You’ve stalked, searched, and finally spotted perhaps the most exciting thing in bonefishing, a tailing bonefish.. Now what?
Tailing fish can make even the most experienced anglers weak in the knees. Not to worry, the next time you spot a tailer, follow these steps to make the best shot possible.
- Relax! Tailing fish are happy fish, and if they’re still tailing, odds are they don’t know you’re there yet. Take the time to make a good shoot. Presenting your fly quickly is great, but only if you can present it well.
- Pick Your Target. Are there more than one fish in the area? If so, try to hone in on the best fish in the group. Can’t quite see through the glare? Try picking out the biggest tail. Be picky!
- Decide Which Direction He’s Going. Once you’ve found your target, decide which direction he’s facing in order to present the fly in front of the fish. Presenting the fly to the tail won’t end well.. Trust us on this one.
- Position Yourself. Shift your body, shoulders, move your feet, or even the boat, to position yourself in order to present the fly so that it will track AWAY from the fish, not towards it when retrieved.
- Check Your Casting Lane. It’s easy to get tunnel vision on a tailing fish. Before making your shot take a brief second to evaluate your casting lane (i.e. where your fly line will land). Make sure there are no mangroves, coral heads, or most importantly other bonefish between you and your target. There’s nothing more frustrating when presenting to a tailing fish than lining a fish you didn’t know was in the area, thus spooking it and your target!
- Land it Close. Most tailing fish are actively feeding fish. That means most of the time they’ve got their head down, scouring the bottom for food, most likely stirring up mud from the bottom. They’re not checking their periphery as much as cruising fish and probably can’t see much through the mud anyhow. Land the fly close.