What are the secrets to fishing for giant bonefish? They are so difficult to fool. It can be very frustrating. It is said if you can catch a big tailing bonefish with a fly rod, you can catch anything.
INVERTED HOOK PATTERNS. Hook size 6 & 4 - $US each
Catching a large bonefish on the flats by fly fishing is like obtaining a badge of honour or gaining entry into a special club. There is a well-earned mystique about catching these awesome saltwater fish. I use Crazy Charlie flies.
I try to use the heaviest weight Crazy Charlie fly that conditions will allow. Remember big bonefish feed near the bottom. This is what you are seeing happening when the bonefish are tailing. You need to get a Crazy Charlie fly quickly in front of the feeding fish where it is searching for food. If your fly rises up in the water column you need a heavier fly. If your Crazy Charlie fly does not stay close to the bottom it will be refused.
Be prepared to constantly change flies during a bonefish fishing trip as the tide comes in or goes out. The depth of water will increase and decrease over time. You will need different weight of the flies. The weighted Xmas Island Special Crazy Charlies a good for deeper water. When hunting Bonefish you are not trying to imitate a swimming darting baby fish. Most of the giant bonefish I have caught ate my shrimp imitation fly sitting still on the bottom. Bonefish eat shrimp that move short distances in little spurts. It is very important to keep stripping to a minimum. The first strip should be a quick, 3-inch, abrupt bump. This raises the fly off the bottom, and then it quickly plunges back like an escaping crab. You must watch the bonefish's reaction and only move your fly to get its attention. Many times I have found that one bump is all it takes. Let the fly plunge. Most people strip far too much when fishing for large bonefish.
Have you heard any fly fishermen referring to the “Bonefish thing"? It is when a bonefish zigs and zags hunting for shrimp. You have to cast your Crazy Charlie fly as close to the fish as conditions will allow. The zig zagging makes this more of a skill. Bonefish love to see it fall, and will in many cases eat without you ever having to strip
Most of the big giant Bonefish I have been caught were within 20 to 60 feet from the boat. I know it is hard but be patient. Accuracy decreases with longer casts. When sight fishing excitement of spotting your prey takes over an you cast too early and too long. Let the fish get closer and make the first cast count.
I make sure to keep my rod tip down while stripping and put the rod tip in the water when making a slow strip strike. The reason I do this is to keep down the line slap noise that spooks many bonefish. When the bonefish starts to munch on my Crazy Charlie fly I make a long, slow strip strike to the side. If you don’t get a hook up do a let the fly drop, and with luck you might get a second eating attempt.
Bob Nauheim sitting tying a Crazy Charlie fishing fly
I use white Crazy Charlie flies when I am fishing pure white sand but mostly fish a mixed bottom so I almost always use earth tone colors. Rich Tapplin. Tampa