Bonefishing 101

Bonefish are one of the most popular saltwater fly fishing species. The bonefish ranges in size from 1 pound to as large as 15 pounds. Fly Fishing for bonefish requires accurate casts and perfect presentation of small flies. Once hooked the bonefish can zip away 100 yards or more in the blink of an eye.

Bonefish Art

Bonefishing is usually done in the shallows or "flats", close to the banks of tropical saltwater areas.

Beautiful scenes along these coastal areas are another reason bonefishing is a favorite among saltwater anglers.


A great deal of information about bonefishing can be learned by reading up on this fascinating species.

Randall Kaufman's "Bonefishing" is an excellent source of information packed with over 380 pages of expert advice for catching bonefish on the fly.

Billy Pate's Bonefish School

Billy Pate's "How To Fly Fish Series", an instructional DVD, is a good place to start learning how to catch bonefish.

Once you've decided to start bonefishing you'll need the proper equipment.

Most bonefishing is done using an 8 weight fly rod. Though some prefer a 9 weight fly rod to cut through stiffer winds.

Bonefishing Fly Rods

Temple Fork Outfitters Fly Rods has a good selection of fly rods perfect for bonefishing. Their Bonefishing fly rods range from $160 to $300.

8 Weight Bonefishing Fly Rods
9 Weight Bonefishing Fly Rods

After selecting a good fly rod for your bonefishing adventure, you'll need a fly reel that can hold enough backing for those lighting fast 100 yard runs. A good drag system is also necessary because bonefish can fight hard.

Bonefish are fast and, once they're hooked, they usually make long runs in short time.

Bonefishing Fly Reel

The Prism fly reel by Temple Fork Outfitters is a good starter reel for bonefishing. It is $95 and has enough backing capacity. The drag system is easy to adjust and holds up well to the rigors of bonefishing.

Other producers of good bonefishing fly reels include: Abel, Ross Reels and Tibor.

Make sure you have enough backing on your bonefishing fly reel. Then its time to add your fly line.

Most fly lines used to fly fish in saltwater are weight forward fly lines.

"Weight forward" means that more of the fly line's total weight is distributed towards the front-end of the line. This is done to help improve the fly line's cast ability.

Bonefishing Fly Lines

Because the waters where you'll be bonefishing are usually very clear, a clear tip on your fly fishing line will make it difficult for bonefish to see.

RIO makes a bonefish fly line specifically designed for bonefishing. Larger bonefish are sometimes found in deeper waters of two to six feet. This Florida Bonefish Line has a 9 foot clear intermediate sinking tip that sinks at 1.5 inches per second to get the fly down to the bonefish.

Bonefishing Combos

The simplest way to get started bonefishing is to purchase a complete outfit, ready to go out of the box.

This Bonefishing outfit, featuring a quality fly rod, fly reel, backing, and fly line and tapered leader is $280.

8 Weight Bonefishing Fly Rod & Reel Combo
9 Weight Bonefishing Fly Rod & Reel Combo

Bonefish Leaders

Bonefish take several types of Bonefish flies designed to imitate the bonefish's nature prey: crabs, shrimp, and small fish.

Redbone Fluff Flies

The Redbone Fluff Fly is a unique and very effective fly for catching bonefish.

This might be the best shrimp pattern around. The rabbit fur body undulates on the retrieve while the extended mono eyes serve as a weed guard.

Charlie Bonefish Flies

Charlie & Gotcha patterns are extremely popular for bonefishing.

Crab Patterns

A favorite for bonefishing is the Crab Fly, which rests at the bottom and are irresistible to bonefish.

The crab fly is easy to fish. As the bonefish nears, cast your crab, let it settle, twitch it once, and hang on. Accurate casts and hurried stripping techniques are less important.

It is a really good idea to get a bonefishing guide when you go bonefishing. They know their fly fishing and can put you on the bonefish.

Bonefishing Trips

Some travel packages are available for bonefishing. They often include hotel accommodations and food, as well as the guides and boats.

Andros Island Bonefish Club in the Bahamas

Ascension Bay Bonefishing Club

Bonefishing promises to be a memorable experience and you'll easily become addicted to this remarkable species.

Don't get discouraged if you don't land every bonefish. Bonefish are difficult to catch. Remember that it is the experience that you take home with you, not the bonefish.