“What type of gear should I bring?”
This is a very common question! If you ask 100 flats guides that question you will get 100 different answers on the subject of fly patterns but all will tell you come expecting to fish in wind and gear up accordingly.
Rod and Reel.The best setup for flats fishing on Andros Island is a fast tip 8 or 9wt loaded with 200 yards of good backing and a weight forward salt water floating line in 8 or 9wt. The issue is not the size of the fish (although Andros Island is the land of the giants), it is the wind conditions. Come expecting to be fishing in 10 to 15 knot winds and be pleasantly surprised by the occasional calm day.
Wind is not your enemy, the fish are more aggressive and less spooky if there are some ripples on the surface. If you can throw good tight loops in a 10 to 15 knot wind, you will welcome the wind and a 9wt rod with a good 9wt line is a deadly tool for throwing those tight loops in the wind. Don’t be afraid to practice double haul casting in windy conditions before you come over.Fly Box.Saltwater flats fish are not really that picky, they eat most everything they come across (that’s how they get to be giants) and a lot of stuff eats them (that’s why they are so spooky). Your presentation is way more important than what you are throwing.
There are thousands of variations of crabs and shrimp flies on the commercial market almost all will work but why would you even think of fishing with Benry Smith without having some “Crazy Charlie” (the pattern made famous by his father) in your pocket. Other patterns that work well are Puffs, Gotchas, shrimp and crab patterns.
Tarpon – While bonefish and permit feed more on bottom dwelling crustaceans, tarpon are more prone to feed on free swimming critters. Popular patterns for tarpon are the Tarpon toad in Chartreuse,Black Death, several Cockroach patterns and bunny streamers. Most of the time you will be fishing over sand bottom so lighter colored patterns like the big eye sand devil work well.
LeadersLeaders for saltwater fish are a science in themselves, they need to be stiff and strong. This is an excellent video explaining the in’s and out’s of leaders for bonefish, permit and tarpon.