OK, you’ve decided that you’re going to chase some bonefish on foot. Want to make sure you actually catch one? Here are 5 ways to improve your chances.
- Walk quietly. Bonefish sense noise and vibration from a long way away. If you’re on a flat with a hard bottom, step softly – landing on the balls of your feet instead of your heels. And don’t ‘slosh’ your feet through the water – pick your foot up vertically, step forward, and step down. Seriously – it makes a difference.
- Let your line loop behind you in the water. The best way to manage line while wading is the simplest. Strip off a length of line that you’re comfortable casting. Leave enough line out of your rod tip that your rod will load well when you start casting (probably 12-15 feet). When you’re wading, just let that extra line loop behind you in the water. When you see a fish, quietly pull that long loop in the water into a pile at your feet (this way it’ll have less drag when you cast) and make your shot. NOTE: Stripping off a giant length of the line isn’t helpful and can cause problems with line management…if you really think you can quickly, accurately, and consistently make shots on foot that are much over 50 feet, well, thanks for reading our blog, Lefty!
- Walk where they came from. When you’re wading, you should generally be set up so the fish are swimming towards you. Not always, but most of the time, bonefish tend to swim a certain path in a flat. When you see a fish swimming at you, don’t just look at where he is – look at where he came from. Chances are, he’s got friends behind him, taking the same path he did. Walk there.
- Wear good boots. In fisheries like ours on South Andros, there are some really huge flats with all kinds of bottoms, from hard sand to muck to nasty limestone. You can get out of the boat and literally walk for hours, and you need to have good footwear. No, not an old pair of All-Stars. No, not a pair of ‘flats sandals’. A good, solid pair of boots designed for wading on the flats, like the Simms Flats Sneakers.
- There’s more where that came from. One of the great things about bonefish is that they tend to be plentiful. When a fish swims by, make your best shot. If he doesn’t eat, try again once, or maybe twice. But then don’t waste your time! Shots at a fish that’s swimming away are very, very low percentage. Keep walking in the direction that fish came from – you’re betting off finding a new target.
Davin Ebanks says
NICE. This receives the FlatsWalker seal of approval. I’m a bonefish guide who does almost strictly wading. #4 is SUPER important. Trust me… “flats sandles”… HAH!
Also, add to #1: Don’t move your feet or talk (whisper only) when casting to the fish. Bonefish can really, REALLY hear, and a lot of people shuffle their feet or take a few small steps when they cast. If a bonefish is close enough to cast to, he’s close enough to hear that. Same with talking. There have been many times (especially on calm days) when a client has bungled a long cast and said something like “Uggh!”. Instantly that bonefish 70 feet away blows up.
Sound vibrations travel through water really well, and when we talk (especially guys with deep voices) our bones actually vibrate. Those vibrations go right down your legs and out into the water. If you’re standing on the deck of a boat, it’s not as bad, but still.
Culebra Chris says
Good Stuff! … Minimize false casting..learn to “water haul”..Waving a fly rod in the air while wading in front of a tailing fish is as poisoness as letting that fish see your fly line.
dennis kowal says
Hello..A few simple comments: I have given up on booties most of the time and have had the Orvis Andros Flats hiker for over 4 years after trying a few others and totally agree with your report. I wore them around my studio for a full day before use…light, comfortable….great ankle support…all day…..I also velcro my pants around the top of the boots…helps keep out sand plus the soles are thick enough to ward off sting rays…..dennis
greg m says
Love the article. Going to Long Island (Bahamas)for first time DIY trip. Lots of wading. Looking to catch my first bonefish!