The going away shot

The line is flying.

The line is flying.

Let me paint the picture for you.

You are on the flat. The fishing has been maybe a bit slow. The shots are few and far between and the fish are not happy fish.

You see a fish, it is coming closer… maybe you get a shot in, not dice, the fish turns, slowly, not spooked, but now headed away. Maybe it is turned 45 degrees away. Swimming slowly.

In this situation… do you make the cast?

Points to consider.

1. Bonefish really hate it when flies move toward them. Prey does not sacrifice itself to the predator and a shrimp does not swim into the mouth of a bonefish. A bonefish that gets an uncomfortable feeling is a bonefish that swims away very, very fast. Sometimes, bonefish turns again and comes back if he isn’t freaked out. So, best to not fire off the Hail Mary and wait and see if it comes back around.

2. Things happen. A bonefish might, just might turn and pounce on the fly and gobble it up. You can’t catch the fish if you fly isn’t in the water and if the fish was moving away, it probably was going to be a shot you weren’t going to have again anyway.

Where do you come down on this?



  1. If the bonefish are coming straight towards you and you miss the shot, or they don’t see the fly, then you are usually out of luck. If they are headed across of your position, I have cast to the side of them and had them turn and take the fly. Casting behind them doesn’t work so good.

  2. Take the shot. I do. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. You will never know unless you just do it.

  3. bonefishbjorn

    But… if that fish sees the fly move toward it… it seems 95% of the time that fish is going to GTF out of there… while sometimes, if you don’t piss the fish off… it returns. The nice fish I got in Long was a fish that came and went 5 or 6 times and I didn’t cast after it when it turned away. It just kept coming back.

  4. I put the fly to the side of the fish and hope he turns on it. I know that however small the fly is or however big the fish is prey does not move towards its intended doom. Take the shot and put it where it needs to be. If and when the fish does turn and pick it up you have a great story and know you’ve done your best.

  5. Doug Jeffries

    Assuming the fish in this story is swimming away in a more or less straight line and with purpose, I’m with Butch. Make the cast to the side of the fish, trying to let nothing but leader show in the fish’s vision (in my opinion the shadow and slap of the fly line spooks way more fish than the fly). If it eats consider it a bonus. If it doesn’t watch where bonefish goes and see if you can get another shot. If bonefish spooks, go look for another one. On the other hand, if the fish is sort of milling around and not going anywhere with purpose, I’d watch it for a bit to see if I can get a better angle.

  6. I polled my fishing buddies. 1/2 would wait and the other would take the shot. The best answer is: ”

    I have never had the tail of a spooked bonefish eat my fly. To expect as much, is like giving someone the finger and then expecting them to come over and buy you a drink. My advice is to save your fire since you might spook another unseen fish in an effort to convince a uncatchable moving away fish to change his mind.”

  7. Your best shot is to make a long cast past the fish with a aerial mend down wind (if possible.) When you start to strip, the fly will be moving away from the fish and then behind it. Don’t strip until the fish sees the fly.

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