When fishing for bonefish, rarely can you expect a day entirely free of wind. In fact, most experienced flats anglers would agree that those completely calm days can be extremely challenging due to spooky fish. While a light wind can be your friend on the flats, there are times when it can be a little overwhelming.
Here are a few tips to increase your success when dealing with the dreaded “W” word.
- Fish a heavier fly. For the most part, the majority of the flats we fish are relatively shallow. Therefore, we typically throw large flies with little weight, usually tied with bead chain eyes. However, when the wind is howling, the wave disturbance on the surface tends to cause the fly to sink slower. It is important to get that fly to the bottom quickly where the fish will see it in order to get the take. Therefore, on a windy day try chucking a fly with lead eyes instead. The larger splash from the heavier fly is not as much an issue here as it is masked by the wind’s disturbance on the surface of the water.
- Shorten up your leader. Our bonefish on South Andros are hardly leader shy, and this is especially true on those blustery days. Some of our guides recommend a leader as short as 6 feet to aid in turning over the fly into the wind. In fact, one of our guides, Torrie Bevans, claims to have caught fish with nothing more than a few inches of leader off the end of the fly line. Sure, that’s a bit overkill, but the point is clear. If the wind is not allowing your fly to turn over, shorten the leader.
- Tie your own leader. Along with leader length, try building your own leader. Building your own leaders allows the option of using stiffer materials, such as Rio’s Alloy Hard Saltwater Mono, which turn over much better in high wind situations. While knotless tapered leaders work great in some situations, the process required to make them typically results in a more supple material. This is not always the best option when trying to punch those lead eyes into the wind.
- Up the rod/line size. While an 8 weight is by far the most popular rod for bonefish, don’t hesitate to pack along a 9 weight as well. The 9 weight is invaluable when the wind is howling. If the fly never makes it in front of the fish, it doesn’t matter how delicate your fly line lands on the water, so choose the stick that gets it there! Also, try over lining your rod. Try a 9 weight fly line on your 8 weight rod. The extra weight may help load the rod in those tough conditions.
- Pay attention to boat speed. We’ve written on this topic before, but it is worth repeating. When retrieving your fly, it is important to take note of how fast you (and the boat) are moving. The speed that the boat is drifting has a direct effect on how fast or slow you must strip the fly. On days of high wind, this is especially important as the boat will most likely be moving faster or slower than normal (depending on which direction you are going).
- Practice beforehand. Maximize your chances on your next trip by practicing beforehand. Practice throwing tight loops with limited false casts into the wind. However, don’t stop there. Remember, the wind doesn’t always blow straight at or behind us, so make sure to practice casting at every angle in relationship to the wind as well. Check out some of our past posts from a few that know a thing or two about casting into the wind.