|The hints, observations and lessons from the April trip Water Cay Lodge trip continue, this time with hints on presentation:|
|Tosh Brown photo|
|Tosh Brown photo|
-If you cast to a fish and it either ignores the fly or moves away from it, look around before moving or recasting the fly. The target fish may circle around and try to locate the fly, or another fish, often unseen, may move on the fly.
-If you blow the cast or the fish doesn't act like he sees the fly, be patient, let him swim past it then try again when you are in position for an effective cast. That might not happen, but it was your own fault in the first place and patience is your best shot at redemption.
-Fish travel is predictable. Bones will follow contours and structure when moving and avoid showing themselves if possible. Cast ahead of their most likely path and let them swim up to the fly until it is in their cone of vision.
-Only let the fly touch the water once, then be patient. Fish often react to the sound and will reverse course if they aren't spooked.
-When chasing tailing fish, never try a cast too long for comfort. The stalker can only control distance and the amount of patience he is willing to devote to the hunt.
-The shallower the water, the closer the fish has to get to see the fly because the fish is lower in the water column and therefore has a smaller "cone of vision". The deeper the water, the better the fish can scan the bottom and the larger the "cone". That being said, casting close to a tailing fish is a risk. Anticipate and cast ahead of the fish and let it swim up to it.
-When chasing tailers, stay together; if one fish spooks, it can blow the whole flat.
-When fishing to tailers in shallow water, don't strip the fly, just impart slight movement to make it look alive and attract attention, less than an inch, otherwise the fly will either hang up or spook the fish. In deeper water a short strip alternated with a pause and longer strip seemed to be the guides' formula.
-Use short, slow strips in shallow water or when the fish are generally wary. Short strips are used to get the fishes’ attention when he’s looking for food.
-Use longer, quicker strips in deeper water. The fish are less wary there and the water column is deep, so this strip gets noticed more readily.
-Use long, gradual strips when the fish have noticed your fly and are actively pursuing it. Long, slow strips are used to mimic fleeing prey and to strip-set the hook.
-Once the fish notices the fly, stop stripping until the fish tips up on the fly, then do long, slow strips.
-A long strip on the hook set is essential and more important on larger fish (tougher mouths?). Never -ever lift the rod tip on a set.
-If the fly hangs up on the bottom while a fish is pursuing it, don’t try to pull it free. The fish may think the prey is trying to hide and might vacuum the fly off the bottom. Try to free the fly only if the fish moves off.
-If the fly hangs upon a mangrove stem under water, use the same procedure as above, with the addition of pulling on the line to wiggle the mangrove shoot slightly. That will often get the fish’s attention if the fly is low enough to be in the fish’s cone of vision. It may notice the fly and then try to vacuum it off the mangrove. Bones will eat a fly hung on a mangrove. Shaking the shoot attracts the fishes attention.
-When fish run into the mangroves, release all drag and they will run back out. That solves part of the problem.
-When stripping while facing into a wind, keep the rod tip in the water at all times. If you raise the tip, the wind will catch the line and blow it toward you, pulling the fly away from the fish.
-Once the fish is hooked up, raise the rod tip high to give as much line clearance as possible to prevent fouling on the bottom, snap the rod butt into your forearm to prevent the line from looping around the rod butt or the reel, and form a ring around the escaping line with the thumb and index finger of the line hand while extending the line hand straight out to the side in order to keep the loose line as far as possible from the rod, reel and your body. As the fish comes onto the reel, allow the line hand to follow the line to the reel, at which point you can start to fight the fish off the reel.
-Bonefish know how to rub out a fly by going sideways on the rough bottom, maybe a reaction learned from eating spiny prey. To reduce the chances of getting scrubbed off, keep the rod tip high when playing a fish. This is most important in shallow water and over hard bottoms.