Although there are seemingly countless things to get right on your next bonefishing expedition, there’s an equal number of things that you can’t get wrong.
After all, these are among some of the smartest fish that you’re likely to encounter on the flats. They’re also notorious for spooking easily. Understanding the likes and dislikes of your prey is absolutely key to reeling an impressive bone in. To make a swift, skillful, and altogether natural-seeming presentation, be sure to avoid these five things that bonefish hate.
Seeing A Fly Moving Towards Them
As a general rule, predatory fish don’t respond well when flies move directly towards them. This makes it best to present your fly at an angle. This way, when you strip, it will move away from the fish. Keep in mind that bones aren’t all that fond of swimming under fly lines either. Try to land your cast a little short of any fish that’s moving towards you. Landing long will force bones to swim under your line, even as it forces you to strip towards the fish (a total rule-breaker), just to get your fly noticed.
Bonefish don’t like hearing a ton of noise in their vicinity. When these fish are close, you want to make every effort to be as quiet as possible. This means no stomping around on the boat bottom, slamming cooler lids, hastily tearing fly lines out of the water, or dropping supplies. Keeping things quiet all-around will make it infinitely easier to get a bite.
Shadows generally indicate trouble for bonefish given that birds are the most common source of shadows on the flats. Birds love eating bonefish. You don’t want to make the mistake of casting shadows that make bones feel jumpy or nervous. That’s why seasoned anglers are always conscious of the sun’s position. They also cast sidearm when necessary to avoid projecting long shadows with their rods. Another great trick for preventing problems with shadows is to present your fly to the shadow-side of your prey.
A Fly With Debris
Bonefish are hardly vegetarians. Keep this in mind when choosing your fly and presenting it. Don’t make the easy and all-too-common mistake of presenting a fly that’s picked up algae, turtle grass or any other organic debris earlier in the day. Instead, regularly check your fly to make sure that it’s clean and ready for an inconspicuous entrance.
Your aftershave, styling products, and hand soap can all leave strong, noticeable odors that make it easy for bonefish to identify your presence. If you smoke, the lingering smell of tobacco can also alert your prey. Limit your use of heavily perfumed self-care items, and try to avoid smoking during or just before your trip. One easy way to ensure that you aren’t bringing any pungent, foreign smells with you is to rub your hands and forearms in the mud or sand that lines the flat bottom. This will mask your scent so that you aren’t making bonefish jumpy long before you present your fly.