Fly Fishing with a Guide for Bonefish
Guides give directions for casting to bonefish. They are stationed on a platform
and have the advantage of the added height in being able to spot them before
you will be able to. A big problem is that if you are not used to spotting bonefish,
you probably won't be able to spot them even when they are in sight. Most
angers have a very difficult time spotting bonefish. They are dang near invisible.
They reflect the bottom from their silver, mirror-like sides. Their shadow provides
the biggest clue. If it's cloudy, forget that though. They won't cast a shadow. If
you are lucky enough to find some tailing, you will have a much easier time
spotting them. You have to usually rely on the guide.
When I say the guide gives directions for casting, I mean they give a clockwise
direction, or in relation to how the hands on a clock would be aligned with the
boat. They will say something like "bonefish at 3:00 o'clock at forty feet". That
would be directly at ninety degrees of dead ahead, or perpendicular to the
centerline of the boat on your right side facing forward. Twelve o'clock would be
straight ahead. Also, don't forget the guides may speak a different language and
not be able to make everything perfectly clear. You may want to learn a few
words in the same language your guide uses, especially those words that involve
distance and direction - forty feet, ten o'clock, etc. At least get him to give you
some example before you leave the dock.
Keep in mind that bonefish are almost never fixed in one position, even when
they are feeding on the bottom. They move constantly and you will be casting to
a moving target. You want to get the fly out in front of them and past them
enough that you can strip the fly right in front of their nose. Many times you won't
be able to see the fish and you will just have to cast the length and direction your
guide instructs you to cast. He will then probably tell you when and how to strip
the fly to get it in the best position.
When the fish does take the fly, you must remember to set the hook the right
way. Many anglers that are not used to fishing for saltwater species tend to set
the hook with their rod tip. That won't work. You should use a long, firm strip
holding the rod in a low, fixed position. If you jerk the fly and the bonefish doesn't
have it in its mouth at the time, it is just going to fly out of the water back at you.
This eliminates any chance you have of the fish trying to get the fly. With a long
solid strip when the fish doesn't have the fly in its mouth, you stand a chance that
the bonefish will still eat the fly. Whatever you don't, don't raise the rod tip up to
set the hook. Keep it low and set the hook with a solid, firm strip.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
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