JEB Hall, our manager at Andros South, is a Southern boy, and that means that he knows his way around a spinning rod.
Spinning rods fit right in on the flats! Here’s how JEB sets up his spin rig for bonefish.
JEB’s Travel Spin Rig for Bonefish
Rod: 7′ 3 piece Medium Action Cabela’s Salt Striker spinning rod
Reel: Penn Conquer 3000 Series spinning reel
Line: 250 yards of 15 pound test / 4 pound diameter Power Pro in Hi Vis Yellow
Leader: 5-6 feet of 1x-0x Rio Flouro Flex Plus, tied to the line with a slim beauty knot
Lure: ⅛ oz. lead jig tied into a variety of bonefish patterns, tied on with a non-slip mono loop
For windy days, and for first time bonefish anglers, bringing along a spinning rod can make some of the ‘challenging’ parts of flats fishing more achievable. While we pride ourselves on being surrounded by schools of the world’s most willing bonefish, some days the conditions aren’t in our favor. Having a spinning rod on board can give the novice caster shots at fish that they otherwise wouldn’t have reached.
When spin fishing for bones, it is important to cast well ahead of the fish. An ⅛ ounce jig landed near a pod of fish in shallow water, is a sure way to cause them to instantly spook.
The set up listed above is portable, affordable, and effective. A three piece rod is a must for air travel, and today’s hundred dollar price point reels offer a lot of bang for the buck. 3000 and 4000 series reels feature a good size spool for making long casts and are not too heavy to balance most high modulus graphite rods.
The line required for delivering light lures to spooky fish is not a place to cut corners. The new braided lines that are out on the market are perfect for flats fishing, and are well worth the somewhat shocking sticker price.. The smaller diameter lets anglers throw smaller jigs further than ever before, while the increased strength can stop all but the largest of fish.
The leader is possibly the most important part of this set up. Having at least five feet of high quality fluorocarbon between the jig and the line will give anglers a better shot at getting wary fish to eat.
Finally, the lures or jigs you present to the fish must be small, but also have enough heft to punch through the wind. They are also fairly simple to tie for most intermediate fly tiers. Simply purchase lead jigs that are poured on high quality hooks with no collar and recreate your favorite bonefish fly on them. For an even better look to your jigs, paint the heads using Pro-Tech powder paint. There are lots of great flats fishing colors and you can bake them in an oven to make for a more durable finish.
Funny… I’ve been thinking about this as I have very, very little idea of how to set up a spinning rig and yet I’ll be taking one to Grand Bahama for my 6 year old daughter to use.
thanks for this write up. You say that you use a PENN Conquer 3000. The Penn website says there is only a 2000 and a 4000. Are you sure it is not a 2000? Please advise, Clint
Kyle Shea says
Thanks for the question! You’re absolutely right, PENN only offers the Conquer in 2000 and 4000. I believe it was actually the PENN Battle 300o on this setup as we have some down here on Andros as we speak.
However, I will be in touch with JEB and will re-post should I find out otherwise. Thanks!
Five feet of leader ?
Stjani Eriksen says
That is a perfect amount of leader on a spinning rig for flats fishing. Braided line is highly visible underwater, so three to six feet of flouro or mono leader attached to the end of your main running line of braid helps keep the rig stealthy, as well as allowing easier changing of flies and/or jigs (braid can be tough to cut, requires carefully tied knots, and is fairly expensive to be nipping away at day after day switching flies/jigs). Plus flouro/mono ties a better loop knot than braid. I’ve fished for bonefish for over 17 years with both fly rods and spinning gear, and I’ve always used a flouro leader that is just shorter than the rod length on my spinning rod. Using that length of leader is also so you don’t have to have the junction knot of the braid to flouro leader (I prefer a ‘crazy alberto’ knot for braid to non braid line connection) go through the guides at all when landing a fish.
Also, for spin gear, I prefer skimmer styled jigs with a weed guard in either 1/8 oz or 3/16 oz weights much more than ball styled jigs, or most often use a simplistic “Carolina rig’ (without a brass clacker and swivel) or a split shot rig. I first run up a x-small bobber stopper on my leader (12 or 16lb Rio Saltwater Tippet), a 1/8 oz egg shaped slip sinker, another x-small bobber stopper, than attach my fly using either a non slip loop knot or sometimes an ‘eye crosser’ knot. I keep the weight and bobber stops about 6-10″ above the fly. You can also create a similar rig by simply crimping on split shot above the fly, but it must be done carefully or it can pinch and break the leader when under tension from a fish (you could also use a dropper tag to attach split shot instead of placing it on the main leader). I would also avoid split shot with ‘wings’ or tabs, and use the smoothest egg shaped shot you can find. I’ve found smooth egg shaped shot retrieves through coral and sea grass and mangrove roots with the least amount of hang ups.
I spin fish on the flats using a few different 3 to 6 piece travel rods, all between 7′ and 7’6” med light or medium power and all with a fast action. I like 40/400/4000 sized reels as they allow greater casting distance and accuracy and that spool size picks up more line when fighting a fish back. This spin rig set up is deadly, can save the trip on those hellish wind days, and is super stealthy. I have caught many many bones all over the world in the skinniest, ‘tail and dorsal and fish is halfway out of the water’ type spots using a split shot and fly spinning rig.
Hope that helps explain the author’s choice of leader length a little better.
Great info – thanks for sharing!
I’ll be heading to Aruba in a few weeks, and although not necessarily a bonefish hotspot from what I hear, I’ll be doing my best to target them (from shore and boat). Any tips on how to work those jigs to entice the fish?
Stjani Eriksen says
Any advice I could give you on retrieving a bonefish jig through the water will be subjective and would take a few pages for me to describe adequately.
My advice to you is to continue your research on fishing for bonefish, looking primarily at the ‘how-to’ articles on this website, other’s websites, books written on fly fishing for bonefish, and magazine articles. Just insert ‘jig’ in place of the word ‘fly’ in fly fishing articles concerning a given author’s various presentations and retrieval tactics and techniques for bonefish and you’ll do fine.
Great info! Headed to Andros in December to fly n spin fish. Cannot Wait.
Hi what # test leader do you recommend for Andros bonefishing?
Web Editor says
For bonefish I am a fan of 20 pound fluro. If the fish are being extra spooky you could go to 16 but I pretty much exclusively use 20. I hope that helps and let us know if you have any other questions!
Headed to Exuma in a few weeks to target bonefish with both fly and spinning gear. You used hi viz yellow in your spinning set up. Would the PowerPro blue or Diawa light blue work just as well or would you want the high contrast to see your line better?
I wish I had something to share with you but don’t. I am headed to Exuma in 10 days and will be fishing bones for the first time. Comfortable with spinning gear but would love to hear of successes and advise from your trip. Anything would be appreciated.
Keith Carlson says
You use a 20# fluro with 10# braid for spin rig?? Im a NY steelhead guy and we always use heavier main to a lighter leader. 15# main with a 8# or 10# leader. Im going down to euluthera in a couple weeks and want to bring my spin gear for backup so I just want to make sure im setting up correctly!! Thnks