Fly fishing for bonefish isn’t easy, and if you’ve never done it before, trying to figure out new water is challenging. Learning what works with particular fish in a different habitat can be challenging. Understanding what gear to bring and how to use it will give you a leg up by not wasting time figuring out what you need. There’s nothing more frustrating than not having everything you need for a successful day out on the flats. That’s why we have put together this list of the essentials you’ll need to fish the flats.
8 Weight, to 10 Weight Fly Rods
If you’re fishing the flats, chances are you’re fishing for big, aggressive, hard-fighting fish that will give you the rodeo of a lifetime. You need rods with a backbone to manage large, open water fishing. 8 to 10 weight rods, with a faster action to cut through the wind, will be your best bet.
Large Arbor Reels
To pair your fast action fly rods, you’ll need a large arbor fly reel with a strong, closed drag system. Preferably one that has a large capacity for your backing and fly line, so when these Bonefish take you for a ride, you’ll have plenty of line to manage.
A saltwater-specific floating line is your best bet. A Saltwater-specific fly line is made for saltwater. If you try using your trout line, you’ll find your casts to be sloppy. Saltwater fly lines have stiffer cores and different tapers to make quicker, accurate casts at a distance.
Leader, Tippet, & Flies
A 10-foot tapered leader between 8 and 12 pounds will cover most bonefish. Like Fly Line, saltwater leaders are made stiffer for better casts and turning over larger flies. We typically would add another 2-3 feet of tippet material.
Fluorocarbon tippet is preferred for saltwater fly fishing Fluorocarbon is not only strong, but it’s also less visible, reducing your chances of spooking bonefish.
You only need a handful of types of flies for bonefish. That being said, you’ll need a bunch of them. Shrimp, crab, and baitfish patterns The patterns we use each day are selected based on the species we are targeting, the water we are fishing, time of year, feeding patterns of fish, and many other factors. But it is essential to have a good selection of crab, shrimp, and baitfish patterns to choose from. Check out the links below for bonefish patterns.
Fly fishing Tools
Having pliers with scissors, a hook sharpener, a small knife, a multi-tool, nippers, and a lanyard for easy access is essential. Make sure all these tools are saltwater safe. You should consider rinsing everything off every time you get off the water.
Sun shirts, Shorts, & Pants
When fishing for bonefish, it’s inevitable you’ll get wet. You want clothing that’s lightweight, moisture-wicking, and has maximum coverage from the sun. This includes pants and shorts. Pants offer ideal sun protection. We also like Sun shirts, especially the ones with hoods. You should also bring a lightweight rain jacket as an outer layer to keep you drier and even cut the wind.
Wading Boots, Flip Flops, and Bare Feet
You’re going to a tropical place; of course, you’ll have flip flops, but if you’re planning on wading, you’ll need wading boots to protect your feet from whatever might be lying on the bottom of the ocean. Consider saltwater-specific boots as they are non-marking. If you’re fishing from the boat, your bare feet are very comfortable and give you a better “feel.”
An absolute must-have is polarized sunglasses with a lot of coverage. What do you mean by the coverage, you ask? Frames and Lens that will fully cover your eyes. Light leaks are cool in pictures but not good while fishing on the flats for bonefish. Bonus tip, bring a lens cloth too.
A hat does two things; protect your head from the sun and reduce glare off the water. Consider getting a hat with a dark-colored underbill to help further cut the glare from the water. Oh, stay away from the mesh-backed hats.
Face Cover Neck Gaiter and Gloves
Just like the hat, a face mask or neck gaiter will help you in two ways; protect your beautiful face from the sun reflecting off the water and windburn during the boat rides. On your bonefishing trip of a lifetime, the last thing you need is sunburn + windburn on your money maker.
Gloves also protect the tops of your hands from sun rays.
Sunscreen & Lip Balm
If gloves aren’t your thing, make sure to have sunscreen on the tops of your hands. Just make sure it’s ocean safe. Lip Balm is also a nice thing to have to save your dry, cracked lips.
A Waterproof Bag
A boat bag, sling, or hip pack to carry all your tools, leader, tippet, and flies is a must-have. Consider getting a large enough one that is not only waterproof but also big enough to carry your jacket.
Well, there you have it—a handy list of essentials you’ll need to cover you on your bonefish trip. We hope this helps.
Other Tips on Bonefishing:
Bruce Mahony says
Thanks for the good coverage. I have only fished Kiritimati and I have had three trips. Bonefish landed and released 345. For the wind I found caps with neck shades too noisey. So a duck bill cap is the best and I wear a Buff which covers the top back of my head down to my shoulders. Long sleeve UPF50 coolmax shirts and UPF 50 gloves and long trousers.
Rods are medium fast 8wt 9ft, lines are 9wt Redfish taper floaters with 250 metres backing. For the bad windy days I use a Sage Bass Bluegill 8ft as it helps with the wind. I usually have a 10wt and a 12wt outfit with me to cover the larger fish on the flats. Cheers & keep up the good work.
Larry Lewis says
Lightweight rain jackets are ok for wading but a standard weight waterproof rain jacket will provide much better protection from wind driven rain and bow spray while running in the boat.
I carry two bags onto the boat. The second one is a net that contains my boots, waterproof and other stuff I expect to get wet. Saves a lot of faffing around.