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By Tackle Tactics Pro Angler Cameron Cronin
First published: May 29 2023

NSW based and regularly hooked up to bream, bass, flathead, jewfish, salmon and more.

Beach Fishing with Lures

By Cameron Cronin

As we make our way into winter and the days begin to shorten, it starts to feel like time can be against us when trying to sneak out for a quick fish before or after work. However, for those of us who are lucky enough to live near the coast, beach fishing provides the perfect option for a quick escape from the winter blues, offering safe and productive fishing opportunities for a myriad of species.

Once the domain of bait fishermen, lure casting off the sand is steadily gaining popularity, and for a very good reason. I personally think there is something deeply satisfying about beach fishing, that needs to be experienced before it can truly be understood. Watching the sun rise on a cool morning, with a crisp westerly at your back, as you launch out casts to the sound of nothing but the rolling seas. It’s a sure-fire way to start the day off right, and when you add in a few nice fish, it isn’t hard to realise the appeal of this style of fishing.

In this article I’ll cover a few of my favourite species to target off the beach and how to approach each of these. By the end, this should give you a few different techniques to employ so that you can make the most of the fishing opportunities at your local beach.


The humble flatty is an extremely popular option in our rivers and estuaries; however, many anglers don’t realize just how productive beach fishing for flathead can be. Fishing land based, I’ve had more cricket score catches of flathead off the beach than anywhere else, with a healthy number of larger ‘croc’ sized fish in the mix as well.

Flathead can be found just about anywhere on the beach and at any time of year, however there are certainly a few ways you can increase your success. I’ll generally head out for a flathead during periods of low swell, which makes it very easy to pick out the changes in depth and the shallow gutters that these fish inhabit. When looking for structure, I like to seek out small gutters that run parallel to shore, with a sand bar that is within casting distance of the beach. Casting your lures up onto that outer sand bar and retrieving them down the face of the bar and into deeper water is a sure-fire way to pick up a few fish.

In general, I like to fish around the bottom half of the run-out tide, focusing my efforts on the point of each gutter, where the water begins to deepen and the current starts to increase as the gutter starts running out to sea. In some situations, this may be less than waist deep water, but this does nothing to deter the hungry flathead from ambushing baitfish that are swept out of the gutter on the falling tide.

Gear wise, I’ll generally use braid of around the 6-10lb mark, with Platypus Pulse X8 my personal favourite. Match this with a 15lb Platypus Stealth FC Fluorocarbon Leader, a 7-8 foot, 2-6kg rod and a 2500 size spin reel and you are well and truly set up to tackle any flathead that might come your way.

Moving onto lures, I’ll generally opt for soft plastics, using 1/4oz to 1/2oz TT HeadlockZ HD jigheads on ZMan soft plastics in the 4” to 6” range, such as Diezel MinnowZ, SwimmerZ and Scented Jerk ShadZ, to name a few favourites. When rock is present, I have also had some great sessions rigging a ZMan 3.5” EZ ShrimpZ weedless, and slowly working it through the sandy gaps between each rock. Keep in mind that if you are getting a lot of smaller fish, upgrading your lure size may be enough to grab the attention of a larger model in many cases.

Salmon and Tailor

Slinging a lure into the sea spray for these speedsters has long been a staple of beach fishing, and whilst tackle and lures have evolved, the principal behind catching these species has remained much the same. On most beaches tailor can be found year-round and will generally increase in activity with the onset of cooler weather in autumn or winter, depending on the location. Salmon will usually be more seasonal, with huge schools occupying the coastline from mid-winter to spring in most locations.

In my experience, the best location to target both species is where larger gutters spill out to sea, especially those areas that have some current. These predators will use this scenario to their advantage, feeding on hapless baitfish as they are swept out of the gutter. For salmon, I prefer days with a westerly wind and flat swell, which makes it very easy to spot large migrating schools moving along the coast. For tailor, spinning in moderate swells is very productive, as this species is often found hunting on the edge of areas with white water.

