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THE RAINBOW GUIDE
(TO FLY FISHING FOR BONEFISH ON ELEUTHERA)

WRITTEN BY 'BONEFISH GRAHAM' FROM ENGLAND,
IN GRATEFUL THANKS TO KEN AND CHARLIE AT RAINBOW INN
FOR MAKING TWO WEEKS IN APRIL 1995 AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE.
© 1996 - 2014 Graham Pepler.


WHY ELEUTHERA?


If you don't like the idea of deserted beaches, no boat, bumpy roads and a hotel with no room service, forget it, you've chosen the wrong island! If you can put up with all that and like the idea of staying at a friendly Inn with excellent food and you want to catch bonefish on fly by stalking the flats, read on. If your partner or family doesn't fish, no matter, they will enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of Rainbow Inn together with deserted beaches and crystal clear water for swimming, shelling or snorkelling.

 


WHAT YOU NEED

CLOTHING & PROTECTION
Sunstroke can ruin your whole week's fishing! When wading the flats, the harmful ultra-violet rays of the sun not only penetrate the water, burning legs and feet but also reflect off the water to burn thighs, elbows, earlobes and under your chin. Insect bites can also be a problem - some people react worse than others so it's best to play safe. You will therefore need:
SUNSCREEN & INSECT REPELLENT: You must apply high factor sunscreen to all exposed areas before starting to fish and re-apply regularly. Make sure you use waterproof sunscreen on feet and legs unless covered. Avon & Boots both make sunscreen which contains insect repellent which we find effective but for full protection from biting insects many people prefer Deet based products. However, most sun-screens and insect repellents are thought also to be "bonefish repellents" so make sure you apply them before going fishing and always wash your hands after each application.
CLOTHING: You can extend your fishing time on sunny days by wearing a tropical weight
LONG SLEEVE SHIRT and LONG TROUSERS.
POLARISED SUNGLASSES: Must have full UV protection, preferably two pairs, one tinted amber, copper or grey and one yellow, both "wrap-around" or fitted with side shields. If we had to choose one colour for all our fishing conditions it would probably be copper.
HAT: A baseball cap or wide-brim hat will shade your eyes and help you to see the bonefish, but a special ‘flats cap’ with a long peak and a flap at the back will better protect your neck and ears from the sun.
FOOTWEAR: Neoprene bootees are ideal and we prefer to wear thin socks with these to help prevent sore feet. Reefs (waterproof sandals) are also useful, except in soft sand or mud. Deck shoes or trainers are not recommended as they let grit in and soon become very uncomfortable. Some sand flats are safe to wade bare-foot most of the time but you only have to stand on a stingray or a broken bottle once to ruin your week's fishing. Also, mind your feet don’t get sun-burned!

TACKLE
FLY ROD should be 9ft to 9½ft, AFTMA #8 or #8/9, preferably a "travel rod" in 4 or 6 sections, fitted with a short fighting butt.
FLY REEL should be of good quality with a disc drag. We suggest you pay as much as you can afford.
BACKING: your reel should be loaded with at least 200 yards of 20 pound test braided backing which must be neatly attached to the fly line to avoid snagging the rod guides.
FLY LINE should be floating, weight forward #8 or #9 to suit the rod, preferably a purpose made saltwater line which will be thinner than a freshwater line. We like to use a dedicated tropical saltwater line such as the Rio Bonefish which floats well, has a short front taper and a very thin running line for easy shooting. It is also extra stiff so that it doesn't go limp and sticky in the hot climate.
LEADERS should be 9-12ft steep taper hard mono or fluorocarbon tapering to 12 – 15lb, with a fluorocarbon tippet of 10 or 12lb. We prefer fluorocarbon because it sinks fast and is virtually invisible in water, and has good abrasion resistance and knotting characteristics, particularly in the slightly thicker varieties such as Sightfree™ or Rio Fluoroflex®. If you want to fish for barracuda you'll need wire tippets but the trouble is, if you rig with wire, you won't catch bonefish!
FLIES: Most bonefish patterns in sizes 6 or 4, particularly reverse-dressed patterns with dumbell or chain eyes such as Gotchas and Crazy Charlies which quickly sink to the bottom, hook uppermost. Best colours are tan, pink, white, pearl, root-beer and sometimes green or chartreuse. We strongly recommend barbless, or you can crush the barbs with pliers.

