Fishipedia Top 5: Dos & don’ts of DIY flats fishing

September 16th, 2011| No Comments

Just a few things to consider before you head off on that dream flats fishing trip…



Consider using barbless hooks… Particularly if you’re headed somewhere remote. Apart from making catch & release easier and faster (thus limiting the chances of your catch becoming shark bait), you’ll be doubly thankful if a rogue fly manages to embed itself in your skin.

Pack some once-a-day sunscreen… The internet, iPods, box-sets of The Sopranos… some modern inventions really are worth having, and this is one. Not only does it cut down on excess weight in your bag, but it means you don’t have to worry about endlessly reapplying during the day, or that tut-tutting from your guide if he suspects you’ve so much as shown it to the fly on your tippet. If you’re doing a lot of wading you may need to reapply it to your legs, but otherwise you can just get on with the important business of fishing.

Go with an open mind… It’s not just about the fishing. These trips give us the opportunity to visit some beautiful places, so make sure you take it all in. And that goes for the people as well as the scenery – take time to get to know those you meet, and if you pick up a guide for a day or two, get to know them properly rather than just seeing them as someone who simply puts you on fish. It’s a cliche but it’s true – the more you put in, the more you’ll get out.

Make sure you’ve got a bunch of casting practise in your locker… Really, do it. This, more than anything else, is the thing that can dictate how enjoyable your trip turns out to be. If you’re going DIY, chances are you won’t have anyone there to remind you of your errors, so make sure you iron them out beforehand.

Take a decent camera with you… There are so many excellent waterproof cameras on the market right now, and you don’t have to pay silly money for them anymore. Alternatively, you join the cap’s-eye camera revolution and splash out on a GoPro wearable…


Cut corners on quality… If you’re headed somewhere exciting on a fishing holiday, you’ve more than likely spent a chunk of money. Why would you then skimp on the quality of your gear? You should be 100% confident in every item of gear in your bag, whether it’s your frontline set-up or back-up. Remember, if you’re undecided about the stopping power of that reel now, stood in the comfort of your home, how are you going to feel when faced with 100lb-plus tarpon, a rampaging GT or a trophy bone? Don’t put yourself in the position of wishing you’d spent a little more.

Forget that you’re a guest… Obviously, if you’re on a DIY bonefishing trip, you’re probably looking to save a bit of money. But remember, you shouldn’t expect everything for free. Consider hiring a local guide for at least one of the days – in some locations you can keep costs down by hiring wade guides, and it’ll help unlock some local secrets you might otherwise not have discovered. Remember you’re a guest of the fishery too; treat it – and it’s inhabitants – with the respect they deserve. Ditch the trophy shots and hauling fish into the boat. And, like we said earlier, fish with barbless hooks.

Get upset when it all goes wrong… Things can and will go awry out there, but the important thing is to retain some perspective. Don’t let your pursuit of numbers or an excessive focus on competition compromise your ability to enjoy the time you have. And if you can find the strength to laugh at yourself when it all goes wrong, so much the better.

Put yourself in danger… If you’re going truly DIY and foregoing a guide, you’ll need to have, at the very least, a basic understanding of the geography of the area. Study Google Earth before you go, take some maps with you and don’t take any unnecessary risks. The flats system, with its maze of creeks and mangroves, can be confusing and downright hellish if you take a couple of wrong turns.

Expect to have a 100%, perfectly flawless trip… You won’t unlock every secret at your chosen destination on the 101st trip, let alone the first. But remember, that’s the point. If that were the case, we’d never go back – part of the fun is the incremental process by which a fishing spot – be it a flat or a chalkstream – gives up its knowledge. It’s the journey of discovery and the sense that there’s always something else to learn that keeps us coming back.

>> This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a handful of examples of things you need to bear in mind when you’re out there on the flats. What would you have included? Let us know in the comments below…

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