In general, spinning on a run in or high tide is most successful, as this will allow pelagic species to push closer into shore, both to feed and to shelter from large predators that shadow them, including sharks and dolphins. When it comes to gear, I personally use a 15-30lb, 10’ spinning rod, matched with a 4000 size spinning reel and 20lb Platypus Bionic Braid X9. This allows plenty of casting distance, with a heap of stopping power to help knock over stubborn specimens.

When it comes to lures, I keep it very simple, carrying an assortment of 20 - 40g TT Hard Core slugs in a variety of colours, as well as a few metals and Fish Inc. Winglet zinc stickbaits. Usually, a medium to fast paced wind is all that’s required to draw an aggressive strike, but if the going is tough, try allowing the lure to sink a little further and incorporate a twitch and pause retrieve into the mix as well.


Undoubtedly the most coveted species that haunts our beaches, mulloway (jewfish) are generally considered the pinnacle of beach fishing by most anglers. Whilst you might expect to land several of the aforementioned species in an average session, targeting mulloway off the beach with lures requires serious dedication, a healthy dose of optimism and an understanding that fishless sessions are commonplace when it comes to this type of fishing.

However, when everything goes right and the stars align, the feeling of putting a mulloway on the sand is second to none in my opinion. It is something that every angler should try and experience at least once. Mulloway can be caught year-round on most beaches, providing the conditions are favourable. What constitutes favourable conditions varies considerably from beach to beach, and although the mulloway will always be present, they tend to feed better during the daytime, when there is some swell and white-water present.

Certain locations will handle swell better than others, so spend some time studying your local beaches and work out what swell directions and sizes work best, and then focus on fishing these conditions whenever they occur. I have caught Mulloway in a wide variety of different gutter types, but generally I’ll look for gutters with deep water located very close to shore. This can be relative to the rest of the beach and may only be 1-2 metres deep in many cases.

For those willing to fish into the night, mulloway will push into ever shallower water and can commonly be caught over the top of sand bars fringing deeper gutters as they feed under the cover of darkness. The tide times I choose to fish once again vary from beach to beach, and I have personally caught mulloway at all stages of the tide. As a rule, I’ll fish deeper beaches close to the low tide, which defines the sand bars and concentrates bait, while preferring the shallow beaches on a higher tide, targeting the fish as they move into the shallows to feed.

For me, rigging up for this style of fishing is extremely simple. I use the same rod and reel sizes described above for salmon and tailor fishing; however, I have another reel of the same size spooled with 30lb Platypus Pulse X8 Braid and 60lb Platypus Hard Armour Leader. The heavier braid and leader aren’t always necessary; however, it is always welcome when trying to knock over a stubborn mulloway slugging it out in the shore dump. It also gives you a bit of extra grunt to help with washing fish up steep embankments in the landing stages of the fight.

Generally, I don’t vary much in lure choice. For me this is a ZMan 6” SwimmerZ, rigged on a 1oz 8/0 TT HeadlockZ HD jighead. This lure casts a mile, gets down under the swell quickly and appeals to mulloway of all sizes. Also, expect to catch plenty of the previous species as well. I have had several sessions catching all four of my beach favourites in one outing on this lure. I’ll also always have a few packs of 7” ZMan DieZel MinnowZ in the kit (with a TT SwimlockZ 1oz 9/0 jighead to match), which have also caught me plenty of quality fish, usually in calmer conditions when a slower sink rate is preferred.

Continuing the theme of simplicity, retrieving a plastic for a mulloway off the sand is as simple as a slow and steady roll (wind). If the lure is hitting the bottom, try raising the rod tip or speeding up the retrieve slightly. In very deep gutters you might like to try hopping the plastic along the bottom, but it most situations a hungry mulloway will happily rise off the bottom to nail a well-presented lure.

So, there you have it, a quick crash course on a few of my favourite species to target off the sand on lures. If you aren’t already into beach fishing, or you’re more accustomed to bait fishing off the beach, why not give lure fishing for one of the above species a go? If you’re anything like me, and don’t mind a bit of stray sand in the car footwell, I can all but guarantee it’ll be a decision you won’t regret.

Cheers, Cam