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Blue Bastard diagramma labiosum
aka: Mother in law fish, Painted Sweetlip

 Photo: © Jono Shales

These are a highly sought after but tricky flats fish that predominantly shy away from a moving fly. They are more inclined to eat a well presented stationary fly.

When feeding in shallow water, often their tails can be seen waving around as they feed with their heads down, using their large sucker shaped lips to rummage around for grubs and other tidbits on the bottom.

Tailing fish are what you want to target and if luck is on your side, you may well find yourself up against an absolute monster.


There are both blue and brown bastards. Both fish will eat flies and provide a stubborn and dogged fight. They're spooky but nowehere near as spooky as permit which makes them a realistic target.

Blue Bastards spend their time in areas where there's rubble, coral bommies, rocky outcrops and large sandy patches nearby.


Tackle and methods for Blue Bastard

What tackle to use
8 weight would be ideal, rigged with an intermediate or floating line depending on the depth of the water

What flies to use
Clousers, gotchas, squimps, prawn and crab imitations

Fishing strategy
A well presented stationary fly seems to produce the most number of hook-ups with these spooky fish. Stubborn and strong fighters that will pull you around the flats once hooked.

Wading the flats or slowly motoring along and fishing from a boat in shallow water

Target Blue Bastard in the following locations:

Target Blue Bastard with the following guides:

Australian Flyfishing Outfitters

Barra Lodge Arnhemland

Carpentaria Seafaris

Exmouth Fly Fishing

Fish Philliskirk

Melville Island Lodge

One Tree Beach

Wilderness Island
Links to more information

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