Scotto James

Big Bream Enthusiast & Custom Tackle Maker

Scotto has been living in Tasmania for a number of years and has studied the black bream there in detail. Finding that mainstream tackle limited his ability to catch quality fish in numbers, he went about developing tackle and techniques specifically for the task.

Taking A Fresh Look At Bream On Lures

Scotto has been pursuing big bream in Tassie for a number of years and has been at the forefront of developing new techniques and testing tackle from long rods to braided leaders and everything in between. In this two-part interview, Scotto talks Andrew Death through some of the learnings of a very committed, “outside of the box” bream enthusiast!

Part 1 Highlights

  • Scotto has been experimenting with leaders for years. When he started, mono was the only option but as braids and leaders progressed to fluorocarbon. Scotto was unconvinced that fluorocarbon was quite as “invisible” as common thinking might suggest and started testing leaders for himself. His preliminary observations suggested that the benefits of fluorocarbon were mainly that it was thinner and slightly stronger than mono. Scotto then moved on to copolymer leaders, which weren’t marketed as being invisible, but were thinner and stronger than mono or fluorocarbon.
  • After some time, Scotto felt that it didn’t matter much whether the material was mono, fluorocarbon or copolymer, at the end of the day it seemed to be more about leader thickness than material. Scotto then started experimenting with braided leaders and long rods and found he got better results in doing so. It took some time to figure out knots and so on, but PE 0.3, 0.4, 0.5 and 0.6 braided leaders worked on bream – the latter when the water was less clear and the thinner leaders worked best when the water was clear.
  • A Geoff Wilson twisted leader knot was used to tie the braided leader to the braided mainline with about 40 twists.
  • Fishing braid with braid (or straight through braid) requires good line management to avoid getting snagged on the rod tip, a little bit of breeze can be a hindrance f you don’t focus on keeping it clear of the rod.
  • Abrasion resistance of braided leaders is often considered to be low, compared with fluorocarbon, but Scotto has experimented with abrading braided line on wood and found that results vary depending on the brand and style, but generally braid copes with timber snags. Over sharp, hard surface like oysters it will snap, but most thin fluorocarbons will too! Over rock is where fluorocarbon or copolymer will do better than braid for surviving abrasion.
  • Scotto is well known for producing very long custom rods for bream fishing and these work well with the braided leaders due to their shock absorbing qualities.
  • The other advantages of long rods (9-10’) are long casting, enabling Scotto to reach fish that are further out, or cast from further back from the waters edge to avoid spooking fish. Keeping the line largely out of the water using a vertical rod with the wind from behind is also very beneficial.
  • Glass out days when most anglers struggle can be gold with a long rod, braided leader and small soft plastics such as the Pro Lure Paddle Grub. Scotto likes to scent his lures with S-Factor about 70% of the time and Gulp Juice the remaining 30%. When he fishes he finds that bream rarely switch between scents and are usually attracted by one or other on any given day, but not both.

Part 2 Highlights

  • Under ideal conditions it’s possible to cast an unweighted soft plastic like a Pro Lure Paddle Grub 50-60 metres and then use the wind to pick up the line and work the lure vertically. By doing this it’s possible to work all of the water column from top to bottom. Scotto used to count these down but now finds it’s usually successful to let them sink to the bottom and then work them back up.
  • Using a Pro Lure SK62 with this tackle offers the opportunity to get a lure down deeper along cliff faces in 8-10ft of water. This is great when all the fish seem to be coming at the limits of casting with the grub.
  • Casting well back from the bank with a long rod is a great way to target tailing fish that would otherwise be spooked.
  • Gulp worms fished unweighted in warm water over summer are awesome for waking up very large bream that are shut down and not taking other lure styles. Gamakatsu 1/0 worm hooks are great, heavier gauge, robust hooks that are usually good for 6 fish or so. Black Magic and Van Fook are usually a one-fish hook (without re-sharpening), but are great if the fish are finicky and hard to hook.
  • The gulp worms are also great fished on a walk the dog retrieve or medium speed roll to imitate elvers and glass eels for trout and bream.
  • Scotto’s favourite surface lure is a Bassday Sugapen or an Ecogear PX55F stickbait, again fished on the long rods for stealthy, long casts, but also because the lures can be worked really well with these rods.
  • Short takes aren’t necessarily resolved with the use of stinger hooks, but Scotto finds that scenting up the stinger will increase the hookups, especially if the lure is worked super slow. It’s very easy to spook bream and very effective to these small topwater lures super slowly.
  • Observation skills are super important to all fishers and if your aim is to become super proficient, then it’s worth developing those skills. Experience and an inquisitive mind help with this, and allow anglers to interpret what a fish is doing and formulate a plan to catch the fish. Bad days force anglers to think and reflect and figure out what needs to be done. Failure drives success.
  • Remember that bream are not the easiest species to catch on lures and be prepared to persevere and have some quiet days, but take the opportunity to learn from those days.

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best bream lures
best bream lures

Messiah Custom Fishing Rods

Scotto’s custom rod building business was the first to develop an exquisite line of long rods specifically for the purpose of catching bream using the techniques discussed in this podcast episode, as well as trout. Messiah Custom Fishing Rods tailors their products to the specific requirements of customers and pride themselves on creating tackle dedicated to catching fish that anglers using mainstream tackle can’t touch.

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