You’ve made the cast, the bonefish has eaten your fly, and you’ve set the hook correctly using a nice long strip set.. Now comes the tough part – Getting him on your reel!
Most bonefish are lost between setting the hook and getting him onto the reel than during any other part of the fight. The reason? The uncountable number of things for the fly line to wrap around as the fish takes off at lightning speeds. Bonefish are fast, and if there is something for the fly line to wrap around, it probably will.
Don’t be that guy.. Instead, consider the following tips to eliminate as many ‘line catchers’ as possible to help get more bonefish to hand.
- Wear Your Pliers at the Small of Your Back. We’re big fans of premium fishing pliers (like these, or these), and generally wear them on our belt everywhere we go. However, when we’re fishing, we make sure to wear them at the small of our back, rather than on the side, to ensure the fly line will not tangle up in the plier handles, sheath, or the attached lanyard bungee. Trust us on this one, we’ve learned this one the hard way.
- Tuck in Your Laces. When wading, or if you prefer to wear boots on the boats, try tucking your laces in to eliminate a catch point for your fly line. Heavy boot laces double knotted make a great catch all. Or, if you’re fishing from the boat, try fishing barefoot (or in socks) to eliminate the problem all together!
- Lose the Doodads. As trout anglers, many of us are use to fishing with a bunch of stuff hanging from our shirt or vest. However lanyards, zingers, forceps, leader straighteners, tippet material, water thermometers, hook sharpeners or anything else hanging in front of you can easily get in the way of making a shot at a bonefish. Don’t get us wrong, we love gear as much as the next guy, but on the flats its probably best to keep the doodads in the boat bag. Or, if you like to wear nippers or other tools around your neck, simply tuck them under your shirt while fishing.
- Pin the Rod Butt. A lot of bonefish are broken off due to the fly line wrapping around the rod butt while clearing line. To solve this, once you set the hook, pin the rod butt against your forearm as you work to get the fish on the reel. This way the line has no way to wrap underneath the rod butt causing a tangle.
- Wear a Clean Shirt. We’re not talking about personal hygiene here.. Shirts with big billowy pockets designed to hold a lot of gear can get in the way, particularly when packed full of stuff. Therefore, on the flats we like shirts with clean lines or low profile pockets that wont risk tangling up with the fly line.
- Sorry It’s a Fanny Pack. We know ‘hip pack’ sounds a lot cooler these days than a ‘fanny pack,’ but when fishing on foot, wearing your pack on your lower back rather than at your side will save you a lot of heartbreak when its go-time.
- Choose Your Boat Buddy Wisely. When fishing from the boat, there are far more line catchers than we could ever cover in a single article (push pole holders, boat cleats, empty Kalik bottles, and so on). Therefore, a good boat buddy is extremely helpful to make sure your line is free of tangles while you’re scanning for fish.. Choose ’em wisely!