How to Catch a Bonefish

Learn the secrets to catching bonefish from a professional fishing guide. Discusses tides, tackle, and technique.


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    Fish at the proper locations. Bonefish inhabit warm saltwater. Excellent places to fish for them include the Bahamas, Key West and the Florida Keys, Costa Rica, and other Caribbean destinations.
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    Look for the fish in the shallows—typically, between 1 and 3 feet of water. Bonefish tend to blend in with their surroundings and often all one can see is their shadow.
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    Use lightweight tackle. Bonefish can refuse or spook from any noticeable leader material.
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    For spin fishermen, use a 1/4 ounce flats bucktail jig tipped with a fresh shrimp tail.
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    Cast between 1 and 3 feet from the bonefish - preferably up-current from the fish.
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    Allow the jig to reach the bottom, then lightly twitch the rod upwards once, and retrieve one turn of the reel. Continue bouncing the jig along the bottom as you slowly retrieve.
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    Once the bonefish tugs on the line, wait to strike until the rod bends.
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    Expect the fish to run 100+ feet very quickly.
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    Take your time bringing in the fish.


  • Be quiet and be stealthy! Bonefish are especially wary of noise and motion. If fishing from a boat/skiff, move about silently. Don't bang rods or other gear on the deck. Also, don't make excessive motion or allow your shadow to spook the fish.
  • Keep your rod tip high while fighting the fish if the flat you are one has obstacles such as sponges, coral, and sea grass.
  • Polarized sunglasses are a must. Without them, you will see mostly glare and miss most of the bonefish.
  • Since bonefish often seem invisible, it is far easier to see them on sandy bottom areas.
  • Stingrays and sharks are a good indicator of an active flat. If you don't see any sharks or stingrays, you should probably move on to another flat.


  • Watch out for the urchins! If you are wading, make sure you have good protection for your feet. Urchins, shells, coral, and other sharp objects are often on the bottom.
  • Cover up! The sun on the flats can be very strong. It is highly recommended that you wear hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and good apparel.

Things You'll Need

  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Lightweight rod
  • 8-12 pound fishing line
  • Fluorocarbon leader material, 12 lbs. or less
  • 1/8 or 1/4 ounce flats jig
  • Fresh shrimp

Article Info

Categories: Fishing