Fishing for Redfish and Bonefish

Are there some guidelines for fishing the flats for these species?

August 22, 2007

Q: I found a new world of fly-fishing! I caught one red and plan on making a trip to Mexico for bonefish later this year. I must confess that I should have caught a lot more than one redfish. Are there some guidelines for fishing the flats for these species?

Jim Shipley

A: I assume you will be fishing with a guide since you live far from these flats. Most important is to practice making fast, accurate casts.  The guide will work hard, and when fish are located, sometimes in the excitement you may cast too fast and spoil the chance. Do not cast faster than you comfortably can. It may take a few seconds longer, but the results will be much improved.


A common mistake is casting before you see the fish. Remember that a wrong cast can alert fish. On a calm day long leaders (at least 12 feet) are needed; learn how to properly turn them over.

Too many novice flats fishermen have difficulty seeing a fish, and when they make the cast, they let go of the line. As the cast ends, they must look down to recapture the line, and when they look up, they can’t find the fish.  Instead, practice casting at a target and allow the shooting line to flow through your cupped fingers, trapping the line when it is over the target. During this time, never take your eyes off the target. 
Once a good cast is made, listen to the guide. From his elevated position he can see both the fish and the fly. Do exactly as he says.

These are the basic hints for learning to successfully fish the flats. Follow them, and you should be fine!


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