On days of low visibility, casting at schooling bonefish could be your best shot at landing a great catch. In these instances, the wrong approach could send countless fish swimming off in the wrong direction. Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to increase your chances of reeling one in. Following are several techniques that are well-worth trying the next time you come across a large school of bonefish.
Avoid Casting Into The Middle Of The School
Casting directly into the middle of the school is the worst thing that you can do. This remains true whether or not the fish are tailing. Although schools of bonefish are less likely to spook than single fish, this will definitely send them running. Stealth and presentation are still important. You also want to avoid false-casting over the entire school. It is far better to lead a single fish at the outer edge of the school instead. At the very least, attempt to get your fly in front of the school or just slightly off to the side of it on a single cast.
Casting In Front Of The School
Casting in front of the school will allow you to make the best possible presentation of your fly. As the fish swim closer, let the fly weight settle down to the flat bottom and then start stripping it in small, short jerks. This looks like shrimp and other food on the run and is sure to capture the attention of at least one bonefish. If a fish starts to follow your fly, speed these movements up slightly.
Pick The Right Target
Picking a target is best done by finding the leader of the group. More often than not, this is going to the biggest bonefish you see. If you have sufficient time and visibility, pick out the largest-looking fish and cast in his direction. If you opt to cast to a single, tailing bonefish, make sure that he is slightly separate from the pack and there are no other fish are currently eating nearby.
Use The Right Fly Weight
Surprisingly, schooling bonefish can be very aggressive in comparison to bonefish caught swimming on their own. This means that you’ll need to adjust your fly weight accordingly. This will help your fly get down to the flat bottom where it can send up plumes of dust and pose as food in the shortest possible amount of time. Given that a large school of bonefish is far less likely to spook than a single fish, the additional splash that a heavier fly makes shouldn’t cause any issues.