Tag Archives: bonefish

Flats Fishing 101: Trout Set v. Strip Set

One of the hardest transitions for me to make into saltwater fishing continues to be the art of the strip set. Countless times I have seen the backside of a bonefish travelling 100+ MPH to get away from the shrimp that just bit him in the face. While the guide laughs, the advice coming from the platform is always the same. Whatever you do, don’t trout set!

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This is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome for a beginner saltwater angler who primarily fish for trout. Trout anglers have been trained through countless hours on the water to raise the rod when a trout eats the fly. A slow and steady raise of the rod promotes protecting light tippets that are associated with trout files by turning the rod into a small shock absorber. Trout have very soft mouths and setting the hook with a size 20 dry fly and 6x tippet doesn’t take a lot of effort.

However, a majority of saltwater flats species have extremely hard mouths. For example, when a bonefish eats, they suck up unfortunate critters and smash them with large molar type “crushers”. Raising the rod tip upon hookup with a bonefish will result in the fly getting pulled right out of their mouth. A majority of bonefish flies are designed to ride hook up when retrieved. With that in mind when the bonefish eats the fly, a long and smooth strip will drive the hook into the hard mouth of the fish, leading to more hookups.

Things to keep in mind when learning the strip set:

  • KEEP YOUR ROD TIP in the water pointed straight at the fish, this will help to eliminate slack in the line when retrieving the fly.
  • If you have the fish interested chances are it is following your fly; KEEP YOUR ROD TIP in the water.
  • Once the fish has looked down to eat your fly: KEEP YOUR ROD TIP in the water.
  • Once you feel the pressure or see the fish eat the fly, KEEP YOUR ROD TIP in the water and give your line one long smooth pull.
  • Lastly continue stripping until the line comes tight. Once the line comes tight chances are the fish is off to the races.
  • If you miss the first strip set, keep stripping the fly as long as the fish is still actively chasing the fly. If you miss the initial eat the fly will be in front of the fish as long as you KEEP YOUR ROD TIP in the water.

This technique will take some time to sink in for most of us… New tricks take a while (especially for an old dog). Just remember KEEP YOUR ROD TIP in the water and strip till the line comes tight.

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Stay tuned for more tips & Tricks. Fishwest is excited to offer trips to the island of South Andros as well as other destinations. For more information please click HERE.

Flats Fishing 101: Be Ready!

One of the hardest parts for a beginner saltwater fisherman is being ready to go at a moment’s notice. The window on shots for bonefish and other saltwater species can appear and disappear rather quickly. When fishing from a boat and a guide calls out a fish, keep these tips in mind to be setup properly and to make a quick presentation.

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  • Strip off an amount of line that you can cast & drop it below you on the deck: Know your limits! This will allow you to be prepared to make a shot at cruising fish rather quickly. Keep in mind that if you have too much line out that tangles may occur if you shoot too much line. Don’t just strip your line into the bottom of the boat however. Doing that may cause all the line to coil up unnaturally and that may cause tangles. Make sure to make a few practice casts to prepare yourself and also to remove all the twists that may be in your fly line. If you are fishing with a partner, kindly ask them to help manage your line at the bottom of the boat.
  • Take off your shoes: This is by far the most important tip on this list. The easiest way to blow a shot is to make a beautiful cast only to find out that you have been standing on your line. By the time you recover, the fish are long gone! Barefoot is best, just remembering to apply sunscreen liberally and often, or better yet, wear socks!
  • Keep about 10 feet of line out of your rod tip: This will allow you to have your rod partially loaded when a shot presents itself. Having too much line outside the rod tip can be harder to manage, so be mindful of how much line you have out.
  • Keep your hands off your fly: The best thing to do is to hold on to your leader right above your fly. That way your fly doesn’t get any sunscreen on it, or anything else for that matter. A shrimp or crab with the essence of SPF 50+ isn’t appealing to most flats fish.

Now you are ready to go! Keep in mind that even the best anglers screw up and blow shots… so don’t get discouraged! Just be ready for the next one!

Stay tuned for more tips & tricks. If you are interested in destination travel with Fishwest click HERE.

Bonefishing 101: The Packing List Part 3

IMG_01085 days to go until the Fishwest hosted trip arrives at the “international” airport of Congotown on the island of South Andros in the Bahamas.  My packing list is nearing completion as that date draws closer and closer with each passing day. Between Part 1 and Part 2 of my packing list, you should have a pretty good idea of what you need in order to pack for a trip for a tropical saltwater fly fishing trip.

