If you are new to bonefishing, or flats fishing in general, I have some advice for you that could dramatically increase your conversion rate.
The guide says “cast, 50 feet, 10:00.”
Then… you wait for the guide to give further instructions.
Don’t wait. There are two things you need to do right away after the cast and you should probably do those things automatically.
1. Clear the slack from the line. – After you cast you might have some slack line on the water. All that line is going to have to be converted into a straight line before any “strip” is going to move your fly. If the guide says “Strip” and you are stripping the slack line, the fly isn’t moving and if the guide has said strip because he wants a strip, like, right NOW, well, you won’t be able to deliver on that. So, after the cast, before the guide tells you to do anything, make sure you strip in the slack line so that your first strip on the fly line actually moves the fly.
2. Rod tip pointed at the fly and touching the water. Be it fishing still water for trout or a flat for bones, there is nothing gained by having your rod tip 2 feet above the water. That line sagging from your rod tip is like a shock absorber depriving you of critical information about what is happening at the fly end of things. Don’t let that happen. Rod tip on or in the water and there is no slack. If you do Step #1 and the fish eats on the first strip, you’ll be on that fish.
I don’t give a lot of tactical advice because I’m still pretty green in the pursuit of bonefish. I love them more than I get to fish for them, but that also means I need every cast, every eat to be as effective as possible.
I have seen, too many times, someone cast when the guide says cast, but then not really clean things up or get ready. The guide isn’t watching you at this point, he’s watching the fish (you should be too, if you can see them) and when he says “STRIP!” he is expecting things to happen right then, not three or four strips later. You have a small window to get things right and the door on opportunity can slam closed pretty fast.
Again… I’m not an expert and I don’t mean to sound like one. I just want every trip to be successful, be it one of mine or one of yours.
- Unique Post
Great advice Bjorn,
Your straight line to the fly suggestion is right on the mark with perhaps one exception in my case. When the tide flow is at right angles to me, I find it difficult if not impossible to keep my fly still. The current causes the fly to scoot along at a steady pace sort of like skating a Bomber fly on the Matapedia for Atlantics. Not a presentation I’ve ever found bonefish to care for. Thusly, I find myself reverting to stream tactics and I throw a mend or two in the line and watch the fish. As it approaches, I lift my tip out of the water and quickly give a good long strip to pick up the slack and lift the fly off the bottom. Then it’s tip back into the water and make a couple quick strips, by then, hopefully it’s fish on!
Every time I see your impending marriage countdown timer clicking it reminds me that my first day of retirement begins September 8th. Plans are solidly in the works for a Month long trip in the Bahama’s, two weeks this winter with my wife and friends in Cuba, a 2 week spring trip down to Sarasota Florida to stay at the inlaws doublewide trailer (after they head back to Canada)…and hopefully next fall, two weeks on Turneffe Is. Belize if I can get the weeks I want.
Congrats on your upcoming nuptials,
Good stuff, Bjorn. It’d be funny if we crossed paths in Belize 🙂
Henry, that’s a good technique, too. From the clues in your comment (use of the word ‘bomber,’ visiting Cuba and having Canadian friends in Fl), I’m guessing you’re a Canadian salt addict as well
You are correct and I will add one thing. If you are fishing in pairs and it’s not your turn, be a good boat buddy. Keep the deck clear of junk and be sure to get your buddy’s flyline in order, after he has stripped out the proper amount. On my first and only bonefish trip, my boat buddy did this and I caught fish, more than I would have had he not arrange my line so neatly on the deck. At the end of the day, more time fishing means more chances, which might mean more fish!!!
Ah, Henry, it will be a good weekend for both of us then! Congrats on your impending retirement and that monster trip. Sounds fantastic.
Mat, when you going to be there?
Andrew, Yes, the Boat Buddy is a really good thing. That’s a whole other post, I think. I’ve had some good ones and I try to be a good one myself.
Yup!…Canadian born and raised from German parents. Fishing Bomber deerhair patterns on the surface for big clear-water Atlantic Salmon give me wood!!! My in-laws are Snowbirds and come home from Florida each spring about the beginning of April…that’s why I’ll visit in May…he he!!!
You a canuck Mat?
Good advice and a good pick-up from Henry too. I’ll add one more to it – pay attention to the boat movement. If the boat is still drifting toward your fly you will constantly have slack thrown onto your line. If the boat is drifting away it can drag your fly right away from the fish’s feeding zone as well as spook the fish, like Henry pointed out. If you don’t see the fish, get your fly as close to where he directs and then listen closely. If you do see the fish, get your fly into its feeding zone, remove slack, and then watch the fish.
The subtitle on your photo reminds me of a good discussion topic. Where do you look when it’s your turn on the deck? There’s often a temptation to look way out ahead of the boat, sort of a competition r challenge to spy the fish before your guide. With most guides I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with, that means you’re both watching the same water. Which of course means you’re halving the amount of water you could be covering if you both looked in different directions. The best advice I’ve gotten about this is for the angler to look from 10 feet in front of the boat to outer limit of their cast. The guide will look from about 30 – 40 feet outward as far as they can reasonably see (and usually they’ll cover your water as well since most sports cannot see the fish as well as the guides). But it is usually better if the angler concentrates on that band of water 10 feet to 40 – 50 feet in front of the boat. The angler is 15 feet closer to this band than the guide standing back on the platform. And often the guide’s close-in vision is blocked by you and the boat. If a fish suddenly pops up in this band, the fly needs to get presented immediately or the fish will spook. When fish are spotted farther out, the guide will bring you to the fish using the clock method, and you and the guide will have time to plan the presentation.
@Henry: yessir. Fredericton, NB…though attempting an under-40 snowbird lifestyle for Nov-Dec of this year in New Smyrna Beach…size me up for sternum-high white pants 🙂
@Bjorn: fly in to BZE on Sept. 8, depart Sept. 15. On the boat the whole time in between, I think, though
Well, I think we are out on the 15th, so maybe we’ll see each other in the airport!
[…] your first bonefishing trip, head over to Bonefish on the Brain and take Bjorn Sromsness’ two-part advice: clear the slack from the line and keep your rod tip pointed at the fly and touching the water. […]