When it comes to bonefishing. The biggest draw for anyone who is experienced the beauty of the tropics is bonefishing the flats. Bonefish, often referred to as the ghost of the flats is the fastest accelerating light tackle fish in thew world. Over the last 30 years The Fly Rod Shop has hosted tropical fishing trips on the island of Bonaire. Bob Shannon has logged over 200 days of tropical fishing over his career and found that fishing the flats can be the most challenging yet rewarding of all light tackled fly fishing opportunities. Stalking, sight fishing, precision casting and good fly selection are all quintessential for success. This article will focus primarily on wade fishing the flats for bonefish and focus on stalking and sighting the elusive bone.
Here are some tips we would recommend for any DIY Bonefish Anglers.
One of the most common mistakes anglers make when targeting bonefish is wading too deep. When an angler puts themselves in water deeper than their knees spotting bonefish will become much more challenging. Ideally, fish an incoming tide, walk out onto the flat until you reach shin deep water then turn around and watch for fish moving in as the water comes ups.
If on your trip, an incoming tide is not available a falling tide can be productive as well. When fishing a falling tide keep in mind that the bonefish will be moving a bit quicker than as on a rising tide and tend to be a bit more skittish. One of the easiest ways to find bonefish is to spot nervous water. Nervous water occurs when several bonefish are cruising a flat you will see a slit disturbance on the surface of the water. It’s important to lead these fish by around 15 feet in front and beyond when casting. If you don’t lead fish the fish will be gone before your fly is on their level or you will spook the fish when your fly and line hit the water. When stalking the flats to take into consideration the angle of the sun and direction of the wind. Never try to fish the east in the morning and west in the evening as the sun will be in your face making spotting fish much more challenging. Using a pair of Photo Chromic Smith Sunglasses will help reduce the glare on the water. A copper or yellow lens will help to pop the light. Photochromic lens will adjust during the course of the day to help cope with changing sun angles. When fishing in the tropics anglers will contend with windy conditions on a daily basis, the wind is your friend. Anglers often become intimidated by windy conditions when fishing the tropics. But by practicing a few casting tips before your trip you will able to cast with confidence. When casting into the wind, the rod tip on the backcast should never go past the 12 o’clock position. This allows the rod to properly load so the line is traveling with more force into the wind. Another helpful casting tip is to learn to cast with proficiency over both shoulders. If the wind is blowing towards you on your casting side the fly will travel dangerously close to your eyes. By positioning the rod over your opposite shoulder when casting it will cause the fly to be further away from you keeping you safer.
For the DIY traveling angler looking to put together some gear for a flats fishing trip there are several must haves when fishing the tropics. First and foremost is sun protection. Be sure to have a SPF Buff, a wide brimmed or long billed hat, Simms Ebb Tide Shirts, Sungloves, Simms Sunscreen and Simms Chapstick. As far as other gear goes, it’s important to have a Stormproof Waistpack to ensure your gear stays dry in case you run into some bigger waves. We recommend the new Simms G4 Tactical Waistpack which comes with a water bottle which is also a very important part of flats fishing. When it comes to choosing a reel, having a good drag system and plenty of backing capacity are crucial. Bonefish take long runs that require preferably 200yds of backing. Drag systems that are fully sealed will also help keep out the saltwater from corroding the guts of your reel. When choosing a fly line look for a WF-Floating line designed specifically for tropical waters. Tropical lines have a harder coating which prevents them from wilting from the warmer water. Lastly when choosing a fly rod a 9’ to 9’6” rod is great when casting into the wind. Longer rods will also have a softer tip which will protect lighter tippet and prevent break offs. Line and rod weights should be between 6wt-8wts.
If you’re interested in getting more info about fly fishing in the Caribbean shoot us an email or check out our website!