Bonefishing At Deadmans Cay, Bahamas

Jon Cave with bonefish


Flying over the Bahamas is a mesmerizing event. The waters surrounding the archipelago are a breathtaking blend of blue-green hues that delineate crystalline flats, azure middle grounds, and cobalt depths. The colorful montage is filled with endless possibilities for the flyfisher. Sailfish, marlin, dolphin, and other pelagics roam the dark ocean currents, while snapper and amberjack inhabit waters closer to shore; but, it’s the seemingly endless bonefishing shallows that intrigue me the most. They conjure up visions of torpedo-shaped bonefish gliding with the ebb and flow of tides across the sand, mud, and seagrass bottoms. That’s why I always opt for a window seat whenever one is available; so I can keep my face anxiously pressed against the pane and dream of gray ghosts cruising the transparent waters.


When it comes to classic shallow-water fly-fishing for bonefish, the Bahamas are hard to beat. The fish are plentiful throughout the island chain and the average size is relatively large in comparison to other hot spots. In fact, the fishing is so good that quite often the biggest dilemma an angler faces is in choosing which island to visit. Although anglers most often arrange to fish with knowledgeable local guides at one of the island nation’s many excellent bonefishing lodges, there are also ample opportunities for budget-minded individuals who are willing to do some investigating on their own.


One Bahamas location that offers many uniquely different options for bonefishing enthusiasts is the small village of Deadmans Cay situated near the center of Long Island. In addition to the locale’s many excellent guides, Deadmans also offers a less expensive kayak option as well as an outstanding opportunity for a do-it-yourself trip.


Flyfishers have a choice of fishing ocean-side or backcountry flats. The biggest fish are normally found in the shallows directly adjacent to the ocean, but to access those areas around Deadmans Cay requires hiring a guide with a skiff. Fishing conditions on the ocean flats are best between the last half of the flood tide and first half of the ebb. Wind always seems to be a factor in any saltwater environment, but, around Deadmans Cay, flyfishers have the option of casting in the comparatively protected waters of the backcountry when conditions are especially blustery next to the ocean.



Hooked up


Backcountry flats consist of an expansive series of large “ponds” that were formerly used to mine salt by the Diamond Crystal Salt Company. They are connected to one another via a maze of dredge canals. The area can be accessed from a kayak or by boat. A nearby rental house is just a short hike away as well. Wading anglers will find a firm sand bottom throughout much of the backcountry with occasional areas of soft mud. By far, the largest numbers of fish congregate in the backcountry between the last half of the incoming and first half of the outgoing tides when the water is sufficiently deep for the fish to navigate the extremely shallow flats. If you prefer to fish for tailing bones, the backcountry is hard to beat, especially in late spring and early summer.


My favorite rod types for bonefishing are the Xi3 and One series; usually an 8-weight model, although I occasionally go to a 6- or 7-weight for smaller flies and when wind is less of a factor. The reel should hold at least 150 yards of Dacron backing plus a specialized bonefish line (such as Rio’s Bonefish Taper) to allow for the bonefish’s long, line-sizzling runs. Ten- and 12- pound test tapered bonefish-style leaders that are between 10 and 12 feet long will provide excellent performance. I keep my selection of flies fairly simple; using Gotchas and Puffs in sizes 4 and 6 at least 90% of the time.


Bonefish release

Bonefish release


Anyone choosing to wade should carry plenty of water or a sports liquid to avoid dehydration in the tropical heat. Sun block and amber-colored polarized sunglasses are other necessities. A pair of flats boots are a good idea, too. I carry all loose gear, including a small camera, flies, extra leaders, tippet material, etc., in a waterproof Typhoon waist pack.


A speedy presentation is required for bonefishing; three or fewer false casts. Don’t be afraid to lead a cruising bonefish by 12 or more feet. They move deceptively fast and flyfishers commonly spook fish by placing the fly too close. Once the fly lands in the water, short strips that skip the fly along the bottom most often get a bonefish’s attention.


