Author: Will Rice
With our hosted trip to the Andros South Lodge in the Bahamas just a few short days away, most of our planning and preparation is behind us. We’re now in “pack it up” mode. Between rods, reels, lines, leaders, tippets, and flies – organization and planning can go a long way.
When we are on South Andros Island, our primary target will be bonefish – BIG bonefish. My secondary target will be barracuda. Other species where we will be opportunistically ready for include jacks, sharks, snapper, permit and tarpon.
With all that in mind, I feel like I’m bringing down everything and the kitchen sink… just in case.
So here is what I’m rolling with:
Primary bonefish rod and reel : Sage ONE 8 wt 9ft 4pc and a Sage 4280 reel – For this type of flats fishing where wind can be an issue, I'm looking for a fast rod that can create a lot of line speed quickly. Another reason I chose this rod/reel combination is that it is LIGHT. I most likely will be casting this rod and reel the most throughout our six day trip so going with a lighter set-up makes sense to me. From a reel perspective, I want something that is sturdy, durable, has a fully sealed drag system and can take a beating. The Sage 4280 is loaded with 200 yards of Hatch Backing and fits the bill.
Back up bonefish rod: St. Croix Imperial 8 wt 9 ft 4pc - The St. Croix Imperial is a high performing and economical saltwater back up rod. It is fast enough to get the job done in the wind.
Primary Barracuda rod: Sage Response 9 wt. 9ft 4pc and a Hatch Finatic 7 Plus – This is my third saltwater trip using my Sage Response. I have confidence in it. This will be my first time using a Hatch Reel and I’m looking forward to putting it to the test.
Backup Barracuda rod: Sage Bass II - I will admit that this is a science experiment partially cooked up by my fellow employee Rick Mikesell. I’ve often commented that the Sage Bass II is a “rocket.” I’ve fished with it for big carp and I’ve used it trout fishing from a drift boat on windy days. It is not really a subtle rod, but it can punch a cast like few others. We rigged this with a 300 grain 9 wt. floating line, tested it out in the grass with some large flies. We’ll let you know how it performs in the salt.
Lines: Both of the floating lines on my 8wt and 9wt rods will be Rio Saltwater General Purpose (8 wt and 9wt WF floating).
Leaders and Tippet: I will have 12lb, 16lb, and 20lb fluorocarbon leaders. My tippet and leader material that I’m bringing ranges from 8 lb to 80 lb. This will give me the flexibility to build custom leaders quickly just in case.
Bonefish Flies: from everyone I have spoken to over the past few weeks, BIG flies sound like the name of the game. I will be bringing down different shrimp patterns primarily ranging from size 2-4. That said, I want to be prepared for different situations so I’ll have flies in my box as small as size #8.
Barracuda Flies: the first big barracuda I ever caught was on South Andros Island. The entire experience left a mark. The fish was probably right around 36” in length and ate a surface popper with such ferocity that I’ve never looked a ‘cuda the same again. I have an assortment of large flies designed to be stripped high in the water column. Watching “the eat” is my primary goal with this species. In addition to these larger baitfish patterns, I do have an array of surface poppers that are designed to move a lot of water and create a lot of commotion.
Polarized Sunglasses: I'll be taking down two pair of Costa sunglasses with 580 glass lenses. Being able to see fish is paramount and I need every advantage at my disposal. If I lose or break a pair - I have a back up.
I’ll also be bringing down a Sage ONE six weight and Waterworks Lamson Speedster for the off chance we get ridiculously calm weather. From a hardware and terminal equipment standpoint, that pretty much covers it.
As far as a boat bag goes, I'm bringing down a waterproof roll-top backpack. I'll use this to transport my rain gear, fly boxes, back up reels and fly lines to and from the boat each day. For wading shoes, I'll be using my Simms Flats Sneakers once again (these boots take a licking and keep on ticking).
One last thought. I read this advice while working with Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures and it makes a lot of sense to me:
“Every fish that you catch is special. That may sound like a bad Hallmark card, but it’s absolutely true. Whether you’re landing your first bonefish on a fly or finally catching a trophy tarpon or permit, take a moment to appreciate every fish that comes your way and remember where you are and why you are there. With that kind of mindset, you can’t help but enjoy your trip, regardless of the size or number of fish caught.” – Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures
One thing that I’m really looking forward to is spending time with our clients. For some of them, this will be their first salt water fly fishing experience. I remember mine well and I’m excited to see how they do. I'm also hoping we see a lot of these:
Other than that and finalizing my packing list, I’m looking forward to getting my toes into the sand, enjoying a cold Kalik and a conch fritter or two (or 10...). Stay tuned for live updates from South Andros Island, Bahamas next week.