Thanks from Andros South

Bonefish Guide at Andros South Bonefish Lodge
We’ll be waiting for you.. Photo: Kyle Shea.

Today we wrap up another fantastic season here at Andros South and wanted to give a big thanks to all of you who joined us this year.

Whether you fished with us or lived vicariously through our blog, we appreciate it and hope to share the water with you next season.

Thanks!

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Practicing Before Your Bonefishing Trip – 5 Tips

Fly Casting Practice for Bonefish
Practice makes proficient. Photo: Jordan Sly.

We like to see our guests make the most out of their time on the water, which is why we always suggest putting in some casting practice before a trip. After all, it’s better to shake the rust off on the lawn than on your first day of fishing, right?

However, at Andros South we’ve found that while many of our guests do take the time to practice in the backyard before their trip, they don’t always practice some of the most important fundamentals when it comes to bonefishing.

So, today we’re coming at you with 5 tips to get the most out of your practice time, and hopefully help you catch more fish.

  1. Practice With the Fly in Hand. Whether you’re fishing from the boat or on foot, most shots at bonefish start from the ready position with the fly in hand. The ability to work out enough line to present the fly quickly to a target with only a short amount of line out of the rod tip is one of the most difficult things for beginners to pick up. So, rather than practicing picking up 40 feet of line straight in front of you and casting to a target, practice casting to a target from the ready position instead.
  2. Practice in the Wind – Correctly. When practicing casting in the wind, most anglers only focus on casting directly into the wind. While it’s important to be able to cast into a strong headwind, most anglers find it is a wind blowing onto your casting shoulder that is the most difficult to present a fly in. Make sure to practice casting to a target from all wind directions and you’ll be ready for anything.
  3. Cast to a Target. The ability to present the fly quickly and accurately is key to catching more bonefish. Therefore when practicing before your trip, always cast to a target. However, continually casting to the same target from the same position with a fixed amount of line is not very helpful. Instead, lay out several targets at different directions and distances and practice presenting your fly to each of them. After all, the ability to change directions and present your fly quickly and accurately is the name of the game.
  4. Present With Minimal False Casts. As mentioned above, the ability to present your fly as quickly as possible is important when fishing for bonefish. Often times, the window of opportunity is only a few seconds! So, practice presenting your fly at a target with no more than 2-3 false casts.
  5. Practice Transferring Line. While practicing your cast, get in the habit of quickly transferring your line to the stripping position immediately after presenting the fly. We see a lot of fish lost because the fish is on the fly before the angler has control of the line. Every time you cast at a target, practice transferring the line to the stripping position as quickly as possible and pretend as if you are going to strip (or strip-set) your fly. That way, when it’s go time, you’re ready the second your fly hits the water.

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Airflo Chard Tropical Punch Fly Line

Airflo Bruce Chard Tropical Punch Fly Line Review
Locked and loaded at Andros South. Photo: Kyle Shea.

In 2013 our buddy Bruce Chard took the flats fishing world by storm when he teemed up with the folks at Scientific Anglers to develop his Grand Slam fly line. In fact, it won Best in Show at the 2013 International Fly Tackle Dealer Show.

We found the line’s ability to turn over big flies into the wind at short distances to be a great match for our fishery at Andros South, and many of our guests quickly found it to be their fly line of choice as well.

Well, this year Bruce up with Airflo to create a new line, using the same great taper (minus a few small diameter tweaks), with a few more features that we think made for an even better line! We already dig the taper, but a few new features we noticed right off the bat that we think has made for a big difference are as follows.

