As I explained in a recent post on the fly fishing gear you need for bonefish, I am not an expert on the salt. But, I spent two weeks chasing bones in the Bahamas and I learned several things that should benefit you on your next trip (I recommend taking one soon!), whether pursuing bonefish, permit, or both.
As you’ll see in the attached video, there is some hesitation before these permit eat. They tip up and then bury their nose in the bottom. I saw the bonefish do this, too, and our guides used that subtle change, from chasing a fly to stopping, tilting and eating it, to key us in on when to set the hook.
It seemed like a steady retrieve didn’t work too well. Instead, we cast within close enough range to make a fish aware of our flies, but not so close that we would spook the bone away. Then, once we had the fishes’ attention, we’d use some long, full strips to give the appearance that the shrimp imitation was fleeing. Once we had a bone following we’d pause, let the fly sink to the bottom, and offer the fish a chance to eat the fly. Once the fish tipped, the guide would say, “Ok, long strip,” and when we did that the line would come tight and a fish would start peeling line off our reels in the other direction. It was the pause, I am sure, that was the biggest key to catching those bones. So, I think you’ll find this permit video interesting and it should show you what to look for when casting at bones or permit, your visual key to starting that long strip and, hopefully, sinking a fly into a fishes’ mouth.