Aug 13

Advice for first timers

Deneki has a great post up about advice for first timers.

Maybe, since you are at Bonefish on the Brain, you are already into bonefish. Maybe you are here because you aspire to get after bones. If the latter is the case, check out that post from Deneki.

Fishing for bones is just different than fishing for freshwater species. It just is. Some of your skills will translate, some won’t and there will be new skills and concepts you’ll need to get the hang of. None of those skills is an insurmountable barrier.

Get after it.

South Andros Bonefish. Photo by Andrew Bennett

South Andros Bonefish. Photo by Andrew Bennett


Aug 13

13 habits

Some solid goodness from the land of Deneki. The 13 Habits of Highly Effective Anglers.

Some of this is applicable to bonefish, some of it is more stream/trout/steelhead oriented, but it is all good stuff.

Fish the near water first.  Anglers who catch a lot of fish always make some short casts into the near water first.  If you tromp right into the run and launch one out to 70 feet, your chances of catching that fish right on the bank are exactly zero.

This one resonates. On my home waters I fish in tight. I almost never have cause to lay out the line on a long cast. The first 10 feet of fly line on my trout rods is just dirty. The next 10 feet looks pristine. There’s a reason for that.

I should add that I can also kind of crush on my home waters. One of the main reasons is that I fish the close water first. In fact, I fish the near water pretty much exclusively. If there is a cast I want to make further away, I simply move until it is in close.

Andrew’s list is good. Really good. I’d add a couple things.

  • When you feel like you need to speed up, you should slow down. A lesson I learn and relearn on a fairly frequent basis.
  • Sometimes you need to stop fishing and just watch for a bit. Observing what is happening out of the immediate context of the next cast can sometimes prove very, very informative.

Good stuff Andrew.

Andrew, stalking bones in S. Andros.

Andrew, stalking bones in S. Andros.

Jul 13

How far do you need to cast to catch bonefish

It is a question a lot of people have when they head out to pursue bonefish for the first (or second or fifth) time. The outside-looking-in impression would have you believe bonefish require coffee-cup accuracy at 80 feet.

They don’t… usually. The ones that do aren’t going to get caught by mortals, so don’t worry about those.

Deneki had a great post with rigorously invented numbers to convey how far you really need to be able to cast. Their take, which I whole-heatedly agree with, is 30-50 feet.

That's me, working the Mojo

That’s me, working the Mojo

Casting distance breakdown from my own limited experience

  • Shots at 10′ I’ve never made. The fish is just too close and they see you and they aren’t fans. While wading I’ve run (almost literally) into fish at 10′ and those, for me, have been 100% unsuccessful.
  • Shots at 20′, I’ve certainly caught a few at 20′. They might see you, they might not, but it needs to happen soon or they are going to be at the boat or at your feet and you won’t have any room to strip. I’ve heard lots of stories about fish caught with the leader stripped in, but that isn’t the norm. That’s why those stories stand out.
  • Shots at 30′, yeah… that’s pretty common and that’s a good shot.
  • Shots at 40′, probably the most common distance I’ve heard called out.
  • Shots at 50′, I’ve had them, I’ve made them, but they are less common.
  • Shots at 60′, I’ve had those and I’ve made them, but it starts to get to the point, for me, where my casting can, on occasion, let me down.
  • Shots at 70′, maybe I’ve had 70′ shots called out, but not many and I can’t really remember being asked to cast at or over 70′ more than a couple of times. When you start casting at 70′ you have a lot of line out and that means you are starting to be removed for what’s happening on the other end. It’s harder to feel the take and it’s easier to be in the wrong spot, for the fish to change directions or the current to take the fly away from the fish. Distance multiplies all the things that can go wrong.
  • Shots at 80′, very rare and even less often successful.

The wind is not your friend

While you don’t usually have to cast 70′ for a bonefish, what you do have to deal with is the wind. The wind will mess you up and destroy your confidence, leaving you a sobbing, quivering puddle on the deck. Wind is an A-hole. If you can cast 40′ to that rising trout it does not mean you can get the bonefish fly to the fish in a 20 mph wind. You need to get your double haul down and once you do, you are well armed… otherwise, you are always going to be under-gunned.

Me, casting, before I even did it very well.

Me, casting, before I even did it very well.

There is wind in the tropics. Sometimes there is a LOT of it. Your pants and shirt will flap like a flag in the wind. Your line will get swept off the deck. Your floppy hat will flop in your face. Wind is the game changer and the thing that causes people to lose their minds.

Learn to double haul. Also, learn to double haul.

No Casterbating

The other thing you need to be able to do is get it to 40′ or 50′ in one or two false casts. No “casterbating,” which is what some guides call the need to carry the line in the air for way, way, way too long. I’ve done it. It’s a bad idea. One. Two. Shoot. Get it there, get it there fast and get to fishing. No “shadow casting” on the flats (or on rivers, that’s a movie device, not a fishing technique).

Go forth and cast like a boss (at ranges of 30-50′, in the wind).

Cuba Bjorn Casting


Apr 13

The two handed strip for tarpon

I’ve been hearing a bit about Andy Mills and his two handed strip for tarpon. (<– that right there is a really good interview over at Midcurrent with Andy. You need to read it.)

