about us

The Mob are 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.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Fishing for Fun, Freezer and Friends.

Just the excuse I need to go fishing “The freezer is empty of fish”. With neap tides and only a 1.5 metre of movement sounds like perfect conditions to stalk the flats without the worry of running out of water.

Arrived at Bynoe and pitched camp at Sandpalms. As usual around 4.00pm the gathering under the “Tree of Knowledge” was in progress and the advice of “no run no fun”, “neaps no good to fish”, “moon phase wrong”, “save your money on fuel” was freely given. 

Despite the encouraging words decided not to pack camp and go home!

Launched early Wednesday morning and traveled the 20kms under the light of a rising moon to “Jim’s Flat” which dries at just under 4 metres.

Rough conditions on "Jim's Flat"!
In the end cut the day short and was back at the camp for a cold beer by 1 pm, - must get a bigger esky - there were Barra everywhere, but very spooky, to be sight cast to in crystal clear glass out conditions. 8 Barra boated (all legal size), largest went 74cms with only those less than 65cms for the esky. The great clarity allowed for the added bonus of choosing your Mud Crab to pick off with the fly. In some ways a lot easier to catch than the Barra, nowhere as flighty, watch Graeme Williams do it he’s the master at it.

A "Roggie Dodgie" fly catches everything!

Back home by 1pm

Next day it was much the same routine but Salmon to be the target so moved around until Threadies were located and picked off three at 70cms and got smoked into the mangrove roots by 3 others. Wasn’t chasing the Barra but my cast was a 2 metres off target from the Salmon and closer to the Barra that wasn’t seen – bugger!

First of the day.

I managed to hang onto 1 Barra and 1 Salmon for my freezer. All the others were distributed to others not as fortunate as myself or able to get out and experience what the NT can offer.

A Barra - Bugger!

I wonder how many people have spent the last few days at home because they had convinced themselves that, “no run no fun”, “neaps no good to fish”, “moon phase wrong”, “save your money on fuel”. 

Unlucky people!

Wandering around Kakadu waterways this week.

Remember, “You’ll never never know, if you never never go.” Get out there and fish.

Tight lines
Jim Churchley

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


 When we first got into fly fishing, everyone had a view on which fly was the best, and the way to tie it.  So probably, like a lot of people, we got every conceivable type of material to tie all these fancy flies, and some were fancy, and very colourful.  However with a bit of experience and advice from blokes like Dave Bowring, Wayne Hinton and Graeme Williams, our flies came down to the basics AND we seemed to catch more fish.  Dave wrote a bit of a story before one of the old competitions and said that if  you had one fly in the box, it should be a clouser, because 90 percent or more fish were caught on clousers (or variation of the same).   Dave tied a clouser like a crazy charlie, with only the top wing, but we have continued to tie with both the bottom and top wing as demonstrated in the video below by the inventor of the fly, Bob Clouser.

We tie very simple clousers now, usually with both natural and synthetic material.   The Boss likes the long limerick hooks in her flies, with either the eyes well down the hook so you have a longer nose, or the eyes near the eye of the hook.  Both work. (see below...same hook, eyes just placed differently for the whims of the fisher..don't think the fish care!)

We tie ours with a bottom wing of bucktail, then turn it over and put in some 'special' aluminium flash with a thin tail of DNA (or similar) then tie on the top wing. The reason for these materials is simple....because the fish chew the bucktail off, and not so much the synthetic, your fly keeps working for quite a while even with most the bucktail chewed off (sometimes seems to work better).  The synthetics can tail wrap too, so the bucktail keeps them from doing that a bit, and the bucktail is usually a lot more buoyant than synthetics.

Here are the simple ingredients for the fly, you can miss the synthetic if you wish, we like the light coloured centre (another whim) but the aluminum flash is the secret, not sure what you call it, but it is about $5 a square metre at spotlight and you just pull the stands out.

I have this theory that it makes a signal in the saltwater...probably crazy (we won't go into that) but as I have said before, long long ago when I did physics at Monaro High, we made electricity by putting aluminium foil into saltwater and created a type of electrolysis or something like that.  

