View Full Version : Need help with bonefish and tarpon!

10-07-2008, 9:23 AM
Has anyone here done salt water fly fishing? The wife and I are going to Belize for our honeymoon and I could use some info to help us make it a successful trip. I've done lots of other forms of fishing but not this one yet so I'm looking for all the help we can get. We'll be going after bonefish and tarpon. Any useful advice and experience would be much appreciated.

10-07-2008, 11:08 AM
I've seen the Verse Network where they show anglers doing this. And it looks difficult. Sorry that I couldn't be more help. Maybe look into getting the DVD's of those shows.

Chukar hunter
10-07-2008, 11:16 AM
If you are going to fly fish for them, practice..... you'll need to master double haul, at least be able to cast and have a reasonble degree of accuracy. It will be fishing in the flats...... very clear water. Tarpon seem to like more channels, and you'll fish them on very heavy(12 wt) gear, bones will be fished in shallower water, with 6-8 wt gear. I hope you plan on getting a guide. There is some very good fishing there.

10-07-2008, 11:17 AM

10-07-2008, 11:38 AM
Hire a guide. They are plentiful for both bait or fly and are necessary for success. Have fun and post pics when you get back.

10-07-2008, 12:27 PM
There are few guys on the allcoast board that should be able to steer you in the right direction.


10-07-2008, 1:45 PM
I've done it a few times... Not in Belize (Southern Mexico, Bahamas, FL)

You'll absolutely want/need a guide if you want to be successful.

For flats - practice your casting before going - you won't be making "superman" casts, but you will need to be able to hit your fly in a hula hoop at 60-80' (depending on your skill level) with only a couple false casts. Have someone call out directions and distance (5 O'clock, 50ft) and see how well you can hit the distance/location with a single false cast in a big park lawn. I'd also suggest using a "fly" that's a weighted hunk of yarn - to make it as realistic as possible.

Will you be walking the flats or in a skiff? I don't know how the coral/rocks are in Belize, but you will want footwear that will protect your feet if you're wading.

Flats can have pretty brisk wind. Are you taking your own equipment or renting? I would suggest renting/borrowing. You'll want a pretty big quiver of options/rigs/lines. If you're using a good guide service they should be smart enough to have them ready. One of the biggest "mistakes" people make is to buy a bunch of flies at their hometown fly shop and take them to their destination. It's fine if you want to take a few, but you're far better off buying locally to where you fish - local patterns tend to be FAR more productive.

Tarpon I find much easier - since rigging is probably one of the biggest issues with them. I doubt you'll be in 12wt tarpon areas in Belize - you'll more likely be in channels and need 10wt rods.

Have you done much sal****er fishing at all? The BIGGEST difference, and hardest change to make for most freshwater fly fisherman is the hook set. My pops busted off a couple tarpon before he finally calmed down and figured out how to strip set. If you've fished big freshwater (steelhead/salmon) you should already know how to bow to jumps, which you'll need for tarpon.

It's a lot of fun. The first few bones you hook and start screaming into your backing you'll be hooked. If you hook some nice tarpon, their aerobatics will haunt your dreams.

10-07-2008, 2:02 PM
Learn how to cast with a heavy 10-12 weight rod. The guide can supply everything else but you have to deliver the fly to the right area.

10-07-2008, 5:48 PM
I've been fishing salt water my whole life, just new to fly and new to flats--been all redfish, trout, and mackerel inshore and marlin and tuna offshore. Taking my own gear, 8 weight is what I have. If I need a 10 wt I'll get it. I've done a fair bit of practice with fly casting and have fished for trout a decent number of times and bass a couple of occasions with the 8 weight. Bowing to tarpon jumping I have observed on TV, so I know that much is coming. The rest I'll have to learn by doing. I'll definitely have cash on hand to buy local flies if possible--gotta remember to bring lots of leaders and tippets from home.

I kinda got stuck with the wifey picking the place--resort first, fishing second, and according to the lady on the phone the fly tackle is existent but not top notch, to bring my own to have the best quality. I might fish spin some of the time to put points on the board early then switch to fly.

10-19-2008, 12:42 PM
The trip was a success! We went out reef fishing the first day to get some easy catches and have fun first, also got in a couple hours snorkeling. Then it got nasty with a tropical depression keeping us inside for a couple days :( But then on the last day we were there we got to go out to the flats for a few hours. It was beautiful the whole day, with some of the most gorgeous water I've ever seen. We hunted for permit for most of the day with no luck on spotting tailing ones, only crept up on a couple that flushed out from under the boat--looks like the storm had them sitting around and not feeding much. At the end, though, our guide put us on some bonefish and I hooked a couple small ones which put up plenty fight enough as it was and were just fine for my first salt- water (BLEEP this expletive filter) fly catches.

Here's one of them after the fight:

10-19-2008, 3:41 PM
Great video - and wow that water is clear!..


10-26-2008, 3:48 PM
My next project is to improve my vision for the next time. I honestly couldn't see the darn things, so it'll be a combination of stronger eye prescription and better sunglasses. Anyone know what kind of sunglasses give the best penetration through water and contrast?

10-26-2008, 6:21 PM
Nice video. Catching anything on a trip like that is a treat. :)

My next project is to improve my vision for the next time. I honestly couldn't see the darn things, so it'll be a combination of stronger eye prescription and better sunglasses. Anyone know what kind of sunglasses give the best penetration through water and contrast?

You'll absolutely want them to be polarized, but the color will change depending on the conditions.

I'd want them amber or copper - something that will help with contrast.

If you're not super-sensitive to lens weight I prefer glass lenses from a top vendor. They hold up far better to scratches (I've fished two seasons now with my trout glasses) and their clarity is better. I don't recommend them for anything else, though