  • It’s quiet. One of the biggest complaints we heard from our guests about the previous Grand Slam line was the sound of the line through the rod guides. The texture of the line certainly allowed it to shoot well, but some found it to be noisy and a bit abrasive on the fingers when stripped. We’re not sure the fish really care about the sound the line makes, but if you’re the type who likes a quieter, more finger friendly line, you’ll definitely appreciate the Airflo Tropical Punch. It uses Airflo’s Ridge Technology in which tiny ridges run along the length of the line to reduce friction, keeping the line quiet while still shooting like a rocket.
  • It floats well. Many modern salwater lines feature extremely thin running lines in order to shoot line as far as possible. That’s fine when fishing from a boat, however at Andros South we wade quite a bit for bonefish and thin running lines don’t tend to float very well while wading. That’s a bummer when making a shot at a tailing bonefish only to find your running line is snagged in the turtle grass behind you. However, while the running line on the Tropical Punch is super thin, it still floats like a cork! Airflo calls it ‘Super-Dri’ technology, and while we don’t quite understand how it works, we’re sold on the idea.

We’ll save you from the super techy rundown on the design of the taper. Instead, we’ll let the designer himself tell you about it in video form below.

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“Bonefishing is Really Hard” – Think Again

Fly Fishing for Bonefish in the Bahamas for Beginners
Vicki doin’ work.

We find that many of our first time guests at Andros South are under the assumption that fly fishing for bonefish is extremely difficult. There’s seems to be a perception that you have to be an expert caster to even THINK about fishing for bonefish.

Well, today we’re here to tell you that that is not true! Sure, there are days where bonefishing can be difficult, but if you’ve never fished the salt before, we like to describe it as ‘different,’ not necessarily hard. And yes, the better caster you are, the more opportunities you will have, but that’s not to say you need to be Tim Rajeff to enjoy fishing for bonefish.

Still don’t believe us? Try this on for size. This past week, we had not one, not two, but three people in camp catch their first bonefish. But here’s the kicker, two have them had never caught a fish on a fly rod before! We’re lucky that our flats are generous to anglers of all experience levels, not just the elite.

Congratulations to Vicki, Larry, an Sue on your first bonefish, we’re happy we could be a part of it.

More on Bonefishing

One Fishy Couple

Fly Fishing Couples Proposal
Who could say no to that? Photo: Kyle Shea.

Operating fly fishing lodges around the world, we’d go out on a limb to say we’ve seen our share of gear from time to time.

However, this was one of the fishiest things we’ve seen at our lodges for some time, and certainly a first for us.

Now that’s a reel proposal.. Sorry that was bad.

More Cool Photos from Our Lodges

Bonefishing – A Steelheader’s Perspective

Fly Fishing for Bonefish for Beginners
Whitney and bonefish. Photo: Whitney Gould.

Here at Andros South, we were recently joined by Alaska West guide, Whitney Gould, for her first bonefishing trip. When not guiding in Alaska, Whitney spends her winters chasing steelhead throughout the Pacific Northwest, not exactly a tropical setting.

Knowing that many of our readers have never experienced flats style fishing, we asked Whitney to recount her first bonefishing experience from the steelheader’s perspective. If you’ve never fished for anything but coldwater species, but have always been curious about flats fishing, this one’s for you.

Enjoy!

Waderless Fly Fishing

A feeling comes over me when it’s time to wrap up another winter steel head guide season. It’s deflating knowing that I won’t have the opportunity to pursue this magnificent fish for another eight more months. So, this year rather than sulk around and drive my husband crazy with an endless amount of ‘what to do next’ questions, I decided to make the transition less traumatic by buying a plane ticket to South Andros. I invited my husband to go along, and he responded by saying, “I don’t think you can swing for bonefish.” I quickly realized I was going alone and leaving my waders, dog, and husband behind.

The shuttle flight from Fort Lauderdale to Congo Town had a 35 pound checked bag limit. My duffle suitcase weighed six. I realized that the rest of weight depended on what I put in the bag. Waders, wading boots, fleece jackets, and rain gear can add up pretty quickly. But I was going south and needed only a few items along with two single handed rods and reels. In a state of confusion I started to pack two weeks in advance. Super stoked to be under the weight limit, I set out for Andros.

As I stepped off the plane, ferns were replaced with sand, and slate colored skies were replaced with an intense blue. Lucky for me, I bought a new pair of sunglasses as I was initially welcomed by intense sunlight.

