Scott's Bonefishing Advice: Part 5... Your Mindset Is All Important!
I ended the last edition of "tips" with the comment that your mindset is all important. I was referring to a stealthy mindset then, but now, I'd like to expand upon an angler's mindset a bit before getting to some specific technical tips in the next edition. (I apologize if I get too metaphysical here, but I've watched these suggestions play out with bonefishermen for both good and bad for years. I hope you won't think these suggestions are too weird and that you will at least think about them... I think they will help you become a better fisherman!)
Â Â Â OK, so you've got your game face on by getting in the stealth mode. (That is why I use an old Abel with a silent outgoing drag and why I don't use Sharkskin fly lines. Although I think these noises scare fish, I think any unnecessary noise destroys a stealth mindset. Excessive probably... but I'm sticking with it!). Now to go to the next level, you've got to add to that predator mindset the concept that first, everything works to your advantage and second, it's all up to you.
1.) So you've got no sun or maybe lots of wind, what's new!Â Let's face it, rarely do you have ideal weather conditions... instead of using it as an excuse for the "poor" fishing or allowing it to frustrate you, use it. Wind, bad weather, low light... these conditions may not be the best for the fish either! Wind and waves especially reduce a bone's ability to see and hear you. Use it! Â Learn to love the weather, especially the wind... it is your friend. 2.) Expect to catch a fish instead of telling yourself you won't. I've seen it more than once... the guy that expects to catch fish and behaves accordingly creates opportunities if not actually creating bonefish. As they say "you gotta believe!". Maybe it's hope, or optimism or confidence, Whatever you call it... attitude is everything when it comes to fishing.Â I'll even go further... I think bonefish (hell, all fish for that matter), smell resignation. Achieving a predatory mindset is a hopeful action. One that is often self fulfilling. Hope/confidence/optimism is as important as the right fly or a new rod or a fine tippet. 3.) On a practical level, use the wind and sun to your advantage. If possible, wade a flat with the wind behind you. If there is little or no wind, have the sun behind you. Take the time, after spotting a fish, to navigate upwind of your fish, but always wade quietly until you are in place. When you are in position, false cast away from the fish, especially with a slow moving or tailing fish. This will keep the fly line from spooking the fish. Cast away at a 45 to 90 degree angle to the direction that the fish are heading. If it is windy, make your false cast holding your rod as parallel as possible to the plane of the water. The wind's friction with the water lessens its velocity in the area 3 to 4 feet above the water's level. This casting technique makes it harder for the fish to see the fly line and allows for a very quiet presentation since the fly does not drop from much height.
4.) Don't blame your equipment. Don't get so involved in the minutiae of equipment that you focus on that and abdicate your role in all this. To look to your equipment for answers actually hinders your ability to learn the skills of the sport. Casting, stalking, presentation and a proper retrieve have to do with you, not your rod... not your leader... not your fly. Of course they are important. That is a given... make your choice, then move on and know your success is literally in your hands.
Again to be successful, is more a matter of preparation than luck. But since I've been a bit "mental" with these tips, here is one more and it has to do with karma. Build up some good karma by remembering: When you do catch a bonefish, take a few pics, but treat him well. As someone else pointed out. "He is old and possibly embarrassed." Be kind to him... it will pay off for you.