Best fly sizes for bonefish

How do you determine fly size for bonefish?

Q: Small flies have always worked best for me in Mexican waters, but they don't seem to work well in Florida or Los Roques, Venezuela. How do you determine fly size for bonefish?

Jesus Cordova,
Cancun, Mexico


A: Figuring out what to feed finicky bonefish is tricky. Much of it depends upon the size of the fish and sometimes even the pattern you are using. Hook size is another factor - not just the overall size of the pattern. The body of many crab patterns narrows the hook gap, so the hook's gap must be large enough to stick the fish.

For smaller bonefish from 1 to 4 pounds, a conventional fly dressed on a No. 4 hook works well. Smaller hooks often produce more strikes, but a No. 6 hook can grab only so much flesh. On long runs, the drag of the line coupled with the speed of the fish will often pull the fly free.

For large bonefish - over 8 pounds - a No. 1 or even a hook as big as 1/0 is often recommended.