Mad Dogs and Fishermen - Mullet

Mad Dogs and Fishermen - Mullet


Mullet - most of us that have fished for them, become obsessed with them, they drive you crazy, they excite you, they reward you, then they stick two fingers up to you. You have to love them. 

As a anglers we cast a fly to many species, and most would agree that the thought of souring temperatures and the sun high in the sky would normally fill most with dread. 

But there is one species that this is just the opposite, the humble mullet. 


When we reach the height of summer and the days are long these creatures start to fill our estuaries and coastline in abundance. 

We have three species of mullet in the UK, the smallest being the golden grey which frequent the sandy bays and lower stretches of the estuaries, then we have the thin lips that you will find in the same locations as the golden greys and also further up the estuaries and just like the goldens are very willing to chase your offerings. 

Then we have the largest species and the most difficult to tempt, the thick lip, the thick are usually found in harbors and estuaries and in my opinion are the most dogged hard fighting of the three. 

Why target mullet on the fly? 

Well this is a easy one and a no brainer when you think about it. 

One. its free with easy access to miles of coastline and estuaries 

Two. You probably already have the tools for the job, a simply 5 or 6# trout set up will do just fine. 

Three. They offer a real challenge and pound for pound one of the best fighting fish on a fly rod you will get in the UK. 

The hardware

A 5 or 6# rod is just perfect, I prefer the 6#, it gives a little more power for when you face a stiff breeze and will help you cast your flies with accuracy. 

A reel to suit the rod loaded with some decent backing and a floating line 

A sealed drag a great help when dealing with salt water environment 

But non saltwater specific gear will be fine, but give it all a good rinse in clean freshwater when you have finished. 

Try a 9 ft tapered leader with 3ft of 8 to 10lb tippet 


Flies. These are mainly based on shrimp patterns size 12 and mullet are attracted to the colour red, so most patterns tend to have a red tag.   


The tactics

Once you have found your quarry in most cases you will find the last of the ebbing tide and the first push of the new tide to be the most productive times to target the fish. 

Target the fish that are in the shallow water and in small groups showing signs of feeding,  

The give away signs of feeding fish are flashes of silver, disturbed water and quick movement of fish, I avoid the single cruising fish and the fish in deeper water. 

Present two flies to the fish with a cast just above them and let the flies drift over them, at which point a gently retrieve, the takes can come in the form of a gentle almost unnoticeable pluck to a sudden wallop and rod wrenching bang. 

The mullet contrary to belief have rather tough lips and mouths and require a strip strike not a traditional trout strike. 

Once hooked be prepared for all sorts of antics, this can vary from leaping out of the water, fast short and long runs, dogged holds at the bottom, head shakes and when you think you have then beat and present the net this starts all over again and often you will offer the net five times before they are safely secured. 

The best advice during this time is not to over bully then and try to rush them, this will often leave you pulling the hook and end up fishless. 

So if you fancy something a little different, a species you can target when fishing for other species becomes difficult, take a look at the silver ghost, they will surprise you in so many ways. 

This is a very brief insight to how and when to target mullet and the best advice that can be given to anyone wanting to fish for them is just sit on the waters edge and study them for a while, you will learn so much more doing that then simply casting a fly from the off. 

If like many others you get the mullet bug, to really start to understand them and all the many tactics and fly patterns used, go get a copy of Colin Macleods mullet on the fly and all your question will be answered, well until the mullet change the rules that is!



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