Pull the flash out of the material on the left and add to the bucktail and synthetic. The top fly here is on an C70SD mustad hook and has mono weed guards, blue and white, the smaller barra seem to love it.
Dave with a Tea Leaf Trevally

What fish does the clouser catch???  In his 1994 book The Professionals’ Favorite Flies, Lefty Kreh wrote about the Clouser Deep Minnow: “I believe that this pattern is the most important and effective underwater fly developed in the past 20 years. During the past three years I have been able to catch 63 species of fish in fresh and saltwaters around the world with this pattern!”

Here are some of them from up here...
Cathies' first metery on fly 1.03m on a Cameron Briscoe clouser

We all love the idea of catching a big fish, and the clouser seems to catch big and small...imagine your first metery on fly, and it was on a clouser, back in 2004, and tied by a teenage Cameron Briscoe for Cathie to try down on the Robinson River.  First cast...first metery.   Here are some other beauties too....

 Duggie with a 155 spaniard caught on an anemic clouser with no wire only a week ago off Turtle Island.

 July/August can see the big baitballs  around, so have a clouser ready to run through them.

Here are a few more fish on clousers, the photo in the centre top was a 92 queenie that was hooked in the dorsal fin.

As you can see the good old clouser can hook anything....this video below is a bit long, but it is actually Bob Clouser, the inventor, tying the fly so I have included it, rather than some of the shorter ones..

Monday, 21 July 2014

"Four Mile Hole" - view from the soapbox.

As my previous post shows I have just spent a few days camped out at one of my favourite waterholes in Kakadu, “Four Mile Hole” on the Wildman River. I have had the privilege of being able to have fished this location for more than a decade and holds great memories of great times, great fishing and is a great Northern Territory/Australian natural asset.

On my return to Darwin the local media was awash with reports about “Four Mile Hole” and Salvinia. In today’s climate of media beat-up and sensationalism it is often hard to split fact from fiction so I offer my observations of what I saw during my time camped out and fishing “Four Mile Hole”.

Is there Salvinia at Four Mile Hole?
You bet your life there is. When launching the boat it was evident in clumps along the bank both in the water and on the land where I think it had been pushed up either by the wind or boat wash. On the water immediately, if you looked, small heads of Salvinia could be seen free floating. This was most noticeable when there was minimal wind or wave action.

Was Salvinia there last year?
If it was I did not see it and definitely not as obvious as it is this year. As you progress along the billabong to the area of the still flooded floodplains it becomes obvious as to the extent of the infestation. It is massive with it stretching as far as one can see into the floodplain. I can only assume that the entire system downstream, if not already infested will be in the next flood. Listening to the NT fishing Gurus “Tales from the Tinnie” it was interesting to hear Andy Ralph indicate that park records show Salvinia evident at Four Mile for some years. If this is the case, and I suspect it to be so, why has there been such an explosion this year? Has it reached such a mass where it is unstoppable?? Is it like the grains of wheat and the chess board? Double the grain on each square, easy to start then it gets out of control!

Is it affecting fishing?
Yes and No. I am passionate about fly fishing and enjoy fishing the margins, shallows, lilies and timber structure. These are the areas where Salvinia was most evident and in some areas fishing was not possible. Yes it has affected fishing. For someone trolling or casting deeper waters they may not encounter Salvinia. No it has not affected fishing. Will this be the case next year or the year after??   

What does the future hold?
This is the question that should be asked of those that hold the reins of power. One only has to spend five minutes with Mr Google to see that we have a formidable environmental foe in our midst only a short walk for a feral pig, a short flight for a Magpie Goose, a short walk/swim for a croc plus another 101 different ways for it to get to the Mary river system. Then Manton Dam, then Darwin River Dam. Who knows what effect this may have on our water system?


We anglers readily understand the possible impact to our sport in the Mary River system but I think it has the potential to go far further. What impact may it have on the cattle industry that survives on the quality of the flood plains along the Mary. Look at Yellow Waters after the waters recede from the plains there is a thick carpet of Salvinia left. Can the pasture handle this? Can the cattle handle this? So many questions, so few answers!  

Again I refer to the “Tales from the Tinnie” where an amount of a million dollars (I stand to be corrected on this statement) was said to being spent by Kakadu on weed control, not Salvinia, all weeds. Obviously the amount of effort is not enough as shown by recent observations/spread. If this is correct I am dismayed at those empowered to look after Kakadu on our behalf. I bet more that that is spent at Parliament House in Canberra mowing the grass and pruning the roses in an area covering a few footy fields not an area larger than a lot of countries.

