Lines and Leaders

Lines – You generally only need tropical floating lines matched to each of your rods.  I also load at least one spool with a slow sinking clear intermediate line.   For either the nine or ten weight I include a series of interchangeable sink tips with a loop to loop connection to fish channels,  deep areas and special situations.

john castingIn addition to the lines on my reels and spools, I carry one extra eight weight tropical floating line for emergencies.  If you have trouble either casting into the wind or loading your rod quickly consider a nine weight line as your spare and use it to “over line” your eight weight when wind conditions are tough.

Every 1-2 days you need to clean the fly lines that have been in use………..Take along a line cleaning kit, it is essential.

Backing – Unlike most trout fishing situations, your backing gets used… a lot.  Make sure you have a solid connection between your reel and backing and your backing and fly line and have tested all connections before leaving home.  The internet is full of examples of how to tie each of these connections and I also would recommend the Lefty Kreh book/DVD, Fishing Knots.  If your backing was put on your reel by anyone other than you, don’t take any chances…..test the connection from the reel to your backing.  Today’s reels hold a lot of line, so there is no need to skimp on backing.  As a rule have 200 yards of backing on your reels for bonefish. As part of your pre-trip routine strip your backing off the reel and reel it back on carefully so when that first fish takes off, your backing peels off evenly and doesn’t pinch or grab.

Leaders & tippet –  for bonefish, conventional knotless salt water tapered leaders that are 10  long tapered to 14-16 pound test are okay.  I add two – four feet of fluorocarbon tippet stepped down two pounds.  You may want to up this if you are fishing around coral, turtle grass or mangroves or step down to #10 if the fish are spooky.

Lately I have started to get very fussy about my leaders because at times the fishing conditions can be tough.  Could be you are dealing with strong winds, heavy flies, spooky bonefish or just having trouble casting and your leader is not rolling out to its full length.  Off the shelf knotless tapered leaders can be too limp to turn over a heavy fly in the wind and are prone to weak spots formed during the extrusion process. I have started to make my own leaders utilizing formulas developed by Lefty Krey, Bruce Chard or Chico Fernandez tied with either Rio Saltwater Hard Mono or Trilene Big Game.  Making your own leaders allows you to build stiff leaders with heavy butt sections to turn big flies over in the wind.  If you have trouble casting into the wind a shorter, stiffer leaders make a world of difference.bone in water

I use fluorocarbon tippet material, I don’t know if it makes a difference…………….but I think so.  For bonefish I take 10, 12, 14 and 16 pound tippet material on trips.  For toothy critters I carry pre-tied wire leaders.

Last word on leaders.  For crying out loud, you are going to spend upwards of $2,000 for a week of DIY bonefishing……..buy new leaders and new spools of tippet and throw away the stuff from last year.