Hawaiian Bonefishing By Derek Bachmann
Taking my new bride to Hawaii for our honeymoon provided an opportunity to try an endeavor I had yet to experience, Bonefishing on the fly! As the Director of Web Marketing for FlyFishUSA.com it provided the opportunity to test out a few new rods and reels for the occasion.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t get to fish as often as I’d like to, but give me an opportunity to fly fish the salt and I’ll always jump on the chance.
Derek Bachmann with his first Hawaiian Bonefish
Bonefish are an amphidromous species, they live in inshore tropical waters and move onto shallow coral and sandy flats to feed on crustaceans, like the Mantis Shrimp, with the incoming tide. The scientific name for bonefish is "Albula vulpes" and is derived from Latin, justly translated as "White fox", as these fish are elusive, easily spooked, and you must be stealthy and smart in order hunt them down.
Honolulu right before Flossie is suppose to hit
The day began at 5:30 AM, 74F, with overcast skies, and rain in the forecast. Not optimal weather for flats fishing for monster bones. But I came here to fish and nothing short of a Hurricane was going to stop me from trying.
We met up with Captain Mike Hennessy, owner of Hawaii on the Fly, and he informed me that we had a narrow window for “tailing” fish on the shallow flats before the tide came in. We headed out in his Action Craft flats boat in search of the ever skittish Hawaiian bonefish.
I grabbed my Winston BIIISX 890 with the new Waterworks/Lampson ARX 3.5 loaded with a SA Bonefish Taper Floating line. Mike attached a Cognac Mantis fly and we started wading the flats. After walking about 100 yards I spotted my first tail and Mike told me to cast my fly 30 feet.
BAM!!! First cast and fish on!!! It is no joke when a bonefish takes 150 yards of your backing before you can even blink. It wasn’t a Monster, but it was a bonefish and that’s what I came here for! The fight only lasted for a few minutes but the initial take and run was exhilarating to say the least.
Not bad for first time bonefishing. I don't know who was more excited me or Mike? He kept saying, "Holy Cow, first cast and fish on!!!" I'm sure luck had a lot to do with it, but I give Mike most of the credit for all the tips and instruction he provided.
Mike Henessy & Derek Bachmann with a nice Hawaiian Bonefish
As the flats went from ankle deep to knee deep it was difficult to track these beautiful creatures while in the water, so Mike decided it was time to try some casting from the boat. I grabbed my Echo3 890SW with an Echo Ion 7/9 reel. As these bonefish were a little deeper I used the spool with the Airflo bonefish intermediate line. This rod was easy to cast and handle in fair winds. If the winds wouldn't have picked up to 15-20 MPH this combo would have been my choice because of the balance. Mike seemed to like the look and feel of this rod so I gave it to him to do a little more research at my expense.
Testing the Echo3 Saltwater rod and Ion reel!
Next it was time to give the Sage One 990-4 and Able Super Series 7/8 reel a crack at these beasts of the flats. There is no doubt that this combo is nothing short of amazing not only because it is pretty to look at, but because it is so easy to cast.
To give you an Idea of how easy, I took my buddy Mark Stansbury, who has never even casted a fly rod, out to the flats on my last day in Hawaii. With 20 minutes of instruction he was putting the fly where I told him to. Of course if you're gonna hook someone on the sport of fly fishing, hand them the outfit that makes it all seem easy!
Sage ONE 990 + Abel Super Series 7/8 with bonefish pattern = AWESOME!
Between the overcast skies, rain, and the wind, our visibility into the water was not at its best. Fly fishing for bonefish is not a “cast and pray” type of sport! We had a few breaks in the clouds over the next 4 hours and a few more chances at some monsters, but it seemed that they were just not ready to be caught or my lack of skill casting into the 15-20 MPH winds may have played a factor.
Mike Henessy of Hawaii on the Fly
There are many places to catch bonefish in the flats around Oahu, Hawaii, some you can drive or walk to, but I would recommend hiring a professional guide like Capt. Mike Hennessy of Hawaii on the Fly who knows where the big ones are and has the boat and the knowledge to get you there. Mike is one of those people that determines what type of person you are right away and then caters to your personality. He has a great sense of humor and is an amazing instructor with oodles of patience, which is something you absolutely need as a guide. His love of fly fishing for bonefish makes his job, if you can call it that, an adventure every day. Mike can be reached through his website Hawaii Fly Fishing Guides
or by calling him at (808) 366 7835 you will not regret!
Winston BIIISX 890 & Lampson ARX 3.5 reel "Lucky Combo"
Full write-up at: Fly Fishing Newsletter, Hawaiian Bonefish, 8 Weights, Simms Sun Apparel
Visit us at: Fly Fishing Shop, equipment, tackle, fly rods, fly reels, Fly Tying