Accuracy is far more important than distance when it comes to catching bonefish. Unlike trout fishing, you don’t have to cast very far. Rather than pushing for distance, you’ll need to be cognizant of wind speeds and wind direction, the instructions of your guide and how fast you can get your line out there. As always, you’ll want to avoid spooking bonefish by limiting false casts as much as possible and by focusing on precision.
Location And Distance
It is important to note that the average casting distance for catching a good-sized bonefish is about 25 – 30 feet, which is close to the average casting distance for nymphs. This, however, can vary by location and according to the disposition of the bonefish in the area. In certain locations, bonefish are especially spooky and thus, unlikely to get anywhere near your boat. In these places, your casting distance will need to be closer to 40 or 60 feet in order to get within range of the closest bonefish. This is common in places like the Florida Keys, but in Grand Bahama and other areas, a casting distance of just 25 or 30 feet will often do the trick. Ask your guide about the average casting distance before heading out.
Speed Trumps Distance
Your primary focus should be on casting speeds. In addition to spooking easy, bonefish are quick movers. If your guide points out the location of a bonefish, you want to be ready to act fast and cast where you’re supposed to. The need for speed is the primary motivator for avoiding false casts. You won’t have a lot of time to repeat yourself. Additionally, the more false casts that you make; the more likely you are to scare bonefish away. For that quick second cast after a missed spot learn to water haul which will decrease your false casting and allow you to get the fly out in quicker time.
Follow Your Guide
It may take you a while to familiarize yourself with the language of your guide, especially the terminology that he uses for both distance and direction. When you’re out on the flats, however, he’s going to give you your best chance at spotting and catching big bonefish. This is something that you want to keep in mind while practicing your casts ahead of your trip. It is far better to cast in the direction that your guide recommends than it is to cast where you think bonefish might be.
Practicing Ahead Of Time
When practicing your casts, work on casting at just 30 and 40 feet with perfect accuracy and tremendous speed. This will prime you for success far better than will casting for distance. You should also make a few practice casts in different conditions and with different fly weights. Try casting on windy days both into and against the wind.