Where has all these words taken me? I don’t know but the view is good from atop of this soapbox. I don’t what the answer is. I don’t know if there is one. Questions such as these need to be addressed by those of greater intellect and knowledge than I but what I can say is that if we stand by and do nothing things will not improve. I also believe that we have an obligation towards the young mobsters such as the Jack’s, Hayden’s and Brianna’s amongst us.

Myself I am penning a few words to both our Federal and Territory leaders to express my concerns and thoughts and to request information as to actions, if any, they are undertaking to address this problem. As with anything to do politically numbers count. My single letter makes only a very small pile on someone’s desk. A bigger pile gets looked at more. If anyone else has concerns put pen to paper and send it to those that you pay.

My final thought on this subject is that after reading about Salvinia “Good Management rather than Eradication” will be a fantastic and achievable outcome for NT waterways.
Remember, “You’ll never never know, if you never never go.” Get out there and fish.

Tight lines
Jim Churchley

Few days at "Four Mile Hole"

Had the recent opportunity to spend a few days at one of my favorite waterholes in Kakadu, Four Mile Hole.

For those that have never been it is on The Wildman River System downstream of Two Mile Hole (subject of a previous report). The road in is the same as for Two Mile to start with a turn off approximately 10kms in from the Highway and a further 32kms through the scrub onto the floodplain. This track has a fearsome reputation for being rough and a trailer destroyer, on this trip it was found to be very forgiving if given the respect it deserves. Allow yourself 1 – 1.5 hours from the highway and you will have no issues, when you hit the floodplain take it easy across the areas that have been ripped apart by pigs, this area will do your springs in if not taken easy, be warned!

Arriving at the water, set camp 50 metres from the edge as required by the Rangers and had only 2 other “Grey Nomads” as neighbours. Basically I had the place to myself, just how I like it. Bank launched the boat and started fishing. Third cast resulted in the first fish of the trip, Catfish, which was to be the first of many of this species. With the sun high in the sky it was easy to see how clear the water was with the fly able to be seen to at least 1-1.5 metres deep which gave a great view of the fish attacking the fly. Over the next few days spent my time patrolling the edges and lilies picking up a constant stream of fish as I went, Barra, Toga, Tarpon, Archer and yes, Catfish (with the water clarity even sight cast a couple of these, sad, I must be getting old!!!). Having recently fished other Kakadu systems it was very noticeable that the Barra here lacked the condition as other waterways. The fish were nowhere near as fat being much leaner and did not put up as much fight. During my time there I had a great time, except for the strong wind during the day; glass out conditions before 10am and after 4pm. Caught lots of fish but size was a problem with only a couple being legal, just.

Leaner fish than from other waterways

Didn't get the sinking line out but reading the sounder I suggest that the larger fish maybe laying on the bottom midstream and maybe tempted by dragging a fly past their nose in about 7 metres of water. This has been very successful for me in the past. Give it a go if you can’t find the fish you are after along the edges.

"Roggie Dodgie" Fly does it again!

As with all trips things happen, good and bad that has never happened before. This trip was no different.

Travelling along under the power of the electric the outboard leg collected a large clump of lily stems which stretched for some 3 or 4 metre behind, no problems and continued along. A large splash from behind me got me to turn to find a 2.5 metre croc attacking the large lily pad that was being towed and splashing along the surface. I’m not quite sure who got the biggest surprise, me that it happened or the croc that he only got a salad feed! A timely reminder that they can appear from nowhere at any time.....so

Travelling back to Darwin and listening to the news I found that Four Mile Hole was the subject of much discussion because of Salvinia, not my fishing exploits. Is there Salvinia in Four Mile Hole? You bet your life there is, lots of it, a disaster in the making if nothing is done. I will dust off my soapbox and put my observations and thoughts into another post but in short if nothing is done the potential for the entire inland waterway of Northern Australia has the potential to be changed forever.

Normal fishing area - no-longer!

Typical along the lily pads

Despite that depressing thought if you have some time, take the effort to get out to Four Mile Hole. An iconic waterhole in an iconic location, get out there and do it. You will see the best sky in the world at night, breathtaking, stars from horizon to horizon for 360 degrees, a must see sight.


