Fly Fishing for Bonefish


Albula vulpes

Fly Fishing for Bonefish

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Clouser Minnow

Crab Pattern

Sand Eel

Shrimp Pattern



Where you can find Bonefish

On this map you see where there were observations of Bonefish around the world, to give you an idea in which continents, countries and waters you can find this fish species.

Years 2000 until now, source: GBIF

How to fly fish for bonefish

Fly fishing for bonefish, often termed as "ghosts of the flats," is an activity that requires both skill and patience. Bonefish are elusive creatures, mainly found in shallow inshore waters, making them an exciting target for anglers seeking a challenging catch.

First, you'll need to be equipped with the right gear. A 6 to 9-weight fly rod and a sturdy reel with a strong drag system are the primary requirements. Ensure you have a good quality floating fly line and plenty of backing because bonefish are notorious for their fast, long runs.

Understanding bonefish behavior is key. These fish are mostly found cruising or feeding in shallow sandy or muddy flats. A careful approach is necessary because bonefish are easily spooked due to their keen sense of sight and sound. Thus, minimizing noise and movements is paramount.

When it comes to casting, accuracy trumps distance. Bonefish are not usually caught at long distances, so focus on delivering the fly accurately. 

Once the bonefish takes your fly, give a strip set instead of raising your rod tip. When the fish feels the hook, it will typically take off at high speed, so hold on tight.

What are the best flies for bonefish?

Here are a few proven patterns:

  1. Gotcha — Perhaps the most popular bonefish fly, the Gotcha has a shrimp-like appearance that is irresistible to bonefish. It works especially well in the Bahamas and Belize.
  2. Shrimp Pattern — More generic than the previous fly: any shrimp pattern will do. They are particularly useful in locations with a hard, sandy bottom.
  3. Crazy Charlie — This is another shrimp imitation that bonefish find hard to resist. It’s especially effective in the Florida Keys and the Caribbean.
  4. Christmas Island Special — Ideal for sandy flats, this pattern comes in various sizes and colors. The orange version is especially effective.
  5. Clouser Minnow — A versatile fly, it can imitate a wide range of prey species, making it a favorite for different fishing scenarios.

Best times and locations for bonefish

The best times to fish for bonefish are typically during the incoming and high tides, as these are the times when bonefish come onto the flats to feed. They can be found year-round in tropical and subtropical waters.

Locations renowned for bonefishing include the Bahamas, particularly the islands of Andros, Grand Bahama, and Abaco. The Florida Keys also host substantial bonefish populations. Internationally, destinations like Belize, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and Christmas Island in the Pacific are famous for bonefishing.

Conservation considerations

Bonefish are primarily catch and release due to their higher value as a sport fish compared to a food fish. As responsible anglers, it's essential to handle these fish with care to ensure their survival post-release. Wet your hands before handling, avoid touching the gills, and ensure the fish is fully revived before releasing.

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Flies that you can use to fly fish for Bonefish

Clouser Minnow

Crab Pattern

Sand Eel

Shrimp Pattern

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Countries where you can fly fish for Bonefish

🇺🇸 United States

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