You can’t blind cast for bonefish

Everyone knows that.  You don’t blind cast for bonefish.  It sullies the sport, the fish and the fisherman.  It is totally unacceptable.

Except when it works.

Or if there isn’t another option.

Then, the redeeming hand of the almighty fishing gods reaches out and with one long exhale says “Shhhhhhhhhh. I won’t tell if you won’t.”

I’ve never caught a bonefish blind casting.  I’ve especially not blind cast for that one fish on Grand Bahama the last time I was there, or the other one on my first trip to Grand Bahama.

I totally never tried blind casting for bonefish on Kauai last time when I didn’t see bones for 2.5 days and only managed three legit shots in 3 days of fishing.

I’m sure you’ve never blind cast for bones either… right?

Maybe… possibly blind cast caught.

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  1. How about blind casting to a giant mud! if u can’t target an individual fish it’s blindcasting. Can’t see a thing in a 1000 fish mud. Got my first baby banana bone that way many years ago!

  2. In Cozumel I could not spot the individual bones over the turtle grass. I could see the nervous water where they were feeding and moving around. Mostly I just spooked them when my line would go over the top of some of them, or flush the school that were to the right or left when I would try to lead the pod of fish. It was not ideal.

  3. If you ever come to Honolulu, and talk to the guys at Nervous Water fly shop, the longest experienced locals here who fly fish for bonefish, they will tell you that blind casting is the best bet in Hawaii, no matter what the new comer psuedo-purists say. I love it….it is like nymphing, a touchy feely thing, and one needs to have good casting skills to hit the big distances needed, and good skills at reading the water, AND, you can always take a sight shot if one presents itself, so why not cover the water! My biggest bonefish a 32 inch 14 pounder, was caught after I sight fished an area, upwind, with good light, with many shots and no takes, then turned downwind and blind cast in glare!
    Rest my case!

  4. Lawrence Snyder

    More like educated guesstimate casting.

  5. I recalled reading somewhere that bonefish will sometimes cruise in the wake of a large ray feeding on uncovered critters. I decided to try it while fishing in a small bay in the Bahamas and it just happened to pay off me as a bone took the spawning shrimp I put right behind a huge ray. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

  6. Doug Jeffries

    My buddy Jerry and I caught some bonefish in a 15 – 20 foot channel off Andros many years ago during a high tide, take-shelter-from-the-storm interlude. Jerry put on a heavy crab and let it sink to the bottom and pulled up a bonefish. That was enough for me and better’n sitting in the boat doing nothing.

    And I can vouch for what Louie said – he and I fished a channel waiting for the tide to fall and landed a couple nice bones. Of course what Louie didn’t say is he has put in the time to find the channels the o’io like to use to access the flats, which improves your chances of catching a bonefish blind casting.

  7. Blind casting on the flats = spooked fish. You can’t see fish at 30 feet on an overcast day? No worries. Can you see them at 20? 15? Whatever distance you can see shorten your fly line – leader to there and be ready for that short, fast shot. I have a lot of my guests catch fish like this. Plus the worst thing is having blind cast 60 feet and then spotting a fish 30 feet away. No way you’re going to make that shot.

    Here’s the math, as I see it: giant freakin’ ocean , tiny 1″ fly, and the 2-foot circle around a bonefish head you need to land the fly in. Really, really poor numbers. Now, think about even the poorest visibility and how many actual square feet of bottom you can see in any given second. Infinitesimally better, but still better.

  8. However, in water deeper than 3 feet — go for it.

  9. We’ve caught more bonefish in Hawaii blind casting than sight casting, although if presented the opportunity (shallow water, bright sun) we will sight cast to Mr. Bone. We don’t just wade out onto the flats and flail away–we know the locations where they’ll pass as they swim in or out onto the flats on a rising or falling tide and fish those spots.

  10. bonefishbjorn

    HI does seem to be a special case, while there are probably others that fit that bill. The fishable area is smaller, if you understand where the fish are going to be, you have a chance to get a fish blind casting.

  11. As a fishing guide in Key West I have caught bones blind casting. On windy, cooler days the fish will be in the deeper water and impossible to see. Slow sinking line will bring results. Not as much fun as sight casting, but when the customer has to have a bonefish, worth a try. Also in muds as the gentleman before me pointed out.

  12. kevin carmichael

    If you don’t see a fish why not cast to what you think/know is a fishy place? Has worked for me in many places and I credit myself for knowing that a fish might be there.

