Flats Hunter 101: Casting to Bonefish
Casting to Bonefish
Once you have become adept at spotting bonefish you will soon be presented with the exhilarating pressure of casting to the fish. The general window of opportunity once a fish enters your view is ten seconds or less. This short time frame requires that you master the art of speed casting.
When you first reach the bow to begin your ready position you must strip a portion of line from your reel and remove the memory of the line by firmly standing on a section as you firmly pull on the other end with your hand. You then must make a practice throw to ensure that your line coils properly on the deck to prepare for your first cast.
Most anglers prefer to have roughly fifteen feet of line and leader outside of the rod tip while firmly grasping the fly with your left forefinger and thumb. When the moment of attack arrives, you must move the rod in your right hand back firmly until it clears the standing line and removes the fly from your grasp. You must pay careful attention to hold the fly in a way so that this process will not painfully lodge your fly in your finger! It is imperative to properly loading the rod that you do not throw the fly! Once you allow the line to pull the fly from your fingers you may make two or three false cast before you accurately present the fly.
Before you can cast you must instinctively decide where you want to intercept your target. If you are casting to a tailing bonefish you must practically hit him on the head! Try to cast to tailing bonefish just a foot in front of him so that you may strip the fly right under his nose if he doesn’t see it. In contrast, if you spot a bone cruising along on a calm, clear day, deliver the fly at least ten feet in front. You must always be prepared to pick up and recast should the bone unexpectedly change direction in their usual paranoid fashion. Be careful to silently lift your line out of the water before you recast, otherwise you will surely spook your target.
Once you have deftly and accurately positioned your fly you must impart action to get the bone’s attention if he hasn’t seen your fly. If the bonefish hasn’t seen your fly, make two long quick strips to let him know you’re there, followed by letting the fly sink to the bottom. After the fly hits the bottom make a series of short strips so as not to frighten him. If the fish sees the fly and begins to radar in, you must very gently pull the fly back while keeping tension on the line. As the fly is slowly being pulled along the bottom he appears as though he is fleeing. If you have done this technique while keeping tension, you will feel the fish strike and all that remains is a quick, firm pull of the line for a hookset.
Another effective technique for cruising bonefish when they are exceptionably nervous, is to determine the direction they are moving and cast at least thirty feet in front of his path. Let the fly sink and wait until the bone gets seven feet in front of your fly before you give it a few little twitches. If you’re lucky he’ll see the movement and quickly come in for the dinner bell.
With all the infinite possibilities and variations that are encountered bonefishing, the only guaranteed casting technique is practice. The single most important factor in the bonefishing equation is your ability to accurately and confidently cast your fly. This can only be done through many hours of practice, so take every opportunity you have to practice. We promise your time will be happily rewarded!
Casting to Bonefish