Just a cool shot of reels on the way to the dock in the morning on South Andros!
Many sounds accompany us as fly anglers in pursuit of our beloved targets. The sound the water makes burbling past as it trips and falls over the cobbled bottom. The calls of squabbling terns and gulls, the line cutting through the air on that first cast of the day.
No matter where you are or how minute it is, every sound we pick up on triggers an emotion or reaction with in us, building the audible feel and memories we retain throughout the day.
Of all the sounds we encounter during our time on the water, none gets the blood going as much as the sound of the drag singing on your fly reel.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the clicking of your grandpa’s old Pflueger Medalist on an over hung brook trout stream, or the cry of a Super 12 being unraveled at the stern of a blue water cruiser. As anglers, this can mark the moment of truth and the pinnacle of excitement.
Just about every reel manufactur has a little different drag sound. Some are loud and boisterous with a clicker, letting everyone within 100 yards know you’re hooked up. Others can be subtle and smooth, allowing the angler to be as discreet about his catch as wanted. No matter what the species, we all have our favorites reels and the sound that triggers the memories of that epic catch.
More on Elements of Fishing
Today we’re back with another edition of “Questions We Get Asked A Lot”.
We’ll paraphrase an email we received this week from an angler in Michigan who’s thinking about joining us at Andros South. “I’m thinking about a bonefishing trip. All my fishing so far has been in fresh water. Do you have saltwater fly fishing gear that I can rent during my trip?”
The answer is no, we don’t have gear that you can rent – we provide high quality rods, reels, lines and wading boots at no charge to our guests at Andros South. We have spinning rods available as well…never hurts to have one in the boat!
So go ahead and cross “I don’t have any saltwater gear” off of your list of reasons not to go bonefishing. Is that list empty now? Awesome! Drop us a line to get that trip on the books.
More on Our Program at Andros South
It’s poll time here at the Deneki blog!
There are a bunch of quality reels out there these days that do a great job in the saltwater.
We want to hear about your favorite fly reel for fishing in the saltwater, and why you like it.
- Any size, any price point.
- Any saltwater fishery – bonefish, salmon, tuna, tarpon, sea run trout…they all count.
- Tell us why you like it.
More Reader Input
Judging by the number of folks we’re hearing from recently, an awful lot of you are in the middle of planning your bonefishing trips for the upcoming season.
One very important part of trip planning is getting your gear ready to go, so we figured it was a good time for a roundup of some of our most popular posts about gear for bonefishing.
Top 10 Posts on Bonefishing Gear
- Bonefish Flies – 5 Favorites for South Andros. If you bring these 5, you’ll be fine.
- How to Pack for Your Day of Bonefishing. What goes on your person, in your pack and in your boat bag.
- Sage Xi3 Field Test. Our original test was on Puget Sound, but it’s a go-to for Andros.
- Veverka’s Mantis Shrimp. Bob Veverka himself wrote up this background on his legendary fly.
- 7 Reasons This Fly Works on South Andros Island. We take one fly that works and tell you why it does.
- Smith Ignitor Lens. It’s our current favorite lens for the flats.
- Reels for Bonefishing – 5 Things to Look For. No explanation needed.
- Bonefish Leader Design and Construction Video. Watch this if you haven’t already! It’s incredibly informative no matter how much you think you know.
- Barracuda Flies for the Bahamas. It’s another Bruce Chard video, back to back.
- Your Quiver for South Andros. We break down the must-have, nice-to-have and dream rods for our fishery.
More on Bonefishing
Back in September we ran an introductory post with information about Ross’s new F1 reel – with video straight from the show floor at IFTD. Brad Befus gave us all kinds of detail about the design of the F1, and that was awesome…but last month we got to fish one on the flats of South Andros, so today we’re back with our on-the-water impressions of the F1.
It’s super stiff. Ross says that the carbon fiber spool support makes the reel rigid. We don’t know what makes it rigid, but yeah…it’s really hard to flex this thing. This matters when you’re dealing with strong, hot fish like the bonefish on South Andros – you don’t want your reel flexing when you’re cranking hard on a big fish.
We like the machined foot. The reel foot isn’t screwed on – it’s machined from the same chunk of metal as the frame. This might seem like a silly technical detail, but it’s a pretty big deal actually. We’ve seen multiple guests’ reel frames come unscrewed from the reel foot in the middle of a battle, and it’s not pretty, at all.
The handle is mounted way on the outer edge of the spool. This isn’t incredibly significant, other than the fact that it has a large arbor to start with. It feels ‘really large arbor’ – each crank of the handle covers quite a lot of ground.
