Tips for Better Bonefish Hookups

To ensure you're ready for action and to up the odds of scoring a bonefish, remember the following suggestions.

OK, you’ve chosen a flat, your tackle’s up to snuff, and a tailing bonefish or a push from a school gets your heart popping. To ensure you’re ready for action and to up the odds of scoring a bonefish, remember the following suggestions from three bonefishing legends:

Lefty Kreh

  • Don’t look at the fish when casting – look at where you want the fly to land.

  • Make a cast in front of a bonefish so it sees it; when your fly hits the water, make two long strips or retrieves and let it sit.

  • If you get no take after retrieving for about 6 feet, speed up or slow down the retrieve to see if something else works.

  • With spooky fish, cast at an object such as a clump of grass, mound or mangrove sprig 30 to 40 feet away from them. Bones often meander toward such structure, plus you have a reference point as to the location of your fly.

  • When a bonefish tilts down, it’s ready to take your offering. Extend both hands toward the fish and remove slack, barely move the fly and then give it two quick strips and repeat. If you don’t get a hookup, the fly’s still near the bonefish and often it’ll go for it again.

  • If you feel a slight pecking at your fly, the bonefish has already sucked it into its mouth and spit it out.

Al Pflueger

  • Anticipate the path of the bones and toss way in front of them – they’ll hear it.

  • When the tail sticks up and quivers, it just ate your fly.

  • Once a bonefish sees the fly, use short or long strips, and when it reaches the fly, stop the retrieve and let it eat.

  • With a tailing bonefish rooting the bottom, drop a fly in front of the head so the bone sees it.

Richard Stanczyk

  • When casting on a shoreline or sandy flat, let the fly sink and make puffs on the bottom as you work it.

  • Never try to set the hook! Let the fish make the first move – when you feel it’s there, just strip and the hook will burrow in as the fish runs. Jerking the rod to set the hook as the bonefish runs can break the tippet or pull a hook already set.

  • Be patient and wait for the right shot – don’t just cast if you’re not sure where the fish may be or what direction they’re heading.

  • With two anglers fishing, only one should cast and the other be ready if there’s no take or the fish change direction – casting at the same time usually results in spooking the fish.

  • Any time you see a bonefish charge to your fly and stop, it’s eaten your offering – they never “miss” it.