Gar Fishing Tactics

Gar Fishing
Gar Fishing
Steve finding that perfect Gar Fish Spot

Gar fishing apart from Whiting and Toadfish, would have to be one of the best types of fishing for the kids.

The great thing about Gar fishing is that you really only need the basics to get out there and have fun. Freshwater or Saltwater Gar fishing is an activity that they whole family can get involved in and I can almost guarantee that the adults will be having a giggle or two along with the kids!





Gar 2
The Crew Focusing on the Gar Fish

We recently took a couple of kids out to the lower reaches of the North Pine Dam to test their skills against this high flying acrobatic “Mini Marlin” Within 15 minutes of having the floats in the water we must have landed over twenty of these little guys and then the games began, like typical fishermen there had to be a challenge! We were targeting specific Gar to catch.


By the end of the three hour session we estimated that we had caught and released over 150 Gar and broke into laughter many times over!

How did you Catch Gar?

Aaron kicking back waiting for his Gar Fish
Aaron kicking back waiting for his Gar Fish


Keep it really simple, any whiting gear you have, break it out! Any rod roughly 1-3Kg and a matching reel 1000 – 2500 size will do just nicely. If your rod is in the 2-4Kg range it is not the end of the world as these little guy normally do all the work for you when it comes to the “Hook up”


Again, your Whiting or Bream gear will be ideal, line weight 4-10lb being either Braid or Mono depending on what you have on hand. These are only “Mini Marlin” so back your line class down a little!

If you are using a leader, 4-10lb is ideal, the lighter you go the more fun you can make it. You can even have a family or group challenge seeing who can use the lightest Leader!

Terminal Tackle:

This is the most important part of your gear, in this case smaller is way better! I break out the Mustad 4540 ½ #12 Long Shanks, when fishing for Gar the smaller the hook the better! They have only got very small mouths so if you go too big in the hook size all they will do is steal your bait…

When fishing the Freshwater areas I generally do not use any sinkers (or Split Shot) but if fishing off a pier I generally use a very small split shot firstly for distance and secondly, the Gar can swim a little deeper so I want to be able to reach them.

Richard with No 12
Richard with No 12

When Gar fishing I keep it simple and use a Pencil Float about 20cm long, if you have a Blackfish or even a Bobby Float these will work just as well. I have even used a Wine Cork as a float in the past!

Setting up your Gar Fish Rig can be as easy as opening a pre-made rig packet, attaching it to your main line, putting on your bait and you’re away.

If you want to make up your own rig:

Freshwater Gar Fishing Rig:

  • Use approx 600mm of leader.
  • Attach your float to the top of the leader,
  • Attach your #12 Long Shank hook.
  • Place on a small piece of worm or dough bait
  • You are ready to fish!

Gillies Gar Fish RigSaltwater Gar Fishing Rig:

  • Use approx 600mm of leader.
  • Attach your float to the top of the leader.
  • Attach your #12 Long Shank hook.
  • Place a “Small” Split Shot sinker approx 100mm above the hook.
  • Place on a small piece of Worm, Prawn or Dough Bait
  • You are ready to fish!
Aarons First Gar
Aarons First Gar

Burley up For Gar Fish

When choosing a Burley for Gar Fish, look for something simple, pre-made Burley Pellets, small pieces of Bread, crushed up Wheatbix, Bran or even chook pellets will work. Use a small amount of Tuna Oil, use a Burley Cage just touching the water, give the burley cage a few small shakes letting out a small amount of burley. You want to attract the Gar and not fill them up with Burley! You can also roll some burley into small balls and throw it into the area where you want to fish for a quick attractant.





IMG_20131111_124759Gar Bait

When fishing in Freshwater I like to use fresh garden worms. You will not need many to have a great session. Simply cut off about 5-10mm of worm and put it on the hook, this is usually enough to catch several Gar!

When fishing in Saltwater I can use several baits, Prawns, Beach Worm, Dough and even a small piece of Pipi. Just remember that you only need a very small amount of bait on the hook.


Where to Fish

Most freshwater Creeks and Dams have a huge number of Gar in them and you do not have to go far to find them, flicking small pieces of Bread will generally bring them well within casting range.

Saltwater species area generally found around rocky foreshore areas, Jetties and Pontoons. Again the use of small amounts of burley will generally bring them into casting range. Once you have their attention you can keep them on the bite for quite some time!


Steve doing the "Swamp Thing"
Steve doing the “Swamp Thing”

So if you want to introduce the kids to some action packed light game fishing, grab your gear and head out after these little brutes, it is an experience that they will remember! Sometimes it is not the fish that provides the experience but the challenge to get to that perfect spot sometimes not only provides a unique experience but also a challenge and a few laughs to boot!

Gar Fish as Bait

There is an added advantage to teaching the kids to Gar Fish, these little guys make great bait as a fillet for Bream, Flathead and Jewies, whole bait for trolling for Mackerel, Dollies and Billies or a ganged bait for Snapper, Trout, Reds just to name a few!


  • I am a senior fisherman , for forty five years I have been a keen dry fly mountain stream, trout devotee.
    Since I am getting older and love eating fresh garfish, I desire to catch them as a shore based angler in the Melbourne area.
    I think I can master the method but don’t know the most suitable locations to have such a pleasant pass time,
    can anyone help me ? many thanks & regards, peter

    • Peter, thank you for your question. I have spoken to a couple of Melbourne fishos and they have suggested that just about any of the fishing platforms or jetties down there will produce great Gar for you. They have also suggested a “Dough Mix” as a preferred bait for these guys. I find the lighter the gear the better result and a great deal of fun will be had as well. If you have not tried it already, “Smoked Gar” is by far the best to have a feed of. Best of luck, send photos of your relaxation time! Maintain the Passion

    • I fished for many years around the bay,(live in Qld these days).My favourite locations were the piers at Dromana,Seaford & Brighton.At night was always better.I like a breeze,always with it going the same direction as the current so northerlies for an outgoing tide,southerlies coming in.Best when it`s slightly off the shore.Baits,well sandworms,gents or pieces of prawn.A fine burley too.Good fishing

  • Hi I have recently moved to Carnarvon Western Australia, what the suggested methods for Gar Fishing here ?
    Any suggestions, tips and hints will be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi TJ, I have not fished over there however I would say that Gar are pretty much the same everywhere. I would try with the standard rig and adjust from there. Stay light and small hooks, #12 Longshank should be your starting point. Good luck and let us see your catch!

  • Hi guys!!!! i really like fishing guys it’s coooooooolll!!!! One day I’ll catch em all!!!

  • My leader often gets tangled around the pencil float. How do I stop this happening? My normal rig is pencil float, small running ball sinker to load the float properly, swivel and a 50 cm leader to hook.

    • Robert, sorry for the late reply, I too have this issue, I found that putting a small split shot just above the hook works well for a while.

      I also found that when targeting the big guys they will force the float down towards the hook under pressure which will also twist the leader. I just change the leader every few trips.

  • I drill a small hole at the end of my pencil float both ends feed my line through never had a line wrap round the float no tangles been using this method for sixty years works great

    • Hi Bruce, great idea! It would also allow for easy adjustment of leader length. Thank you for you great suggestion.


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