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Your Bonefish Fly Box

By Richard French of Slipstream Angling

A Word on Bonefish Flies

April/May is prime time in the Caribbean for quality bonefishing and over the next several weeks we will have guests bonefishing in the Bahamas, Cuba, Mexico and Belize. I do a lot of hosted trips to these destinations, where bonefish are the priority species for the trip and I’ve been noticing a trend where many guests are bringing the right fly patterns for a successful bonefish trip, but that these patterns usually have little variation in terms of size. It is true that each of the destinations that we send guests to bonefish at will always have a couple of go to flies that just seem to out produce all other patterns and we certainly want our anglers to have these flies with them when they travel to their chosen location to fish. 

That said, I would like to encourage guests to diversify and enhance their fly boxes to include these “best patterns” in a variety of sizes and weights.

While I firmly believe that big bonefish like to eat big flies, it’s important to recognize that bonefish will travel and feed in a variety of water depths and that you will catch more fish if your fly
size matches the water depth you are fishing.  For example, if the Gotcha is a must have pattern at a specific destination I’m fishing, I want to have this fly pattern in sizes 2 down to 8. I will even tie some Gotchas that are unweighted because I love to fish skinny water and I know that a big bonefish will readily take a delicately presented small fly in six inches of water but that same fish will likely blow out and spook if I throw a heavier size 2 Gotcha. This situation is even more magnified when fishing Spring tides, where you are generally fishing higher water levels than normal, where bonefish will be eager to get up in to the higher areas on the flats, that they know they can only access a couple of times per month. 

Throwing a heavy fly in a shallow water situation because its all you have, is not the best way to maximize your trip opportunities.

It is much better to have only two or three good patterns in your fly box that are tied in a wide variety of sizes and weights than to have a fly box stuffed to the gills with 12 + patterns that are only tied in one or two sizes.     

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