The engagement is super smooth. It takes just a smooth, easy pull to start line coming off the reel. That doesn’t matter so much on South Andros where 15 pound tippet is common – but it’s definitely something to consider if you’re considering a smaller size F1 for fishing in 6x-Land.
Drag performance was extremely consistent. Whether it was dry or dunked underwater (yes, we dunk reels when testing them because we think it’s hilarious that some fly reels perform different when they’re wet…really?), tight drag or loose drag, beginning or end of the week, we could tell pretty much no difference in the performance of the drag. No, a week at a fishing lodge doesn’t say much about how this reel is going to perform in a year (we’ll let you know in a year), but lots of drags change over the course of the conditions we just ran through, and the F1 didn’t.
We like the linear drag adjustment. Ross talks about the 56:1 mechanical advantage in the drag adjustment, and we’re not quite sure what that means. We do know that uniform turns of the drag knob resulted in uniform changes to the drag, which translates to “when we had to crank down on a big fish, turning the knob did what we thought it would”.
Pretty simple – we loved the Ross F1, and couldn’t come up with any issues at all with its design or performance. It’s a great looking, light, solid, high performance reel that we’d love to reach for any time we’re headed out on the flats.
In the larger sizes, it’s priced in the same ballpark as other comparable (mostly saltwater) reels – $525 for the #4 we tested. In the smaller sizes, it looks more expensive compared to the other options out there – $475 for the #2 that matches your 5 weight. It’s an incredible reel – in the smaller sizes you’ll just have to decide how much you want to spend.
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More Gear Reviews
Drag? Drag from the Reel?
Today’s big game reels are amazing, what with cork disc drags, Teflon, Rulon and sealed, multi-ball bearing models that are smooooth and designed to stop small trains. Yet it’s surprising how many don’t use their drag enough.
Once a fish is ripping off line I find it’s hard to get a proper drag setting applied, and for some, especially easy to over-do it. In most fast running fish circles, anglers learn that drag increases as the arbor of the reel decreases in diameter, so as a fish gets way out on you, one should actually back off heavy drag to keep it consistent. Add to this the fact that fat bellied lines and river currents also work against the fish and fisher, and one must develop an understanding of the whole idea of ‘drag’.
Tarpon anglers use some sophisticated techniques involving spring scales to set drags to the maximum possible range to suit tippet/leader strength. Others simply use a bucket full of water and pull the leader up over a chair – both ways allow maximum pressure without parting ways with the quarry.
Anadromous fishers don’t really need to go to such lengths, especially with two handed rods, but they should understand the range available to them with their reels and what is enough, not enough, and too much.
My rule of thumb works with any rod/leader/hook size. I simply set the drag so it turns when the rod reaches a maximum of about 20 degrees over the water for heavy leaders, 25-40 degrees for lighter gear. Never do I have my drag set to let go between 45-90 degrees. Why? Two handed rods apply an impressive amount of leverage on fish and leaders, but lifting the rod skyward past 45 degrees minimizes that leverage in a hurry.
Setting up your rig and getting a buddy to play fish teaches you a lot about what range is available to you. What you might think is ‘too heavy’ a big Chinook will rip off like it’s on free-spool; too light can mean a see-saw battle with a fish of a lifetime that ends in a pulled hook, because it simply wore out its hold. Be aggressive once you confirm a good hook placement.
Years ago, a friend and I coined the phrase ‘medieval’ drag settings, ironically while fishing Chinooks, and the term has stuck. It was deemed almost ‘nasty and unfair’ to set drag like that, but when your $100 fly line and 100s of yards of backing is going around the river bend because you were worried about being ‘fair’…you will start to re-think your drag settings.
More Tips for the Dean
Top 10 Bonefishing Posts in 2010
- Bonefish Flies – 5 Favorites for South Andros – Don’t bring your little Belize and Christmas Island flies, OK?
- Casting Advice from Torrie Bevans – Great advice, presented in a very unique manner.
- How to Pack for Your Day of Bonefishing – What goes where on your boat, in your bag and on your body.
- How to Set the Hook on a Bonefish – Whatever you do, don’t trout set.
- 7 Reasons This Fly Works on South Andros Island – People like reading about bonefish flies.
- Giant Roundup of Bonefishing Articles – 49 posts about bonefishing, so far.
- Veverka’s Mantis Shrimp – From its Creator – Bob Veverka tells us about his legendary fly.
- Bruce Chard’s Bonefish Rig – He’s caught way more bonefish than you. Here’s what he fishes.
- 5 Ways to Blow a Shot at a Bonefish – Learn what to do by learning what not to do.
- Reels for Bonefishing – 5 Things to Look For – Your reel matters on the flats.