Next up is what I would categorize as dressing for success on the flats. Two things need to be remembered when dressing to go out. Your clothes need to be lightweight and moisture wicking “quick dry” if possible. Sun protection is also something that anglers should be mindful of when choosing apparel for a day of flats fishing. I will always opt for clothing that provides maximum coverage from the sun. I figure the more skin that is covered by clothes the better. The chances of getting a nasty sunburn diminish greatly, however with that being said don’t forget the aloe.

FWFSLFXGC_lgFirst up is the choice of shirt. Like I said before lightweight and quick drying is the name of the game, and you will stay cooler in those hot temperatures as well. I prefer shirts with a more muted color that is similar to the colors of the surroundings, light greys and tans are the best. Some anglers and guides will tell you to stay away from brighter colors, they say that it distracts and spooks the fish at times. I don’t know if this is true or not, however I sure don’t want to find out the hard way. It doesn’t matter if you opt for the more classic “traditional” look of a shirt like the Simms Ebbtide or the T shirt look of the Simms Solarflex, whatever you choose just make sure that they are long sleeved. The sun in those tropical saltwater latitudes has a tendency to burn very bright.  If you do choose to opt for a short sleeve shirt, you can always consider using the Simms Sunsleeves for additional protection.

Jc’s Choice: Howler Brothers Gaucho or Simms Solarflex Long Sleeve

SIF43ZOSPCK_lg_535x535Next up is the choice of pants. I remember the days of getting up on Saturdays and watching the Walkers Cay Chronicles with my dad, and seeing Flip Pallot on the front of a flats boat wearing jeans. I would steer clear from jeans while on the flats but I hear they are a popular choice of some guides. Instead I would opt for some  pants that are lightweight and breathable. I would opt for pants for two reasons. I know I by this point I sound like a broken record but protection from the sun is key. I would hate to have red calves at the end of the day because I opted to wear shorts one day. The second is that when fishing for bonefish you may find yourself wading through the some mangroves from time to time and your pants will provide you with some protection. Last thing… Please don’t forget to bring a belt.  Nobody wants to see your underwear when you are on the casting deck.

JC’s Choice: Simms Superlight Zip Off Pants

A hat is a must when fly fishing at any time in my humble opinion, especially on the flats. A cap keeps the sun off your face, and more importantly, out of your eyes. I prefer a trucker style hat with lightweight mesh. I would always opt for a hat with a dark under brim to help reduce the glare off the water.  Whichever hat you choose make sure to keep a strong hold on it while you are buzzing from flat to flat. The guides will laugh if you have to backtrack to pick up your wet and salty hat.

Jc’s Choice: Fishwest Trucker Cap or Patagonia Trucker Cap

SM49TSTMBPI_lg_535x535Polarized eyewear is an absolute must when stalking fish on the flats. When fishing the flats if you cannot see the fish chances are you are not going to be able to catch the fish. I really enjoy lenses with a copper or amber base lens tint; these lenses give the best color and contrast over a variety of light conditions and are great if you are opting to have one set of glasses for out on the flats. For extremely cloudy days you may want to consider having a set of glasses with yellow lenses, they work great on grey days.

JC’s Choice: Smith Touchstone (Black / Ignitor Lenses)

On those days that you are lucky enough to go wade for bonefish make sure that you have a solid set of Wading boots with you.  Strap sandals will not cut it in all situations. Besides If it were me I would hate to cut my foot on a limestone bottom or something like that, so rubber soled boots are important when stalking fish on foot.  Since I have a few balance issues I like to have a boot with a lot of support so I can stay upright. With that being said having a nice pair of wet wading socks will help to keep all the dirt and sand off your feet, and will leave your feet nice and happy after trudging around the flats for the afternoon.

JC’s Choice: Simms Flats Sneakers & Neoprene Wading Socks

For those times you are on the bow of the boat and want to keep your toes covered without footwear, I would suggest keeping a pair of socks on. They don’t impede performance on the bow and they protect you from the sun.  Runners toe socks are my choice to keep my feet happy on the boat. With those toe socks I can still feel the line under my feet when I inevitably step on it and they also help to reduce noise.

1912541_10153795284815142_635493957_nStay tuned for my last installment of this article. I am confident this list will help you get prepared for your next tropical saltwater destination. Feel free to contact us with any questions! We always welcome your tips and advice as well.

 

 

Bonefishing 101: The Packing List Part 2

009With ten days to go until my next Bahamian saltwater adventure, I find myself still compiling all my gear to head down for another wonderful trip. In this post I want to go over some more of the packing essentials for a Bonefishing adventure. In part 1 of my packing list, I went over arguably the three most important parts of a bonefishing setup. In this article we will continue down the list of items I think belong in any angler’s travel gear.

