Bonefish Fly Fishing Tackle

FLY RODS: Multi-piece 7 or 8 wt. fly rods in a nine-foot length are the best choices. Fast-tapered saltwater rods specially designed for the rigors of the salt are good choices for bonefishing and should come in three, four or five pieces, for easy traveling. A backup rod is necessary. Consider using an 8wt. for most conditions with a backup 7wt for non-windy days.

FLY REELS: Reels specifically designed for saltwater FLY FISHING are needed. Smooth disk drags, plenty of backing capacity (minimum 150yds of 20lb backing), and sturdy aluminum, anodized frames are features to look for in a reel. Heavy use in saltwater use will likely ruin reels with plastic parts.

FLY LINES: A weight-forward floating line is all you need. Airflo Ridge, Wulff Triangle Taper, Scientific Anglers Mastery, and Rio Saltwater are the best going. These lines are specifically designed for saltwater fly fishing with a special braided monofilament core that provides the proper stiffness to allow excellent shooting while resisting tangles, especially in tropical heat. However, Cabela’s sells a great Saltwater WF flyline for $40 that holds up very well.

LEADERS: Tapered saltwater leaders made from clear monofilament (10lb – 15lb. class) 10’ – 12’ are good for bonefish. Umpqua Bonefish Leaders and the Rio Powerflex Knotless Bonefish Leaders are first rate. You should bring along some tippet material in clear monofilament or fluorocarbon. 12lb tippets are ideal since most bonefishing takes place around sharp ancient coral in mudflats. Fluorocarbon leaders are another good choice as they are near invisible in the water, perfect for spooky fish in very clear water.

FLIES FOR BONEFISH: Bonefish flies come in an array of styles and colors. The following list of flies should cover most of the bonefishing situations you will encounter. Most bonefish flies should attempt to mimic small salt species such as fish, a few species of shrimp, various crabs, snails, and mudworms. Predominant color choices for bonefish flies include cream, tan, pink, and light green. Include a few brown to olive flies for fishing in turtle grass beach areas.

  • Crazy Charlie with bead chain eyes in pink, white, tan, brown, sizes 6-8
  • Crazy Charlie with mono eyes in chartreuse, pink, white, brown, size 6-8
  • Blind Charlie (without eyes), size 6-8 in silver, amber, pink, crystal chartreuse
  • Blind Puff size 6 in pink, tan/orange, and chartreuse
  • Weighted Puff size 6 pink/grizzly Mini Puff size 8 in tan, grizzly
  • Darting Coral Shrimp size 6 (pink, pearl, tan)
  • Gotcha with weed guard sizes 6-8
  • Swimming Shrimp with lead eyes in size 6 tan/pink
  • Mini Clouser sizes 6-8 tan, orange/brown
  • Mini Mantis Shrimp size 6 ta
  • Snapping Shrimp size 8
  • Kwan size 8 olive/dark brow
  • Turneffe Crab size 8 cream, light olive
  • Raghead Crab size 6-8 cream, light oliv
  • San Juan Worm size 8 tan, pink

Tarpon Fly Fishing Tackle

FLY RODS: Choices for tarpon are multi-piece 8, 9 or 10 wt. fly rods in 9ft length. Fast-tapered saltwater rods with plenty of butt strength are needed in 3 to 5 pieces for easy traveling. Bringing a backup tarpon rod is recommended.

FLY REELS: Reels specifically designed for saltwater FLY FISHING that have disk drags, plenty of backing capacity (minimum is 150yds of 20-30lb backing), and sturdy aluminum, anodized frames are preferred.

LEADERS FOR BIG TARPON: If you are planning on fishing for BIG tarpon (50lb and up) in the Yucatan, you’ll need special leaders that incorporate a shock tippet married to a class tippet, by a series of special knots. If you are not into tying your own, the Rio Powerflex Big Game Leaders (16 lb. class / 80 lb. shock) are good choices. If you would like to tie your own tarpon leaders, some good reference books are Lefty Krey’s “Fly Fishing in Saltwater” and “Practical Fishing Knots” by Lefty Krey and Mark Sosin.

“YUCATAN SMALL TARPON LEADER”: This is a simple & very clean leader, perfect for small tarpon (10lb-50lb) in the nearby lagoons. From your fly line run a butt leader/section of 60lb test mono 6ft in length. Attach to this a section of 40lb test mono (shock tippet) 3ft- 4ft in length. To attach the two pieces of mono together, use back-to-back nail or uni knots.

