4 Tips For Stocking Bonefish Flies

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Bonefish Fly Box. Photo By: Louis Cahill

If you’re planning your first bonefish adventure it’s really important that you stock your saltwater fly box with a well rounded selection of fly patterns.

Although bonefish aren’t known for being super selective feeders, stocking the right flies and knowing which pattern to fish in different situations can make a big difference in your success on the water. By far the most important element in bonefishing is fly presentation. Without that, you’re going to miss a lot of shots. Putting that aspect aside with the notion that you understand basic bonefish presentation, let’s talk about some tips for purchasing and tying bonefish flies for your upcoming bonefish trip.

Tip # 1 – Bonefish Flies Should Ride Hook Point Up

Because the mouths of bonefish are located on the bottom of the head and they generally feed down on their prey in most cases, it’s very important that you purchase or tie bonefish flies that ride hook point up when possible. Fishing flies that ride hook point up can increase your hookup rate when bonefish eat, and it will also help to naturally cut down on your flies from snagging on the bottom during the retrieve. Gaze your eyes into a veterans bonefish fly box and you’ll find that most of the fly patterns are tied hook point up, but walk into a store that sells saltwater fly patterns and you’ll be amazed how many fly patterns aren’t tied this way. When you have the choice to tie or purchase your bonefish flies hook point up, I recommend you do so.

Tip # 2 – Bonefish Flies Need to Have Good Movement

Using fly tying materials that have good movement in the water for your bonefish flies is a another way to help you find success. Rabbit strips, marabou, craft fur, and rubber legs are all good examples of tying materials that come to life in the water. I stated before that most bonefish aren’t picky, the key word here is most, but in some situations having a little extra life-like movement in your flies can make a big difference. For instance, a large school of bonefish are going to be less picky on fly pattern choice with competition for food on their minds than a solo bonefish swimming across the flats. Tying or buying bonefish flies that incorporate tying materials that breath well in the water should still provide subtle movement in the water even when you’re not retrieving your flies.

Tip # 3 – Tie Your Favorite Bonefish Flies in Different Weights

All bonefish flats and fishing conditions/situations you’ll encounter in saltwater will not be the same. At times, fishing a bonefish fly that’s weighted correctly and specifically for the water and conditions your fishing can be critical for success. Let’s say you’re fishing an area with a really strong current or water deeper than normal. In this situation, a heavier fly pattern will make it easier for you to quickly get your fly down to the bottom and stay in the strike zone during your retrieve. In the exact opposite conditions, if you’re fishing really shallow water with little current, it could be a much better choice to go with a lighter weighted fly. Many times when bonefishing you can go with a fly pattern that’s falls somewhere in the middle, and be good the entire day of fishing. Just keep in mind that there are times when the weight of your fly should be considered heavily in fly choice. On a side note, when fishing a soft substrate bottom for bonefish a heavier fly can grab the attention of bonefish from the silt puffs the fly makes from bouncing on the bottom.

Tip # 4 – Stocking More of Each Pattern is Better Than Stocking Lots of Different Patterns

For whatever reason, there always seems to be one fly pattern that will be hot and out fish everything else in your fly box. When you find a hot fly pattern that’s working, you don’t want to worry about running out of it on the water. That’s why I recommend it’s always better to have more of each pattern, rather than a bunch of ones and twos of different fly patterns. Take the time to research what’s the most consistent fly patterns for the location you’ll be fishing, and make sure you have at least a dozen of each in your fly box. When you’re traveling abroad to saltwater locations, it’s standard practice that the angler assumes he/she will provide their own flies. Dont’ expect your guide to provide you with the flies you’ll need. I’ve been on remote trips where the guide didn’t even have a fly box in the boat. Some lodges don’t even sell flies, so if you run out of key fly patterns during the trip, you’re only other option will be begging and bartering flies from the other anglers in your group.

Additional Bonefish Fly Stocking Suggestions from Gink & Gasoline Followers

1. Tying in mono weed guards for your bonefish flies is never a bad idea. It’s not mandatory, but in some locations where there’s lots of debris or grass it can keep very helpful.

2. Only quality saltwater hooks should be used in tying and purchasing bonefish flies. The hook is the the most important connection between fish and angler, and skimping money on this part of your equipment is a rookie mistake that can lead to lost fish.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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10 thoughts on “4 Tips For Stocking Bonefish Flies

  1. great post. i’ve always wondered how many flies of each pattern i should bring, especially when wading. not that much storage space in a waist pack.

  2. Also guys make sure you tie at least half your patterns with a weed guard.. Your not always fishing sand or coral.. Throw a fly into grass without a weed guard your going to get frustrated trying to drag it through without getting hung up and the fish will refuse the fly when this happens…

  3. Spend extra for good hooks if you tie your own. On bones of 6.5 pounds and up, I routinely see flies gapping open at the bend, changing the angle of the hook set, creating a “Palm Beach Release”; another mistake with some less expensive hooks are when the bonefish catches the fly just the right way in its throat crushers, “dink”, broken hook right at the bend in the shank.(Like a walnut in a nutcracker.(Sometimes it is an inferior hook, sometimes it is a hook that has been “closed” after it came back “gapped”; third problem, not rinsing your salted flies and drying them properly leads to corrosion under the body wrapping, again resulting in a broken hook when a decent bone puts it under real pressure.

    • Onthefly,

      Thanks for bringing that up. I’ve burned that into my brain forever and its easy sometimes to overlook something as simple a using quality hooks in saltwater. I had a good friend and guide tell me once the dumbest thing you can do is penny pich when it comes to hooks. Its the single most important connection between the angler and fish.

      Thanks for your comment and bringing up this critical point.


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