3 Tips For Better Bonefishing

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Turn Me loose! Photo by Louis Cahill

Turn Me loose! Photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

Here are three, almost random, tips to help you catch more bonefish.

Change the retrieve before the fly

If the bonefish are following your fly but not eating it, the fly may not be the problem. As fly fishermen, we always want to blame our fly. I think this comes from trout fishing and the idea of matching the hatch but often, whether fishing in fresh water or salt, the problem is the presentation and not the fly.

When you cast your fly to a bonefish and he keys on it and follows the fly for a good ways, then turns off, generally it’s the retrieve he doesn’t like. Often changing it up will solicit the bite. If you’re stripping slow, speed up. If you’re stripping long, go short. Most often I find that a series of short fast strips followed by a pause does the trick. The beauty is that you can make this change immediately and catch the fish at hand.

Lift your rod when the fish runs

Bonefish are known for their blistering runs. It’s not uncommon to see your backing several times during a fight. It’s common for a bonefish to take a lot of line then make a sharp turn and cut across the flat. If there is coral on the bottom the line can catch it and be cut on a sharp edge. The best strategy when a bonefish runs is to lift the rod as high as you can, keeping the line as high as possible. This trick may not only save you a fish, but a line too.

Listen to your guide’s footsteps

Bonefish have big ears. At least they hear like they do. When wade fishing for them it’s important to wade quietly. The fish can hear the water splashing against your legs. Bonefish guides can cover a flat without making a sound and listening to their footsteps will accomplish a couple of things. First, you should not be making any more noise than they do. This is often a challenge but it’s important. Secondly, your guide’s footsteps will tell you what he’s thinking. If you hear him making noise, you’re in unproductive water and he is trying to cover some ground. If he suddenly becomes quieter, he thinks he sees a fish. Get ready. If you pay attention to your guide’s footsteps you can pick up clues that may help you catch more fish.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
www.ginkandgasoline.com
hookups@ginkandgasoline.com
 
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7 thoughts on “3 Tips For Better Bonefishing

  1. Based on my experiences at Christmas Island, the wading pointers are GREAT advice. Many years ago on my first trip there, Teannaki spent a lot of time with me on our first morning fishing teaching me how to wade quietly. All the guides were great teachers and I noticed they were more willing to give me pointers on all aspects of bonefishing if I asked them to do so when we first started fishing.

  2. Based on my experiences at Christmas Island, the wading pointers are GREAT advice. Many years ago on my first trip there, Teannaki spent a lot of time with me on our first morning fishing teaching me how to wade quietly. All the guides were great teachers and I noticed they were more willing to give me pointers on all aspects of bonefishing if I asked them to do so when we first started fishing.

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  5. Most folks think that walking quietly means walking slowly… and they’re sort of right. However, when most of us try to walk slowly we simply put more time between our steps. Bonefish guides actually take slower steps. It’s the speed of your legs moving through the water is what makes the noise.

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