Fishing saltwater flats is a dream of mine; one I likely share with many other anglers. Fighting a bonefish or permit with ultralight tackle makes for an exciting day on the water. It takes more than just a thirst for adventure and a plane ticket to find success when you’re fishing ultralight on the flats.
Choose the Right Outfit
Ultralight line, while fun, can be fragile. Flexible rods that keep as much line out of the water as possible are a must here, so fast-action noodle rods in lengths of 8 or 9 feet are the way to go. Lamiglas rods are a great choice, rather than graphite, as they allow for more bend. Reels with smooth drags and a fast ratio will be your best friends, too. Finally, it’s smart to tie on a long leader—10-20 feet long—of 20-pound monofilament.
Hone Your Ultralight Tactics
Freshwater anglers are likely used to muscling fish to the boat, with constant pressure on the line. This won’t work with ultralight tackle. When you’re flats fishing, the object is to hook the fish, but then keep it hooked while it fights, jumps, and attempts to swim off towards deeper waters. Whether it’s a torpedo-like bonefish or jumping tarpon, the key is working the fish until it wears itself out. With lighter tackle, you’ll also need to be gentler when you set the hook, so as not to snap the line, bend the smaller hooks, or tear through the fragile mouth of tarpon.
Avoid Rock Bottom
A major challenge to ultralight flats fishing is reducing the amount of bottom cutoffs on your line. You do this by keeping as much of your line in the air and out of the water as possible. A longer rod helps, but if possible, I would also utilize the casting platform on a flats boat. The extra height it provides will keep your rod tip even higher and avoid the rocks that can easily snap your submerged line during a fight.