On the other hand, a closer presentation is usually necessary when a bonefish is tailing. After the fly settles on the water, I often let it lay on the bottom until the fish stops feeding. Then I begin stripping the fly at a very slow and steady rate until the fish sees the fly. Then I speed-up the retrieve using short, quick strips.


Ever dream of staying on a deserted tropical island adjacent to great do-it-yourself fly-fishing? Those who either don’t have deep pockets or prefer to go it alone will be hard-pressed to find a better base to operate from than Little Deadmans Cay which is situated is the middle of the area’s best bonefishing. There is only one house on the private 9 ½ acre island. Although it’s certainly not fancy by any definition, the comfortable 3 bedroom home is available for rent and comes with basic amenities including a fully-equipped kitchen and a small 13’ skiff for travelling short distances. All you need to provide is food and drink which can be purchased at a local grocery on the main island and then shuttled to the house with the skiff. Solar and wind energy provide power to the house, so it’s pretty much “lights-out” when the sun goes down, but the location has a terrific up-side: the bonefishing is excellent. You can literally cast to bonefish along the private beach or wade the expansive flats adjacent to the island. Contact William Delancy in the Bahamas at 242-362-1224 for rental information.


Although the term “first class” is largely overused, it is an appropriate description for Long Island Bonefishing Lodge (formerly Lazy Hour Bonefishing Lodge). Fishing accommodations simply don’t get any better than Pinky’s place. “Pinky” is owner Nevin Knowles, an outstanding chef and avid flyfisher. His lodge offers beautiful waterfront cabins and relatively new 16’ bonefish skiffs operated by very knowledgeable local guides. As an alternative, he can also provide less expensive kayak trips for flyfishers who like a more hands-on approach to bonefishing. Regardless of which option you choose, every day of fishing ends in the spacious dining room/bar where guests can view a beautiful sunset while savoring their favorite drink and enjoying Pinky’s outstanding cuisine. To book a trip, visit the lodge’s website at


Long Island Bonefish Lodge at Deadmans Cay

Long Island Bonefish Lodge at Deadmans Cay


If your stay around Deadmans Cay is a lengthy one and you’d like an occasional diversion from fishing (although I can’t imagine why), stop by Max’s Conch Bar and Grille for a cold Kalik and some of their famous conch salad and conch fritters. An abundance of clear water offers outstanding opportunities for skin and scuba diving. Most visitors also make a visit to Deans Blue Hole; the world’s deepest at 663 feet.


Deans Blue Hole

Deans Blue Hole, the world’s deepest at 663 feet


Travelling is increasingly problematic. Sometimes the headache in getting to a destination outweighs the rewards after your arrival. Soaring costs, escalating red tape, growing political/social concerns, and expanding regulations are just some of the difficulties. The Bahamas, and Deadmans Cay in particular, offer a friendly atmosphere that is close to home for most U.S. citizens. What’s more, the fly-fishing for bonefish can’t be beat. So next time you’re jonesing for fly-fishing fix, hop a plane headed for Deadmans Cay. And remember to grab a window seat.

For more from our friend and Sage ambassador Jon Cave, please visit

The Green River Below Flaming Gorge – What We All Stand To Lose

The Green River Below Flaming Gorge - Tim Romano - Flickr

We love the opportunity to fish the Green. When we heard about what could potentially happen below the gorge, to one of our favorite places, well, we had to help get the word out. So what’s going on at the Green River Below Flaming Gorge? Read on…Tim Romano breaks it down for us and shares how to take action.

A few weeks ago I floated, fished, camped and took photos of what has to be one of the most beautiful trout rivers in the United States – the A, B and C sections of the Green River below Flaming Gorge Reservoir in northeastern Utah.

If you’ve never been–the Green below flaming gorge should be on your life list as an angler. It’s simply like no other trout stream I’ve ever seen. The fish are plentiful and can be very large, the water is gin clear to 30 feet in spots, the canyon is breathtakingly gorgeous, there’s amazing animal life everywhere (we saw bald eagles, moose, deer, otters, hawk,etc…), the campsites are first rate, and the rowing can be a ton of fun.

