If you’re new to flats fishing, getting ready for a trip can be a bit intimidating! We’re here to help lessen the load. Here are some tips & tricks before you head out on your next saltwater trip.
Ask questions! Visit your local fly shop, check out some of our articles, or reach out to the online community. There are no stupid questions & you’ll never stop learning. Check to see what flies people are using. It’s even more fun to look up some recipes & tie your own.
Practice makes perfect. Work on your accuracy casting. You’re trying to get as accurate as possible with as minimal false casts as possible. Once you feel comfortable, start extending your distance. Work with a moving target for an exciting challenge! Practice on days when the weather is less than ideal. Be one with the wind, use it to your advantage.
Trust your guide. These guides have been searching for the ‘silver ghosts’ day in and day out for years! They will be better at spotting them than you. Don’t wait until you see the fish, listen to your guide & they will help you place your fly in the right spot. Remember, bonefish like to move around so cast ahead of them. Keep your eyes out for nervous water & as a friend said, remember where they have been, not where they are.
Patience. Wait for the fish to eat your fly and whatever you do, don’t trout set! Work on getting used to strip setting for these fish. It’s inevitable that the first day back on the flats, you’ll raise that arm up. But don’t worry, the next time you won’t let that happen again.
Be ready! Line management will make or break an opportunity. Have enough of your fly line out of your rod tip & keep your fly in your hand while you wait for the next fish. If you are fishing from the boat your job is to keep your buddy’s line in the boat and free of tangles while they are on the bow. You watch their back, they watch yours.
Bring a waterproof boat bag! Whether you end up walking the flats or fishing from the bow of the skiff, having a good waterproof bag makes life much easier. You can store any extra gear you have without the worries of sea spray & it makes keeping that extra layer much more convenient. Electrolyte tablets are great to throw in your bag & give you that extra boost & hydration throughout the day.
Proper footwear. Be nice to your feet. You want to have good protection between your feet and the sharp coral. Sand will get in your boots, so don’t forget neoprene socks!
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! As nice as coming back from a trip all tan is, having a burnt body is NO fun. Remember to apply to the tops of your feet, the underside of your nose & your hands!
Bring a couple of sunglasses with different lens colors. For the flats, a green mirror lens is ideal. Lower light conditions? Go for a copper or copper silver mirror. Fishing at the crack of dawn or in the evening? Check out the sunrise silver mirror!
As with any type of fishing, being properly outfitted is of utmost importance, especially when it comes to fishing closer to the Equator. Be sure to have breathable, lightweight, quick-dry clothing with a UPF rating. This will limit your exposure to the sun as well as your use of sunscreen, which we all know, fish don’t like! Also, keep the colors neutral so you blend in. Buffs or neck gaiters, an extra hat (in case it meets Davey Jones), stripping gloves, and a hooded sun shirt are all good items to have with you.
Above all, don’t be nervous. Have an open mind & go for the experience. It’s not always about the numbers or the 13 pounder. It’s about the memories you make with those around you. One day, you’ll come back after a long day on the flats with bonefish slime on your pants & know you’ve made it.