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Saltwater Articles Articles on fly fishing for bonefish, redfish, tarpon, permit and other saltwater species.

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Old 01-07-2015, 10:11 AM
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Default Outfitting for the Tropical Flats

Rods and reels have been discussed exhaustively for flats fly fishing so I will add little except to say, you must have back-ups. Unless you are in Florida, few tropical flats destinations have tackle shops or UPS access. You can not enjoy a tropical destination if you are sunburned. Bring the highest rated, broad spectrum cream, spray and lip protector. I slather up pre-coffee in the AM so the stuff can dry on me before it gets too hot and carry the lip balm in my shirt pocket. Naturally, make sure you have any meds you may need including something in case something tropical disagrees with you digestion. I am a long time fan of a Hemingway-esque long billed fishing hat and now I prefer one that has a removable sun shade to protect my neck and ears. Early on I criticized dedicated tropical fishing shirts as being too stylish, but their SPF protective fabric and useful pockets have long ago won me over. I would like to wear light weight nylon, quick drying shorts while fishing and sometimes do, but more and more I am wearing full length nylon pants. I don't mean to get too personal but cotton underwear under nylon wadding pants defeats their purpose, I like Patagonia's Capalene boxers but there are many quick drying undergarments intended for sports from multiple makers. And lets not forget footwear! Sandals are fine on land or even in the boat assuming they are designed to not have line entangling protrusions of any kind. But for wading, flats boots are a MUST HAVE. Stepping on an edge of coral, sharp shell or spinney critter can hobble your trip badly and I have seen anglers develop some trip impacting infections by being cavalier about foot protection. I have heard that Patagonia has discontinued their famous Marlewalker boots, an essential piece of gear I have long used but Simms still makes their version...a supportive, protective flat wading boot is really important in my opinion. Simms wading socks, be them perforated neoprene of reinforced conventional socks are very good and I like neoprene slip-over gravel cuffs to keep the gnarly ich out. A waterproof boat bag for extra everything, leader building kit, rain shell, sun screen, whatever, is a good thing to have when fishing from a skiff. Many like a waist mounted pack to carry flies, tippet material, a compact camera. etc. while wading while others manage to stuff the necessities into big shirt pockets, this is personal style but something to consider pre-trip. I f you plan on pursuing bonefish exclusively not many specialized tools are needed, a shirt or lanyard affixed nipper (with a back-up one in your leader kit) is about it. I like my nipper mounted on a split ring to use as a third hand when tightening no-slip loop knots. If you hope to pursue toothy barracuda or shark, wire or better, polymer coated wire material is required. This can be Albright knotted to a stout class tippet and I recommend having this pre-rigged on a separate 10-weight (or larger) rod that can be stowed in the boat. If intending to fish in this way a pair of pliers are a good idea and they need not be hundred dollar ones; as long as they can cut wire and are long enough to reach into Mr.Tooths mouth, they are fine. Dr. Slick has a good assortment with a nylon sheath. Practice your knots at home while preparing your leaders for the trip and check them thoroughly. The blood knot, non-slip loop knot, perfection loop, Albright and I use Biminis too should all be comfortable for you to tie and tighten without tools beyond your fingers. I am using fluorocarbon leaders and tippets that I hand knot exclusively but there are good saltwater intended nylon monofilaments for flats applications too. See below in this Forum an article on Saltwater Leaders. The last really important piece of equipment critical to enjoying a tropical flats, or any sight fishing experience is top quality polarized sun glasses. And I emphasize "glasses" not "plastics". Genuine laminated glass lenses as employed by specialty angling eyewear companies like Smith's Action Optics and Costa Del Mar are far superior optically than CR39 high-end plastic lenses and popular polycarbonate lenses are just not optical grade products. You are peering into sun drenched rippling water striving to detect the subtle movement or shadow of an elusive and well camouflaged bonefish, you need every optical advantage available. I wear Rx glasses for distance correction and e-mail a scan of my prescription to which I have my ophthalmologist add my Pupillary Distance, to Action Optics. My primary pair for both flats and trout fishing is photochromic cooper but I have an amber pair too for lower light or cloudy conditions. I can't emphasize strongly enough the imperativeness of top quality shades and don't overlook an eyewear retainer to assure they stay attached to you.

Compared to traveling to a trout fishing destination, you can travel more lightly to the flats. No waders and warm clothing required. I use a cordura covered tubular rod case I can get up to eight rods packed in their cloth sleeves which come on board the planes with me as my "personal" item and my boat bag is my carry-on item. Fly boxes, reels, cameras, eyewear, non-liquid medications and other essentials are stuffed into this bag and I wear my hat. I wear a pocketed fishing shirt as a travel shirt with a printed out itinerary including all contact data I may need. Not all cell phones will work in exotic destinations and sever roaming charges may apply, check with your service provider about unlocked cards and foreign travel plans for where you are heading. Some countries like the Bahamas are GSM only so Verizon CDMA phones just will not work at all.

As I write all these details it is 24 with a wind chill of 11 degrees outside and the weatherman is predicting 6 degrees tonight. Palm trees from which the fishing camp can harvest a ripe coconut so I can mix its fresh water with aged Rum from the duty free shop as I sit beneath a thatched roof watching the sun go down into the sea in preparation for tomorrows flats adventure...that is exactly the state I want to be in.
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Old 01-07-2015, 11:30 AM
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Default Re: Outfitting for the Tropical Flats

Great information! Thanks for taking the time to share.

