Surprisingly, you don’t have to cast great distances in order to catch bonefish. In fact, some of the best fish have been nabbed at less than 40 feet. While mastering the long cast is a very common goal, casting short for bonefish will often provide the greatest opportunity for success. Unfortunately, the short cast can actually be far more challenging than casting for distance, especially when winds are fierce.
Establishing The Right Casting Speed
There are a number of difficulties that must be overcome in order to successfully cast for and catch bonefish at short distances. Foremost among these is that you’re far more visible to fish who are busy eating right near your boat. At 60 feet, your boat is little more than a bump on the water. When you’re right over the top of a fish, however, sudden moves are guaranteed to make him go darting off.
You also have to become skilled at delivering with accuracy, in spite of a much shorter line length. Add the wind to this equation and you’ll quickly see why short casting requires just as much strategy and skill as the long cast, if not more. Finally, you have to establish the right casting speed. Much like the heron who moves with stealth and only dives down in a sharp, purposeful movement when the catch is guaranteed, you’ll need to establish the perfect blend of slow deliberation and quick, precise movement.
No Frenzied Motions
When you see a bonefish right near you boat, avoid making any quick, frantic movements that will take the bonefish away from his hunt. Instead, give the fish and yourself a minute. Most likely, the fish will turn away from the boat, which will give you a greater casting distance and the ability to let more line out. Take it slow and steady and when everything is set, cast away from the fish in one quick, sure motion. Practicing your short cast ahead of time will prime you for making all the right adjustments under pressure.
Change Your Trajectory
When the distance of your target changes, make sure to adjust the trajectory of your cast for greater accuracy and efficiency. If you don’t, you’ll wind up missing your target and alerting him to your presence with a loud, sloppy cast. With a long cast and a flat presentation, the trajectory can be almost parallel to the surface of the water. At a shorter distance, however, the wind could have a far greater impact on your line. Instead, drive your line right at the bonefish by stopping high on the back cast and low on the forward.
Go For A Short Stroke
A short cast requires a short stroke. Set your casting stroke in relation to the length of line that’s out of your rod tip. With a quick, powerful stroke, you can turn over a heavy fly and a long leader at a nominal distance. Getting sufficient speed will help you build and deliver more casting power.