RI31BNFL_lg_535x535RI32SWFT_lg_535x535Next up on my list is leaders and tippet. In the wind you need a leader that is tapered correctly and stiff enough to turn over big flies easily. For the sake of simplicity and ease of prep grabbing a few of the Rio Bonefish Leaders is a must. These leaders are tapered to cope with wind and heavy flies with ease. I would recommend having enough leader and corresponding tippet for the worst case scenario. I like having a few 3 packs of each of the 10ft leaders in 8lb 10lb and 12lb. I like to fish these leaders with fluorocarbon tippet for more abrasion resistance. Those mangrove roots and sand mounds can be bad news for a leader setup.

UM14VEMS_lgFlies are the biggest variable in this whole equation in my personal opinion. Three factors to keep in mind when selecting the right flies to take on your next adventure are size, weight, and color. Size and weight of flies is extremely important when selecting flies for bonefish because of the variances in water depth. Fishing a big fly in skinny (shallow) water will cause the fly to land with a big splash and therefore no fish will be within 50 feet of that fly.  When fishing less weighted flies in deeper water the flies will take longer to sink and get in the “zone” and in a game where timing is everything, a slow sinking fly may be the reason for a blown shot.

The colors of the flies that you take along with you need to match the different bottoms of each flat. This is due to the fact that the shrimp and other food that the bonefish eat tend to take on the color of their surroundings.  This isn’t an exact science but flies need to match the flat pretty closely.

With that being said there are two flies that I would never be without on a Bahamian bonefishing flat.  The Pearl Gotcha and the Ververka’s Mantis shrimp are probably responsible for more than 80% of the bonefish I have hooked into. As far as sizing goes I was told that the bigger bones enjoy the larger meal, so most of the time i fish a size 2 or 4. However it is always nice to have a good selection of flies in the 2-8 size range in various colors. If you are just starting out and you want to get a good base of flies going, don’t hesitate to look any farther than the fly selections put out by Umpqua.  Flies don’t always have to be stored in a fancy box either, there have been times for me that flies have come out of an Altoids tin, however a box like the Umpqua Flats Box was a nice upgrade.

SIF80DCZPCH_lg_535x535Having a place to store your gear is a must when preparing for a day of bonefish.  I would recommend a pack like the Simms Dry Creek Z Backpack (Available Soon) . This nice waterproof pack can serve two purposes when out on the flats for a day. It can serve as a nice small boat bag to keep all your gear in or if you find yourself out wading for a period of time it doubles as a nice pack for that as well.

Items For Your Pack or on you:

  • A Buff – This tube of fabric is a lifesaver for your face and neck. They are a good idea when out in the sun.
  • A Camera – If you meet a large bonefish you may want to snap a shot or two. However please remember keep em wet if you can.
  • Tippet- Who knows this may get overlooked. Say a fish wraps you around a mangrove shoot or you need to lengthen your leader for picky fish, tippet is a good thing to have.
  • Pliers –Another no brainer right? Removing hooks safely and easily is best for both you and the fish in question. Make sure that you get some pliers with scissor blades. My grandpa the dentist would be disappointed to hear of people using their teeth to cut tippets.
  • Sunscreen – The sun in these tropical locations tends to cook things. Keep yourself covered in this stuff.

Please stay tuned for part three of this article. I have plenty of more to talk about. With the first two parts we are almost ready to head out to the flats.

Bonefishing 101: The Packing List pt 1

I find myself here with two weeks to go before the next Fishwest hosted trip to the Andros South Lodge and after a few years I think I finally have figured out how to pack accordingly. Since Bonefish are generally (and unfairly) categorized as one of the easiest fish to catch on the flats they have been they are becoming more and more popular to chase with a fly rod. These fish are a great way to introduce someone to saltwater fly fishing or for the experienced saltwater angler. From time to time we get anglers coming into the shop asking for our insight on how to pack how to pack when going to a bonefish destination. So here is a quick rundown “survival” guide on how to pack for your next trip:

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First and foremost you need a fast action 8 weight fly rod. A rod with a crisp fast action makes all the difference when sight casting to bonefish on the flats. Paired with the right fly line these rods load up easier giving the angler the ability to deliver flies both quickly and accurately which hopefully leads to more hookups.

