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Bonefishing Advice from a Mediocre Angler

Posted on March 20 2010

Line leaving reel, quickly.  Photo: Ned Desmond
Line leaving reel, quickly. Photo: Ned Desmond

In late February, Ned Desmond and his buddy Larry joined us for a few days of bonefishing at Andros South.

It was Ned’s first time chasing bonefish, and guess what – he caught some!  We’re really grateful that Ned was willing to write up some advice on bonefishing for those folks out there who maybe haven’t caught a whole boatload of bonefish…yet.  Our crew at Andros South doesn’t agree with the ‘mediocre angler’ label, but those are Ned’s own words so we’re running with ’em.

Ned is actually not just some guy off the street.  Among other gigantic credentials in the business world, Ned is the founder of, a new online community for anglers.  We’re pretty active on GoFishn – you should check out our profile there.

Anyhow, thanks to Ned for…

Three Rules for Bonefishing Newbies

Be Quick, But Don’t Hurry

In the immortal words of coach John Wooden, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” When you are standing on the bow of a flats boat, time stands still as you and your guide search for a passing bonefish. They appear out of nowhere, and you have to cast quick, but you have to cast well (that’s the “don’t hurry” part).

Keep your fly in your hand with a big loop of line off the tip of your rod, and leave your excess line loose on the deck. You can get away with a false cast or two to get your line out and pointed the right way, but you’re going to spook the bone if you yank the line in and out of the water. I should know.

When You Push Down, They Gone

In the exasperated words of Charlie Sweeting, Andros South guide, “When you push down, then they gone.”

Go barefoot on the deck when you’re fishing, and don’t plan to move your feet, shift your weight, belch or do anything that will alter the boat’s displacement by so much as an ounce – or “they gone.” If you think that’s tough, think about the guide poling from his platform – they’re practically motionless.

Watch Charlie explain all this.

Strip Set.

If you want to catch that bone following your fly, then “strip set.”

Just do it in a way that the bone doesn’t notice. Sorta tug the line, or pretend to. You know, fake out the bone so he bites down hard on your fly that he’s twirling in his maw. Oh oh, you tugged too hard. Oh oh, you didn’t tug hard enough.

Strip setting remains a mystery to me, though I did catch three bones, each solidly hooked. I’m sure the magic of the strip set will become more clear to me on my next trip to South Andros, which can’t come soon enough.


Here’s Ned’s photo gallery from his trip to Andros South.

More Trip Reports from Andros South

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