John Byron, The Bonefish Beginner
Just finished three week in the Bahamas chasing big bonefish with Louis Cahill, proprietor of this blog.
Great trip, hampered only by my inability to cast well to good shots. I got slightly better, learned a few things, but frustrated myself far too often to enjoy the shots I missed. I also paid close attention to my boat mates, most of them also beginners or at least casual bonefishers.
The problem we all seemed to share? Buck fever. Stage fright. Cranial-anal inversion on the bow of the flats boat. We knew what to do. We steadfastly refused do it.
I’ve no cure. But there’s an approach that helps me and so I pass it along to anyone else who’s blown a close shot downwind at a tailing bonefish waving a sign that says ‘feed me’ and you can’t get the fly into the same zip code.
In the Notes app on my iPhone I have a list of do-this-dummy guidelines I read every morning before I go out. And then try to remember and use on the water. As follows…
“Fish coming, twelve o’clock, sixty feet going left”
- Take your time
- Don’t rush it
- Curb your enthusiasm
- Relax a bit and take charge of the situation
Control the cast
- Slow! Smooth! Deliberate!
- Let the fish get closer before you cast
- Load the rod
- Snap your wrist
- Use the wind
- Double haul
- Line speed Line speed Line speed
- One less false cast
- Important! Keep your rhythm — do not over-drive the final cast to the fish
Control the fly
- Rod tip in the water pointing down the line
- No slack! No slack in the line!
- Make damned sure you’re moving the fly when you strip
- Watch the fish
- Strip set Strip set Strip set
- Light drag
- Job One: clear the line
- Let the fish run
- Don’t screw with the drag, don’t palm the reel
- Into the mangroves? Slack line and wander through the trees to the fish
- Shark? ‘Cuda? Slack line, let the fish escape by running free
- Don’t high-stick the rod close to the boat or you’ll bust it
- No gloves/wet hands/fish stays in the water/smile/relax/enjoy
Next time you’re on the bow or wading the flat, don’t just remember the list. Do it.
John Byron lives in Cocoa Beach FL. He’s been fly fishing since he was ten.Gink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com firstname.lastname@example.org Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!