Bynoe Harbour later this week on the building tides (wind gods please be kind) then a week back out to Kakadu for a trip in “MV Croc Bait” (3 metres plus 8 horses).

Remember, “You’ll never never know, if you never never go.” Get out there and fish.

Tight lines
Jim Churchley

Friday, 18 July 2014


While I recognise and acknowledge the need for commercial fly tyers, I have been indoctrinated against them by an expression my immigrant English dry fly purist grandfather told me when I was young about why whose flies I should use when fly fishing is important. He said,......

"using some else's flies is like getting someone else to father your children for you, 
when it is more fun to do it yourself!"

When it comes to fishing with artificials, I have always enjoyed making my own.
previous style of foreplay
While not for more than twenty plus years, for a time I made my own hard bodied lures. Even got some expensive chuck tools specifically made up for my wood lathe to hold several pieces of timber at once to turn to them the shape I needed. Then I would cut them lengthwise to place in wire loops, then glue, then clamp back together, then heaps of sanding - before applying 10+ coatings of paint and finish with an airbrush. Add split rings and hooks, then go fishing. Each lure -  many hours, weeks, if not months in the making.

Using my own personally hand crafted wooden lures made for specific species and locations elevated any captures beyond anything else. The 'yahoos' and screams of exaltation were always more loud and exuberant then for fish caught on any mass produced lure.

Back to tying one's own flies, for me it elevates my fly fishing experience before, then exponentially and additionally impacting when on the water casting that fly to fish that reacts to the fly I made. This could be surmised in a quote from an awesome passage in the book - "Fly Tying by Fishing Guides" by Toni Lolli. Where it says......,

"There's an old saying that fly fishing is the most fun you can have while you are standing up. 
If that's true, fly tying is foreplay."

If this premise holds true and you add the knowledge of the necessity and benefits of sexual foreplay;...... 

the benefit of making your own flies then implies, that the more foreplay (i.e the more fly tying), the more the expectation, and thus, the more the eventual climax and in turn deeper enjoyment.

So I tie my own flies, and I tie a lot. I love my fly tying as unmitigated and absolutely necessary SWOFFING foreplay. Why tie three flies when I could tie using a whole box of hooks, if not several sizes of boxes of hooks.

Every fly tied is like that first subtle and delicate caress, that intimate delicate stage of what is to come. Every finished fly takes me one pulsating sensation closer to the ultimate tightening of fulfilment and ecstasy. In fly fishing terms, the sighted fish, the follow, the take, the tight taught line and the vibrant fish struggling against the strain, ending with the triumphant release of the trophy (a trophy regardless of size) to fight again.

Even writing about fly tying is exciting me right now.

So, I don't know which I want to more now:-
  • write some more, or
  • tie some flies, or
  • go SWOFFING, or
  • find my wife!!!
I do know that when I get home after SWOFFING using my own flies or when I have just tied 20 or so flies to use on the next planned trip - I am more amorous towards my wife. So maybe it's SWOFFING and fly tying that's actual physical foreplay for me as well.

When I am on the water, selecting and tying on a fly that I have previously tied for a specific application at a location I plan to fish for a species I knew would be there for a specific food source or reason - THIS IS what SWOFFING is all about. (My wife says I am easily please!)

What was that romantic quote out of the movie Jerry Maguire, that all the women swoon over?---- Zellweger says to Cruise, "you 'had me' at hello".

Well for me, SWOFFING 'had me' too - at the fly tying.

I hope fly tying is that for you too.

Enjoy! Go tie some flies. Experience some fly tying foreplay, before reaching your climax!

see more at http://swoffingntwaters.blogspot.com.au/  

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Just for those contemplating going out on the weekend...

I'm afraid the wind is still up, but if you are willing to brave it there are a lot of pelagics around, especially macs on the reefs, or any baitballs that you may find.

Tuna, macs and some trevally and I'm told the odd sailfish around both harbours

here is a typical wind prediction for the both days

and here are the tides..

......with the macs, consider using a small trace, if it's too big, it can turn them off, but none often means bite offs unless you are really lucky....something like this is not bad...on a 3/0 limerick so the hook is a bit longer.  It's amazing how just a normal leftys loop knot on the top loop does not cut through the line.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


Hi All

Great Saturday night at Sand Palms - thanks to all cooks for fish bites - Awesome!!!!