Unfortunately the Green is under serious threat from a Colorado developer named Aaron Million and potentially others down the line that want “to take 81 billion gallons of water each year out of the Green River and Flaming Gorge, and pump it 560 miles to the Front Range of Colorado. That’s 250,000 acre-feet per year. Initial construction costs for this project will exceed $7 billion, with annual operating costs totaling over $123 million.”

The negative impacts of this project could be enormous and potentially could affect local communities, fish and game habitats and taxpayers in three states. And for what? For one man to make a handsome profit so it’s easer for me to water my Kentucky blue grass that I should’t have to begin with. That’s silly.

For more on the issues at hand and what can be done to help stop the proposal visit and click on the image below to view a fantastic slideshow of the area.

The Green River Below Flaming Gorge - Tim Romano - Flickr

Click for photos of the Green River Sportsmen's Conservation Project.

Fine arts photographer Tim Romano has conspired to convince his wife and family that in order to produce more and better work he must essentially tackle his vices head-on in the field of play. This hard-earned license to roam has led to assignments in Alaska, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Russia, Bahamas, Mexico, British Columbia, and extensively in the US. Tim is a frequent contributor to Field & Stream, and co-writes that magazine’s fly fishing blog, “FlyTalk.” He is also the managing editor of Angling Trade Magazine (the business publication for the Fly Fishing Industry), as well a Photo Editor of the highly regarded publication The Fly Fish Journal. His artwork is part of the permanent collections at Lake Forest College, Photo Americas Portland, Instituto de Artes de Medellin, Colombia, and the University of Colorado, Boulder. See more of Tim Romano’s work at

Review: CIRCA, by Erin Block

Erin Block fly fishing for carp Sage CIRCA

As you all know, we love a good story about our products here at Sage. So when we stumbled across the blog Mysteries Internal, we knew Erin Block would have the charm and eloquence that would suit a review of our new, easy-going CIRCA. With no strings attached, we sent her a 489-4 to try out. Here’s what she had to say…

I was once reprimanded for speaking too readily. Many times, actually, at music conservatory. Lesson after lesson, week after week, my professor would stop suddenly: think about it first, he’d say.

And although I would then walk across San Francisco’s 19th Avenue with my feelings hurt, and once home vented the injustice of it all to my housemate Valerie (who responded, if I remember correctly, with the suggestion of chamomile tea. Soothing, I suppose in theory), I knew that my professor was right. I wanted to get things right, but even more than that, I wanted to know the answers. In many cases, those are two different things entirely. In fact, figuring out the answers most often results in getting things wrong, again and again.

And so I didn’t know them, not until long after I’d graduated and my guitar sat in its case under a bed — and then a basement.

However eventually, I did.

I figured out that firsts (answers, marriages, kisses, cars) are not always the best, and that eager answers (no matter the amount of conviction behind them) are not always speaking the truth.

Now, it’s a long way to stretch this to the action of rods.
Yet I’m going to.
In fact, I already have.

So when I was contacted by Sage about testing out the new Sage CIRCA, (given my penchant for bamboo, they said) I agreed.

But I did think about it first.

And I think that I like these slow action rods for their reminder to measure…to sink into each cast and stroke. To find a rhythm, to find your own (because it’s not going to work with anyone else’s). It’s not easy. It’s not easy to think first, to count, to measure, and not be found wanting. As with most other things in fly fishing, I think it’s as much a reminder of life as an escape from. Here on waters we meet a microcosm of life refracting back to us – in lighting where we can see. And we can rush through that (to hasten the catching of big fish and hero shots); or we can listen, thinking about it first. We can let the rod load, giving its answer back. Although it’s hard to wait. It is. But when we interrupt the cast fails, falling flat, spooking whatever fish to that point we’d snuck upon.