  13. If it’s legal fish however you want. It all works. As for Hawaii being unique, the only thing unique about Hawaii is the size of the fish and the species. They are bigger on average than anywhere in the world. The main problem people have here is that the stomp around in rock and coral all day and for every fish they sightfish to, they blow out 30 they never see. So instead of standing in lanes and letting the fish come to them, they start blindcasting out of frustration and getting the fly away from their heavy assed loud feet and WOW! they hook fish. No shit………
    When our industry pulls their head out of their ass and starts being real about trophy bonefish hunting, it will help anglers everywhere. Bonefishing and Trophy Bonefishing are two different sports period. We’ve landed 14 in a day out of my skiff sightfishing here in Hawaii. You know why? No, not skill, or guiding or a great angler——because they were small dinks, 2-4 pound juveniles. Small bones are far easier to hook than monster bones. Small bones eat about anything that you put on a hook, they will chase fast moved flies, slow, short, long, and they often pull the fly right out of your hands. Of course in most locales the guide calls your 3 pounder 5 pounds………. So you go kick ass in the Bahamas, or Belize (even smaller fish) or Mexico (sometimes even smaller yet) and in 5-7 days of hard fishing you land your biggest bonefish ever (the guide said 9, but it’s really 5-7) and your confidence is sky high. You paid 3500-5500 bucks down there and it took you a week to get that 5-7 pounder and then you come to Hawaii fish ONE day and expect something bigger because we have areas where the fish average that size. It’s huge winds, a different species, individual fish (no giant schools) no giant muds, in and out sun, and without a skiff, pretty damn tough. You want big bones sightfishing in Hawaii? Learn how to cast in big winds first of all. I can’t put you on muds or schools of 4-500 juveniles that can mask your casting issues and give you false confidence. If you can’t sling it here, you will be exposed immediately. In Hawaii you can deal with wind or you can’t. Try to fish more than one day (the more big fish you cast at, the better your chances of a real piggie) and if you want to do it yourself and have to wade fish, quit beating the shit out of the bottom and walking all over the place. Find incoming lanes from the edges and sit and wait for good amounts of time and if nothing happens, move to another one. The blue heron doesn’t walk all over the place when he fishes, and he’s a hell of a lot better than any of us. If you HAVE to hook something blindcast into the same lanes, you will hook something, maybe something big. If you like to sightfish than be patient and slow down your strip on big bones here and use Mantis shrimp based patterns that match the color of the bottom, size 4 being a good around size. If you want a bunch of shots at big fish just like Florida or anywhere else, hire a guide with a skiff who knows the tides to the the tenth of a foot in each area and understands how the piggies move here. But do us all a favor and just because you come here, have no idea what you are doing and don’t see much, don’t run onto your blog and tell everyone that aren’t many fish in Hawaii because that’s bullshit. We see an average of 100 fish a day in summer out of my skiff and that’s with 1/3 of the day being sketchy for sightfishing and the average size being 6 pounds. We’ll see 5-10 over 1o every day on average out of my Abaco 16 foot skiff and on great days over a dozen sighted over 10. Lastly there is much more to this fishery than Triangle, and Hawaii Kai the two sports tourists are sent to flail away on by most flyshops from the mainland………. Coach Duff
    Go to my new website for some pretty cool pics of Hawaiian Bones over 10 pounds (up to 14.8) all landed sightfishing. Aloha and good bonefishing to all of ya!

  14. bonefishbjorn

    Hawaii sounds like a fantastic place for big fish. I know they are there. I’ve seen them. I also know it can be really tough sometimes and it can be really tough for a DIY guy. The last time I was in Hawaii, I was on Kauai and it was damn hard fishing. I knew it would be, but I went there for more than just the fishing, so, I got exactly what I deserved. Now, I don’t know if I fit the “But do us all a favor and just because you come here, have no idea what you are doing and don’t see much, don’t run onto your blog and tell everyone that aren’t many fish in Hawaii because that’s bullshit.” description, but this certainly is a blog and I’ve certainly said that there are fewer fish in a place like Hawaii than there are in the Bahamas. So, not sure if that one was aimed at me or some other blog that writes about bonefish. Hawaii has size, not numbers. It is a choice… see 10 fish over 10 pounds (which you almost certainly not going to see in the Bahamas) or see 2,000 fish 3-5 pounds (which you are not going to see in Hawaii). I think most folks who are into this bonefishing game understand the difference and make their choices accordingly.