Day one was unexepected. Bonefish, clear waters, and waiting for the grab. Something was out of place. As a two handed fisherman who has learned to wait, and feel the weight of the fish prior to setting the hook, the grab never came. By the time I went to set the hook, the fish had released the fly and was gone. I was waiting and nobody was knocking. Suddenly the seasoned steelhead/salmon guide became a beginner once again. I was at a loss, and the more I tried the worse it got. I managed to land a few fish, but far fewer than the ones I got to take.

That evening I learned that bone fish will quickly suck in their food, smash and swallow; if it’s tasteless the fish will eject the foreign object extremely fast. Faster than the average steelheader can comprehend or react. Nevertheless I spent my week attempting to out “Whit” myself and the fish. A few errors I found I had to overcome were:

  1. Trout sets do not work well with bonefish.. Ever.
  2. Swearing and stamping your feet on the bow also doesn’t work. It will only get you a time out from the guide and spook the other fish. Bonefish are extremely spooky and can hear loud noise and voices.
  3. Leave your loud click and pawl style reels at home. Josie, one of the guides, is convinced that bonefish are hyper sensitive to noise and that I was spooking fish simply by pulling line of my beloved old style reel.

All in all I loved my trip to South Andros. The crew was super fun and amazing. The guides patient and professional. Once again, I was humbled by the fish I was learning to catch. These fish are smart, fast and hard to see. To be successful one needs to fish for them on their terms, not ours. It’s well worth the journey for an amazing experience. I can’t wait until next year.

More Posts on Bonefishing from Our Guests

George Cook’s Bonefish Rig

Fly Fishing for Bonefish
George has lots of rigs. Photo: Jennifer Cook.

George Cook recently spent some time with us beating up on bonefish at Andros South. George is the Northwest manufacturer’s rep for Sage, Redington, and RIO along with many other great brands. He’s fished all over the world and has probably forgotten more about rigging up for just about everything that swims than most of us will learn in a lifetime.

He usually rigs up more rods than the rest of our guests combined, but when the money’s on the table, here’s his bonefish rig of choice.

The Summary

  • Sage SALT 890-4 Rod
  • Sage Domain 8 Reel
  • RIO 8 wt. General Purpose Tropical Floating Fly Line

The Detail

  • 25 yards of 20 lb. Dacron tied to the spool with an arbor knot (yes, only 25 yards).
  • 150 yards of 50 lb. Gel Spun backing connected to Dacron using a double uni knot.
  • 25 yards of 20 lb. Dacron (yes, again) connected to Gel Spun backing using a double uni knot.
  • Loop created in the fly line end of backing using a perfection loop.
  • Backing connected to fly line via loop to loop connection.
  • 10.5 foot leader constructed from, 9 foot, 16 pound RIO Bonefish Leader (see details below) attached to fly line via loop to loop connection.
  • For a fly of choice, I’m currently super hot on a new pattern called Shea’s Bonefish Buttah’.

The Commentary

  • “I like the SALT rod because it’s proven to be a wonderful tool in the bonefish theater both near and far. It’s great for close casts which so many of these fish are hooked at, but you can still punch it out there when needed.”
  • “The General Purpose Tropical Taper is an extremely overlooked line. A lot of people hear ‘general purpose’ and think ‘well I’m not doing a general purpose trip, and think maybe a bonefish line might be THE bonefish line,’ whereas this line with a 40 foot taper is truly a universal line for casters of all levels.”
  • “The Domain reel is new at Sage. It’s a full caged frame which means no line can slip through, which is obviously nice when re-rigging for spey and switch applications as well. It has an extremely smooth drag and a no nonsense design.”
  • “My leader of choice is a 10.5 foot leader made from cutting back 1 foot of tippet off of a RIO 9 foot, 16 pound bonefish leader, and attaching approximately 30 inches of 16 pound RIO Fluoroflex with a blood knot. 9 foot leaders are the standard, and many experienced guys like 12 foot leaders for bonefish, but I find 10.5 feet to be a great middle ground. It seems to give a solid turnover, even in the wind”

More Bonefish Rigs