If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.. Advice that is as pertinent to bonefishing as it is to, well, life.
When fly fishing for bonefish, many anglers are quick to give up upon the first refusal of their fly, often missing out on a second or even third shot at the same fish.
That’s why Deneki team member, Grant Turner, put together a great write-up on a valuable lesson learned from Andros South guide, Josie Sands, on how to capitalize on that second opportunity. Today we share that write-up with you.
Second Chance? Retrieve Slower!
In the world of fly fishing there is no substitute for first hand experience. Recently, I was fortunate to cast some flies with veteran bonefish guide, Josie Sands, at Andros South. Josie has been guiding the flats of South Andros for well over twenty years. He has watched thousands of bonefish eat flies and thousands more refuse them. Its safe to say he as an intimate understanding of how a bonefish reacts to a fly under any given set of conditions, and its from this mountain of experience of which we draw our tip from for today.
“Bonefish. Eleven o’clock. 40 feet.” I️ tracked my focal point with my rod tip to the left in the general direction of eleven. My rod stopped as I️ recognized a shadow. From the high vantage of the platform Josie responded to my silent movements, “That’s them. Go.” I️ could see three healthy Bahamian bonefish cruising from left to right, quartering towards me. In the arena of bonefishing, this would be considered by most to be an easy shot. I️n a split second I️ focused on the group and aimed to lead the front fish by a few feet. After two false casts my fly hit the surface, dropping my fly discreetly in the zone. I️ began my retrieve, intently focusing on my fly as I️ stripped line. The lead fish honed in on the fly, following its movement over several strips, but never ate. I️ felt a brief moment of defeat before Josie urged, “cast again, strip slower.” I️ laid out a cast and focused on his instructions, drawing the line back to my pocket with slower tempo than before. “He ate it! Set!” And off to the races it went. After releasing the fish and cracking a few jokes about missing the first shot, I️ realized what a good lesson this particular experience was. With Josie’s help I️ was able to take a blatant refusal and turn it into a hookup.
In most instances, after experiencing a fish snob my fly I️ would have been motivated to change flies. But with the expert guidance of one of South Andros’ best I learned an important lesson; if you get refused (providing the fish doesn’t spook) you still have a second, and sometimes third shot with the same fly. Make the most of this second shot and show the fish something different while you still have a chance. According to Josie, the first thing an angler can do to show the fish something different is to slow down their retrieval speed. And, believe it or not, it works!