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Bonefish Leaders – What To Use In The Bahamas

Posted on October 29 2009

Rod, reel, line, leader…all equally important.

OK, you’re headed to the Bahamas this month to chase bonefish. You’ve got your rod and your reel and your line all ready to go. How should you handle your leader?

Here’s how you should handle your leader.

  • First of all, remember that bonefish in places like South Andros are not very spooky. Furthermore, if you’re presenting a fly well to a bonefish, you’re retrieving it away from him. That means that he’s seeing your fly before he’s seeing your leader, and that means that having a super-stealthy leader isn’t that important.
  • In most conditions, we like leaders tapered to the 12 – 17 pound test range, 9 or 10 feet total length. Yes, that’s really heavy – our fish get big. Besides, they don’t see a lot of flies so they’re not that spooky, and we fish some pretty big flies so a stout leader helps with turnover.
  • On calm days when the fish seem twitchy, we might go to a leader as light as 10 pounds, and up to 14 feet long. Honestly, this is sort of a desperation move on South Andros – if they’re not going to eat your chunkily-presented fly, they’re probably not going to eat your delicately-presented one either…but sometimes they will.
  • We don’t think that fluorocarbon is at all important as it relates to visibility in the water, at least not for our bonefish at Andros South. It might help with abrasion resistance and/or durability, but it probably doesn’t matter in terms of what the fish see.
  • Some anglers think that tapered leaders matter because they eliminate knots that can result in weeds or other gunk hanging up on your leader. Others think that yeah, they might help, but they’re a lot more expensive that my ‘5 feet of Maxima 20 pound blood-knotted to 4 feet of Maxima 15 pound’. We’re going to stay out of this somewhat religious argument – sometimes simple works, sometimes not.

At the end of the day, if you’ve got your leader in the ballpark on South Andros, you’ll do just fine.

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