Not all bonefishing is done from a boat. In fact, some of the best bonefishing experiences you’ll ever have could come when you’re standing knee-deep in water with your line looped by your feet. Thus, in addition to priming your casting skills for your big trip, you also need to get ready for days when you’re out of the boat and wading the flats in pursuit of your prey. The following are a few, basic wading tips and techniques to help you prepare.
Choose The Right Footwear
Be sure to pack a good pair of wading shoes or boots for your trip. Hours spent wading the flats can wreak havoc on your feet, especially if you’re slogging along in an old pair of tennis shoes. You’ll be walking a lot on the balls of your feet, so you’ll want boots or shoes that have a lot of flexibility at the mid-portion of the sole. Toss several pairs of athletic socks into your gear as well. These things will prevent sore arches and blisters while giving you enough comfort to actually focus on catching bonefish. Sneakers and open sandals should all be avoided when wading. One of the most important things to remember about your footwear for this trip, however, is that you have to break it in before you head out. You can do this by wearing you wading boots or shoes around the house for several days so that they’re sufficiently loose and flexible for comfortably negotiating the flat bottom.
Managing Your Line
Keep your line trailed out behind you on the water. When you get ready to cast, this can be pulled in and looped right by your feet. Keep in mind that stripping off too much line will make it difficult to manage and could slow you down. Try to keep approximately 15 feet of line out of the rod tip; just enough so that it loads well when you get ready to cast.
Minimize Your Noise And Avoid Stingrays
How you move will play a major role in determining your success. Bonefish can hear noise from great distances. They can also sense the vibrations that you make in the water. Don’t try to walk through the water like you would on land. Rather than sloshing forward, pick each leg up vertically, step forward, and then put your leg down, thereby minimizing both sound and water disruption. Also, use the balls of your feet rather than walking on your heels. This will allow for the stealth you need to sneak up on your prey.
There’s also the option of doing the “slide”. Rather than actually picking your feet up, simply slide them along the flat bottom in long, slow strides. In addition to minimizing both noise and vibration, this movement will prevent you from stepping on a stingray and earning a painful and potentially debilitating sting.
When you spot a bonefish in front of you, don’t try to pursue him. Instead, trust that another one will be swimming right behind him in short order. Surprisingly, bones tend to travel specific paths along the flat. Your best chances at nabbing one is to pay attention to where the last one came from and wait near there. You’ll have far greater success if you cast to fish who are entirely oblivious to your position, rather than casting to bones that are right nearby.