Mike Timms, from Alphonse Island, Seychelles
Now I hope I am not going to belittle the power, sport and speed of ”The Bonios of Alphonse Island” but I got to thinking, why do we use a 8, 7 or modern 6 wt rod on bonefish.
Most would say the 6 wt is about as light as you can go …. or is it?
Armed with a RDP Fly Rods’ 4 piece 1 wt, I stepped from the Alphonse skiff. Master guide Scott of the Amirantes by my side, I requested that we start on some baby bones first. He retorted, “We don’t do baby bones here”. Whoops! Okay, so not so big ones then. An unusually refreshing request from a fisherman and I could see he was confused.
I produced from the skiff’s forward compartment my 1 wt rod for the mornings flat and duly assembled, reeled and lined the 7 ft 6 ins of pure drinking straw, if you get my drift.
These guys are used to 8, 10, and 12 wt norms so a 1 wt was a bit of a shock, like I’ll just walk away, this chap’s bonkers! I haven’t seen this. I fixed an 8 ft tapered leader down to a 8 lb tip and the de-barbed Cuban mantis size 8 was the chosen bonefish burger.
There were comments of ‘have you got the rod insured?’ and ‘I’ll get the fire extinguisher’, but I was now committed or would probably be so if this ended in a bunch of smoldering spaghetti. The reel, I had always known, is the real workhorse in saltwater fly fishing, on the initial run the rod doesn’t play such an important part, the reel does all the work. I had chosen a Sage Click 2 and a glove, more matched to 6 oz brownies than 4 lb bonefish.
This was going to be fun. I stood and scanned the white sand, the clear water and the blue horizon. When what could only have been a minute had passed Mr and Mrs bone and their family of bones came into view. I made my 100 ft cast, okay it was 35 ft but that’s all I needed, presented the fly gently 10 ft in front of Mr Bone. Being polite and helpful he lets nipper fill his tum. I strip the strike and I am connected to something for which the rod and reel were not designed. You know, it didn’t matter. All the same techniques and principles apply, get the line, hand and stance right and hang on.
Gloving the reel gives you a totally and instantly adjustable drag. You can feel every wag of the tail, every dash for freedom and you can increase resistance or decrease resistance through feel. Fantastic! The 1 wt brought the fish under control just as fast as an 8 wt would do. I was surprised, I expected to be there for ages or clutching an 8 piece rod and a creased piece of hot aluminum.
The bone made 4 or 5 runs of varying lengths, I was with him all the way. I used only gentle pressure at the unhooking stage as there has to be limitations on such a light rod. I tried another three fish and was convinced this was more fun than conventional methods. Not once did any of the 4 fish take me deep into the backing, the Sage Click reel coped with the pressure and the rod did not complain at any stage. I just rinsed the rod and reel off with drinking water and stowed it away.
For the record. The rod was made by Mark at RDP Fly Rods USA, a 1 wt,7 ft 6 in 4 piece. The reel was a Sage Click 2 with 100 yds of 20 lb gel-spun backing. There is no perceivable drag on this reel, so pack a light glove. An Orvis 1 wt Superfine Trout Wonderline 3 worked well, even in the Seychelles’ breeze.
Summing up. It was nowhere near the hard task I had imagined. The rod and reel coped admirably and the sensation was great and I will do it again next time. I even think the 1 wt and reel would tame a 8 lb bone!
A GT? Well, next time.
If you have a young son or daughter of 7 or 8 years old then the above outfit would by scale make for a great introduction to fly fishing the flats.
I may have started a whole new sport……try it!