JC’s choice: The Winston B3-SX or Sage One 890-4

Next up is a stout saltwater safe fly reel. Having a reel with a really good drag is a must when chasing bonefish. Backing capacity definitely comes into play as well with these fish. I would say that anglers should look for a reel with a minimum backing capacity of 200yds. I generally use 20lb backing with bonefish, however an argument can be made for Gel Spun backing or even the new Hatch Outdoors Braided backing. These Bahamian flats residents have a tendency to run all over the place when hooked and you need a reel that can slow them down and bring them to hand as quickly as possible. Reels with disc drags that are completely sealed are my preference due to having less maintenance after a tough day of fishing.

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JC’s Choice: The Hatch 7 Plus Mid Arbor Fly Reel or Orvis Mirage IV

Dialing in your fly line is a must when sight fishing on the flats. I would actually argue that the right fly line is the most important part of any fly rod setup out there. A line that will load up a rod quickly and more importantly pickup for second casts easily is paramount. These lines need to be able to perform accurately at medium and long distances.  Having a line with an aggressive front belly allows anglers to make shots in close with better success.

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JC’s Choice: The Scientific Anglers Sharkwave Saltwater Taper

Stay tuned for part two of my survival guide on how to pack for your saltwater destination trip. Please feel free to contact us at 877.773.5437 with any questions that you may have.

 

 

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays From Fishwest

Well it’s here, the time of the year when you dust off the ugliest sweater you own, spend more than you would like to admit on gifts, and to take long trips to see the family. Although it is the time of year for family, that shouldn’t stop you from getting out there and hooking into some fish.

This is a great opportunity to share your passion with others in your family, take a short trip to your local community pond or stream and toss around some flies. Show the youngsters how to catch fish with a rod and not a PlayStation controller. Show that in-law why you spend hours upon hours on the river every year, the tranquil state it puts much of us in while out exploring the water. Show them secret, or special spots, to allow them a little glimpse into “Your World”. They might then understand why you dedicate so much of your time to this sport.

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This isn’t just a great time to share your passion for fly fishing but can also be a good time to explore old or new fishing spots. If you are heading back to your hometown, take time to see how the river has changed and where the fish have moved to. For me this is a trip back down memory lane. I spend time reflecting on the reasons I picked up a fly rod in the first place, those feelings or experiences I had while learning the sport, and an opportunity to hook into those large ones that got away from me last time.

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This can also be a great opportunity to head out to water that you have never explored before, whether its in your hometown or in a relatives community, this time a year offers a great chance to have the water mostly to yourself. It doesn’t have to be a technical trip with tons of gear, just the rod, reel, few flies, and a cheap pair of waders (if necessary) from your local sporting goods retailer.

Whether you do make it out this week or not, we here at Fishwest wish you and yours a safe and joyful holiday season. Fill your bellies and get your yearly fix of The Christmas Story, we will be here getting ready for 2015 while you work your way out of that holiday fog.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

Fly Fishing Film Tour 2015

The 2015 F3T is right around the corner, and we at Fishwest can’t be more excited. The trailers are out and by the looks of them it will be another great event, here’s the trailer for Those Moments; a film by Kokkaffe Media’s Peter Christensen, supported by Orvis and Deneki Outdoors. The tour will be swinging through Salt Lake City February 19, 2015 at the Depot, tickets will be sold here at Fishwest starting January 2, 2015. If you have never made it to F3T before I highly suggest you do your best to make it to this years. It will be an all ages show, so bring the family!

 

Orvis Tuesday Tip: The Ready Position

** This video is brought to us by the wonderful staff over at The Orvis Company. Mastering the “ready position” can make all the difference in the world when fishing the flats from a boat.  From my personal experience I can tell you that this was pretty difficult at first to conceptualize. However I had never come across this before but it can truly make all the difference between success and failure out on the flats. Enjoy!

Bonefish On The Brain: What makes a good bonefishing rod?

With spring around the corner and the 2015 Fishwest Hosted Trips to South Andros Island in the Bahamas filling up quick we want to know what you guys have to say once again.

This time I pose the question: What is your “go to” rod while fishing for bonefish?

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Again this could be viewed as a very loaded question. The variance in answers to this question can be due to what condition an angler may find themselves in.  Do you find yourself stalking these ghosts on foot in shallow water? For that type of bonefishing some anglers may argue that a 7wt is the way to go. Or do you find yourself fishing from the front of a flats boat with an 8wt? If the wind picks up do you grab a 9wt?

Once again please remember thereis no wrong answer here. We would love to hear what you think. Comment below or via our Facebook page.

For those who are interested we still have a couple of spots available for our 2015 trips to the Deneki Andros South Lodge. Please contact us for more details.

