Fly Rod Size on Bonefish Flats - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 03-26-2002, 08:23 PM
-ale -ale is offline
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Fly Rod Size on Bonefish Flats


Sorry for the late reply but work [yuck] has kept me off the boards.

Starting a new thread cuz the subject has changed.

Do you find it interesting that a lot of people think that rod size, 7 wt, vs. 10wt, is the limiting factor for landing big fish on the flats?

Iím no expert, but it seems to me that the size of the rod is the least important variable in the equation, especially on the flats. The rod provides lifting power, not stopping power. On the flats, the rod is primarily a shock absorber, not a lever. A properly used 7wt will safely land a 10# plus bone in the shallows.

The key element of the fight is the drag capability of the reel. The drag must fight the fish until heís ready to turn. The drag lets you control the fish so you can get him in for a healthy release while heís still fresh. By drag, I mean both the mechanical system and the anglerís palming skill.

A competent angler with a 7wt rod and high performance reel should be comfortable landing a big bonefish.

The real limit on rod size is wind. The rod provides power to throw the fly; the wind opposes the flys travel. The more wind and the bulkier the fly, then more rod is needed.

A calm day on the flats will allow you to land a big bone after a long cast in any direction. If itís blowing 15/20 a 10 wt will allow at least a short cast upwind. After the hookup, it all a matter of drag.

What do you think?

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Old 03-27-2002, 12:18 AM
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Adrian Adrian is offline
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Interesting topic and I tend to agree. The technique of bringing a fish to hand (or boat) in minimum amount of time is a function of both technique and equipment. For speedsters like bonefish and tunoids, a top notch drag is a major asset. Good technique will do more to avoid a prolonged fight than a powerful rod. This was explained to me a few years ago by Grant Hartman at Baja Anglers. The method of wearing down a big fish fast requires exerting maximum pressure on the tippet and this is achieved by literaly pointing the rod almost directly at the fish and pulling straight back. Once the rod is raised, the actual pressure on the tippet is drastically reduced. I know it sounds counterintuitive but thats the way they do it to marlin and sailfish down there. Grant has held some notable IGFA records including Roosterfish and Yellowfin tuna on 4lb tippets!

It takes practice to know just what 9 lbs of pressure feels like on a 10 lb tippet.

One way to figure it out and have some fun is having a friend hold a spring balance (or boga grip) to which you attach your leader. Peel of 20 or so yards of line and exert pressure through the rod. Tell your friend how much pressure you think your applying and have him tell you the actual result - you'll be very surprised! Try the direct pull and have him call out the readings as you approach breaking point - make sure your knots are perfect and wear eye protection just in case!
When sight fishing, look over your shoulder from time to time, you never know who's behind you

Last edited by Adrian; 03-27-2002 at 08:19 AM.
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Old 03-31-2002, 09:10 AM
mdbones mdbones is offline
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Rod Size

Agree with you on the perception. As long as the fishing is in the classic bonefish style (wide open spaces). But I do feel - key word "feel" - that when in tight quarters I have much better success "stopping" bones with my nine versus my eight. I guess this comes in part from my experience dragging Snook out from under lighted docks in the Tampa Bay area. I have snapped eight weight rods at the butt section when pinching the line and dragging the snook out from under docks.

I take identical brand seven, eight, and nine weight rods with me when I head down to the Bahamas. The major factor that I use to pick which rod to use is not so much wind, but fly size and flat type.

I am leaning more and more towards size 2 flies (or larger) tied Key's style which tend to be heavier, and bulkier. The eight weight will throw these no problem on an open flat as long as the wind is not over 12 mph.

If I am fishing a spring tide up in the Mangroves (see North Riding Point GB) I will go to the nine weight with a sixteen pound leader and 20 pound tippet. These fish rarely burn over 50 yards of line because once hooked,they head straight for the nearest mangrove field. You have to boil them like a snook to prevent them from getting back into the groves'- in this situation I alway's use the nine weight because I feel the exra back bone is required to horse the fish (hey - it's not the classic style but it is productive on certain tides)and I can definitely tell the difference between the eight and nine.

I still end up fishing the eight weight seventy percent of the time. As long as the flat is open with little obstruction and, as long as I can maintain the right angles I whip a bonefish every bit as quickly with the eight as with a nine or even 10 weight.

If I am blessed, and find myself on an ultra thin flat with no wind I will throw lighter unweighted flies and the seven is perfect (o.k., o.k., this happened once out of eighteen day's last year in the Bahamas). Just set the drag and and let em' run.

Of course all of this talk on rods brings up another point in regards to Bonefishing:the reel. Although, I own three of the topline brand reels manufactured here in Florida, sometimes I wonder why. When Bonefishing I set it on the lightest drag setting - and never have I had to use the "train stopping" cork drag to reign in a bonefish. Of course the do look nice sitting in the display case in my office in between trips.

I appreciate the conversation on this board - It has me out of my mind with anticipation for my April 17th Bimini Trip!

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Old 04-02-2002, 06:02 PM
-ale -ale is offline
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Fishing in Tight Spots


Very informative post.

Yep, bush fishing is a totally different story. I agree with you completely. Sometimes, brute force is required; even the anchor system needs attention.

Warning to all: going way off topic here.

Sunday, we were snook fishing in a little mangrove notch maybe 40 yards wide. The skiff was staked up in hard mud. Angie hooked the biggest snook of what turned to be her personal best day ( her total snook: 7 reds: 2 ) and applied all brakes to turn the fish. After the first turn she didnít make any headway from the bush. I looked away from the fish to see the pole had come out of the mud and we were being pulled into the mangroves. My bad! Time to start poling.

In the end, she landed the sweet 28Ē snook.

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Old 04-03-2002, 01:19 PM
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ssully ssully is offline
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IMHO, casting into the constant wind is more of an issue than landing fish. But hey I'm just a rookie.
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Old 04-03-2002, 01:57 PM
-ale -ale is offline
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You USED to be a rookie .. after Abaco you sure ain't no rookie no more.

I certainly agree with you. If you can't get the fly to the fish all else is moot.

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