FLY LINES: For 90% of your tarpon fishing a weight forward floating line is all you need. Airflo Ridge, Wulff Triangle Taper, and Cortland flylines are the best for tarpon. In addition to your floater, an intermediate sinking line may be necessary, especially when fishing over rolling tarpon in and around the various cenotes. Here again, Scientific Anglers Mastery Sinking Bonefish or Tarpon Taper lines are the best. These lines are abrasion resistant, with a very slick finish for distance casting, and feature a long tapered tip for delicate presentation and clear color that won’t spook fish. If you have to pick one line, go with the floater and use a longer leader.

Flies that work well include the Florida Tarpon standards such as the Cockroach in grizzly/orange or brown/chartreuse, the Tarpon Toad in black/purple or tan/orange, the Bunny Tarpon in purple and black, and large Gurglers in differing shades of light, medium, and dark.

  • Two tarpon fly choices should resemble 3in-long sardinas and the longer baitfish found in mangrove lagoons.
  • Flies that serve that purpose well are the Micro Minnow and the Finger Mullet.
  • Also an assortment of pencil-like poppers, such as Rainy’s Bubblehead Popper will come in handy.
  • Your flies should be dressed with marabou or rabbit in order to maintain neutral buoyancy, create an attractive silhouette that moves water, and resist fouling.
  • Other choices include Sliders in light colors, Tarpon Rats, Deceivers, and Gummy Minnows.

Permit Fly Fishing Tackle

FLY RODS: Multi-piece 8, 9 or 10 wt. fly rods in the 9ft length are the best choices. Fast-tapered saltwater rods that have been specially designed for the rigors of the salt should have 3, 4, or 5 pieces for easy traveling.

FLY REELS: Reels specifically designed for saltwater FLY FISHING should have smooth disk drags, plenty of backing capacity (a minimum od 200yds of 20lb backing), and sturdy aluminum, anodized frames.

FLY LINES: A weight forward floating line is all you need. Airflo Ridge flylines are unsurpassed for permit. These lines are specifically designed for saltwater fly fishing with a special braided monofilament core that provides the proper stiffness to allow excellent shooting while resisting tangles better than other brand lines, even in tropical heat.

LEADERS: Tapered saltwater leaders made from clear monofilament (12-15lb class) 10’ – 12’ are excellent. Umpqua Bonefish Leaders & the Rio Powerflex Knotless Bonefish Leaders are good choices.  Bring along some tippet material, clear monofilament in 15lb. Also fluorocarbon leaders are another good choice as they are near invisible in the water, perfect for spooky fish in very clear water.

FLIES FOR PERMIT: Permit flies are generally larger than bonefish flies because permit seem to prefer a slightly meatier meal, normally in slightly deeper water. Because of their larger body size, they also tend to put more of a strain on a hook, so it is a good idea to use larger/stronger hooks. Flies for permit include:

  • Shallow H2O Clouser Minnows sizes 2 to 1/0 tan/pink and orange/brown
  • Mantis Shrimp size 4 tan Blue Crab size 2 rusty brown to olive
  • Other misc. crab patterns:
  • Velcro Crab #6 to #4 tan Bauer’s
  • Fur Crab #6 tan Turneffe Crab #6 cream and light olive
  • Raghead Crab #6 cream and light olive
  • Spawning Shrimp #4 (pearl or pink)

Snook Fly Fishing Tackle

You can use the same fly fishing tackle that you use for tarpon. Snook key in on surface flies extremly well so surface patterns like the Gurgler, Swimming Baitfish, Dahlberg Diver, Snook-A-Roo, and Crystal Popper in yellow/red, blue/white, red/white in size 2/0 are good choices. An additional fly that works surprisingly well is the simple Glass Minnow.

Barracuda Fly Fishing Tackle

Greater Barracuda are found all throughout the Yucatan saltwater environment. Your tarpon/snook or bonefish/permit FLY FISHING outfit is perfect for leaping cudas. For barracuda fishing, you’ll need some lengths of nylon-covered, kink-resistant braided wire in brands such as Tygerwire, Sevalon, or SevenStrand in the 50lb class. Tie in a 12in length between the tippet and fly. Barracuda fly choices include “Bob’s Banger” in orange or lime, any needlefish fly like the Kudalicious, the Supreme Hair Cuda Fly, or any other lightweight, foot-long, articulated fly tied to your wire. Always connect the fly to the wire with a knot that has a strong loop so the fly will swing freely.