Bonefish: This fish is quick and it moves in the white sand areas. In Southern Cuba, the bonefish is abundant and it is not unusual to see them moving in schools of 5 to 60 or more fish. They weigh from 2-14 pounds, and the size and quantity of the species has increases considerably each season since the conservation laws went into effect. Bonefish are sight fished to, by casting between 1 and 4 meters ahead of the (cardumen), considering the direction they are headed. Once they take your fly, they are extremely combative; shooting extensive runs that often leave our backing exposed and put our ability to the test, in a mixture of adrenaline and power.
Tarpon: The giant of the inshore fish is found 90% of the time by sight fishing. Tarpon move in (cardumenes) of 2-40 fish, in search of its favorite food, sardines. The larger tarpon will often move around and feed in a solitary fashion. They range in size from 20-150 pounds and as they are migratory, they are found along the southern coast of Cuba between the months of February and the end of July. They move along the reef line and on some occasions, especially on cloudy days with poor visibility, you can often find them in the channels, or in the mangroves. Fishing this species requires great ability from the guides, who need to use the push pole to move the skiff along the coral line. The fishing technique, as mentioned, is by sight and the line is cast some 5 meters ahead of their mouths, trying to create the natural movement of the fly. The retrieve should look natural, by pulling the line in long and slow jolts, speeding up the fly when the Tarpon approaches. Once they are fooled by your imitation fly and take it in, the fight begins with a mix of jumps, acrobatics, and brute strength. The aggressively long runs, which occasionally go over 150 meters, are a testament to the power and strength of this wonderful fish. What increases the level of satisfaction of landing one of these beautiful monsters is the anxiously awaited photograph we take on landing the fish that will fill a very special spot in our collection.
Permit: Already mentioned, this fantastic fish can leave an angler sleepless and in search of a prized grand slam. The difficulty of fishing it lies in its enormous quality and development of its senses. It has excellent sight and is very sensitive to all environmental changes around it, which is why a badly presented fly, or one that does not move naturally, are very unlikely to fool them. In Cayo Largo one fishes for permit, generally, when they ride the stingrays, while they take advantage of the rays moving the sandy bottoms in search of food (crabs and shrimp). Sometimes they ride for a while over just one ray, while other times permit will move from one ray to the next. While Permit hover near the backs of the rays, their vision is less acute due to the cloudy water and their preoccupation with feeding. They are often more willing to take a fly in this situation than in just about all other scenarios where permit are encountered by anglers. In all cases, the angler should cast flawlessly at least 20 meters to have a chance at this species, which is why we recommend casting lessons to those in need, before coming to Cuba. The fight is simply unlike anything else – and not for those of weak heart. Just to have your line being pulled in the opposite direction by a permit and feel it in your hands for a brief moment, just long enough for a photo documenting the occasion, is an unforgettable memory in any angler\'s life.
Snook: This sly fish completes the Grand Slam and Super Grand Slam and has its principal refuge in the mangroves, where it camouflages and feeds on the (forrajera) species which share its habitat. It is found in southern Cuba, principally between February and July, where its weight is generally between 15 and 30 pounds. However, on numerous occasions, one can find specimens that are considerably larger. The technique for fishing snook is either by sight fishing or blind casting and always casting from the skiff (a los palos de la costa). Anglers will need to exercise extreme precaution in order to pull in the first meters of line once the snook has taken the fly, so as to stop the fish from running back into the mangroves and breaking off. The work with the flies must be done in long pulls, similar to the method used for baby tarpon.
Fly fishing in Cuba is far different from other destinations in the Caribbean. Only in recent years has this flats fishery been developed, and you are fishing waters that have not seen sport fishing for nearly fifty years. Cuba has given these pristine areas protection as Cuban National Marine Parks, where no commercial fishing is allowed other than for lobster.
Think about a place where you can fish more than 100 miles of flats without seeing another fisherman, a place where the flat fishing is so good, you can catch seven species of fish in one day, a place where big bonefish run toward your fly even when it hits the water too hard, rather than streaking off the flat in the other direction, a place where you have a legitimate chance for a Grand Slam every day of the year, a place where big permit are as plentiful as they were in the Florida Keys 30 years ago, a place where you can wade miles of white-sand flats in your bare feet for big bonefish, a place where you’ll find enough big tarpon, jacks, ’cudas, and sharks to wear you out!
Despite heavy commercial fishing pressure before the ban, Cuba’s remote archipelagos have remained unspoiled. This is because they are often 50 to 100 miles off the Cuban coast and are not easily visited, even by the Cuban lobster fishermen. Under the tutelage of several famous guides and anglers, the Cubans have become excellent guides and good fly fishermen. Give them a fly rod and they’ll double-haul a 100-foot cast or show you just how to work a fly to make a bonefish charge and inhale it. They spot fish as well as any of the Caribbean’s best guides and direct your casts from the poling platform. These guides enjoy enthusiastic anglers and love to work long days, allowing you to fish as hard as you want. A remarkable contrast to many other destinations or lodges where you are often limited to six or eight hours on the water, including your running time. In Avalon’s destinations, there is never any limitation on gas used or distances run in the day. If you want to get out early and fish to dark, you can do it! But the fishing is normally so good and so intense that you’ll be ready to quit in time to be back for cocktails. Although Spanish is the guides’ native tongue, they have all taken classes in English and they communicate surprisingly well with their anglers. They are also in constant training to improve their language skills.
Permit: The most favorable days are those with winds up to 15 to 30 km/h, and we suggest: rod #10, floating fly line, tapered leader of 9\" (easier to cast and 17.6 lbs as (fusible de rupture)).
Our staff recommends a leader of 3 segments with a length of 2.75 meters (9\") with monofilament of 110cm of 0.55 --- 55cm of 0.46 --- 110cm of .38
The Avalon fly which we use in Cayo Largo and Jardines de la Reina is fantastic and has been responsible for the majority of the permit captures in our destinations. The imitations of crab and shrimp with bead eyes or (pesantes), so the can lower quickly, also work very well in natural colors, (lica) and white with orange principally.
Bonefish: We suggest #8 equipment. The rod should have fighting butt, the days should be of gentle winds to find this species in the (bajos) of the sand, a saltwater float line, and a leader similar to that used for permit, of 7 to 9 feet, with an end of 12 or 14 pounds. That is perfect for this species.
Tarpon: We suggest #10 / 11 tackle. The rod should have fighting butt, your reel must have capacity for at least 200 metres of 40lb backing, check the break of your reel as these silver bullets run like crazy once being hooked. You must bring a floating line to fish on the flats, as well as an intermediate sinking to fish reef areas, and deep charge line for the channels, leader must be 7 feet long, with a 60lb piece and an 80lb tip as shock tippet.
Snook: The equipment is similar to that used for Permit. The most effective flies are those with strong colors like yellow or green with (destellos) in reflective material. Leaders used are shorter and more resistant, of the same characteristics of those used for baby Tarpon, with ends in 40-60 pounds to avoid the fish hiding in the branches of the mangrove which would cut our flies.
Flats fish like Tarpon, Permit, Bonefish, Snook, Mutton Snapper, Barracuda, and a variety of Jacks are found in incredible numbers and since the fishing pressure is so light in these areas the fish rarely encounter sport fishermen and are unusually easy to catch.