I fell in love with slow action rods (good, slow action rods), after making my own bamboo. The ritual of it, the reminder that we are all works in progress. The pride of our history. Split cane and fiberglass. Words written long ago about contemplation. Penned perhaps, while waiting for a willowy rod to load.

Who knows.

However, I asked to test out the 8 foot 9 inches 4 weight CIRCA and proceeded to put this graphite rod through some paces. Like test-riding a horse, you want to see what it can do before you dig out the wad of cash in your pocket you stopped for at the bank on the way out of town.

Sage CIRCA Colorado cutthroat trout
So I cast it at a backcountry lake in gale winds, and caught in the salvation flowing down. Cutthroats and brookies in tight quarters, with a door quickly closing. The CIRCA proved responsive and light. And most importantly, extremely accurate. I was (and remain) impressed. The beauty of a slower action rod, I think, lies in this: the better caster you are, the more you can make the rod do. You can control angles and curves, getting the fly into those hard-to-reach pockets – the ones with low branches on which hang evidence of previous tries.

And the CIRCA can do a lot, as I discovered.

Because I also decided to take it carping. Now carp fishing on a 4 weight (and a slow action 4 weight at that) might sound like crazy talk. And I suppose it is. But I will take a responsive and precise rod over a stiff and fast action on the mudflats, any day. And really, carp fishing and small stream trout fishing require very similar techniques at reduction: stealth and precision. An accurate and quietly laid cast. It took a bit more oomph on this softer rod to set the hook, but it performed. In the end the point being, it can do it and it can do it well.

Sage CIRCA mirror carp
If you know how to ask the question, the CIRCA will have an answer for you.

Customer Email: Casting at the South Pole

Casting South Pole

Daily, we get some pretty great letters and emails from our customers. Many of them we share with Sage employees, posting to bulletin boards or through email. This is one of the emails that we shared without hesitation. It certainly caught our eye. Could you imagine casting your Sage rod at -80 just to pass the time? We think it might make for some interesting product testing. ~ Team Sage

This winter at the South Pole we have had -100 days and 6 months of darkness, which leads to severe cases of cabin fever. Being here in the winter means we are stuck with no planes coming in from February to the end of October.

I have been working in Antarctica for about a year now and it has been a life changing experience with many challenges. You really have to be creative with finding things to do to pass the time here. I stumbled across a few sets of fly rods that I started casting in my spare time.

Jared Carrier - Sage Fly Fish - South Pole - Antarctica Casting
This really helped with my itch to want to be out on the water fishing. These pictures are of me out at the Pole trying to cast at -74. This didn’t work to well because after a while the line froze.

Jared Carrier - Sage Fly Fish - South Pole - Antarctica Casting
After leaving here I will be spending 3 weeks in the beautiful country of New Zealand trout fishing and unwinding from a long cold winter here at the Pole – and thawing out!

Jared Carrier - Sage Fly Fish - South Pole - Antarctica Casting

I hope everyone enjoys these pictures from the Pole.

Story by Jared Carrier. Jared is 24 years old and working at the South Pole for the United States Antarctic Program.

Early Season Skeena with Lani Waller

Sage Fly Fishing - Lani Waller - Steelhead

It is one of those years on the Skeena, a season when all the dominoes line up in a perfect row. According to my reports, the first domino – that of the commercial salmon fishery’s interception of wild Skeena steelhead was “in place.” In other words, the commercial fishing season was relatively short this year. A short netting season always increases the escapement of wild Skeena system steelhead- on all the major rivers.

In addition, Skeena tributaries have been low and clear, and this fall season has been relatively dry without excessive rain which raises water levels and scatters the fish up and down river.

The Babine River has perhaps been best of all. It all depends upon who you talk to, like anglers everywhere, most Skeena steelhead anglers have a favorite river.

As far as the Babine is concerned, Silver Hilton guests fishing on the “lower” Babine got off to an incredible start as evidenced by these photos from Chuck Rund of Grants Pass, Oregon. Chuck is a long time friend and superb steelheader who knows a good thing when he sees one. Chuck fishes at Silver Hilton during our first week of the season: September 3-10.

