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

Island Paradise Lost

Flatswalker has a bit to share about what island life is really like…

The strange truth about paradise is that it eventually gets to be boring and, quite frankly, depressing.

Now, he goes on to share some of the good as well, but it is an interesting read.

I’ll try to remember paradise isn’t paradise as I slog the 2K miles a month to work and school and home in a maddening OPEC merry-go-round.

We have seasons here in the Bay Area.  Three of them, really. We have summer… I love summer. The sun is up until 9 at some point and it feels like you have time to do pretty much anything. Then we fall. Fall, in the Bay, lasts until spring. It goes from about October until March. Spring is a short thing… April to May. We have other seasons we can drive to and every once in a while the mountains around the Bay (kind of big hills, really) show a dusting of white, but it tends to melt by 2:00 and there are no plows or road salt.

I will go on with my ideal vision of the tropics.

I saw a bumper sticker in Kauai onces that read “Kauai, a great place to visit. Don’t move here.” That kind of gets in the way of the fantasy.

The Slack Tide Bar... one of my most favorite places on this planet.

The Slack Tide Bar… one of my most favorite places on this planet. Don’t mess with the fantasy.

Jul 12

Trust Me, It’s the Rod – Guest Post by Flatswalker

This is a guest post by Davin over at Flatswalker.  When I spouted off about “It’s the reel” he replied. I thought you all might like a little more light shed on his views (as I did). Tomorrow, I’ll reply with my own thoughts (here is that post).  But for today…


I’m a tackle snob. I try not to be, but there it is. I might not own the best gear, but I think I do. I have a penchant for ultra-light, yet sturdy tackle, and generally believe in “Final Decisions”—that is, spending time and (often good) money to buy something once, and own it pretty much for life.†

However, in my line of work I do get to cast a lot of rods in a lot of price ranges. I also get to watch folks compare their rods and mine. My conclusion: Rods matter. I’ll go farther and say it’s about the most important decision you can make before embarking on a bonefishing trip.

We tend to fall back on habit when our brains shut off at the sight of a tailing bonefish (or when the guide starts yelling cast now, cast now, 40 feet!) Then we revert to our default cast—the cast we’ve practiced most and is the most natural for us, regardless of the rod in hand. If you’ve chosen your rod correctly then you’re in great shape when you have to rely on instinct.

When you don’t have a lot of time, you need to feel the rod.

Here’s The Problem: most of us don’t chose our rods correctly, especially for salt water. Our choices are usually based on arbitrary criteria like affordability, or “Orvis is for posers” or “my buddy/the fly-shop guy/Andy Mills says these rods are awesome and he knows way more than me” or (worst of all) how far we can cast the rod.

The critical factor in choosing a rod is how you cast. Is your casting stroke short, long, relaxed, fast? Can you double haul? Do you have great timing instead? These are actually the first questions you need to ask when selecting a rod. How far you can cast it will have next-to-nothing to do with how it actually fishes. Trust me.

In fact, I’d say that needing to distance cast is a relatively narrow niche in saltwater fishing—especially sight fishing. Generally  you’re called upon to reach that redfish at 40 feet, or that bonefish at 50. Maybe you need a longer string for spooky permit, but you’ll likely be using a 10-weight at that point so 60 feet shouldn’t be too much trouble. Any farther than that and—for sight fishing—you’re into the realms of fantasy. Even if you can bomb it out there to 80 feet—unlikely—you probably won’t be accurate enough to put the fly where it needs to be to feed the fish.

Ok, there are some aspects of bonefishing that might be obvious but I should have listed at the outset.

  1. First, you need to see the fish. This will usually happen between 25 and 80 feet. Any farther and you probably won’t be able to see it—bonefish being relatively small, excellently camouflaged fish in a giant ocean. Any closer and you’ve probably already spooked it.
  2. The fish has to see your fly. Hail-Mary cast in the general direction won’t get it done. You’ve got to place the fly deliberately where the fish can see it without spooking it so that you can…
  3. Feed the fish. This is the bottom line. If you can’t reach the fish before it gets too close, or put the fly where the fish can see it, then you won’t feed it.

That is what this is all about and my experience with rods is that most have holes in their performance. This is particularly true with the new generation of fast-action sticks, the true rocket launchers that make us feel like we can reach any fish on the horizon.

Here’s the straight skinny: ultra-fast rods are the worst rods for bonefishing. I say this for both the expensive and inexpensive sticks. If you can’t feel a rod with less than 30 feet of line out the tip, you’ll miss most bonefish. Bonefishing happens between 30-50 feet. That’s pretty close, and they’re usually moving toward you. You have very little time to get the fly out and feed the fish. If you’ve got to make half-dozen false casts just to load the rod, that fish will be inside 30 feet by then and you’re done. Game over. Redo from start. What you really need is a rod that allows you to cast to that sweet spot in 1-2 false casts. You should not be struggling to feel the rod, and you should be able to accurately present the fly inside 30 feet.