Andy kind of wrote the book on tarpon, so I’m inclined to believe it works. I’ve actually seen him do it on the Buccaneers & Bones show and he certainly fed some tarpon doing it.

I’m certainly going to have this in the back of my mind as I head to Florida in May to try and catch another tarpon myself. The only thing I’m worried about is just the overall awkwardness of trying to do a two handed retrieve. It can get a bit ugly if you aren’t used to doing it.

Something to think about.

Any of you do the two handed strip?

Andy's book.

Andy’s book.

Apr 13

Lessons I Relearn Every Now and Again

Someday I’ll learn.


The fish is a bit spooked, clearly. It is agitated, switching directions quickly, looking for an escape route.

Why, at this point, do I make a cast to the thing? Why? Pure and blind optimism, which is just another way of saying “naive.”

All that ends up happening is the fish bolts and spooks any other fish hanging around. I’ve read about fish eating in these situations, which might be why I find myself casting at them every once in a while, but I haven’t had it work… ever. I want to stop doing that. I’m going to try to leave the spooked fish alone.


The fish are moving away. They are cruising, not panicked. I don’t have a good shot at them, and yet, I find myself lobbing a Hail Mary in their direction.

The fish see the fly moving toward them, which is as unnatural as a rabbit hopping up to a mountain lion looking to snuggle, and they G.T.F.O. of there, never to be seen again.

Really, I should give the fish some time to change direction or should look in the direction those fish came from. I shouldn’t make the futile cast. I’m going to try to stop doing that too.

Hurrying up, when I should slow down.

Hurrying up, when I should slow down.

For more ideas about how to step up your bonefishing game, check out advice from the guys over at Gink & Gasoline. Those guys are good.

Mar 13

Get Ready

The Ready position, that is.

The guys at Gink & Gasoline are putting out some top shelf content and this post of theirs about the ready position is of the same high quality as I’ve come to expect from them.

Those lucky SOB’s were down at Andros South, a place I know lightly and love deeply.

One nugget of wisdom, among many:

Start by making a clearing cast. Cast out all of your line and strip it back in. That way the line stacked on top will be the first line to go through the guides. If you stack your line as it comes off the reel the head of your line will be on the bottom. That’s asking for trouble.

Yup. Just stripping line out on the deck is asking for trouble… the kind of knotted, bird-nest in the line trouble that could send the top section of your rod into the water.

That there is Andros.

That there is Andros.

Mar 13

A word on casting… but not from me

I was watching a video of a guy fishing in Cuba. Love Cuba. Beautiful place and the fishing? Please.

However, hated the guy’s casting. It was painful. Jerky. The opposite of smooth. I was almost offended.

You ever had a Bahamain guide borrow your rod and cast, effortlessly, the whole damn line? Yeah… I have. Humbling.

Here is a Caribbean guide with some pointers (and yes, that is Davin, from Flatswalker).


Jan 13

Cast Again

A good little pearl of wisdom from Norman, an Andros South guide.  Basically, cast again after you blow a shot. Read the article here.

I know this to be true. On my first real bonefishing trip I was out with my dad.  My dad has been conditioned over 60+ years to trout set and trout set he did. One TWO occasions he trout set on a fish, missed the fish and in a wave of frustration waved his rod in the air. That motion actually RECAST the fly, where it was promptly eaten by a bonefish, which ended up getting landed.

True story.


So, I agree with Norman. Cast again.

I fished with Norman down in Andros and I was a little worried before our trip. He was “serious,” they told me.  Turns out, he’s a great guide and a nice guy on top of it.


Norman tagging a bonefish for BTT

Norman tagging a bonefish for BTT

Jan 13

Things Bonefish Hate

Great post over at Deneki about things that bonefish hate… like noise.

There certainly are things you can do to minimize your chances of hooking up and maximizing your chances of witnessing how fast an unencumbered bonefish can race off the flat you are fishing.

The sound thing is interesting because it is certainly very, very true right up to the point where it isn’t.

You slam the cooler lid? That sucks… that is going to scare the fish away pretty well.  That’s been documented well.

On the other hand, I was out fishing with a guy who has caught more permit than I’m likely to even catch bonefish and he was blaring his tunes right there on the boat on the flat while we searched for fish. We found fish. We caught fish. All the while there were tunes being cranked out.

Certainly that IS noise and not the natural kind and not the kind a bonefish, you’d think, would be totally down with.

Check out the post at Deneki and comment there to add to the list of things bonefish hate.  If you have a comment on the whole music blaring, I’d love to hear about it here.

Photo by Matt Hansen... me, seconds after losing a really, really nice fish.

Photo by Matt Hansen.

Dec 12


I own most of the books about bonefishing out there. I own Fly-Fishing for Bonefish, and Fly Fishing for Bonefish, as well as Bonefish Fly Patterns and the Fly Fisherman’s Guide to Saltwater Prey. These, I believe, are most of the important works if you are a bonefish angler. There is one book I didn’t have and finally, it is now mine. I’m speaking, of course, of Bonefishing! by Randall Kaufmann.

Christmas came and when it departed I was up one book.

Looks pretty sweet. Can’t wait to digest the knowledge therein.

A tome.

A tome.