Best Fishing Rigs & Techniques for Bonefish

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Best Fishing Rigs

Fish Finder Rig

Split Shot Rig

Weightless Rig

Best Fishing Techniques

Sight Fishing

Sight fishing is the most popular way to target bonefish on the flats.  Most anglers will search for the fish first, then make a cast.  You can do this by wading the shallow flats or by having a partner maneuver your flats boat throughout the flats with a push pole.  A good pair of polarized sunglasses will help you spot more fish.  Once you spot a bonefish, it is very important to be able to make an accurate cast to where you think they are going to be, not where they currently are located.  Bonefish move fast and often, so anticipation of where they will be once your bait hits the water is essential to catching more fish.  Sunny days are definitely better than cloudy days for sight fishing.  You can fish with live bait, artificial lures or flies while sight fishing for bonefish.

Live Bait Fishing

One of the easiest ways to catch bonefish is with live bait.  Most of the experienced bonefish anglers choose to use a fly fishing rod, but at times, they are really missing out.  A live shrimp may be the only way to consistently catch them when the bite is tough and on a good day, live shrimp can put several more fish in the boat.

The most common rig is a split shot rig.  With a small shrimp, small hook and a small split shot for added weight, you are ready to catch some bonefish on the flats.  There are a couple of ways that are very effective for targeting bonefish with live bait.  Since you are fishing with live shrimp, you do not have to give your bait the action like you would have to with a fly or artificial lure.  You could anticipate where a school of bonefish is moving and make a cast where you think they are going to be.  Just leave your shrimp on the bottom and wait for them to move over your bait.  If you can anticipate where they are going to be, you will catch a lot of bonefish this way.  If this technique isn’t working for you, try casting your bait just beyond the bonefish, then reel in the shrimp quick enough to keep it on the water’s surface.  Once you get within a few inches of the bonefish, let the shrimp sink to the bottom.  This is a very effective sight fishing technique for bonefish.  A medium-heavy spinning rod and reel will usually get the job done on the flats.  Just make sure you have a full spool of line because bonefish are known for making very long runs once they are hooked.

Fly Fishing

While it is possible to catch bonefish with artificial lures and live bait, most experienced bonefish anglers will target them with fly fishing gear.  Floating line and sinking flies are preferred for targeting the shallow water bonefish on the flats.  Choosing the weight of the fly is very important.  If your fly doesn’t sink fast enough, bonefish will just swim by your fly as it sits too high in the water column.  If the fly sinks too fast, your fly will end up getting caught up in the turtle grass.  Since most anglers are fishing in only a foot or two of water in most situations, the biggest factor in choosing the weight of the fly will be the wind and the currents.

There are so many different flies on the market that will work for bonefish.  Some of the top anglers will actually tie their own flies.  Some of the best flies do a good job of imitating a shrimp or small crab, although, there are some great flies on the market that do not imitate either food source.  Keep an open mind and feel free to experiment with several different flies to see what works best for you.


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