Before you protest, think this through. Your rod is roughly ten feet long, so is your leader. That means with only five feet of fly line out the rod you’ve got close to 25 feet. How many rods do you think allow you to feel five feet of fly line? ‡

See what I mean? Too far is rarely a problem. What is a problem is accuracy, and that means casting the right rod for you, first of all, and then considering the conditions you’ll be fishing in. We’re talking bonefishing here, and that means breeze—8-18 knots all the time—and the varying distances depending on if you’re wading or being poled. For wading practice 30-50 foot casts, with a few shots inside or outside. If you’re on a skiff then 40-60 feet. Flies will be relatively small and light—generally #6-#2 hooks with medium bead-chain to medium lead eyes for weight. The perfect bonefish rod will allow you to easily load the rod in close and still reach the medium distances of 50-60 feet in these conditions. It is a lot to ask of a rod, so take your time and choose wisely.


The rod, the reel AND the beer. Perfect.

†Obviously, not every purchase falls into this category. Beer, bread, and boxer shorts, for instance, seem like ongoing investments… at least for the foreseeable future.
‡ Plenty; they’re called 3-weights.

Jun 12

What not to bring

There are lots of things that you SHOULD consider bringing with you on your bonefishing trip (I love Desitin, for example).  Flatswalker had some thoughts about what you SHOULD NOT bring with you. See the full list here.

Some of Flats Walker’s no-no’s:

  • Sandals. I don’t care what you call them or what brand they are, you’ll regret it.
  • Grey polarized sunglasses (unless you’re legitimately color blind, then maybe).
  • Rod tubes… I mean, why?

What are some of the things you urge people to not to bring?

One thing I’d add to the list…


Yeah... not bonefishing...

Oh… and Bananas. Of course.


Mar 12

Flatswalker does the Double Haul

Davin over at Flatswalker not only has a pretty fantastic blog (one of my consistent favorites), but he also has some knowledge to drop.

Pretty cool.

Feb 12

Flatswalker went to Andros

I do like a good read and Flatswalker is pretty much that.

What wasn’t perfect was the weather. Andros was under the same weather system as the Florida Keys we’d just left. Upon arrival we rigged rods and checked leaders while Charlie mixed drinks and regaled us with stories of monster bones, massive schools, and, well, everything we’d dreamed of for months. We went to bed early dreaming of giant bonefish and worrying about the weather, both with good cause.

Check out the full story here.

Aug 11

Fishing Jones and the Keys

I made a few blind casts and hooked a nine-inch barracuda. I pulled it in by hand and green shards of bucktail from the abused clouser stuck to its skin and my fingers.

Isn’t that a great image.  Don’t you just see that when you read those words.  Yeah… I do too.

Read this great little piece by Fishing Jones.

Fishing Jones was one of the earliest fishing blogs.  An east coaster with a penchant for stripers and a way with the written word, his is the kind of blog that you wish were updated every day, just so you could have something quality to look forward to.

I feel much the same way about Flatswalker, who also really has the ability to turn a phrase and put you there, out on the water in the middle of no where with a rod in your hand, even when you are stuck in the largely (although not totally) bonefish devoid state of California.

If you like Pete’s writing and want to see more of it… you can check out The Blitz (via Moldy Chum).


Jul 11

Flatswalker’s Rules

You can’t catch bonefish until you can catch bonefish. It’s a lot like the one hand clapping thing.

via Flatswalker: SaltWater Fly Fishing Guide Blog – Flatswalker.


 Flatswalker lays down some rules/guidelines he’s developed over the years.  Always a good read.  Check it out.

Jun 11

Flatswalker gets a fly published

Always have to cheer when good things happen to good people.  Congrats Davin.

the book is out now and if you’re a bonefisher or plan to become one this is a MUST HAVE for your fly-tying desk. Not only does it contain almost 200 patterns, but it describes how and where to fish them. It also has a TON of info about bonefish habitat, behavior, and food preferences as well as lots of tips and techniques.Hop over to your local fly shop and grab a copy, or hit Amazon… but they only have a few copies left so you’d better hurry.

via Flatswalker: SaltWater Fly Fishing Guide Blog – Flatswalker.



May 11

Grand Cayman – Fish Bones

Hey, so… if you head to Grand Cayman, you should look up Davin at Fish Bones Guide Service.  Did you know there are fish there in Grand Cayman and… shock… you can catch them on a fly!  It is true.  Check out this little video from Davin (who also happens to write one of my favorite blogs anywhere, Flatswalker).