Note to self: buy or tie some Simrams. Thanks, Gary. I've been assembling a mess of flies based on advice I've picked up here and there—headlined by #2, 4 and 6 tan Gotchas. Oh, and that's a gorgeous bonefish. Congrats.
I actually own a Battenkill mid-arbor IV that's a backup to my Galvans—an underrated reel. In fact, it has my favorite (flat) handle on any fly reel I've ever used.
As for the 8wt, I've cast many different rods over the years — including a buddy's high-end Sages and Scotts—but by comparison the TICRx and Ion rods pack a comparable punch. Maybe it's me, but the Ion, especially, seems to be rated a weight lower than posted. I will admit, tho, that most of my fly fishing has been in the backcountry. Once I get out in that open wind I may be in for a humbling experience. As for the "short rod", I'm looking beyond the Bahamas to what I'll use the Predator for most of the time: fishing Everglades shorelines. It should excel there since old-schoolers down have long sworn by chopped-down rods for backwater fistfights with reds and snook, especially from the bow of a skiff. I've also heard a few credible sources say that short rods have their place on a bonefish flat since they are much easier to cast repeatedly throughout the day and they can excel at the shorter casts that are apparently common in that setting. I'll soon find out.
On a related note, have any of you been to the Mangrove Cay area on Andros? And if so, can you recommend a good guide? I'd much prefer someone with a patient manner because my wife is learning to fly fish and I will not handle a bossy presence very well. I've never hired a guide so it will be a new experience for me. Also, is it worth asking the guide to make the run to the West side of the island? Any additional tips would be great. There's a cold Kalik in it for ya.