Swoffa - Saltwater Flyfishing Australia saltwater fly fishing australia
Australia's best flyfishing
Kingfish seriola lalandi
aka: Yellowtail Kingfish, Kingie, Yellowtail Amberjack, Rat (smaller individuals), Hoodlum (larger specimens), Gold Striped Amberjack

 Photo: © Justin Duggan

Yellowtail Kingfish are not just an Aussie phenomenon - they are widely distributed in temperate waters across the oceans of the world. Larger Kingfish known as 'hoodlums' are notoriously dirty fighters with an instinct to fight fast and hard.

Even with our superior modern saltwater rods and reels, encounters with big kings near structure are more often than not brief affairs leaving the angler broken and beaten.

Australia is blessed with large numbers of Kingfish in the cooler southern half of the continent. They come in a range of sizes feeding in a variety of ways, presenting an interesting array fly fishing challenges.


Smaller 'rat' kings are typically 50 - 80 cm and are prevalent in deeper estuaries and inshore waters like Sydney Harbour and can often be found schooled up on the surface feeding on smaller bait requiring lighter leader and small flies at times.

Kings will often hang around inshore structures like reefs and channel markers. Teasing techniques can work in this situation but the first presentation of a large fly deep and close to their shelter has the best chance of eliciting a response.

Larger kings, anything from 5kg up to 25kg, will occasionally enter deeper estuaries to surprise unprepared anglers and more often than not, it's over before it started.


Big kings prefer big flies like baitfish or squid patterns and it's the prepared and skilful angler who can lay claim to landing a hoodlum on fly.

Tackle and methods for Kingfish

What tackle to use
8 to 12wt outfits, depending on the run of fish. Around structure heavier tackle is better. Generally 20lb and above tippet otherwise it ends pretty fast. When they are schooled up and surface sipping tiny bait it's advisable to use a lighter leader.

What flies to use
Clousers (both sparse and heavy weighted); Surf candies; Polar fibre minnows; Squid flies; Poppers; Crease flies; Gurglers

Fishing strategy
For surface feeding schools feeding on tiny bait, it is usually necessary to 'match the hatch' with small surf candies or eye flies otherwise things get tough.

When holding under white water on headlands they will aggressively hit poppers and large sub-surface flies.

Around structures such as channel markers and inshore reefs, kingies need to be excited a bit - large, long enticing flies such as weighted clousers, squid flies, and polar fibre minnows will work.

Kingfish are unpredictable and can change mood suddenly. If you can see the fish but are not having success it is always worth changing fly, angle of approach, presentation depth, or retrieve.
Teasing and berley (chum) works well at times.

Pulling a kingfish away from structure often requires special tactics. Mentally prepare yourself - if you get a kingie hit on a marker or anywhere near structure, one technique would be to take a wrap of line and hold on - 'give no line' - rod nearly flat at the fish and pull hard! A minimum of 20lb leader is required - more is better.

If the fish moves away from the structure keep steady tension and the fish will often just sit there for a confused moment - hopefully time to manoeuvre the boat away from the structure and have a clean fight.

Large kings will test every knot in your system and every drop of your patience.

Target Kingfish in the following locations:

Target Kingfish with the following guides:

Justin Duggan

Mark Bargenquast

Paul Dolan
Links to more information

http://www.fishbase.org/summary/speciessummary.php?id=382 http://www.amonline.net.au/fishes/students/focus/yellowtail.htm
http://www.adelaide.edu.au/adelaidean/issues/7901/news7906.html http://www.sportsfish.com.au/library/fishing-stories/the-kings-of-botany-bay.html
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