It is no secret that we admire bonefish and want to make sure the ones that are caught, are safely released to fight another day. One way to ensure this is to land a bonefish as quickly as possible. This obviously is much easier said than done as anyone who has hooked into these fish knows just how powerful they are. We do however have some pointers that will help you get that battle over with as fast as possible.
After you hook into the fish (if you trout set you can just stop reading now as you won’t have to worry about fighting the fish) you want to make sure you clear the line and let the fish run.
Bonefish have some unmatched speed on the flats so when it wants to go, make sure you let that reel spin. Odds are you spent a lot of money on your saltwater reel so here is when you want to use it and let it do its job. Have the drag set properly so that there is constant tension on the fish. We encourage our guests to really put the heat on. We aren’t fighting trout here where you need to use the tip of the rod to protect your 5X tippet, you want to fight the fish with the butt of the rod. The best way to do this is with a low rod angle, one that can be almost parallel with the water’s surface. Fight the fish like a boss, the harder you fight him the less exhausted it will be at the end of the battle.
Often times bonefish will quickly change directions. The move I most commonly see big bone’s make is a long run away from you, followed by a fast run straight back at you. When this happens, the speed of the bonefish can make it difficult to stay tight. As it runs straight at you, more than likely you won’t be able to keep tension by just reeling. If I am struggling to keep tight, I will grab the line and quickly strip in the largest amounts possible. As you do this, have your boat partner help keep the line that you stripped in organized and knot free. When the fish stops running straight at you, I do my best to get it back on the reel versus continuing to strip it in. I only strip it in as a last ditch effort to stay tight when the fish runs directly at me.
As we mentioned earlier, we really believe in using smart rod angles to tire out the fish as quickly as possible. Let’s say that 10 pounder is swimming towards the left, you want to be pulling against him, towards the right. Then the fish changes dictions and swims right, you want to be pulling hard back to the left. Always be pulling against the direction it is swimming. And one exception to the low rod angle. If the fish is running over coral or dragging you through some sand, here you want to keep the rod tip up. Still fight him hard but you need a high rod tip here to stop the fish from dragging your line through something that could break it or dislodge the hook.
If the fish escapes and you happen to be fishing Andros South, don’t sweat it, odds are you will hook up again in the very near future!
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King Fisher says
Good stuff. The trout set warnign to stop reading is pretty funny! I like the rod at 45 degrees which still gives some tippet protection and stiff uses the butt for some wood. I also keep the drag at 4-5 lbs to keep the hypothetical double digit bone from back lashing. I do what the guide says. I usually fish 20 lb tippet. I have to use strong hooks!
Bruce Mahony says
I’ve only fished at Kiritimati after I had gone fly only in 2009. Yes I have been fly fishing for 56 years however I learnt most of my tactics during my 18 years game fishing. I also have 250 to 300 metres of backing on all of my reels so I’m not fussed by long runs unless I’m on a big Milkfish. Must go back to Kiritimati next year as I have only caught 12 species there including 345 Bones. Oh yes I love short rods so my Sage Bass Bluegill does a good job on the bones. I always take three 8wts to Kiritimati.