My trip report at the following link

The Stig and Jim's Bynoe Harbour trip report-20140713


Richard (aka the Fly Tying Stig)


If you heading west and can look up Jono Shales...here is a post from him...

Exmouth Fly Fishing 

When a father names his son Marlin, it's pretty obvious that he's dedicated his entire life to fishing.

14 year old Marlin Wakeman had never seen a marlin until yesterday when his father managed to land his first black marlin on fly. Well today after three strikes of the teaser, young Marlin met the fish that he was named after.
Bear in mind that this kid has already caught two sailfish in the last week and today he learned the difference between a sail and a black marlin. Marlin battled with his namesake for an hour and a half with an aching back, cramping arms and a fish that just wouldn't give up, but neither did he and eventually we landed the fish
A truly honourable experience for me to be a part of today where a young boy stepped onto my boat this morning, met his match and succeeded in his efforts … and stepped off my boat this afternoon as a young man

Jono Shales

Sunday, 13 July 2014


The weather is always a factor for our fishing, too windy, too hot or just right....sounds a bit like Goldilocks.  Well the last few days, had all three, too windy in some spots, too hot out of the wind, but then it was just right in other spots.  The moon was full, which is often said to be a problem with fishing, but as far a fish go, 'when they're on they're on' and they don't seem to worry about the things that we humans do.  But the wind was cold! Hoodies and bunny rugs were needed in the mornings which looked outstanding, but were very chilly.

We really do live in one of the best places in the world.
Watty had reported the bait balls out there and let me tell you, they are still there, in fact in a lot of spots we managed to get over different ones, but the fish all seemed to be below them and not eating that much, (probably the moon??) whereas the barra on the flats were everywhere, and their tails seemed to stand out more than usual in bright yellow (the moon again?).

The big spaniards were holding under these
 A lot of the barra were holding in schools over rocky patches, and Lord Jim was saying that is because the rocks warm in the sun during the day and hold the heat which the barra are seeking.   The boys on Tails from a Tinny had similar information.  So while the water is cold, and we could not get a place that reached 24C, then the rocks and weed areas where the warmer water holds would seem to be the spot to fish.  The best of the barra was in the seventies but there were a lot that just didn't make the legal size.

Just a bit on the barra, Cliffy is back down at Sand Palms and one of his old mates Greg, brought his two grandchildren out to have a look and maybe get a fish (We swore them all in as mobsters). The kids, Claudia 11yrs and Luca 8yrs, both from Sydney, had their first go at fishing.  Both caught barra and salmon, which was a problem.  They didn't want to go back home! We are hoping to get the photo's sent through, but it was very hard to take the smiles off their faces.

Back to the baitballs....there were probably ten to fifteen huge macs dropped while we were out there, but Duggie got the best, 155cm.

The biggest of the Spaniards

An anemic white flashy clouser and no bloody trace!!!!was the fly of choice
Di and Hags got into salmon and a couple of barra around Turtle Island.  They were blue salmon and were outstanding cooked in tempura batter and served with chips.  The 'Show Ponies' on the Hewes were into some good barra as well but like some of us could not raise the big pelagics up from the bait balls. If the bait balls around now are any indication of what is to come, we are really into some great fish (on a good moon of course).

Lord Jim, the Cookup King, got plenty of barra, but we didn't taste one of them, all too small. Rodgie lost a great barra on one of the flats, I think all the flats are called 'Wayne's Flats' and the creeks are called 'Jim's creek'.  It can get confusing.

But we did manage to get plenty of fish for the cookup, at one stage we had twenty one there, that as counted but some of the staff down there added to it.  Sand Palms was packed out and Jim had his camp beside the crew from the Yellow Peril (Dean and Dave) the Rainbow warriors, with the Stig camped even closer to the road.

We had three woks going for nearly and hour, all with different mixes of fish and batter.  Tempura, just flour and some horrid green concoction that Rodgie made.  It all went though, even into the night with Jim holding up the 12v lamp for us to see.  I think if there hadn't been a fire ban we would have had natures TV(camp fire) going into the wee hours of the morning, as it was Dave and Rodgie were going to get into the spicy rum, but luckily Rodgie fell off the perch and went to bed.  Thanks Justine for being a wonderful waitress.....if Rodgie had been passing the fish around none would of made it to anyone.  He would of dropped the lot!

Some of the food....pre being cooked!