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1. Use the right fly. In most cases that means using the heaviest fly that conditions will allow. Weight is my single biggest consideration when choosing a fly. Most bonefish, but especially big bonefish, will refuse a fly that isn't on the bottom. The fly must also stay on the bottom. Wind and tidal current can pull on too light a fly and move it up and inches off the bottom. Bonefish do not like this, because prey do not behave like this... bonefish prey hug the bottom!  If a bonefish follows your fly and does not tip down or comes up in the water column to look, your fly is too light. Be more concerned with the weight of your fly than with the pattern you use. I'm convinced many, if not most, patterns will work for bonefish, but all too often the fly is too light. If I tie a dozen flies in a pattern, I vary the weight by using a variety of eyes from lead barbell to different sized bead chain or I'll even use a lead wrap or strip on the hook shank. I may not change a fly pattern during the day, but I change the weight of the fly often based on current conditions and water depth.






2. Throw as close to the fish as conditions will allow. Bonefish never move in a straight line when they feed. They may zig, then zag. They may meander hither and yon and to and fro before ever getting to your fly. Based on water depth, current, and wind, you need to get your fly as close to a bonefish on the prowl as possible. Hit 'em on the head if you can. If you do, DON'T MOVE THE FLY!! Don't strip! Bonefish will watch a fly settle to the bottom before eating. Bonefish will often eat your fly without you ever having to move it. If they turn away from your fly, then and only then, bump it... slowly. 




3. Let me repeat myself... Keep stripping to a minimum, and watch the fish's reaction. When fishing for large bonefish, most people strip way too much and too fast. If guides are telling you to "strip, strip", ignore them. They know not what they do!  As with permit, big bonefish often eat with the fly sitting still on the bottom. The first strip, if needed, (that would be if the fish you just hit on the head, that watched as your fly settled to the bottom turns away), should be a 3-inch bump. This raises the fly off the bottom, and then it quickly plunges back like an escaping crab. When you do this, you need to be watching the fish's reaction. Many times, one bump is all it takes. Let the fly plunge. Let the bonefish eat it!  Watch the fish. If it does not eat, then make a long slow strip, then let the fly settle. Watch the fish! DO NOT IMMEDIATELY STRIP AGAIN! Many bonezillas have been caught after a series of long slow strips followed by excruciating periods of just letting the fly sit still. 

Always remember, a bonefish fly is not a streamer and it does not have to be moving for a bonfish to eat it!
This takes patience... speaking of patience:


4. Be patient, make reasonable casts. The tendency when sight fishing is to cast too early and too long. Accuracy decreases dramatically with longer casts. Let the fish get closer (see Hints #2) and make your first cast count.







5. Keep your rod tip down while stripping, and make a slow strip strike. Put the rod tip in or near the water. This minimizes the slapping noise the line makes. This little bit of noise can spook a bone. When the fish eats, make a long, slow strip strike to the side. Many times the fish may miss the fly, but if you do a slow side strike, you can let the fly drop if the fly misses its mark and get a second chance.







Bonefishing is a skill sport! 
The more knowledgeable and better prepared fisherman almost always catches not only the most fish, but the biggest fish. 


Next time: Casting and Stealth