The early fishing on the Babine can be spectacular with floating line and skating dry flies. Temperatures on the Babine this time of the year usually average around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the river is clear almost all of these early fish are “looking up” toward the surface and rise easily and frequently to a dry fly pattern- something you cannot count on later in the year when water temperatures drop to the mid 30’s. They will still lift to a dry in low water temperatures, but not with the aggressive response of early fish. Nor will the later fish return over and over to a dry before they take it.

Chuck fished most of the week with two rods- the Sage TCX 11’9’ 7 wt, and a Sage 11’ 7 wt “Switch Rod.” These two rods are light in the hand, powerful and smooth, although beginners would be better served with longer rods, as the longer ones are more forgiving when you are first learning.

Over the past five years, I have seen however, a real movement among experienced anglers from longer to shorter rods. Shorter rods are more fun, lighter and less fatiguing over a long day of repetitive casting and searching the long runs and pools of the Skeena system. I’ve always felt that a fly rod is two things at once: a lever and a spring. Your wrist is the fulcrum and the longer the rod the more pressure the “lever” puts on your wrist. You can”soften” this pressure with under handed casting style if you are using a two handed rod, but in my opinion, it is still more tiring with a longer fourteen to fifteen foot rod.

Like most experienced Skeena steelheaders, Chuck uses the RIO Skagit lines (320 grains on these two rods) and a poly leader. These lines fish all fly sizes, shapes, including bulky dressings, with ease and comfort- the flies turn over extremely well, even when used with long leaders and floating patterns.

Chuck took fifteen steelhead and fourteen were on a dry fly. Chuck’s choice of dry flies centered around a Black Pom Skater, and a Tan Pom Skater.

For information and future booking possibilities at Silver Hilton Lodge, contact me the following email address:

Lani Waller
Executive Vice President
Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge

Sage Fly Fishing - Lani Waller - Steelhead

Sage Fly Fishing - Lani Waller - Steelhead

Stacking up Awards

Sage Fly Fishing - Awards - IFTD

Adding to the European Fishing Tackle Trade Exhibition (EFTTEX) “Best New Fly Rod” award won in June, Sage Manufacturing received three more awards at last week’s International Fly Tackle Dealers (IFTD) show in Reno, Nevada. The CIRCA from Sage won both the “Best Freshwater Fly Rod” and “Best in Show” and the new 8000 PRO series won the “Best Saltwater Reel” award.

“Winning these awards is further evidence that we have the best design team in the industry,” comments Eric Gewiss, Sage marketing manager. “This is a big honor for everyone at Sage.”

The new CIRCA collection is Sage’s first high performance, slow action fly rod. Using Konnetic technology, the CIRCA collection packs more carbon fiber into a smaller diameter using new manufacturing methods. This technology results in a consistently slow yet responsive action from butt to tip and minimal torsional movement for extraordinary accuracy. Enhanced sensitivity gives anglers precision and control needed for delicate presentations making ‘match-the-hatch’ fisheries ideal for these fly rods. The two through five weight CIRCA series will be available at fly fishing specialty retailers in September.
Sage Fly Reels - 8000 Pro - IFTD
The 8000 PRO series gives anglers a new dimension in fish stopping power via an integrated secondary drag control system. Based on Sage’s proven Sealed Carbon System (SCS), the 8000 PRO features a two-stage drag control. The primary drag knob adjusts in one revolution with 1-20 numbered settings, while the secondary drag knob fine-tunes drag resistance by 15 percent with each sequential adjustment as well as prevents over-spooling when pulling line to cast. With settings A through E, there are a total of 195 individual drag combinations with a maximum setting that has 40 percent more drag than the 6000 series. Featuring a quick change spool mechanism, a broad concave palming rim and a grooved frame for securing line when not casting, this reel will be sold at fly fishing specialty stores in September.