Your Bonefish Fly Box
The Fall season, particularly in Cuba, is only time in the year where I will look to book a bonefish trip around the full moon. I like this timeframe because the October and November full moons bring the highest tides of the year and the bonefish in Cuba instinctively understand that these full moons and the resulting high tides will allow them to feed in areas that are completely dry the rest of the year. I love to wade fish and I have places in both the Zapata and at Cayo Romano that I only get to access and fish during the October and November full moons. The rest of the year both of these areas that I can fish with great success in October and November, are devoid of water and fish.
We have plenty of guests resuming their bonefish passion this fall and what I’m about to say will be applicable to guests heading to Cuba, The Bahamas, Mexico and Belize. I do a lot of hosted trips where bonefish are the priority species for the trip and I’ve been noticing a trend lately where many guests are bringing the right fly patterns for a successful bonefish trip, but that these patterns usually have little variation in terms of size. Now it is true that each of the destinations that we send guests to bonefish at will always have a couple of go to flies that just seem to out produce all other flies and we certainly want our anglers to have these patterns with them when they travel to their chosen location to fish.
That said, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage guests to diversify and enhance their fly boxes to include these “best patterns” in a variety of sizes and weights. While I firmly believe that big bonefish like to eat big flies, it’s important to recognize that bonefish will travel and feed in a variety of water depths and that you will catch more fish if your fly size matches the water depth you are fishing. For example, if the Gotcha is a must have pattern at a specific destination I’m fishing, I want to have this fly pattern in sizes 2 down to 8. I will even tie some Gotchas that are unweighted because I love to fish skinny water and I know that a big bonefish will readily take a delicately presented small fly in 4 inches of water but that same fish will likely blow out and spook if I throw a heavier size 2 Gotcha. This situation is even more magnified when fishing Spring tides, where you are generally fishing higher water levels than normal, where bonefish will be eager to get up in to the higher areas on the flats, that they know they can only access a couple of times per month.
Throwing a heavy fly in a shallow water situation because its all you have, is not the best way to maximize your trip opportunities. It is much better to have only two or three good patterns in your fly box that are tied in a wide variety of sizes and weights than a fly box stuffed to the gills with 12 + patterns that are only tied in one or two sizes.