod. The Epic Bandit has quickly become my favourite rod for river and billabong fishing.

Now I just need to find a big fish to really test it out on.


Looking at the weekend of the 4th and 5th of June, and if all the predictions are right should be a great time on the Harbours for fishing.    The New Moon is on the 5th so the tides are in line with Graeme the Greys  "In a nutshell I like 7 days to a New or full Moon and home for  9 days in between, in this area its defined by the low tide  reaching midday that's when I go home." which you can read about if you click on this link Love the Moon.

Here are the tides (Saturday..but Sunday is similar)

 As you can see, there is over four metres (4m) of movement which means plenty of run ('No run no fun') and plenty of water to launch and retrieve early in the morning and after 2pm.  You don't often get great tides like this.  I have Bynoe tides here but Darwin will be similar and if you fish Darwin make sure you have a look at these links from 'The Stig'  Darwin Pt. One  and  Darwin Pt. Two.

Now the wind according to the predictions is almost non-existent, but as you know anything can happen...again I have Bynoe which would be my pick, and this is for 2pm on Saturday at 2 knots whereas Darwin is 3 knots for the same time.

The synoptic from BOM shows great weather too....

So, all in all looks like the perfect weekend....see Graeme the Greys post from June 2013 by clicking on The Game Plan and here is a few shots of fish on a weekend in June on similar tides but no where as good weather, so this weekend should be a beauty.

Saturday, 21 May 2016


Just been talking to Big Dave about fishing from the beach as he too is land bound for a while, (Trailer is stuffed) so he was going to try the beaches where he is working out bush.  We got to talking about the flies that seemed to work much better than others, the 'See Through' flies as I call them. Cathie started using them a couple of years ago when I was running out of material and I made some anaemic smaller flies with a 'sea foam' colour DNA in the centre.   Since then we have found that stuff like EP fibre and a courser type of that fibre we got from 'At the River Bend' which is even more 'see through' has been taken more than the solid type of fly in the Saltwater.   (Haven't tried them in the fresh yet)
These larger 'See Through' flies caught everything while solid flies were ignored??
Yesterday on the beach, the 'see through' with a DNA centre caught all the fish while the other from all DNA never got a hit.  All of this was in the same water only metres apart.

The stiff curly fibre material they are made from is more 'see through' in the water, does not hold water and does not seem to tail rap.

So just to prove a point, we are going to try different ones over the next week to see how they compare and whether or not its a problem with the fly fisher, not the fly!

Like surf candies but not quite..on size 1 hooks.

Here is the type of 'see through' we were using, and we will try different colours. They are almost a short surf candy, but we tried surf candies with no joy.   I'm tying up a heap of these for Cathie and Tuan (Lord) Jim who is off fishing in Asia soon.  (Might inspire another 'Lord Jim'  type of book like Conrad's?)

The green and white 'see through' flies worked on the barra too when others would not?

Green and white see through!

same fly that seemed to work when the others would not??
Still have all the other type of flies, just in case, but...I think we should call these 'peanut' flies based on this quote from Dion in 2014 ....

"Remember the Peanut theory.  It works.  For those that don't know it, the peanut theory is based on the likelihood of fish feeding on small titbits even after they are full and have fed to sufficiency.  I'll guarantee if you've just pigged out on a huge 3 course meal and someone places a bowl of peanuts in front of you, you'll probably still grab a couple (unless you are allergic to peanuts, but you get the idea)."