File today’s post in the “questions we get asked a lot” category. Lots of new flats anglers worry about whether or not they have the casting skill to catch bonefish, apparently. We’ll answer twice.
Answer #1: It Depends Where You’re Fishing
Fisheries for bonefish vary widely. In places with a lot of fishing pressure, bonefish can be spooky and in those places they won’t get very close to a boat or an angler on foot. In the Florida Keys, it helps a lot if you can make an accurate cast in the 75 foot range, because you simply may not get a lot of shots closer than that.
In other fisheries the fish aren’t very spooky, and that brings us to answer #2.
Answer #2: On South Andros, 30 Feet
Lucky for us, the fishery at Andros South is vast and pristine, with very little fishing pressure. Most of the time, most of our bonefish are not very spooky at all. Many of our shots involve fish swimming right at you, and very frequently they’ll swim up to within 10 feet.
Shots at 10 feet are actually pretty hard – for one thing, your rod doesn’t load very well with 1 foot of fly line (plus 9 feet of leader) out the tip of your rod. At 30 feet you can turn your fly over pretty well and have some fly line available for the strip, strip, strip that moves your fly and entices a bonefish to eat.
We regularly host anglers who have never fly fished before, and they all catch fish. We can have you casting 30 feet within the first hour that you’ve held a fly rod. Sure, anglers who can cast further and more accurately will catch more fish, but we have not yet hosted a guest who couldn’t cast far enough to catch a bonefish at Andros South.
Reminder: Speed is More Important Than Distance
We have another post about this topic so we won’t cover it all here – click here for the detail. If you’re going to practice casting before your trip to the flats, work on getting the fly out to 30-40 feet with as few false casts as possible. This is a much more important skill than casting 80 feet.