As the summer draws to an end and fall begins, we start looking forward to planning next year's adventures and maybe even a winter fly fishing getaway. The Bahamas offer amazing opportunities for anglers with a wide range of target species and a variety of different lodging experiences. Whether you want to stay on one of the more developed main islands like Grand Bahama, Nassau, or Andros, or travel farther south to less inhabited islands like Acklins and Crooked Island. The Monic team was fortunate enough to travel to Acklins back in May of this year to put our lines to the test. I want to outline the trip and gear we used to offer an insight for anybody looking to travel to the Bahamas or other tropical fly-fishing destinations.
We stayed at Salina Point Angling Adventures, located on the Southeast side of Acklins. Ryan and Alicia of Primal Angling run this small operation and it offers a great family style lodging feel. The lodge is located just a short 15-minute walk to the beach, so your fly-fishing adventures await just outside your door. You can have the option to go out on the boat with local expert guides Joseph and Frankie exploring the over 500 square miles of walkable flats in search of Bonefish, Permit, Barracuda and so much more every day. Or you can also take a more DIY approach and drive around the island walking the many beaches and sandy flats in solitude with just as many fishing opportunities.
You can expect to primarily be targeting Bonefish for your trip. Bonefish are the most abundant gamefish and give the angler the most opportunity when walking the flats in the Bahamas. Depending on the day and conditions, you can expect to get at least one or two casts at small schools of Bonefish, and on your best days, you might run into so many Bonefish you will grow tired of casting to them, if that is possible. The flats are full of life though, and you never know what you might run into. We would commonly sight Barracuda stalking the flats for Bonefish as well, and these big toothy fish make for great fun on the fly rod. Another species that can be commonly seen when walking the flats in the Bahamas is the elusive Permit, one of the toughest species to be caught on the fly. The Permit is often referred to as the holy grail of species to target on the fly. So, if you get lucky enough to sight one on the flats you better have your rod rigged and ready to go, as these opportunities can be few and far between.
I found that the best rod and line combos for walking the flats consist of an 8wt rigged for Bonefish and either a 9wt or 10wt rigged for Permit/Barracuda. The 8wt rod for Bonefish should be medium to fast action, as you will experience windy conditions and can expect to make casts up to 60-70ft, with most casts being in the 30-50ft range. Although you can chase bonefish with lighter rods and tackle, the 8wt offers the most versatility. For the 8wt line, we found that we had the most success when using our clear floating tip fly line, the Bonefish Phantom Tip, Phantom Tip - Bonefish - Monic Fly Lines. This line has a 15ft clear floating tip and it's very important because some of the fish you will be targeting might only be in 6 inches of water, and with the water being crystal clear, the clear line makes a huge impact on whether you spook the fish or not. Bonefish are on the menu for many of the predatory fish in the ocean, as well as for the birds in the sky, so it makes sense that they are extremely wary and spooky. All it takes is one shadow in the wrong spot and the fish are gone, so it is imperative that you take every precaution available to maximize each opportunity you get. The Bonefish taper also makes a big difference, as it has a long overall head design at 46’, this design is to make it easier for anglers to pick up more line off the water and shoot it right back out. So, if you make a cast at 60ft as the school of bonefish approach and then the school makes a sudden change in direction requiring you to recast, you can pick that full 60ft of line up and replace your cast. This allows the angler to get more shots on the moving school within a quick time span. The front end of this taper was specifically designed to allow for enough power when facing strong winds that you can turn over a heavy weighted shrimp or crab pattern, while still retaining enough delicacy to allow for accurate presentations. For this trip I used the Mystic Tremor SW 8wt rod, this rod was the perfect Bonefish rod as it was fast enough to punch right through the wind, but with its specialized Scandinavian taper, the rod had enough feel and delicacy to accurately present the flies at 60ft. This moderate/fast action rod paired perfectly with our 8wt Phantom Tip Bonefish line, which is weighted on the heavy side of AFFTA true to weight. I suggest that if you are using a true fast action stiff rod to upline one size for a better weight pairing.
For the Permit/Barracuda rod I was using the Mystic Reaper X in a 9wt, this rod is also a medium/fast action rod and paired well with our Advanced Clear Plus 9wt line. (I highly recommend checking out Mystic Fly Rods if you are not familiar with them. They make quality rods for both fresh and saltwater applications, and are located right here in CO. Mystic Outdoors | Custom Fly Fishing Rods) I chose to use our Advanced Clear Plus line for this rod as I knew it was going to need the aggressive Javelin taper for delivering larger flies to Barracuda, and I knew I would need the stealth of the clear floating line for the Permit. The Advanced Clear Plus is our newest full clear floating line construction, Advanced Clear Plus - Monic Fly Lines. It uses our semi-stiff Sensicore core material which is great for improved hooksets and faster line speed, paired with our aggressive Javelin taper made for punching through the wind and turning over heavier flies. I find the best way to rig this rod so you can be ready for either species is to have your permit fly tied on and always ready to go. If you see a permit or school of permit, they will most likely be on the move and your window of opportunity to make a cast will be limited. Then keep your barracuda fly tied to a 12”-18” piece of wire bite somewhere that is quickly accessible. When you run into barracuda on the flats most of the time, they will be stationary waiting in an ambush position, along the point of a beach or tucked into a mangrove, generally close to those transition areas from shallow to deep. This will give you the time to tie on your barracuda fly with the wire bite and make a cast. The quickest way to rig up, is to tie on your barracuda fly much like you would a dropper on a dry dropper set up, just off the bend of the hook from the permit fly. This allows you to quickly change between set ups for whichever fish you run into. This came in handy as we had a handful of shots on large Barracuda and although I did not get the opportunity to see any Permit, the crab pattern I had tied on got plenty of use with the local Trigger fish on the island. It is good to note though, that a trigger fish will have no issues tearing up your pretty Permit crab with their big horse like teeth, so keep your favorite flies in the box away from the trigger fish.
The other top line for our trip was our Skyline Plus, Skyline PLUS | Floating Fly Fishing Line | Monic Fly Lines - Monic Fly Lines. The Skyline Plus is a great all-around saltwater fly line, built on a zero-stretch GSP core for excellent hooksets and line speed. This line also uses our aggressive Javelin taper, making it great for any application. I rigged this line in a 9wt on the Reaper X Mystic rod and used it for throwing poppers and large baitfish imitations at structure along the beach in search of Barracuda and other predatory fish. On one of the days when I was out walking the beaches, I was fortunate enough to spot two Horse-eye Jacks following a nurse shark along the reef. The Jacks like to follow the sharks to eat any small bait fish that get spooked out of their hiding spots as the shark swims by. So, I quickly made a cast out over the shark with my popper and after 3 quick strips, boom! The Jack hit the fly at full speed and the fight was on. I was very happy to have the strength of the Skyline Plus with the GSP 65lb test core for this fight, as this fish would not give in for almost 15 minutes. Ripping me out to my backing over and over again. I could tell the fish was doing its best to bury itself and the line in the coral, but I was happy to see that my 20lb leader and fly line held up to the test. This just goes to show that you never know what you might run into when saltwater fishing.
All in all, the trip to the Bahamas was one I will never forget. I hope that I can return soon because there is so much more to explore, and it was truly the trip of a lifetime. If anyone reading this has the opportunity to go fish or just travel to the Bahamas, I highly recommend you take advantage of it because you will not be disappointed. If you do, make sure you check out Monic fly lines because the advantage is clear. Our lines could be the difference between spooking all the fish you cast to and landing that fish of a lifetime. Whether you want a colored line or full clear or anything in between, we at Monic have got you covered.