Whether or not you have the right gear for your bonefishing trip, it will play a major role in determining how successful you are. From your rods to your clothing and your footwear, different items and accessories are essential for comfort, efficiency and safety. The following is a detailed list of everything you need to pack before departing.
Comfortable, Tropical Clothing And A Good Raincoat
Pack comfortable pants and shirts that blend in well with the surroundings. These will help you transform into an inconspicuous and silent hunter of bonefish. While you can always hope for mild, warm temperatures with only an occasional cloudburst, tropical weather can be extremely unpredictable. Thus, it is also helpful to have a lightweight raincoat with a hood for boat spray and rain showers, as well as a few long-sleeved shirts for extra warmth as well as sun protection.
Three options in pants, short-sleeved shirts and long-sleeved shirts should be sufficient given that you can wash and hang dry your clothes at night. In most instances, shorts will leave your legs too exposed for comfort, so limit how many pairs of these your bring along. Long pants are great for preventing bug bites, sun exposure and they can be tucked right into your wading boots to minimize drag when you step out of the boat. Biting horseflies are a problem on some islands and you’ll appreciate this extra coverage when you need it.
Flip-flops and sandals should be sufficient for most days out on the boat, however, you’ll also need to have a durable pair of wading boots on hand for trips that take you out into the waters to hunt bonefish on foot. Given that flat bottoms which can be comprised of grass, coral and hard or soft sand, wading boots are always preferable to wading sandals which offer less protection and traction. Take some time to break your boots in before departing, so that they have a nice, comfortable feel. Always wear socks which prevent those particles of sand from quickly irritating your feet and causes discomfort the rest of your trip. You’ll be wearing these for hours at a time and don’t want to deal with blisters, chaffing and other, similar issues.
Visibility & Sun Protection
Every bonefishing trip requires a good pair of polarized sunglasses for minimizing glare, protecting the eyes and promoting optimal visibility. In fact, you may want to bring several pair of polarized sunglasses that have either brown or amber lenses and side-shading. You should additionally pack a good lens cloth and lens cleaner as well as a strap for your glasses for easy removal. Sunblock with a rating of at least 30 SPF, an insect repellent and chapstick with SPF should also be kept on hand. Get yourself a hat with a good brim as well. The underside of your brim should be dark for optimal shading and visibility.
Flat skiffs are rarely dry and thus, you will need to have a waterproof bag for any extra clothing that you want to bring and for your camera. Having extra clothing for warmth and sun protection is important due the potential for frequent weather change. You can also use this bag to carry an appropriate multi-tool or a hook-sharpening file, forceps, clippers and a pair of pliers.
You shouldn’t rely on the lodge to supply your tackle or your rods and reels. For best results, make sure to bring your own. Not only will this ensure that you’re well-equipped for all bonefishing environments, but it will also give you far greater control over the quality of fishing gear that you have access to.
You should carry a 4-piece, 9 foot 8 or 9 weight travel rod. While some sources suggest bringing a 6 or 7 weight, this won’t prove versatile enough for making a delicate presentation and standing up to tough winds. Rod damage is far more common than most bonefishermen expect and this means that it doesn’t hurt to have a back-up rod as well.
You want your reel to be designed specifically for use in saltwater, which is extremely corrosive. An anodized direct drive reel with encapsulated drag and an adjustable brake should be best. Pack a variety of flies that suit your destination and have a proper case to carry these in.
Lines And Leaders
Make sure that you have a new or newly cleaned, forward floating line for your trip. This will shoot cleanly through the rod guides, which is not something that you can expect from a line that is dirty or old. You’ll also want to pack a few nine and 12 foot leaders that are designed for saltwater conditions and flies. Fluorocarbon leaders are best or nylon is sufficient as well using 12lb minimum, anything lighter will cause too many break-offs.
There may be a few additional items that you want to pack for your trip and it certainly won’t hurt to take a look at a bonefishing guide before leaving. Armed with all of the right gear, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary frustration. Best of all, with good planning, you can keep your load light. Versatile equipment, tools and clothing will allow you to get more value from the stuff that you lug along, without feeling over-weighted.
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