    I’d like to catch a really big one some day and I don’t think there are folks who are really serious about doing so who don’t realize that it is fundamentally a different game. You can chase numbers or size but not numbers of size. The big boys don’t like a lot of company and it is the rare fish that gets that big.

    Blind casting is generally a measure of last resort in almost every place you are going to chase bonefish. The visual stalking of the fish is really half the battle for me and it one of the things I love the most about it. That said, sometimes you just need to get your line wet.

  15. Hawaii is more like “See 10 over 10 pounds( up to 17-18) and another 50-75 over 5”. In a skiff with a guy who knows Hawaii, that’s pretty typical on the right tides. Some days more, some days less. Let’s clarify that. That is a good day in Hawaii. 8-12 over 10 and around 100 over 5. No, not even close to the thousands in other areas where most are well under 5), but 50-150 over 5 is still an amazing day by any standards. ANY bonefish landed over 5 pounds anywhere (including Hawaii) is one heck of a bonefish and a fish to very proud of. One problem with Hawaii is guys land an amazing beautiful 6 pounder (or multiple fish over 5 like my clients have done many times) and it’s considered a letdown because they missed the 4 they saw over 12 pounds! But you have been saying since Kauai that Hawaii doesn’t have lots of fish Bjorn. I think seeing 50 fish over 5 pounds daily IS good numbers considering the size of the smaller fish being still being over 5 pounds legit. It’s all realitive! How many fish over 5 do you see in an average day in the Bahamas? Probably less than Hawaii day in and day out. How many fish from 2-5 pounds do you see in Hawaii? Thousands less than the Bahamas! The bottom line is we both love bonefish and you do a heck of a job both promoting them and attempting to protect them with your blog. I know I look forward to reading it! Coach Duff

  16. Kelly J. Bandlow

    Right on Coach Duff…the boys who know what they’re doing on Oahu use spey & switch rods to bomb away in deeper water while blind casting. I sure miss those Hawaiian bones, but not that damned coral. Now that I’m on the east coast (how the heck did that happen?) and spend my winters in so. Florida, I’ve come to realize the bonefishing game is just as demanding and the fish are just as huge as Hawaii. However, the freeze from a couple years ago have sure made them hard to find lately.

  17. My best day ever for numbers of bones was while blindcasting an Atlantic-side beach on Eleuthera Bahama’s on the last day of a 3 week trip. I wasn’t specifically targeting bones though. Just tossing a #4 tan/white clouser over the marly, wave tossed bottom that I knew held fish of all sorts. 17 bones came to hand (all small schoolies) in under 2 hours along with a few decent blue runners, a 4ft houndfish, a couple really big Pallometta (permit wannabee’s) and a big bonus 10lb mutton snapper. Without a word of a lie, it was a fish every cast.

    I didn’t visually spot any of the fish that day, so I suppose I was blindcasting; even though I wasn’t “fishing blind” so to speak. That spot produces time and time again under the right conditions and that late afternoon during the rising tide the fish were “on”.

    There were plenty of memorable moments that trip casting to and hooking up with sighted fish; but those 2 hours were the most memorable of all.



  18. What the Duff said is all true having spent 4 great days with him only a couple of weeks ago .Saw a hell of a lot of fish in 4 to 6 lb range and a scary amount of fish in the over 12 lb range .Hawaii has bones that will make you shake only wish I had more skill with the fly rod so I would of had more chance at landing these gaints but theres aways next year and the fishing experience had with the duff was unreal

  19. bonefishbjorn

    I think what I’ve said about Kauai is pretty true. Basically, it is a hard DIY bonefish destination due to the relatively limited amount of flats accessible to the angler and the relatively small number of fish when compared to something like the Bahamas. The fish can be large, but they are also really tough. I think that’s true. There certainly are bonefish there and bonefish worth chasing, but as a DIY location, it is tough.

    Still… Kauai is the place I saw my first bonefish and that fish was one of the biggest I’ve ever seen… anywhere… in any photo, on any flat. The thing was simply massive and I’ll never forget it.

  20. Nobody talks about it much but Molokai’s South shore seems to have some of the best bonefish habitat in the Hawaiian Islands.

  21. bonefishbjorn

    I have heard that, actually. Pretty intriguing stuff out of Molokai.

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