A guides view on Barra fishing

Darwin barramundi fishing guide Nathan explains how to catch Barra in the Top End with the right tackle and trolling techniques.

A successful Darwin Barramundi Safari

Trolling for Barra has had a bad rap over the years, often labelled as the ‘easy’ way to catch fish.

As a guide, I find it a relatively stress-free way to get clients onto good fish and to cover loads of water- and get a lot fewer tangles and backlashes- but is it really as simple as dragging a lure behind a boat and cracking open a cold one?

As we’ll discuss here, there is a little more to it than meets the eye.


Billabong Barra is fished for with standard Barramundi gear. A six-foot rod rated 6-8kg coupled with a small bait caster reel and 30lb braid is about right for starters. The braid should be brightly coloured so it can be seen by the skipper and anglers. This helps avoid tangles and makes it easy to see where the lures are.

Leader choice is important. We generally use 55lb Schneider, but when the water is clear it can spook fish, so at times we will change to 40lb Fluorocarbon or Black Magic Tough Trace and find hook-ups increase- but with lighter lines, clients have to be more careful. If the water is dirty, you can get away with heavier leaders as the fish can’t see them. Avoid those clumsy black clip-on wire traces if you actually want to catch good numbers of fish.


Lure choice is often closely guarded by guides and gun recreational anglers, as it can matter so much at times. Different lures work at different times- or for different people. Jason Bettles, a friend and colleague of mine can have cracker days using the H-Char colour in the Reidy’s Little Lucifer, while it only produces a few fish for me. On some days, I can have amazing results on the Avocado RMG Scorpion in the 1m- bib, and they’re all big fish too.

Soft plastic “swimbaits” are, at times absolutely dynamite, especially later in the season when the water drops and the fine aquatic weeds dieback on the mud banks.

The debate on lure colour has been raging on for some time now. In clear water with a visibility of over 20cm, it can make the difference, but in filthy water, I believe the fish can’t see colour and go on movement alone. Sticking with what you’re confident with is a good start, but don’t be afraid to experiment either.

The depth of lures is absolutely vital. Most of our trolling in Corroboree is done in 5-7 feet of water. Other areas like Hardie’s Lagoon require deeper lures as the water is often 10-15 feet deep.

The general rule is to use lures that will (usually) not hit the bottom, as they foul up with weeds. Use lures that clear the bottom by a foot or so and you’ll be in business. There are exceptions though, and we’ll explore those soon.