When retrieving a fly for bonefish, most of the time you want your fly to bump along or swim just above the bottom in order to imitate common bonefish prey such as shrimp, crabs, baitfish, and so on. That means that most of the time you’re retrieving your fly with relatively short (let’s say 1-2 feet) slow strips.
However, when fishing from a flats skiff, sometimes the speed of the boat moving towards your target requires you to retrieve the fly even faster in order to pick up the slack forming in the fly line before being able to impart action onto the fly. Therefore, it’s really important to be aware of the speed that the boat’s moving in order to adjust your retrieve accordingly. We’ve written on this topic in the past, so in a nutshell, if you’re moving towards your target, you’re probably going to have to strip longer and faster than normal..
More often than not, if fishing from a flats skiff, you’re probably going to be poling downwind – as that’s not only easier on the caster, but easier on the guy poling the boat too. Regardless, sometimes bonefish show up out of nowhere, requiring you to cast in the opposite direction in which the boat is drifting..
In this situation (particularly on a windy day), a normal strip combined with the speed of the boat can cause the fly to move too fast for the fish to catch up. Therefore, when drifting away from your target, sometimes it pays off to simply let your fly drift, without stripping at all! The speed of the boat will cause the fly to ‘swim’ instead.
So, if you’re drifting away from your target, and the fish appears to be following your fly but won’t eat it, try stopping your retrieve completely and allow the speed of the boat to work in your favor.