SUNDRIES
The less junk you take with you onto the flats, the better! You should be able to carry all the essentials for a short session on the flats in your pockets or a TACKLE BELT. All you need is
LINE SNIPS, FORCEPS, FLIES, TIPPET MATERIAL, a HOOK SHARPENER and, if you are going to be away from your car for more than an hour or so, some LIQUID REFRESHMENT. You won't need a landing net because it's easy enough (and kinder to the fish) to un-hook it in the water (using forceps if necessary) particularly if using barbless or crushed-barb hooks. Don't forget to wear your POLARISED GLASSES for protection, even if it's not sunny. You may also want to carry a CAMERA and TAPE MEASURE in case you want to record the details of your catch. Weighing scales are unnecessary because you can measure the fish and then refer to the weight-for-length table later if you want to know the weight. Alternatively, rather than carry a tape measure, you can mark the butt section of your rod in inches with Tippex, tape or whipping thread. Unless you are planning to stay out on the water for more than an hour or two, the other essentials such as FOOD, DRINK, SUNSCREEN, INSECT REPELLENT, and a COMPASS (for determining wind direction) and all the SPARE TACKLE can be left in your car or on the beach with your non-fishing partner until needed. CAR TOP ROD CARRIERS are very useful if you like to keep your rod rigged up so that you can move from one location to another with the minimum of fuss.

For information and prices of tackle, accessories, luggage, clothing and eyewear please click here.

We will be happy to suggest a range of flies and equipment to suit your budget.

REFRESHMENTS
Take lots of water or soft drinks to prevent dehydration and maybe a bottle of 'Kalik' (the local beer) to celebrate the first bone of the day!

TRANSPORT TO BONEFISH FLATS?
OPTION 1: Walk? Don't even think about it! - flats located near hotels are usually over-fished .
OPTION 2: Bike? Free at the Inn. OK to get you to Rainbow Beach but not much further unless you're in really good shape!
OPTION 3: Taxi? OK for getting you to a flat but what about getting back?
OPTION 4: Rental Car? This is the easiest way to see the island and get to most of the best bonefish flats. We supply a car for every 2 anglers who book our holidays.

GUIDE?
Not essential if you have average fly-fishing ability and enjoy exploring because you can reach most of the flats of Eleuthera by road and therefore won't need a boat. However, if you're inexperienced or visiting Eleuthera for the first time, you could easily waste a week by being at the wrong places (or even at the right places at the wrong times)
so why not hire a local guide for at least one day at the beginning of your trip before venturing off on your own? Rainbow Inn can arrange for a guide to take you to the “Grey Ghosts” by land or sea. Deep sea & reef fishing charters can also be arranged, or click here for a list of guides and charter boat operators.

If you book a hosted Bonefish Adventure Holiday we will provide a car, maps and tide tables. We will also team you up with an experienced member of our group for at least the first few days of your holiday (we don't just give you a car and a map!) Most anglers catch bonefish on their first or second day with us.

PLEASE REMEMBER
There are no fly shops on Eleuthera so we strongly recommend you bring plenty of flies, leaders etc. as well as a spare rod, reel and line if you can afford it.



WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO CATCH 'EM?


Because of increasing interest in the bonefishing on Eleuthera (which was developed and promoted by us in association with Rainbow Inn) we have reluctantly taken the decision to restrict specific information regarding WHERE, WHEN & HOW to catch bonefish on Eleuthera to our clients and guests of Rainbow Inn. Please also note that the complete Rainbow Guide is not for sale, and never has been.

However, please be assured that guests of Rainbow Inn will continue to receive a complimentary complete Rainbow Guide on arrival, and we wish them "Tight Lines". Bonefish Adventure Holiday clients will also continue to receive a complimentary copy, as will customers outfitted by us for trips to Eleuthera.

