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Tips for Keys bonefishing

Standard bonefish flies won't do the job...

April 23, 2011

Q: “I will be staying at Long Key State Park (in the Florida Keys) this May and am planning on trailering a 14-foot tin skiff from Oregon. I am an avid angler with proper gear. Do you have any tips for success?”

Pat Kehoe,
Eugene, Oregon

A: Lucky for you, the Keys hold some of the biggest but most leery bonefish on the planet, and there are a number of oceanside flats in that area you can wade. If there is wind, an 8-weight is recommended, but on calmer days, a 6-weight will allow a more delicate pres-entation. Unless the wind conditions prevent you, use a leader at least 12 feet long. Generally the best fishing occurs on incoming tides. Because these are some of the most difficult bones to fool, standard bonefish flies won’t do the job. One of the best patterns is a small crab fly about the size of your fingernail. The best tactic is to anticipate the bonefish’s path and drop the fly well in front. When the fish gets close to the fly, give it just enough movement so it is noticed. Move it too much, and the fish will more than likely spook.

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