Published Aug 20. 2005 - 18 years ago
Updated or edited Sep 8. 2017

Book review: Fly-Fishing for Bonefish

Chico Fernandez
Stackpole Books
Publishing year: 
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When I started researching for my first bonefishing trip, one of the first names I bumped into was Chico Fernandez.
His flies, his stories, his photos, his articles.
Fernandez is definitely one of the grand old men in bonefishing, and although his name is all over the bonefishing community, this is as far as I know his first book as an author. This is somewhat a surprise since his name pops up everywhere in connection with bonefishing.

Now it's here, and even though it's touted as the main work on bonefishing and the bible on the subject, I will have to reveal up front that I don't agree fully with this view. More on that later. Let's start with the good stuff.

If you want a book loaded with facts advice this is a very good bet. The book is very fact based, and does a very good job of conveying factual information on bonefishing.

The intro is about the natural history of the bonefish, its environment and its prey, and is written by Aaron J. Adams - a well-known biologist and fly fisherman.

Fernandez himself takes over after these first four chapters, and starts off with some chapters about flies and equipment.
He does indeed do a very good job of this, and for once follows the logical trail: select flies first, then the lines to carry them, then rods, which can cast those lines and finally reels to keep things together. Should the logic be complete, the chapter on leaders should have found its place in-between the flies and the fly line. Now it closes this section on tackle, and does a good job of covering its subject like the rest of the equipment chapters.

Fernandez' relation to tackle is very pragmatic, and his coverage of possible tackle choices aims at arming the reader with the knowledge to make his or her own decisions rather than recommend particular brands or models. There is specific advice about rod weights and lengths, line tapers and types and many other issues, but the force lies in the education more than in the information.

The same thing can be said about the third part of the book "Catching bonefish on a fly", where Fernandez breaks out and brings out his real wisdom: his knowledge about finding and fishing for bonefish. Few people have the knowledge about this subject that he has, and that shines from every chapter in this section.
It isn't easy to convey knowledge about casting under windy conditions, how to spot a bonefish but Fernandez does a good job of it. He does even better on in his chapters on hunt and approach, how to retrieve and hook the fish and finally fight and land it.
These chapters are the highlight of the book.

The author winds down by covering the additional species you can bump into while bonefishing. Barracudas, permit, jacks even sharks.

This is a great book, and certainly amongst the best on the subject, but I could suggest a couple of improvements.

As much as I love biology (being a biologist by training), I do find the first section a little too rough a start for most readers. I want to know about the biology of the bonefish, but larval development or a two-page table with sizes and weights with two decimals might be too much for the average Joe who just wants to go catch some bonefish. That chapter could have been moved to the back of the book as an addendum for the ones who want more science as a supplement to the fishing material.

I would also consider a few pictures up for replacement. While most of them are excellent, there are a few, which were better replaced by sharper or more illustrative ones - or just left out.

As I said: I would not consider this a bible. But it is certainly a fine book and absolutely worth considering as a handbook for the beginning or seasoned bonefish angler.

You can buy the book directly from Stackpole.


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