Fishwest 5wt “Showdown” – Part 4: The Helios 2


FWF05FWDCFW_lgToday marks the long awaited return of the Fishwest 5wt Shootout. Morgan and I have been so busy fishing and in the shop lately that we haven’t had a chance to get together and really put the remaining rods to the test. For that we do apologize so without further adieu here are our thoughts on the next rod in the shootout: The Helios 2: Tip Flex by The Orvis Company.

The Orvis Company has a long and storied history in the sport of fly fishing. Charles F. Orvis of Manchester Vermont started the Orvis Company in 1856. Orvis holds the distinction of being the oldest fly tackle manufacturer in America, since its inception Orvis has been producing exceptional fly tackle and is constantly pushing the boundaries of technological innovation within their fly rods.

orvis_logoThe Helios 2 is the flagship of the Orvis line with good reason.  Building off of the 2007 release of the original Helios, the H2 is 20% lighter and stronger than its predecessor the Helios.  If the performance of the rod doesn’t speak for itself the ascetics of the rod most certainly will. The deep blue blank and the Machined aluminum reel seat with beautiful wood insert take this rod over the top.

As always in order to maintain fairness within the test we utilized the same reel and line combination with each rod. For this test we have decided to use the Clearwater Fly Reel from Orvis and that is paired with the Gold Taper fly line from Rio.

Without boring you to death with more details here are the thoughts Morgan and I had about the H2.

IMG_760330ft: Paired with the Rio Gold Line I feel like this rod did okay loading up within this distance. With that being said you could totally tell this rod has plenty more to offer in terms of power so it took a minute to get used to casting this rod within this distance.  The presentation qualities of this rod would suffer in my opinion due to the tip being a little on the stiffer side when paired with this line.  I honestly believe that if an angler overlined this rod it would definitely perform much better in what I would consider “typical” trout range.

50ft: This is where the rod really started to shine. This is where the rod became more accurate and a lot easier to cast. Flies landed like a whisper. The extremely lightweight nature of the rod itself made it both easy and highly enjoyable to cast at this distance with knowing that the rod still had plenty in the tank in order to throw out the “hero” cast.

IMG_760570ft: Again long distance casts were smooth as silk and as easy as 1st grade level math homework.  Again the rod handled the casts with grace and precision. These casts rarely if ever get made when fishing for trout. However with the H2 in hand I would have the utmost confidence in getting the job done right in the first cast.

Morgan:

I was very excited to get my hands on the Orvis Helios 2 after watching some very impressive videos of the rod intentionally being broken.  Being the oldest U.S. fly fishing company, Orvis rods have a lot to live up to and the 9’ 5 weight Tip Flex H2 did not disappoint.  In my opinion, this rod was one of the best do it all, Rocky Mountain trout rods in our shootout. Orvis offers the H2 in either a Tip Flex model or a Mid Flex model. With many rods currently on the market being faster action tip flex rods, we chose to stick with the most similar offering for the H2. Aesthetically, the H2 is beautiful. A dark blue blank strays from the ambers, greens, and blacks that we see from many other manufacturers.

IMG_760430ft: The Helios 2 did pretty well casting within 30ft which is what I would consider “Utah range” for our local readers. The rod had a little more backbone than I prefer for short casting but adjusting your casting stroke will get you into the sweet spot. The tip is little stiff for close quarters presentations but an over weighted line like the Scientific Anglers GPX or even the full weight heavy Rio Grand would get the rod loading more at shorter distances.

50ft: With 20 more feet of line, the rod started to load a bit deeper into the blank which made the feel of this rod much more apparent. The smooth taper and light weight of the H2 made it a breeze to cast and a pleasure to hold. The H2 was plenty accurate at 50ft and as we saw, it could do ever greater distances with great accuracy.

IMG_761670ft: Long distance casts were met with ease and accuracy. Most of us rarely cast 70ft casts but when it becomes necessary to make serious casts, it can be done and it can still be done with confidence and accuracy. The performance of this rod with this much line out doesn’t suffer. Some rods will get it done but this rod gets it done well.

Overall Morgan and I agreed 100% on this rod. This would be an excellent “all around” trout rod. However with that being said we also came to the conclusion that this rod may be best suited overlined with a 6wt line or a line with over weighted construction like the Scientific Anglers GPX ,Rio Grand, or the Orvis Hydros Power Taper.

There you have it as always we hope that you enjoyed our thoughts on the Helios 2 and this latest addition to the Fishwest 5wt shootout. For questions about the H2 or any of the rods in the shootout please give us a call at 801.617.1225 or drop us a line at support@fishwest.com. Stay tuned for the next installment. The “One” rod by Sage.