The silver ghost of the flats: without a doubt, it's the number-one, most-sought-after target for fly-fishermen in salt water. For years, anglers had limited choices when it came to reels with which they could arm themselves in the quest for these schizophrenic speedsters of shallow water. Today, however, with advances in reel design, construction and materials, anglers have more good choices than ever before when gearing up to chase bones.
In this first in a series of articles, we've broken down the options fishermen have with regard to reels. In the future, we'll be looking at blue-water reels as well as options for anglers chasing permit, tarpon, stripers and other popular saltwater species.
As with most tackle decisions, the first and most important step is to define your target and how you'll be chasing it. Are you going to spend 20 days a year chasing double-digit bones at Shell Key in Islamorada? Or maybe you're sneaking away for a couple days to the Bahamas to chase smaller but less-finicky fish. Perhaps it's even a trip to Los Roques or Christmas Island where the general size of the fish is more than compensated for by a willing attitude. Once you decide on the target, you need to determine how you'll be fishing for them. Will you be primarily wading or fishing from a boat? Are you going to be casting to nervous, hyped-up fish in shin-deep water or casting to cruising or mudding fish in several feet of water?
Once you've defined those parameters, then you can get down to the nitty-gritty: things like price, retrieve mode, drag, capacity, weight and arbor size.