Bone Fishing Video in Cuba


Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean islands which has remained pleasantly unspoilt hearse a result of its restrictive visa requirements. And there is a slowness of pace and the sublime pre-1959 Cadillacs still dominate the empty roads. Signs in every town extol the independance achieved by Castro and Che Guevara The hotel base is located in Playa Lago which is right in the Bay of pigs where the failed American invasion took place.

La Salinas is an area approximately 150 square kilometres on the South Cuban coast within the Zapata National Park.

The ‘flats’ as they are referred are usually less than a metre in depth and frequently considerably less. Interspersed in these flats are mangrove islands which ultimately delineate the flats from the sea. Between the mangrove islands are several channels to the ocean, and these areas are also home to larger Tarpon. The area is restricted from commercial fishing and with only three to four fly fisherman fishing from guided skiff's it is a place of sanctuary and one which is notable not just for its fishing but also its birdlife. Flamingos, Spoon bills and even Ospreys are not uncommon.

There are also numerous remarkable ‘Blue Holes’ which descend from the normal depth on the flats of less than a metre to 75 metres. These were formed after the last ice age when limestone caves became flooded with the rise in the sea level, the collapsed rooves then produce a deep blue hole.

Bone fish. Albula Vulpos ( Osteichlthyes)

Bone Fish are usually found in small shoals of a few fish, although larger shoals become bore frequent later in the season. They feeding by poking their jaws into the sand snapping up the shrimps and small marine animals with their tough mouths. As they are preyed upon by larger fish including barracuda and lemon sharks in addition to predatory birds they are very well camouflaged with their silvery scaled appearance. At the slightest disturbance they are liable to swim off at extreme speed.

Fly-fishing for bonefish requires stealth to avoid disturbing the fishing. Normally this involves casting from the bows of a skiff accurately within 6 feet of the bonefish and then stripping the line to induce a take. When a take is either seen or felt a small ‘strip-strike’ is preferable to secure the hook their tough mouths. Bonefish are notoriously hard to see and experienced guides are miraculous at sighting these in the bright Caribbean sun. Large peaked caps and Polaroid glasses are essential but it is hard to compete with the sharp eyes of the fishing guides which even an eagle would be proud . When the guides detect a fish the fisherman is instructed by succinct commands to cast and say an 11 o'clock 20 m. This requires a rapid, quiet cast with the least false casting to place the fly as close, and rapidly to the fish as possible without disturbing it. Bonefish swim continuously and therefore accurate the delicate casting is essential.

When they take there is often a few seconds of hesitation before the reel screams as they take off, often taking 200 yards of backing with speeds of 25 mph. Normally they make two to three runs before they can then be hand caught and gently released.

Fishing is fairly good from March , peaking from May to June. Neaps are preferred to Springs and sunny days better than cloudy days as the Bonefish are easy to spot. Size varies from 2 to 10 lbs of which the latter are found more frequently on some of the islands further from Cuba like Cayo Lago .

Bonefish flies Sizes 2, 4, 6. Colurs ideally matching the sand, so pale an pink. Crazy Charlie’s and shrimp patterns are ideal. All seem to work.

Bonefish tackle: 9 foot rod # 7-9wt lines. Saltwater reels with fly line plus 150 – 200 yards of backing 20lb test. WF- Floating lines. Lines should be stiffer tropical saltwater type lines. Clear knotless tapered leaders ~ 9 feet long 8-12 lbs strength, either of fluorocarbon or regular mono.


Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) vary in size from a few pounds to over 200lbs. Most of those caught in the rivers are referred to as baby tarpon around the 20lb size. The largest rod caught tarpon was 283 lbs caught in Venezuela Tarpon are silverly large scaled sea fish which inhabit the muddly river mangroves and estuaries.

Fly fishing for tarpon. This requires a 10-12 weight rod, with a heavy sink to flyline. The leader or shock leader comprises a 20-25lb monofilament section connecting to the fly-line and an 80lb breaking strain nylon to the fly. The purpose of the thick nylon is to prevent the hard mouth plate of the tarpon grinding through the nylon. The flies are heavy paired or double paired eyes with long flowing hairwing of various colours and a very stout hook.


The fly is cast as close to the mangroves as possible, allowed to sink and then retrieved with full arm length retrieves. The take needs to be met with a rapid strong strip-strike to embed the hook, ideally repeated. In the mangroves the fish needs to be played and maintained on a short line to avoid entanglement. Generally only 1 in 4 hooked tarpon are landed.


Tarpon tackle: 9 foot rod # 9-10-11 wt lines. Saltwater fly reels with fly line plus 200-300 yards of 30lbs backing. WF floating lines for fishing poppers and/or intermediate/slow sink. Clear knotless tapered leaders ~ 9 feet long 12-16lbs in strength. Tarpon rocket taper or fast sink tip needed.

Tarpon / Snook – Assortment of baitfish imitations and poppers. Deceivers, Cockroaches, Clouser minnows (favourite) in assorted colours – chartreuse, black and red, olive/tan etc. # 1/0, 2/0, #2 & 4. Take some weighted tarpon flies. Popper patterns less important – anything that creates surface ‘noise’.

Permit feed mainly on crabs. Permit are hard to catsh on the fly. The fly must be cast in front and allowed to sink so the Permit can take it . occasionally sweaking 1” at a time, they will also chase the Manta Shrimp fly shrimp strippedon

Other essential kit

A flats style waist/chest pack containing the following is suggested - Flies, tippet material, wire traces – for barracuda and jacks, forceps, snips, scissors, knife, spare line, pliers, hook sharpener. Reel covers also a good idea to protect reels when not in use in the skiffs.

Polaroid sunglasses - crucial for spotting fish (with spare pair), hat/cap with long peak, light weight quick drying trousers / zip off shorts, light weight water proof coat, long and short sleeve shirt quick drying & ultra violet proof, High factor sun cream / block, some high strength mosquito repellent (less mossies in winter months), scuba divers neoprene boots, stripping gloves.

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