Welcome to The Bonefish Flat

There's a stiff wind in your face as you squint in the sun trying to see what the guide sees. "Bonefish at 12 o'clock about 90 feet, do you see it, mon?" You don't and keep squinting, your hat pulled low to keep the sun out of your eyes. "Bonefish at 11 o'clock 70 feet out. Come on man, do you see it?" As the guide is calmly shifting the skiff into position, this time you spot the fish, "I got, it," you reply.

"OK, Mon, Bonefish 50 feet at 10 o'clock. Cast when you're ready."

Cast when you're ready. And with that you drop your fly, roll out a cast, false cast once, and then...

Welcome to the bonefish flat.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bonefish Travel Series: Fast Rods for Fast Fish

There are a few ways to look at what rod you should use for a bonefishing trip. The all around opinion is that an 8wt rod is the best choice. Well, the reality is that saltwater fly fishing is no different than freshwater when it comes to the fact that no one rod will cover every situation.

In saltwater fly fishing great Chico Fernandez's book Fly Fishing for Bonefish, he argues that while an 8 wt is still the best all around rod for bonefish, "I'm not limited to one rod. Furthermore, it doesn't make sense to travel to some bonefish destination for a few days or a week with just one rod."

I agree with that. My go to bonefish rod is my Scott S3S 9 weight. I am a huge fan of Scott fly rods. They are made in Montrose, Colorado and Scott just makes fly rods. Not reels, not other gear, they just focus on rods. The S3S has been replaced by the S4S, which is such a sweet rod. I haven't had a chance to cast it yet, but I have looked at one. They also have won numerous awards and accolades so you can bet they are top notch.

Why a 9 weight? In my experience, the wind on the flats is almost always blowing. Sometimes its blowing hard, and the little bit extra in the 9 will let you get away with a little bit more. It also helps you land fish a bit easier, and if you hook the big one, which is a very real possibility if fishing the Keys or certain areas of the Bahamas, you'll be glad you've got a bit more muscle.

The 9 wt also doubles as a great Permit rod and is also great for general saltwater use.

My S3S and my Scott Buff (although it was the Scott HAD)

You hear a lot about the need for fast action rods and I was always a little skeptical of this. Many Keys guides will tell you to overline your rod by one line weight, which essentially will kill the fast action. They tell folks this because a lot people who don't practice their casting and have trouble throwing a mean loop will have a harder time with a fast action rod.

The fast action really helps, though, with the wind. It helps you throw tighter loops which in turn cut through the wind better.

My backup rod is an Orvis T3 8 weight which is a midflex rod and therefore not a fast action rod. I'll fish this if the wind is down. You could just as easily get by with a 7 wt for calm conditions.

Whatever your choice, make sure it's a four piece so it can carry-on easily.

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