We are sorry to have to restrict this information and do not wish to appear selfish, but in the past certain individuals and organisations have used it to compete with us, our friends and clients. The more bonefish anglers who visit a location, the more pressure the fish are put under and the more difficult they are to catch. Locating and catching bonefish consistently is therefore much more of a challenge than it used to be when we first visited the islands in 1995. However, unlike most "self guided" anglers, our catches and those of our clients have only fallen slightly and the average size bonefish that we catch has significantly increased! This is probably because there are more anglers and therefore fewer big schools of "easy" small fish to catch on the well known accessible flats. So we now mainly target singles and  pods of decent size fish in more remote places. Do do this we needed to learn better watercraft and a greater understanding of the feeding habits of our quarry, as well as the ways in which the ever changing tides and weather conditions affect our choice of fishing locations each day.



NOTES ON CATCH & RELEASE

 

 

Some bonefishing experts believe that an experienced bonefisher will do little harm by using barbed hooks but most agree that there is no good reason for using them! - you won't catch any more fish and you'll find it harder to release fish quickly and safely. We therefore insist that all our clients use only barbless or de-barbed hooks when fishing for bonefish on our holidays.

Playing a bonefish will often attract the attention of sharks or barracuda. If you see one approach, immediately lower your rod and pull for a break. By doing this, you will give the bonefish a sporting chance of out-running the predator, which it would not otherwise have.

If, like us, you don’t want to damage the fish, you will find it best to un-hook and release it without leaving the water. If it’s deep hooked you will need to use a disgorger, forceps or pliers. To keep the fish calm while unhooking, turn it onto its back and it will stop struggling! If you can't remove the hook quickly, cut the line close to the hook and release the fish without causing it any further stress - hopefully it will soon eject the barbless hook. If you want a photo please don't remove the fish from the water for more than a few seconds, and never lay it on dry sand, gravel or rocks. You should never lift or weigh a bonefish by the mouth or gills, and never ever use a lip gripping device (e.g. Boga Grip) to lift or weigh a bonefish or its mouth will be permanently damaged condemning it to a slow death by starvation! If you want to know the weight of the fish, you can measure it with a tape without removing it from the water and refer to the following weight-for-length table later. The table is generally accurate to within plus or minus 10%. The measurement should be taken from the tip of the bonefish's snout to the cleft (fork) of it's tail:

APPROXIMATE WEIGHT-FOR-LENGTH TABLE 
13ins = 1¼lb14ins = 1½lb15ins = 1¾lb16ins = 2lb17ins = 2½lb18ins = 3lb
19ins = 3½lb20ins = 4¼lb21ins = 5lb22ins = 5¾lb23ins = 6½lb24ins = 7½lb
25ins = 8½lb26ins = 9¾lb27ins = 11lb28ins = 12¼lb29ins = 13½lb30ins = 15lb

If the fish is totally exhausted, you'll need to nurse it by gently (but firmly) holding it in the water (facing any available flow) for up to five minutes to get oxygen to its gills. Releasing a fish too soon will make it highly vulnerable to predators. Please click here for more information about Catch & Release.

Once it has been released, take time to carefully examine the fly and entire leader for damage. Even if it looks OK, cut the fly off and if the hook point is still sharp, re-tie it, eliminating the last few inches of tippet which may have been damaged during the battle. Often while casting for bonefish you will get strikes from other species such as needle-fish and small barracuda which have razor-sharp teeth. Sometimes they will slash at the fly line or leader knot. If this happens, check the leader for abrasion, even if the fly wasn't bitten off. Also, if the fly is fitted with dumbell or chain eyes, you should check that the eyes are still at right angles to the hook, ensuring that it continues to fish properly with the hook point uppermost - do not underestimate the importance of this!

We hope you enjoy the hospitality of Rainbow Inn as much as we did, and experience the excitement of catching bonefish on fly.


Bonefish Graham's Hosted Bonefishing Holidays on Eleuthera








Catch That Special Moment - click for details 


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