On the glasses - do you have a color preference? Amber/Bronze/Blue?
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Old 01-07-2015, 12:50 PM
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Default Re: Outfitting for the Tropical Flats

Cooper or Redish Cooper, sometimes called Vermillion seem best polarized sunglass tints under bright conditions; enhancing contrast yet keeping color perception neutralish while filtering out a good amount of hard-to-focus blue light waves. Under cloudy or morning/evening light Amber or Yellow/Amber enhance visual acuity by allowing more light to pass, through the glass and again filtering blue light. I avoid mirrored surfaces for all the do is reflect light thus offering no perception advantages.
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Old 01-08-2015, 05:17 AM
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Default Re: Outfitting for the Tropical Flats

Do you check your flies or put them in your carry-on?
How do "grip a 'cuda or bonnethead when releasing them?
Headed down to Islamorada at the end of march and will be DIY wading the flats...-19 this morning upta Maine this morning......
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Old 01-08-2015, 07:31 AM
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Default Re: Outfitting for the Tropical Flats

S&S: That was some great information in that article, thanks for sharing!
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Old 01-08-2015, 07:35 AM
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Default Re: Outfitting for the Tropical Flats

The below is copied from the TSA document on plane travel with fishing tackle and specifies flies are permitted as carry on appropriate. I went to their web site and copied this document, carrying it in my travel bag. This pertains to the US but I have a taken flies on board traveling to the Bahamas too without issue. I hedge my bet when traveling to Central or South America though by packing my vest/pack which may contain larger pointy pliers, hemostats, whatever, with its fly boxes but taking one core box of flies in my carry on, just in case.


Traveling with Special Items
Hunting & Fishing Equipment
Fishing
Fishing Rods / Poles
Fishing Rods are permitted as carry-on and checked baggage. However, please check with your air carrier to confirm that it fits within their size limitations for carry-on items. Ultimately, it is the carrier's decision as to whether or not it can be transported as carry-on baggage.
Spear Guns
Spear guns are prohibited from carry-on luggage. These items should be packed in checked luggage. Any sharp objects packed in checked luggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and security screeners.
Tackle Equipment
Fishing equipment should be placed in your checked baggage. Some tackle equipment can be considered sharp and dangerous. Expensive reels or fragile tackle such as flies should be packed in your carry-on baggage.
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Old 01-08-2015, 07:42 AM
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Default Re: Outfitting for the Tropical Flats

S&S: I have an issue with my lips getting sunburned over several days of consecutive fishing (even with me using the lip protector). I can only imagine that it would be much worse with all that high intense sun on those flats. Maybe I don't apply it often enough. How do you solve that issue?
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Old 01-08-2015, 08:08 AM
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Default Re: Outfitting for the Tropical Flats

Sunburned lips really hurt and I suffer from this on my June/July Montana/Idaho fishing trips too. I buy the highest rated SPF lip balm I can find, keep it in my shirt pocket on the flats and one of those otherwise useless little upper pockets on my trout vest and apply it often...I don't wait to begin to fell the burn, I put it on in the AM and after lunch or drinking water...just regularly. My other technique is I grow my beard in at the beginning of fishing season and no doubt in my mind, a lush mustache helps in lip protection too. Sun burn hurts and we all have heard or experienced the serious medical risks involved but the body part I particularly want to protect is my eyes. Sun exposure is the leading cause of cataract development. Flats fishing doubles your dose of sun exposure by adding the water reflective light waves to the intense ambient sunshine but lets not underestimate the intensity of Rocky Mountain sun exposure with a thinner atmosphere at our higher elevations. I wrote above about the importance to visual acuity of top quality, glass, polarized sunglasses so I will add that such shades maximize UVA/UVB protection too by virtue of their design and ubiquitous inclusion of appropriate coatings as well. Even when walking the dog or performing local chores I wear a pair of such glasses and one of my signature long-billed hats to further shade my eyes. I leave the rods at home though.
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Old 01-08-2015, 11:20 AM
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Default Re: Outfitting for the Tropical Flats

I know some don't like them and see them as a "fad" but I used to have bad problems with chapped lips so I started wearing a face buff and it has helped tremendously. Also, it may sound silly but once I get to the fishing area, I pull up the buff and go into "ninja mode".. It's game on at that point. I am in "the zone"
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Old 01-09-2015, 04:57 PM
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Default Re: Outfitting for the Tropical Flats

Great post as always ss

I will add my additions of favorites for travel fishing to salt destinations

1)fishpond dakota bag- lets me take as a carryon all my reels rods camera sunglasses in one bag. fits in any overhead. never had to check to date. dont all the tubes for any rod. this has been an awesome travel bag for carryon fishing gear

2)patagonia stormfront backpack vs sling. i have both and use both as my carry on and then on the boat.

3) fishpond rolltop boatbag. Love this bag. totally waterproof , easy in and out without the waterproof zipper and can break down fold flat and throw in my checked bag.

4) trabvel tying kit. with essentials ( hooks, beadchain, lead eyes, flash, legs and syntehetics. )

3) three pairs of polarized sunglasses. 2 that are all arounders in case in gets broken or lost and one low light pair. i where prescription so my spares are just slightly older prescriptions still usable)
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