Let’s do bonefishing tips from a steelhead guy!
Scott Baker-McGarva, our head guide at BC West, just got back from Andros South – yes, there are benefits to working for Deneki Outdoors. He checks in today with a great reminder to utilize that most ‘basic’ of casts – the roll cast – when light is tough on the flats.
Roll Casting on the Flats
A recent trip to Andros South was full of surprises, some of which were not really so much of a surprise but rather intriguing (land crabbing!), one a weather factor (it rains in the Bahamas?), and another, the ‘check your shorts after’ factor (did a 7 foot shark really just eat my Jack Crevalle, at my feet, while night fishing the channel?!).
When you live in the great white north as I do, the thought of a tropical trip is strictly sunshine, sunburns, and fast and furious fishing, since it’s the tropics right? Ha! Not always, enter ‘tropical showers’, which may make the land crabbing fast and furious but low light conditions on the flats make fly fishing a bit more of a challenge.
The big challenge is of course, visibility – even the bionic eyes of your trusty Andros guides can be that of mere mortals, with shots coming at 11 o’clock and 20 feet or less because you simply can’t see beyond that in some over-cast conditions.
Apart from the standard fare of trying to crouch and reduce your profile to the fast approaching bone, such a short cast is difficult because you simply have either too much line out and need to strip line in or risk over-shooting the fish, or not much more than 10 feet of fly line out and an inability to load the rod for the shot.
So my spey casting instincts kick in and tell me to just drop the fly in the water and roll cast to the target. No false casting, no waving the rod in the air over the fish – just a quick delivery to the target.
Roll casting is often the first cast taught in fly fishing schools for its principles of loop formation and the ‘proper acceleration to a stop’ to propel the cast, but after that, it’s an often under utilized cast that can be so effective. Sure it’s not as pretty and rewarding as sailing a tight loop out over the flat, but neither is seeing that 10 pound bonefish vanish because you over shot the fish or lined it so close in.
Even on longer shots, a simple roll cast followed by a single pick up and put down cast allows the water to help load an otherwise under loaded rod and get the cast away quickly and efficiently. New short head ‘quick-shooter’ lines like the Rio’s new Bonefish Quickshooter make this even easier on those challenging low light days, as the extreme weight forward design maximizes load for tight in shots.
Roll casts can be practiced easily enough while looking for fish as well as so little line is out, that you can be ready quick if a shot appears suddenly as it so often can in low light.
So next time you’re out on a low light day, reel in some line, make some practice shots and be ready.